Perspective 5 - The System (Part 2)

Hello everyone!


I hope you are staying safe and healthy!


The last time we spoke we started the Part 1 discussion of the System. We specifically focused on:

  • What a system is

  • How a system works

  • How to identify systems

  • Why identifying and understanding the system is important

If you missed the previous blog post you can find it here.


In this post we are going to discuss a technique you can leverage to create a visual picture of how systems work together.


SYSTEM CONTEXT DIAGRAM

A system context diagram is a great visual to understand how systems work together. The diagram identifies a main system and what other systems interact with that main system, and what information is passed between systems at a high level. It’s a nice visual to gain context on the systems at play.

I have provided an example below, and I kept it simple merely for demonstration purposes.


Figure 9


As you can see above, your main system is on Online System where customers can place orders for certain products. The systems that are interacting with this main system are: Customers, Warehouse, and Accounting. The Customer Relationships Management System is interacting with the Customer System which interacts with the Online System. The arrows from the different systems, demonstrate how the data is flowing and what type of data is flowing from one system to the next. The information for the purposes of this example is very high level and generic, and there could be other information that could be added, but I wanted to keep it simple for this example.

As you can see, the Online System sends “Approved Orders” information to the Warehouse. The Warehouse System sends “Product Numbers” and “Shipping Status” to the Online System. Now for an example, a piece of information that is not showing on the diagram, but the Warehouse System would have is “inventory information” to alert the online system if what the customer ordered is available. I kept that piece of information off the diagram to point it out here just as an example of some additional data that could be present, and to also demonstrate as you build this diagram it may take multiple iterations to get it right.

In addition, the Online System sends “Invoice” information to Accounting for payment processing. Now the Customer Relationship Management System (CRMS) sends and receives information form the Customer system related to “customer information”. The CRMS is the system or record of all customer information.

Of course, the Customer System is interacting with the Online System. The Customer System will send “Orders” to the Online System and the Online System will send the “Order Confirmation” to the Customer System.

So, as you can see here, a system context diagram is a great high level visual of how systems interact with each other and what data flows between the systems. These diagrams can get quiet complex depending on the organization and the systems at play.

In conclusion, understanding not only what systems are in the organization, but how they interact is powerful. It provides you with information and insights that can help you influence the capabilities to enhance internal experiences for the team members and external experiences for the customer. It gives you the power of knowledge to take transforming the organization to the next level.


Until next time, signing off,

The BA Martial Artist 🥋


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P.S. Sign-in and leave a comment below, I would love to hear your comments.

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