System Problem Analysis
Throughout project initiation and problem analysis, we never talk about software or hardware.
The use of the word system
in this context does not imply anything about automation. No distinction is made between manual and automated processes.
The system is simply the set of all functions and resources that support the goal of the users.
For example, if the goal of the users is to sell flowers, then the system is all the resources and processes used to sell flowers:
- The flower shop system includes functions like taking orders, delivering flowers, and billing customers.
- The flower shop system uses resources like employees, flowers, supplies, orders, and invoices.
Systems analysis defines the problems to be solved and provides the architecture of the proposed system. As information systems became more complex, system analysts sought advanced tools to assist them in the analysis process. The field of system analysis has seen the emergence and prospering of many structured methodologies. Lifecycle/waterfall approach, CASE tools, prototype, RAD/RSD, JAD, and object-oriented methodology are all part of the continuously expanding list.
Despite all their differences, most of these methodologies share a primarily technical perspective. They assume that there exists an optimal system design for the scenario and that it is possible to find this optimal solution through the analysis process.
People involved in the information systems are viewed as stable elements who always react to the system in a predictable manner.In short, all these methodologies take a technically based approach of system analysis to seek the best design of the system.
However, some commentators argue that these technology-centered methodologies are insufficient in real world problem situations, especially when the relevant situation is messy and ill structured or when political and cultural factors are prevalent in the organization.
As a reaction to these perceived inadequacies, soft system methodology (SSM) is identified as a valuable candidate for IS analysis methodology.
Premised on the social construction paradigm, SSM provides a mechanism to allow relevant human, social, political, and cultural factors to form structure and act as explicit entities in the system analysis process.