Practical Soft Systems Analysis

Practical Soft Systems Analysis

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Primarily this book demonstrates how to interpret and apply soft systems concepts in practical situations. It bridges the gap between pragmatists and academics in the systems field by approaching the subject from a practical viewpoint, first translating the language of systems into common parlance, examining the difficulties that occur in practice and overcoming them, and providing substantial examples of real-life applications based on the author's extensive experience. The first part explains systems concepts in general, with particular reference to formal systems models and attributes, and then distinguishes between hard and soft systems models. The second part details each stage of a soft systems examination - its purpose, model development, the use of rich pictures, the terminology, methods of information collection and analysis, performance measures, control mechanisms, and client involvement. The final part provides the full practical element, beginning with the types of application that can benefit from soft systems analysis, followed by a comprehensive illustration of its use in organisational analysis based on a local authority social services department, a study carried out as part of an Esprit project, and finishing with a paradigmatic information model of an organization that can be used to improve the information base or the communication system. A final chapter is an example of the use of soft systems ideas to set up and implement an audit of procedures, whether low or high level.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 188 x 245 x 16mm | 590g
  • Harlow, United Kingdom
  • 0273032372
  • 9780273032373

Table of contents

Part 1 Introduction: the style of the book; general terminology; the structure of the book. Part 2 Systems concepts: system types; basic systems ideas; system characteristics; exploring human activity systems. Part 3 The use of soft systems analysis: systems analysis - the hard/soft division; the advantages of soft systems analysis. Part 4 Introduction to the SSM: the soft systems methodology - an overview; outputs and rules; summary of the SSM. Part 5 Expressing an unstructured situation: exploring and expressing the situation; drawing rich pictures. Part 6 Modelling human activity systems: root definitions; the pub as a system. Part 7 Exploring the real situation: the what/how distinction; making the comparison; summary. Part 8 Agreeing and implementing changes: feasible/desirable changes; action to improve; the analyst/client relationship. Part 9 Practical applications: general applications; management services applications; computer investigations. Part 10 SSM for organisational analysis: the client organisation; application of the SSM - phase 1; application of the SSM - phase II. Part 11 A method for information systems enquiry: the research project; stage 1 - exploring the situation; using the database; data validation; using the information. Part 12 Investigating new requirements: overview of approach; the system models; use of the models; summary. Part 13 Procedure audit: the rationale of procedure audit; the practice of procedure audit; procedure audit - an example application. Part 14 Bridging the pragmademic gap: summary of FAOR activities; the follow-up review; development of a user requirement; conclusions for the systems approach. Part 15 Application guidelines: applying the SSM; informal applications; final comments.
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