A system can be simply defined as a group of interrelated or interacting elements forming a unified whole. Many examples of systems can be found in the physical and biological sciences, in modern technology, and in human society. Thus, we can talk of the physical system of the sun and its planets, the biological system of the human body, the technological system of an oil refinery, and the socioeconomic system of a business organization. A system is a group of interrelated components working together toward a common goal by accepting inputs and producing outputs in an organized transformation process. Such a system (sometimes called a dynamic system) has three basic interacting components or functions: •
Input involves capturing and assembling elements that enter the system to be processed. For example, raw materials, energy, data, and human efforts must be secured and organized for processing.
Processing involves transformation process that convert input into output. Examples are a manufacturing process, the human breathing process, or mathematical calculations.
Output involves transferring elements that have been produced by a transformation process to their ultimate destination. services, For example, finished products, human be and management information must
transmitted to their human users.
Example A manufacturing system accepts raw materials as input and produces finished goods as output. An information system also is a system that accepts resources (data) as input and process them into products (information) as output.
FEEDBACK AND CONTROL A system with feedback and control components is
sometimes called a cybernetic system, that is, a self-monitoring, self-regulating system. •
Feedback is data about the performance of a system. For example, data about sales performance is feedback to a sales manager.
Control involves monitoring and evaluating feedback to determine whether a system is moving toward the achievement of its goal. The control function then makes necessary adjustments to a system’s input and processing components to ensure that it produces proper output. For example, a sales manager exercises control when he or she reassigns salespersons to new sales territories after evaluating feedback about their sales performance.
Feedback is frequently included as part of the concept of the control function because it is such a necessary part of its operation.
Example A familiar example of a self-monitoring, self-regulating system is the thermostat controlled heating system found in many homes; it automatically monitors and regulates itself to
maintain a desired temperature. Another example is the human body, which can be regarded as cybernetic system that automatically monitors and adjusts many of its functions, such as temperature, heartbeat, and breathing.
OTHER SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS A system does not exist in a vacuum; rather, it exists and functions in and environment containing other systems. If a system is one of the components of a larger system, it is a subsystem, and the larger system in environment. Also, its environment. Also, its system boundary separates a system from its environment and other systems.
Example Organizations such as businesses and government agencies are good examples of the systems in society, which is their environment. Society contains a multitude of such systems, including individuals and their social, political, and economic institutions. Organizations themselves consist of many subsystems, such as departments, divisions, process teams, and other workgroups. Organizations are examples of open systems because they interface and interact with other systems in their environment. Finally, organizations are examples of adaptive
systems, since they can modify themselves to meet the demands of a changing environment.
COMPONENTS OF AN INFORMATION SYSTEM An information system is a...
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