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A big system may be seen as a set of interacting smaller systems known as subsystems or functional units each of which has its defined tasks. All these work in coordination to achieve the overall objective of the system. System engineering requires development of a strong foundation in understanding how to characterize a system, product, or service in terms of its attributes, properties, and performance. As discussed above, a system is a set of components working together to achieve some goal. The basic elements of the system may be listed as:
y y y y y
Resources Procedures Data/Information Intermediate Data Processes
Every system requires certain resources for the system to exist. Resources can be hardware, software or liveware. Hardware resources may include the computer, its peripherals, stationery etc. Software resources would include the programs running on these computers and the liveware would include the human beings required to operate the system and make it functional. Thus these resources make an important component of any system. For instance, a Banking system cannot function without the required stationery like cheque books, pass books etc. such systems also need computers to maintain their data and trained staff to operate these computers and cater to the customer requirements.
Every system functions under a set of rules that govern the system to accomplish the defined goal of the system. This set of rules defines the procedures for the system to Chapter 1 Introduction to Systems operate. For instance, the Banking systems have their predefined rules for providing interest at different rates for different types of accounts.
Every system has some predefined goal. For achieving the goal the system requires certain inputs, which are converted into the required output. The main objective of the System is to produce some useful output. Output is the outcome of processing. Output can be of any nature e.g. goods, services or information.
Therefore. like material. Standards . some of which are: y y y y y Objective Standards Environment Feedback Boundaries and interfaces Objective Every system has a predefined goal or objective towards which it works. the initial form submitted by student goes through many departments.However. it is very important to identify the Intermediate Data. Finally the form gets transformed and the student gets a slip that states whether the student has been registered for the requested subjects or not. it goes through many intermediary transformations. For example an organization would have an objective of earning maximum possible revenues. Intermediate forms of data occur when there is a lot of processing on the input data. for which each department and each individual has to work in coordination. So. information. intermediate data should be handled as carefully as other data since the output depends upon it. Systems also exhibit certain features and characteristics. All these components together make a complete functional system. It helps in building the System in a better way. Input can be of various kinds. These processes are the operational element of the system. A cheque passes through several stages before it actually gets processed and converted. For example. Inputs are the elements that enter the system and produce Output. Intermediate Data Various processes process system's Inputs. the Output must conform to the customer's expectations. Consider for example the processing of a cheque as a process. These are some of the processes of the Banking system. A system cannot exist without a defined objective. For instance in a Banking system there are several processes that are carried out. etc. Before it is transformed into Output. Each department adds their validity checks on it. Processes The systems have some processes that make use of the resources to achieve the set goal under the defined procedures. in a college when students register for a new semester.
will not be able to work properly after year 2000. It should be seen whether that algorithm is implemented in the system. For example. for a system to exist it should change according to the changing environment. we humans live in a particular environment. If the financial details of an employee are required.It is the acceptable level of performance for any system. For instance. then it would have been very difficult for human to survive for so many thousand years. Interfaces are another important element through which the system interacts with the outside world. Users of the systems also interact with it through interfaces. As we move to other places. Also. which are not Y2K compliant. it is shown that a system takes input. Those systems. There are various sorting algorithms. there are changes in the surroundings but our body gradually adapts to the new environment. Systems should be designed to meet standards. For computer systems to survive it is important these systems are made Y2K compliant or Y2K ready. These should be as user friendly as possible. For example take a sorting problem. Feed Back Feedback is an important element of systems.1. In fig 1. Therefore. . It then transforms it into output. Standards can be business specific or organization specific. these should be customized to the user needs. Environment Every system whether it is natural or man made co-exists with an environment. Also some feedback can come from customer (regarding quality) or it can be some intermediate data (the output of one process and input for the other) that is required to produce final output. the system has to interact with the Accounting system to get the required details. It is very important for a system to adapt itself to its environment. The output of a system needs to be observed and feedback from the output taken so as to improve the system and make it achieve the laid standards. Another example can be Y2K problem for computer systems. Beyond these limits the system has to interact with the other systems. So such algorithm should be used that gives most optimum efficiency. So there should be a standard or rule to use a particular algorithm. But each has its own complexity. System interacts with other systems through its interfaces. If it were not the case. Boundaries and Interfaces Every system has defined boundaries within which it operates. Personnel system in an organization has its work domain with defined procedures.
support). Additionally. system elements should have complementary missions and objectives with nonoverlapping capabilities. hardware and system. which means to ³place together. and function. entities.What is a System? The term ³system´ originates from the Greek term syst¯ema. availability. working synergistically to perform value-added processing to enable a User to satisfy mission-oriented operational needs in a prescribed operating environment with a specified outcome and probability of success. supplies. let¶s examine each part in detail. By ³working in synergistically. This requires that operational and functional performance capabilities for each system element be identified and explicitly bounded to a level of specificity that allows the element to be analyzed. verified. spares. System elements include equipment (e.´ we mean that the purpose of integrating the set of elements is to leverage the capabilities of individual element capabilities to accomplish a higher level capability that cannot be achieved as stand-alone elements. system. some systems.´ Multiple business and engineering domains have definitions of a system. training. By ³value-added processing. for example.. developed.g. procedural data. This text defines a system as: y System An integrated set of interoperable elements. System element contributions to the overall system performance must be explicitly specified. by definition. Let¶s examine the basis for each phrase in the definition. tested. and validated²either on a stand-alone basis or as part of the integrated system.´ In general.´ we mean that every element should work to accomplish some higher level goal or purposeful mission. maintenance. One is tempted to expand this phrase to state ³interoperable and complementary. facilities. each with explicitly specified and bounded capabilities. To help you understand the rationale for this definition. System Definition Rationale The definition above captures a number of key discussion points about systems. operating constraints. utility.´ we mean that elements within the system¶s structure must be compatible with each other in form. redundant systems may require duplication of capabilities across several system elements. designed. However. y y y By each element having ³explicitly specified and bounded capabilities. such as networks.´ we mean that a system. or components. have multiple instances of the same components. external systems. resources. is composed of hierarchical levels of physical elements. and anything else that supports mission accomplishment. y y By ³an integrated set. suitability. and efficiency demand that each system operation and task add value to its inputs availability. .´ we mean that factors such operational cost. and produce outputs that contribute to achievement of the overall system mission outcome and performance objectives. fit. By ³interoperable elements.
´ we mean that accomplishment of a specific outcome involves a degree of uncertainty or risk. and survivability.´ we mean that for economic. By ³and probability of success.´ we mean that every system has a purpose (i. sustainability. shareholders. If you analyze these. a personal understanding a program team consensus an organizational (e.y y y y By ³enable a user to predictably satisfy mission-oriented operational needs. and verifiable. the degree of success is determined by various performance factors such as reliability. The intent is to establish continuity across contract and organizations as personnel transition between programs. The observed behavior. for example. availability. products.. Thus. Other Definitions of a System National and international standards organizations as well as different authors have their own definitions of a system. maintainability. and survival reasons. Moreover.. lethality. Organizationally you need a consensus of agreement among the System Developer team members. a contractual consensus with your customer. You need at least four types of agreement on working level definitions of a system: 1. byproducts. a reason for existence) and a value to the user(s). owners. etc. you will find a diversity of viewpoints. Its value may be a return on investment (ROI) relative to satisfying operational needs or to satisfy system missions and objectives. achievement of a ³one size fits all´ convergence and consensus by standards organizations often results in wording that is so diluted that many believe it to be insufficient and inadequate. all tempered by their personal knowledge and experiences. quantifiable. every system must have a prescribed²that is.e.e.) expect systems to produce results. By ³in a prescribed operating environment. System Developer) consensus. or services. your program team. dependability.g. and your customer (i. 3. a User or an Acquirer as the User¶s technical representative) have a mutually clear and concise understanding of the term. Examples of organizations having standard definitions include: y y y y y y y International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) International Standards Organization (ISO) US Department of Defense (DoD) US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) . outcome.´ we mean that system stakeholders (Users. 4. and most important. Why? Of particular importance is that you. 2.. must be outcome-oriented. measurable. By ³with a specified outcome. bounded²operating environment.
Grammar is important. perhaps. if you or your team attempts to create your own definition. they throw up their hands and walk away. perform one step at a time. they attempt to create content and grammar simultaneously. a good definition may sometimes be simply a bulleted list of descriptors concerning what a term is or. since it is the root of our language and communications. You should then select one that best fits your business application. . Obtain consensus on the key elements of substantive content. structure the statement in a logical sequence and translate the structure into grammar. You will be surprised how animated and energized people become over wording exercises.You are encouraged to broaden your knowledge and explore definitions by these organizations. for example. Depending on your personal viewpoints and needs. People typically spend a disproportionate amount of time on grammar and spend very little time on substantive content. Closing Point When people develop definitions. Then. For highly diverse terms such as a system. is not. We see this in specifications and plans. the definition stated in this text should prove to be the most descriptive characterization. wordsmithed grammar has no value if it lacks substantive content. Subsequently. So. However.
These may be static or dynamic in nature. Practically most of the systems are open systems. Maintaining files. Computer systems are dynamic system. Physical or Abstract System Physical systems are tangible entities that we can feel and touch. Desks and chairs are the static parts. An information system is an example of this category. Depending upon the interaction with the environment. Man made Information System The main purpose of information systems is to manage data for a particular organization. etc. But feedback can be given from lower authorities to top management. Computer-Based Information Systems: This class of systems depends on the use of computer for managing business applications. Formal Information Systems: It deals with the flow of information from top management to lower management. open and closed. For example. informal. They may be formulas. Classification of systems can be done in many ways. take a computer center. and delivers output to the outside of system. Things that are not part of the system are environmental elements for the system. An open system has many interfaces with its environment. These are not physical entities. instructions. It can also adapt to changing environmental conditions. systems can be divided into two categories. Some of the categories are open or closed. Closed systems exist in concept only. It can receive inputs from. which assist in the working of the center. There are various types of system. These are made to solve the day to day work related problems. Closed systems:Systems that don't interact with their environment.Classifications of System From previous section we have a firm knowledge of various system components and its characteristics. these can be categorized in many ways. representation or model of a real system. Abstract systems are conceptual. data. . These are usually formal. and applications can change according to the user's needs. and computer based. The dynamic systems are constantly changing. An information system produces customized information depending upon the needs of the organization. physical or abstract and natural or man made information systems. which are explained next. Static parts don't change. These systems are discussed in detail in the next section. To have a good understanding of these systems. Information flows in the form of memos. Open systems: Systems that interact with their environment. Open Closed System Systems interact with their environment to achieve their targets. Programs. producing information and reports are few functions. Informal Information systems: Informal systems are employee based.
