THE SYSTEM CONCEPT
Definition: The term system has its roots in the Greek word systema, which means an organised relationship among functioning units or components. Presently there are many definitions given to the word system. Some dictionary definitions include: -
1. A group of things or parts working together in a regular relation, e.g. the digestive system
2. An ordered set of ideas, theories, principles etc.
An analysis of many such definitions reveals the following: - (a) A system is designed to fulfil a pre-determined objective(s) (b) A system has multiple components
(c) The system components are interlinked and interdependent i.e. there is cohesion.
(d) A system may comprise of small sub-systems.
Hence, we may define a system as "an orderly grouping of interdependent components linked together according to a plan to achieve a specific objective".
The objective may be real or stated. It is worth noting however, that it is not uncommon for an organisation to state one objective, and yet operate to achieve another. The crucial thing is to know the central objective of a computer application early in the analysis, so that the designed system reflects the user needs.
Features of systems Theory
1. All systems are composed of inter-related parts or sub-systems and the system can only be explained as a whole. This is known as holism or synergy. The systems view is that the whole is more than just some of the parts and those vital interrelationships will be ignored and misunderstood if the separate parts are studied in isolation.
2. Systems are hierarchical, that is, the parts and sub-systems are made up of other smaller parts. For example, a payroll system is a subsystem of the Accounting System, which is a sub of the whole organisation. One system is a sub of another.
3. The parts of a system constitute an indissoluble whole so that no part can be altered without affecting other parts. Many organisational problems arise once this principle is flouted or ignored. Changes to one department could create untold adverse effects on others - ripple effects: e.g. changing a procedure in one department could affect others e.g. admissions - faculty … type of data captured, process
4. The sub-systems should work towards the goals of their higher systems and should not pursue their own objectives independently. When subsystems pursue their own objectives, a condition of sub-optimality arises, and with this the falling of the organisation is close at hand!
Information systems designers should seek to avoid the sub-optimality problem!
5. Organisational systems contain both hard and soft properties. Hard properties are those that can be assessed in some objective way e.g. the amount of PAYE tax with tax code, size of product- quantifiable
Soft properties - constitute individual taste. They cannot be assessed by any objective standard or measuring process e.g. appearance of a product, suitability of a person for job and any problem containing a political element. Ndede2013 3
Importance of systems theory:
a) It provides a theoretical framework for study of performance of businesses
b) It stresses the fact that all organizations are made up of subsystems, which must work together harmoniously in order that goals of the overall system can be achieved.
c) It recognizes the fact that conflicts can arise within a system, and that such conflicts can lead to sub-optimization and that, ultimately, can even mean that an organization does not achieve its goals.
d) It allows the individual to recognize that he/she is a subsystem within a larger system, and that the considerations of systems concept apply to him/her, also.
e) Given the above factors, it is clear that information-producing systems must be designed to support the goals of the total system, and that this must be borne in mind throughout their development.
Classification of Systems
The way in which one views a system is...
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