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System Analysis Assignment

Travis Grant

Systems Analysis of Client Services Department at XYZ Company (System Analysis Assignment)

Introduction to Instructional Systems EME5601 Professor Keller August 21, 2009

System Analysis Assignment

Systems Analysis of Client Services Department at XYZ Company

Abstract This document describes theClient Services department of XYZ Company from a systems perspective. An introduction to General Systems Theory (GST) and the Client Services department is given, and then, the system components of the Client Services department are analyzed using basic systems terminology. For each specific systems term a definition (or explanation of the meaning)is accompanied by an example pertaining to the systemunder analysis.The implementation of systems thinking in the context of a private organizationaids in understanding the complex structure of the organization (i.e., the system) so that insight may be gained into how the organization may be improved. Introduction General Systems Theory was first put forward by Hungarian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the year 1928. Bertalanffy stated that a system is characterized by the interactions of its components and his initial work described culture and society as such a system.It was not until the year 1951 that Bertalanffy expanded his initial definition of systems theory to include biological systems. Then, in the year 1954, LotfiZadeh, an electrical engineer at Columbia University accepted the theory for use in electrical sciences (Walonick, 1993). By the year 1956, the Society for General Systems Research was created, and later renamed the International Society for Systems Science in 1988 ( Systems theory , 2009).During the 1950 s and 1960 s researchers began to detail the similarities among a variety of scientific disciplines, and in doing so they discovered that each field under review shared similar system-like attributes. General Systems Theory has become a common and accepted useful interdisciplinary tool for studying the attributes of a system(Salisbury, 1989). By applying GST to the Client Services department of XYZ Company (a system) the characteristics and phenomena associated with this system may be detailed along with their interactions. XYZ Company provides cyber intelligence products to corporate and government clients. The Client Services department of XYZ Company fulfills the terms of a client s contract and acts as each client s primary point of contact with the Company. Intelligence analysts employed under the Client Services department design, produce, and disseminate online risk monitoring and management solutions, and assessments for company clients. The Client Services department is itself divided into teams by industry sector. There exists a Finance Sector Team and a Defense Sector Team. The primary responsibilities of the intelligence analysts include: y y y y y y Acting as the primary point of contact with a client Managing a client portfolio Designing, producing, and disseminating client products Providing feedback on the functionality of internal systems Provided subject matter expert support at sales and service meetings Conducted interviews and hiring evaluations for potential employees

System Analysis Assignment

Systems Analysis Although there appear to be a wide variety of literal definitions for the term system, the term generally means an interrelated set of components, surrounded by an identifiable boundary that accepts and processes inputs and gives out outputs, and works for some purpose. By definition the Client Services department of XYZ Company is a system unto itself. It is considered an open system because it allows the input of information from external systems and gives output. It is not a closed system because it permits information input from outside systems. Closed systems do not permit the exchange of information from outside systems. Closed systems are primarily mechanical / electrical in nature and a circuit may be one example of a mostly closed system. It is relevant to note here that at least to my understanding no perfectly closed system is yet known to exist. As an open system the client services department accepts input from both coordinate systems (systems at the same level as the system in question) and its suprasystem, which refers to the larger system within which the system in question is embedded. Coordinate systems of the Client Services department include the Sales and Marketing department and the Information Technology department. The suprasystem of the system in question (i.e., Client Services) is XYZ Company at large. The Client Services department is divided into two primary teams, the Finance Sector Team and the Defense Sector Team, which represent the subsystems of the system directly under analysis. These two sector teams are subsystems because they are components of a larger system (i.e., the Client Services department). Subsystems are embedded within systems. Systems analysis almost has a fractal nature to it. The interface, or interaction between embedded systems, which either accepts or rejects information, takes place daily via email, daily through face-to-face interaction within the office, and monthly via townhall meetings . During a townhall meeting each system is updated on the on issues pertaining to the company at large and each of its subsystems. For Client Services, the interface creates a circumstance wherein Client Services personnel interact with personnel from other systems to exchange information (new sensory data to reduce entropy). The information shared during the noted interfaces includes explanations of new policies and procedures and descriptions of updates to IT system and how to take advantage of them. Entropy, or waste in the system wherein energy dissipates and becomes confused, random, and unpredictable, occurs on a daily basis in the office when employees get togetherand begin chatting about something work related that eventually leads into something nonwork related causing individuals to use the office systems to conduct personal research.Basically, entropy is a useless, wasteful output.System dissonance is similar to entropy, but instead it refers to an event, feature, or phenomenon of a system that causes a disruption and renders it less efficient or effective. Analysts would become physically and mentally fatigued after staring at computer screens for many hours and repetitively using input technologies (keyboard and mouse) causing them muscular strain. Employees would generally have to take breaks in order to stretch, eat, and relax their eyes and limbs before they could return to work. Need satisfaction, which refers only to human systems, are those things that help enable individuals within the system to work effectively. There is a need on the part of client services (the system in question) to employ a sufficient number of analysts to complete the assigned work. For a period of time

