Pub. Date:
Financial Times/Prentice Hall Books
Practical Soft Systems Analysis

Practical Soft Systems Analysis

by David C. Patching


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Practical Soft Systems Analysis

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780273032373
Publisher: Financial Times/Prentice Hall Books
Publication date: 07/28/1990
Pages: 287
Product dimensions: 7.44(w) x 9.69(h) x (d)

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 ofFAOR 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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