The project as a system

A project is concerned with creating a new system and/or transforming an old one and is itself a system.

Systems, subsystems and environments

A simple definition of the term system is 'a set of interrelated parts'. A system will normally be part of a larger system and will itself comprise subsystems.

Outside the system there will be the system's environment. This will be made up of things that can affect the system but over which the system has no direct control. In the case of Brightmouth College, the bankruptcy of the main supplier of IT equipment would be an event happening in the system's environment.

Identify the possible subsystems of the installed Brightmouth College payroll Exercise 1.5 system.

What important entities exist in the payroll system's environment?

Open versus closed systems

Open systems are those that interact with the environment. Nearly all systems are open. One reason that engineered systems and the projects to construct them often fail is that the technical staff involved do not appreciate the extent to which systems are open and are liable to be affected by outside changes.

Sub-optim iza tion

This is where a subsystem is working at its optimum but is having a detrimental effect on the overall system. An example of this might be where software developers deliver to the users a system that is very efficient in its use of machine resources, but is also very difficult to modify.

Sociotechnical systems

Software projects belong to this category of systems. Any software project requires both technological organization and also the organization of people. Software project managers therefore need to have both technical competence and the ability to interact persuasively with other people.

A convenient way of accessing this OU material is in D. Ince, H. Sharp, and M. Woodman, Introduction to Software Project Management and Quality Assurance, McGraw-Hill, 1993.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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