Basic concepts for understanding systems
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Basic Concepts for Understanding Systems. Agenda for today. The need for frameworks & models Viewing businesses as systems Information systems and work systems Framework for thinking about systems Perspectives for viewing a work system

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Basic Concepts for Understanding Systems

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Basic concepts for understanding systems

Basic Concepts for Understanding Systems


Agenda for today

Agenda for today

  • The need for frameworks & models

  • Viewing businesses as systems

  • Information systems and work systems

  • Framework for thinking about systems

  • Perspectives for viewing a work system

  • Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective


The need for frameworks models

The need for frameworks & models

  • What is a framework?

  • A set of ideas for organizing your thoughts about a thing or situation...

  • What is a model?

  • A useful representation of a specific situation or thing…


Framework model continued

Framework & model, continued...

  • Think about object oriented programming…

    • A framework is like a class definition

    • A model is like an instantiated object


Frameworks and models in action

Frameworks and models in action

  • What are some frameworks that we encounter?

  • Now, let’s think about models…examples?

  • Let’s turn to the Resumix case to see the WCA framework in action


Resumix case

Resumix Case

  • Define the elements of this case using the WCA framework

  • What are the categories?

  • They are

    • customer, product, business process, participants, information and technology


Viewing businesses as systems

Viewing businesses as systems


Viewing businesses as systems1

Viewing businesses as systems

  • Businesses as systems consisting of business processes


Viewing businesses as systems2

Viewing businesses as systems

  • Value Chain

    • for a “sit down” restaurant, not fast food...


Viewing businesses as systems3

Viewing businesses as systems

  • Business processes and functional areas of businesses

    • The silo model


Business processes and functional areas of businesses

Business processes and functional areas of businesses

  • Processes that cross functional areas

  • Processes related to a specific functional area

  • Processes occurring in every functional area


Information systems and work systems

Information systems and work systems


Information systems and work systems1

Information systems and work systems

  • What kind of system?

    • Information system

    • Work system


Information systems and work systems2

Information systems and work systems

  • Where are the boundaries between information systems and work systems?

    • Is this changing?

  • Is this a reflection of the changes in the economy to focus on services?

  • Do you think that the trend will continue?


Framework for thinking about systems

Framework for thinking about systems

The WCA


Framework for thinking about systems1

Framework for thinking about systems

  • Customers

    • internal

    • external

    • what’s the difference?

  • Product

    • the output of the work system

  • Business process

    • What’s going on in the system

    • We’ll model this with flow charts and DFD’s


Framework for thinking about systems2

Framework for thinking about systems

  • Participants

    • Who’s involved…

  • Information


Framework for thinking about systems3

Framework for thinking about systems

  • Technology

    • This is the part that’s cool, but remember its place in the puzzle


Perspectives for viewing a work system

Perspectives for viewing a work system


Perspectives for viewing a work system1

Perspectives for viewing a work system

  • You can use the WCA and the five perspectives to gain a better understanding of the work system

  • Sort of a “drill down” approach

  • When I ask you to give me a WCA diagram, I’m looking for the overall analysis, not all perspectives -- you may want to do these perspectives as you develop your model


Perspectives for viewing a work system2

Perspectives for viewing a work system

  • ARCHITECTURE

  • What are the components of the system that performs the work and who uses the work product?

  • How are the components linked?

  • How do the components operate together?

  • PERFORMANCE

  • How well do the components operate individually?

  • How well does the system operate? (How well is the work performed?)

  • How well should the system operate?

  • INFRASTRUCTURE

  • What technical and human infrastructure does the work rely on?

  • In what ways does infrastructure present opportunities or obstacles?

  • CONTEXT

  • What are the impacts of the organizational and technical context?

  • In what ways does the context present opportunities or obstacles?

  • RISKS

  • What foreseeable things can prevent the work from happening,

  • can make the work inefficient, or can cause defects in the work product?

  • What are the likely responses to these problems?


Looking at an it enabled system from a business perspective

Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective


Looking at an it enabled system from a business perspective1

Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective

  • Steps in systems analysis

    • defining the problem

    • describing the situation in enough depth

    • designing potential improvements

    • deciding what to do


Looking at an it enabled system from a business perspective2

Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective

  • How the WCA can be used to drill down on a problem...


Looking at an it enabled system from a business perspective3

Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective

  • The WCA method


Looking at an it enabled system from a business perspective4

Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective

  • Limitations and issues with the WCA

    • architecture

      • overemphasis on details

      • confusion about roles

    • performance

      • too often ignored

    • infrastructure

      • you gotta have it! Don’t forget!


Looking at an it enabled system from a business perspective5

Looking at an IT-enabled system from a business perspective

  • Limitations and issues with the WCA (cont.)

    • context

      • ignoring incentives/disincentives, organizational culture, etc.

    • risks

      • things don’t always go as planned…

      • contingency

      • disaster recovery


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