With the rising in the demand for exemplary products and services, increased market competition, incessant production challenges, firms have noticed the influence of information technology in improving and transforming business practices. Information technology has been very imperative in supporting business operations and communication processes in business organizations. Information sharing through modern technologies has made business operations and activities more effective than it was in traditional systems.
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Effective utilization on modern technologies has enabled firms to thrive in competitive markets, provide standardized goods and services, and meet the growing consumer demands that currently follow modern trends. Bryant Homes is a business corporation that has been using technology to enhance its service provision through numerous technological methods including internet, intranet, and interactive multimedia to enhance its performance. Using system thinking approaches that involve the two techniques of soft and hard system methods of information sharing and communication, this essay aims at examining the case of using information technology in Bryant Homes.
Critique of the relevance of Soft System Methodology
Soft System Methodology (SSM) is a system thinking approach that business analysts use to analyze firm problems through viewing issues from the sense of the real world. The SSM approach involves five major stages that include identifying the problem, expressing the problem, finding root definitions of the relevant systems, developing the model and finally providing suitable solutions to the problem (Kenny & Shannon 2009). The soft system methodology is relevant in its systematic approach to the issues facing Bryant Homes.
In the phase of finding the problem, SSM investigative procedure would significantly assist in analyzing the situation. The first stage of SSM can importantly assist in highlighting the main situational problem, which is the use of technology in organizational communication. SSM technique in the case of Bryant Homes can be relevant in analyzing the issues concerning Bryant Homes by presenting the situational context in the rich picture. The real picture presents a systematic manner of viewing the use of technology in communication within the company.
The rich picture would be significant highlighting the existing relationship between variables of using technology in communication, to enlighten about the contextual situation involving the highlighted factors. According to Kotiadis (2007), SSM provides a way of assessing the existing connections between work efficiency and the technologically based communications, where factors of internet, intranet, monitoring systems, and web-based systems interrelate. The SSM has the CATWOE system of analyzing the problem or issue from the real world context, where the process of identifying Customer, Actors, Transformation, Weltanschauung, Owner, and the Environmental components occur (Kotiadis 2007).
The most important component is the transformation aspect, which brings together the variables of internet using, intranet using, multimedia using, and use of other web-based systems in enhancing the success of communication in Bryant Homes. In the case of Bryant Homes, stage five of the SSM allows an effective comparison of the conceptual model and the real situation in the real world, and this would help analysts understand the perceived significance of technology in communication.
Application of the Soft System Methodology
The SSM approach of problem analysis is applicable in the situational analysis of the case of Bryant Homes. First, it is important to understand the sections of the SSM technique including the connection of the CATWOE mnemonic perspective system, which presents the situation of Bryant Homes in a systematic real world context. The efficiency aspects brought about by the technology in the business communication of Bryant Homes are important in this analysis. In the SSM approach, stage two also consists of the rich picture that indicates the contextual situation in a diagrammatic form to show the relationship between variables associated with the problem.
The rich picture
In the mnemonic CATWOE, Customers are those who benefit from communication technologies (transformative aspect), Actors are the factors or individuals who cause transformation, while Transformations entails the felt change or impact. Weltanschauung is the aspect that makes transformation meaningful, the Owner is the individual whom the system is answerable, and Environment is the aspect that influences, but has less control on the system (Kenny & Shannon 2009). Four main efficiency aspects protract from the case of Bryant Homes:
- To the beneficence of employees or staff and the organization at large, using technology in communication, enables Bryant Homes to enhance the reliability in communication between workplace departments, improves the quality of decision-making process within the management team.
- To the beneficence of the customers, communication technologies enhances accessibility and convenience of information, enhances accuracy and comprehensiveness of information, and speeds up sales system, hence creating comfort to clients.
Root definitions- reliability in communication
The mnemonic CATWOE: Use of communication technologies (Transformation, T) by the Bryant Homes (Owner- A) enabled by the IT department (Actors- A), makes the information easily accessible (Weltanschauung-T), to the demanding staff (Consumers- C), using internet, intranet and multimedia systems (Environment- E). This means that using communication technologies enhances reliability to the employees or staff of the Bryant Homes as internet, intranet and other multimedia systems of communication, makes information conveniently accessible, under highly secure measures, and in the fastest manner possible.