System Analysis Assignment

the department was understaffed and analysts were required to work longer than pleasing hours to get the departments work complete. This caused employee dissatisfaction, complaints, and products of less quality to be produced and disseminated. The demarcation between systems, that which separates the inside and outside of a system from its environment is known as the system boundary. The boundaries of the Client Services department can be seen in Figure 1, which diagrams the relationship of the system (Client Services department) to its suprasystem, coordinate systems, and subsystems. In addition to acting as a border that differentiates one system from another, the boundary of a system selects and controls the flow of inputs and outputs (Berrien, 1976). The selective requirements of a system constitute its boundary. The concept of selectivity and an example of selectivity is detailed in greater depth later in this paper.It is also relevant to note that a boundary can be well defined or loosely defined depending upon the specifics of the system. In concern to the Client Services department, the boundary is moderately well defined because the department has its own mission statement, vision statement, technical statement, and mission objectives fairly well documented. Further, Client Services works with clients who have accepted a contract with XYZ Company, and thus, the specific requirements of Client Services are included within those documents. Of course Client Services will sometimes go well beyond the terms of the agreement in order to please and satisfy a client in hopes that they will renew their contract with XYZ Company when it comes close to lapsing.Figure 1 provides a visual representation of the suprasystem, system, subsystem, and the system in question s boundary. Figure 1: Boundaries of Client Services Department

Client Services
Finance Sector Defense Sector

Sales & Marketing

Information Technology

XYZ Company

System Analysis Assignment

Inputs and outputs pass through the system boundary.Inputs (requirements as per client contracts in this discussion) move into a system from its environment in order to fulfill the systems purpose. Conversely, outputs are useful products that a system provides to its environment in order to fulfill its purpose (client intelligence products in this discussion). There are two categories of inputs: maintenance inputs and signal inputs. Maintenance inputs ensure the systems continued existence. In effect, they prepare and maintain system functionality. Examples of several maintenance inputs for this discussion are personnel, IT resources, and a connection to the Internet. Without the continued supply of these maintenance inputs the system would eventually cease to be in existence. Signal inputs direct a system beyond its mere existence andare processed by the system into some useful output. In concern to the system in question, the most common type of signal is the client requirements detailed in client contracts.Both maintenance inputs and signals inputs are required to ensure the continued functionality of the Client Services department. In effect, inputs are processed by the system through these four primary steps and are transformed into useful work. By transforming inputs into outputs the Client Services department does useful work for another system and fulfills its purpose. More specifically, however, the system takes maintenance inputs and applies signal inputs to them in order to transform them into a useful product in line with the purpose of the system. That said, however, the transforming process also creates useless outputs. The formal achievement, or useful output, of the system must be relevant to the goal of the system in order for it to be accepted by its environment. The formal achievements of the Client Services department are the intelligence products that are disseminated to its clients. The formal achievements of Client Services are variable in both their quality and quantity. Inputs must always be evaluated for relevancy before they enter into the system. The process that the boundary goes through for selecting only those relevant inputs from the universe of potential inputs is called selectivity. In order achieve an employment position in the Client Services department one must have achieved an undergraduate degree in a related field. Therefore, the acquisition of an undergraduate degree may be seen as a selective factor in concern to personnel maintenance signals by the boundary of the system. By acting in a selective manner, the boundary filters out those signals that are not relevant to its goal. As such, the Client Services department filters out only those individuals who have the requisite background to perform the duties of a position in Client Services from all applicants. The system has a goal (or purpose) for existing. More specifically, a goal is defined as something that the system wants to accomplish and the standard to which it wants to accomplish it. The goal of the system in question is to design, produce, and disseminate relevant cyber intelligence products based upon contractual client objectives. In order to achieve its primary goal, the system processes inputs into outputs. The process is the sequence of steps or activities that inputs transition through in order to become outputs. The steps that the client services department goes through in order to process inputs into outputs are:

System Analysis Assignment

1. 2. 3. 4.

Configuration of system for relevant collection of data Collection of data Analysis of data Production of intelligence product

Configuration

Collection

Analysis

Production

The state of a system refers to the particular organization and relationship of components to one another and the filtering conditions of the boundary at any given moment in time (Berrien, 1976).The two most commonly discusses states of a system are the status quo and the ideal. Whereas the status quo refers to the current (or normal) state of the system, the ideal refers to the desired state of the system. When individuals work together in a system there is often a discrepancy in what the ideal state would look like. The status quo in Client Services was long working hours and an understaffed employee base so that products were produced in a less than ideal manner, both in their quality and quantity. The emotional resentment from such a work environment created system dissonance (defined earlier). The idealwould only exist if Client Services were well staffed andabsolutely producing the highest quality productswith a more effective use of time. The Client Services department receivesfeedback from its clients on the quality and timeliness of its products. Client Services uses this feedback information to improve their relevant/not relevant configuration criteria for the client, and to improve the quality of the products that they offered. Feedback is defined as the return of output (in some form) so that it may be inputted into the system for reprocessing. A feedback mechanism ensures that a system maintains its flexibility in a changing environment. Positive feedback occurs when the client signals the Client Services analysts to increase the timeliness of their product disseminations, and negative feedback occurs when a client cannot process all the material it is being given and requests the Client Services slow down their disseminations.

System Analysis Assignment

References (2009, August 20). Systems theory. Retrieved August 31, 2009, from Wikipedia Web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory Berrien, K. (1976). Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology.Wnnette, MD: Rutgers Univeristy. Salisbury, D. (1989). Educational technology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Walonick, D. (1993). General systems theory. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from Survey Software Solutions Web site: http://www.survey-software-solutions.com/walonick/systems-theory.htm