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The British system thinker Peter Checkland developed the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) on the basis of 10 years of research.It’s a way to model business processes and can be used for general problem solving and managing changes in the organisation.Much of humanity’s efforts in the developed and developing world aim to overcome the “problems” created by changes in science, technology and the effects of these on society.
The primary use of SSM revolves around the analysis of complex situations, with differing views on the definition of the problem.
SSM can intervene in such situations by making discussion between all parties involved possible.
This article explains the concept of the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), developed by George Pólya in a practical way.
After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful Problem Solving tool.
The implementation of systems engineering internationally on rail projects like Thameslink and Great Western Upgrade in the United Kingdom has helped pave the way for Australian systems projects such as the Southern Program Alliance and QR ETCS Level 2.
“Systems engineering will become an increasingly integral part of the project management approach demanded by clients to improve the likelihood of successful delivery of outcomes against time, cost, quality and safety,” concludes Mr Megaw.Systems engineering and integration was successfully applied to a combination of programme management, systems engineering and stakeholder communication tools and techniques to support programme integration across industry stakeholders.The bespoke system was tailored to the specific technical, operational and functional context of the project, ensuring effective and efficient integration management to support cohesive delivery.Since a good systems approach starts early in the project life cycle, the ‘Develop’ stage should be aimed at understanding and clearly defining outputs to deliver a clear ‘Road Map to Success’.Image: SID:3 Framework Following development of the strategy, the focus in the ‘Define’ phase is to effectively develop a blueprint for the integrated delivery of output performance.Traditionally, while we have learned to tackle difficult and complicated problems by dissecting our subjects into parts to understand them better, the rising complexity of transport systems and the impacts of new technologies makes the strong case for a ‘systems approach’.More and more, systems engineering is being adopted in the transport industry due to its ability to capture client and stakeholder needs, develop capabilities, improve processes by articulating physical and functional outcomes from a system, and synthesise the requirements of a system and its components early in the project life cycle.“As we embark on larger and more complex projects dedicated Systems Engineers can translate the purpose and drivers for a project into the system’s functional and physical requirements and then integrating the sub-systems to deliver the desired outcomes which allows discipline engineers to focus on their area of expertise,” adds Mr Megaw.“Inevitably this lends itself to a greater level of innovation, and allows for informed decision making between trade-offs, that supports identification of an optimal and integrated outcome.” Comprehensive systems frameworks like the SID3 approach – so named for the three components: Develop, Define and Deliver – can be applied holistically, individually or developed bespoke on a project.A systems approach begins with defining the problem to be solved – this becomes crucial when working on large, complex projects with various stakeholders, suppliers and contractors all bringing their own competing (equally important) interests to the table.The systems approach involves integrating as many of these interests into the overall solution.