Conceptual model for the reliability aspect
Root definitions-Improved decision-making
There is a notion that using communication technologies in Bryant Homes enhances the capacity of its managers in making wise decisions regarding its service provision. The mnemonic CATWOE: the integration and use of communication technologies by the (T) by the information department (A) of Bryant Homes (O), enhances (W) the ability of the management team (C) of Bryant Homes in making informed decisions (W) regarding the products and services offered (E). With communication technologies, decision-making of the management team of Bryant Homes as a transformative aspect contributed by technology.
Conceptual model for decision-making
Root definitions- accessibility and convenience
A notion generated in the case of Bryant Homes is that the use of communication technologies enables customers to receive information conveniently through the integrated internet, intranet, and other multimedia information systems. The mnemonic CATWOE: In the Bryant Homes (O) effective use of communication technologies (T) enabled by the Information Technology Department (A), enables consumers or clients (C), to access information about the products and services conveniently (W), as compared to the manual information access (E). The greatest idea is that using communication technologies as a transformative aspect enables consumers to receive information conveniently.
Conceptual model of accessibility and convenience
Easy access to product and service data for making purchasing decisions
Root definitions- accuracy and comprehensiveness of information
According to the case of Bryant Homes, the use of technology enables firms and customers to share information accurately and comprehensively. The mnemonic CATWOE perspective: Effective (E) integration and use of information communication technologies (T) especially the effective internet and intranet (W) in the Bryant Homes company (O) through the technology workforce (A), enables the customers and the staff of Bryant Homes (C) to enjoy sharing of information accurately and extensively. This means that the transformative aspect of technology reflects the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the data shared through the technological tools.
Conceptual framework for accuracy and comprehensiveness
Root definitions- speeding up sales system
The case of Bryant Homes brings out the notion that the use of communication technologies for organizational communication, speeds up sales system that apparently benefits the customers as well as the company. CATWOE mnemonic perspective: Efficient integration and use of the communication technologies (T) by the Bryant Homes (O) through its Information Technology Department (A), speeds up the sales system, that consequently (W) makes the buying process (E) convenient for the consumers (C), and increasing the productivity of Bryant Homes (C) (Friend & Hickling 2005). This means that technology brings about a transformative aspect of speeding up sales system that subsequently becomes essential for the consumers and the company itself.
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The conceptual model for speeding up the sales system
Other suitable approaches
Apart from the soft system approach, several other system-thinking approaches can analyze the situation of Bryant Homes. Strategic Options Decision Analysis (SODA) and the Strategic Choice Approach (SCA) are also suitable for analyzing the situational context of the Bryant Homes. In this case, the SODA approach is appropriate approach of tackling the issue at the Bryant Homes because focuses on numerous variables. SODA uses a representational map or matrixes that show cognitive association between variables (Sorensen & Vidal 2007). The following diagram can represent SODA approach for communication technologies in Bryant Homes.
SODA approach to the Bryant Homes situation
Conclusively, system thinking approaches are suitable for analyzing situations in organizations critically and providing possible solutions based on the situational context. Soft System Methodology, Hard System Methodology, and the Strategic Options Decision Analysis are tools for analyzing problems and scenarios in an organization. From a viewpoint, it is evident that the use of communication technologies has influenced the manner in which Bryant Homes receives, maintains, and shares information amongst the employees and with the customers. To help improve situation analysis and solution creation in problems, this report recommends proper and systematic examination of the problem using these system-thinking approaches to encourage a decent approach towards problems affecting firms.
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Kotiadis, K 2007, ‘Using soft systems methodology to determine the simulation study objectives’, Journal of Simulation, vol.1, no. 3,pp. 215–222. Web.
Sorensen, L & Vidal, R 2007, ‘Evaluating Six Soft Approaches’, Economic Analysis Working Papers, vol.7, no. 9, pp. 1-20. Web.