managerial information and operational information.Types of Information Systems Information systems differ in their business needs. Strategic information is the information needed by top most management for decision making. . Also depending upon different levels in organization information systems differ. This information is not required by the lower levels in the organization. Accordingly the information can be categorized as: strategic information. Three major information systems are Transaction processing systems Management information systems Decision support systems Figure 1. For example the trends in revenues earned by the organization are required by the top management for setting the policies of the organization.2 shows relation of information system to the levels of organization. The information systems that provide these kinds of information are known as Decision Support Systems. The information needs are different at different organizational levels.
However. This kind of information is required at the operational level for carrying out the day-to-day operational activities. which are common to almost all .Relation of information systems to levels of organization The second category of information required by the middle management is known as managerial information.2 . Transactions differ from organization to organization. Management information system (MIS) caters to such information needs of the organization. the information system is known as Transaction Processing System or Data Processing System. fall under this category. Some examples of information provided by such systems areprocessing of orders. canceling. Any query made to it is a transaction. Transaction Processing Systems TPS processes business transaction of the organization. The third category of information is relating to the daily or short term information needs of the organization such as attendance records of the employees. Information like sales analysis for the past quarter or yearly production details etc.Figure 1. there are some transactions. Due to its capabilities to provide information for processing transaction of the organization. evaluating overdue purchaser orders etc. The information required at this level is used for making short term decisions and plans for the organization. most of the big organizations have separate MIS departments to look into the related issues and proper functioning of the system. Management Information Systems have become a necessity for all big organizations. For example. etc are all transactions. Due to its capabilities to fulfill the managerial information needs of the organization. posting of entries in bank. take a railway reservation system. Transaction can be any activity of the organization. And due to its vastness. Booking.
This provides high speed and accurate processing of record keeping of basic operational processes. A decision support system must very flexible. A decision is considered unstructured if there are no clear procedures for making the decision and if not all the factors to be considered in the decision can be readily identified in advance. . Management Information Systems These systems assist lower management in problem solving and making decisions. maintaining employees accounts. Like employee new employee. An important element of MIS is database. storage and retrieval. Transaction processing systems provide speed and accuracy. Some recur infrequently or occur only once. These type of systems handle unstructured or semi structured decisions. They use the results of transaction processing and some other information also. etc. and can be programmed to follow routines functions of the organization. It should handle queries as quickly as they arrive. Decision Support Systems These systems assist higher management to make long term decisions. It is a set of information processing functions. A database is a non-redundant collection of interrelated data items that can be processed through application programs and available to many users.organizations. These include calculation. These are not of recurring nature. maintaining their leave status. The user should be able to produce customized reports by giving particular data and format specific to particular situations.
Management information system Provides input to be used in the managerial decision process. Includes record keeping applications. Typical information requirements can be anticipated. Decision support system . Deals with well-structured processes. Supports decision-makers in situations that are not well structured.Summary of Information Systems Catagories of Information System Transaction Processing System Characteristices Substitutes computer-based processing for manual procedures. Deals with supporting well structured decision situations. Provides information to managers who must make judgements about particular situations.
and developing a system. This text employs capability as the operative term that encompasses both the functionality and performance attributes of a system. this is partially correct.Basic System Entity Construct Figure 2 . the diagram is missing critical information that relates to how the system operates and performs within its operating environment. The result is shown in Figure 2. Therefore. inputs such as stimuli and cues are fed into a system that processes the inputs and produces an output. We refer to the transformational processing that adds value to inputs and produces an output as a capability. the words need to more explicitly identify WHAT the system performs. we expand the diagram to identify these missing elements. the system must add value to the input in producing an output. Functionality only represents the ACTION to be accomplished. from an analytical perspective. However. and desirable/undesirable outputs²serve as a key checklist to ensure that all contributory factors are duly considered when specifying. As a construct. The attributes of the construct²which include desirable/undesirable inputs. however. this symbolism is acceptable. In general. The simple diagram presented in Figure 1 represents a system. Figure 1 . not HOW WELL as characterized by performance. You will often hear people refer to this as the system¶s functionality.Analytical System Entity Construct . designing. stakeholders. That is.Analytical Representation of a System As an abstraction we symbolically represent a system as a simple entity by using a rectangular box as shown in Figure 1.
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