The concept of “system analysis and design” is of pivotal importance in the MIS. The system concept is a way of thinking about managing optimally in a wholistic perspective. It could also be considered as a framework for visualizing and analyzing both internal and external environments and the factors affecting these environments in an integrated manner. When we refer to “system,” it indicates an arrangement, a way of organizing things in an orderly manner, a method or even a well-thought-out plan. The system also means “a regularly interacting interdependent group of items forming a united whole.” A system can also mean “an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole.” The system is inside the boundary; the environment is outside the boundary. Each system is composed of subsystems, which in turn are made up of other subsystems, each subsystem is defined by its boundaries. Each subsystem in itself is a system. The interconnections and interactions between the subsystems are termed interfaces. Interfaces occur at the boundary and take the form of inputs and outputs. Systems exist in all fields of endeavor. There are systems like the social system, political system, economic system, educational system, production system, etc. Apart from these illustrative systems, there are other types of systems as well, some of which are explained hereafter.
A system is not a randomly arranged set. It is arranged with a certain logic governed by rules, regulations, principles, and policies. Such an arrangement is also influenced by the objective the system desires to achieve. For MIS purposes, let us put it in this way — “A system consists of a set of elements, which can be identified as belonging together because of common purpose, goal or objective.” The elements work/function in an integrated, coordinated and interdependent manner to achieve the objective as well as “synergy.”
A system can also be any group of components — functions, people, activities, etc. which complement and interface with one another to achieve one or more predetermined goals. ‘ The term “wholistic”, “integrated”, “interdependent” are used frequently. The idea is to emphasize the need for “synergy,” when the numerical total of individual elements leads to a much higher output/effectiveness, e.g., 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15 which is the sum-total of individual elements. However, if these elements become part of the whole, are integrated, then the result becomes I x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 = 120 which is eight times better/higher than earlier. The systems concept is, therefore, important while developing MIS, as it allows us to view individual elements, subsystems in the larger perspective of the whole system leading to optimal solutions and synergy.
1. Conceptual and Empirical Systems: Philosophy, theology are classic examples of conceptual systems. Such systems are theoretical, explanatory and provide clarification. Conceptual systems provide a theoretical framework for which there may or may not be any real-life counterpart, e.g., the conceptual theory may refer to “Moksha,” “Nirvana,” which cannot be experienced here and now. The empirical systems, on the other hand, are practical, specific and operational. They may be based upon the conceptual system, but differ from them in as much as one can see/experience the empirical system in operation. Production system, examination system, surgery can be referred to as examples of the empirical systems.
2. Natural and artificial systems: Natural systems exist and abound in nature and are not the result of human endeavors. Rivers, mountains, minerals are illustrations of natural systems. Artificial systems, on the other hand, are manufactured and hence man-made. Thus, while river or oceans are natural systems, dams, canals, roads, machines, and factories are artificial systems.
3. Open and closed systems: the Open system is that system which is always interacting with the environment and exchanges information, material or energy with the environment. The open system is also open, self-organizing and adoptive/adaptive to the changing environment as it is flexible. Closed system, of course, is one, which shuns any kind of exchange with the environment. It is rigid and is not amenable to change. It is self-contained and relatively isolated as it has a well-defined boundary. It is also not adaptive.
4. Probabilistic and deterministic systems: This type of systems will be based on the predictability of behavior or outcome.
In a deterministic system, the interaction of elements is known and hence the outcome predictable. In such a system, the behavior of elements is predetermined, and hence the reaction can be worked out well in advance. Mathematical formulae, chemical formulae are examples of the deterministic system, i.e., there is a specific relationship between the input and the output. This, however, is not applicable to the probabilistic system as in case of, say, human behavior. In fact, the same person may react differently to the same situation on different occasions, or to illustrate further, schedule of examination can be deterministic, but the percentage of the result is probabilistic.
Apart from these systems, there are other types of systems like:
• Social and machine systems
• Physical and abstract systems
• Permanent and temporary systems
• Stationary and non-stationary systems.
All systems must have: