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SSM Analysis

Discuss about the Systems Methodology Of Home Centre At Kuwait.

Home Centre at Kuwait is a successful business that has been established across various other countries. The business remains extremely profitable and has been able to gain customer confidence. It is considered one of the most liked brands across the country offering home décor and home related products. However, there are certain challenges faced by the Company in terms of its data entry methodology in its Sales department. This challenge is analysed using soft systems methodology (SSM) approach, whereby organization process modeling is used for solving the problem (Mehregan 2012). The Company has to accommodate management of change in order to overcome this problem by incorporating systems as software methods or data entry tools for entering data into systems.

The soft systems methodology is generally used to analyse complex situations and was developed by systems engineering approaches. It best helps resolve complex situations by analysing the situation and moving from one step to another in a step by step manner (Baskerville 2009). It allows critical thinking approach and it includes 7 stages of representations as following;

  1. Analysis of problematical situation: In this situation, Home Centre Kuwait is facing challenges in its Sales and Marketing department. It has affected the brand name and customer feedback in a negative manner. Only a root analysis of the problem can help arrive at suitable solution. The core problem here lies that its financial department due to Sales and Marketing department’s challenges is unable to tally and furnish adequate data to its stakeholders. The stock record with that of finances is not tallying, which is leading to immense troubles in developing proper records of financial transactions and accounting statements.   
  2. Expression of the problem situation: The problem situation arises as some transactions data is not entered in the books of accounts(Flood 2010). Although sales of requisite products have taken place but records have been handwritten. There are no other proofs to depict that the transaction actually has taken place.
  3. Formulation of root definitions of relevant systems for purposeful activity: Root definition of problems as these is important as they help in solving them rapidly(Sørensen 2010). Home Centre is a reputable brand across Kuwait and is regarded as one of the best retailers. However, this lack of record keeping is not only harming the Company but also its customers, as they are not easily able to exchange goods purchased or adopt maintenance on them suitably. Root definition of the challenge lies in its stakeholder’s inability to identify a suitable system to record transactions for each and every sale made.   
  4. Building of conceptual models of the systems named in the root definitions: In order to arrive at the solution to the given problem a software system that can ideally record transaction for the Company can be integrated. This software technology can be a model that input sales data and gives related output as reports when demanded.   
  5. Compare models with real world situations: In real world situations there are several models or software present that offers variety of solutions. These software models are designed to meet data entry requirements for client companies and then make financial or accounting systems accordingly.
  6. Define possible changes which are both possible and feasible: A possible change is to design a software technology that helps to input data and produce reports for the Company(Hanafizadeh 2011). This change is highly feasible and possible in nature as Home Centre can easily afford it.
  7. Taking action to improve the problem situation: In order to improve and tackle the present situation such software technology has to be adopted. The software system has to be tested for appropriate fit prior to incorporating it fully.

SSM analysis was successful when it had incorporated certain elements of CATWOE model that was developed by David Smyth (Shankar 2009). The process identified processes, people, environment that leads to the situation being analysed in the scope of the study. Business Analysts evaluates possible impacts on six elements of CATWOE as given below;

  • Customers: Here the highest beneficiaries of the business process are evaluated along with issue that affects them. Customers here constitute business stakeholders and also external customers or purchasers of the business products. Both business owners will be affected in presence of an inappropriate accounting or transaction processing system. Customers in absence of proper accounting receipts or systems will not easily be able to tally their transactions or return any goods sold back.
  • Actors: People involved in the situation comprises of stakeholders, senior people of the management, people that are in Sales and Marketing department and so on. All staffs and employees of the department are involved in the situation along with finance and accounts department participants. People in the Sales and Marketing department will be implementing solution. Appropriate data entry methodology will lead to success of the business systems.
  • Transformation Process: Transformation of the system lies at the heart of the software system, that will be transforming accounting and financing needs of the company into real. Appropriate data entry technology will help input correct data and yield output for the system.
  • Weltanschauung (or Worldview): Wider impacts of the issue will be benefiting finance statements that will be produced by the firm.
  • Owner: The processes or situation being investigated is the responsibility of the Sales and Marketing department. Role played in the solution by the department will be the entire motivator for the change to take place.
  • Environmental Constraints: There are constraints as learning relative to the software that is implemented. Limitations that will impact the solution and its success is the capability of the Sales and Marketing department to implement software and conduct transactions successfully.

A BECM model is an abbreviated form for Being, Engaging, Contextualizing and Managing. This model is applied on basis for understanding a complex situation and problem.

  • At the first step of the model is Being, where the current system of Home Centre Kuwait is evaluated. Background of the problem lies in Sales and Marketing department data entry troubles. There are several ethical considerations that the Company and its employees have not been able to attend to. They are however aware of the complex challenges arising or ways that the problem needs to be resolved. The senior and upper level management is not aware regarding the complex situation facing the company. Customer satisfaction is deteriorating as some of them are not getting printed bills or any records of their transactions maintained when they come to view the same.
  • In the next step towards problem resolution Engaging has to be undertaken to arrive at the root cause of the problem and design appropriate solution. This step deals with analysis of the complex challenges related to the situation. In this case the challenge lies in absence of a system that could possibly integrate an information system for processing of transactions. Absence of a transaction processing system has rendered the entire system ineffective.
  • In the next step of Contextualizing methods of analysis is arrived at such as to understand the position of the Company. Home Centre Kuwait is facing a complex situation related to transaction processing system. The Sales and Marketing does not have any details pertaining various transactions, which has led to challenges in keeping records. Other companies that are operating in the market have an appropriate transaction processing system, which allows their employees to maintain records of every transaction. Moreover customer satisfaction rates in these companies are high as they get well generated printed bills for the same.
  • In the last step of the process is Managing, appreciation of managing the problem to arrive at solution is taken into consideration. This challenge is dealt with by appreciating the problem then adopting a suitable solution as transaction processing system for the same. The suitable solution is arrived at by evaluation of rich picture diagram, multiple cause diagram, system map diagram and control model diagram.

A Logframe matrix approach is adopted for the project such that it is able to arrive at its desired solution. The following logframe table clearly indicates requirements of the project subsequently with desired output.

Project Summary

Indicators

Means of Verification

Risks/Assumptions

Goal

Adapt a Transaction Processing System for Sales & Marketing Department

Information Systems

Monitoring sales department

Adaptability to Company

Outcome

Convenient customer  transaction handling

Customer satisfaction & high levels of diligence in TPS (Transaction Processing System)

Customer Feedback

Customer Dissatisfaction

Outputs

Bills and other transaction details as rations

Printed bills & bill data

Physical Verification

Inappropriate formats

Activities

Bills, ratios, many more

 Accurate financial output

Compliance Management Systems

Inaccurate financial data


Home Centre has considerable advantages in doing business in the Middle East. In order to understand the internal analysis of the Company a comprehensive SWOT is conducted for the purpose (Amin 2011). A SWOT analysis is an abbreviated form for strength, weakness, opportunity and threats as given below;

  • Strength
  • Wide range of collection offered to customers to select from
  • Financial stability of the Company making it easier to expand new business
  • Customer brand perception is high
  • Weakness
    • Lack of internal software methodologies and systems leading to challenges in data entry
    • Current data entry problems have led to several internal challenges in other departments as well
  • Opportunities
    • Expanding branches across various corners of the country
    • Capability to re-engineer entire business processes
    • Highly talented human resource that can help expand business further
  • Threats
    • International brands as Ikea is visualizing market potential in Kuwait and planning to enter the country(Helms 2010).
    • Lack of appropriate financial transaction systems and accounting records might raise corporate governance issue in the country, creating lack of trust amongst stakeholders and customers.

Conclusion

Analysis of the problem according to Soft System Methodology helps understand that the root problem of the current situation is absence of a software system. In presence of a software system matched to the organization’s need, there would be no lags in data entering or its interpretation. It would lead to development of adequate data in financial and accounting forms. Application of SSM analysis helps to arriving at solutions of complex problems. Moreover, a comprehensive SWOT analysis will help analyse strengths, weakness, opportunity and threats related to particular situation. Overall it helps to reflect upon the situation that is experienced by the firm in totality.

BECM Model

Analysing stakeholders of a Company is critical for diagnosing any problems and then arriving at a critical solution for the same. Stakeholder for any company can either be internal or external in nature. Internal stakeholders are those who are internal to the Company.

  • Internal Stakeholders: For Home Centre Kuwait, internal stakeholders includes Directors, Senior Management, employees, staffs, shareholders and other participants of the business. For Home Centre Kuwait it consists of the shareholders, directors, employees, staffs of all departments. Departments of Sales and Marketing, Finance and other types of departments that is engaged in service delivery at their showroom and warehouse.  
  • External Stakeholders: External stakeholder includes individuals who are external to the company as Auditors, customers, rating agencies, suppliers, government and any other external bodies or individual impacting on the Company. While analysing Home Centre Kuwait external stakeholders comprise of auditors, customers, government agents and so on.

While internal stakeholders are connected in service delivery to final customers, external stakeholders are connected with accepting the products and rating them accordingly. Both internal and external stakeholders forms an integral part of the system.   

The project here concerns Home Centre in Kuwait and the critical challenge they are facing. The Company has already established its brand name around the Middle East, especially in Kuwait it is the favorite brand for customers. Recent problems faced in recording transactions in Sales department has deteriorated overall service delivery for the Company. Moreover ground level staffs are unable to figure a suitable solution for the problem whereas upper level management are unaware regarding the challenge. The project details itself to analyse the challenge in various manner such as to overcome it. Analysis from every possible angle as ground level, stakeholder levels and project analysis tools has been adopted to understand the problem in a detailed manner. Finally the solution arrived at suggested at adaption of a transaction processing system that will help overcome the situation. A suitable transaction processing system (TPS) will not only allow recording of transactions rather a more professional approach to recording data.

Problem Statement

I have identified a problem of analysing transaction entry systems at Home Centre Kuwait. Interiors market in Kuwait region is flourishing with Home Centre being one of the most reputable brands in the region. The challenge experienced related to adoption of transaction processing systems is a ground level problem not easily understood by top level management. In order to conduct the study and collect data from departments of Sales and Marketing, or Finance or any other administrative departments it was not easy. I could not get permission related to this study easily as top level management was not convinced of the idea. They felt that internal data and critical information pertaining to the Company would be lost in case they allowed such a type of study to take place. I had to convince managers at each and every level and highlight the problem to them to ensure that data collection can take place. Moreover, each department wanted to verify with Sales and Marketing department whether they were actually experiencing the trouble of maintain transaction related data and information. Sales and Marketing department were not ready and eager to accept that they were actually facing the trouble. Their non-acceptance made it difficult for me to gather data related to procedure for the study.      

Methods of Solution

LogFrame Approach

The challenge analysed was extremely complicated as it involved dealing with higher authority. The higher authority and management was not convinced regarding the reason of the study. In order to resolve the challenge I decided to draw up a proposal plan for the study and then submit the same to the higher management and authorities for their perusal. I fixed an appointment with all necessary authorities from whom I had to obtain permission for conducting the study. While asking for an appointment, I submitted a letter that could to be reviewed for understanding the purpose of my visit. The proposal clearly indicated the various reasons for conducting the study with its goals and recommendations for overcoming the challenges. Higher level management had viewed my proposal letter prior to providing me an appointment for the same, which made my task easier to achieve. This method for solution made it easier to arrive at the data collection procedure for the study. 

Storage of Solutions Holder

I had set up meeting with each and every manager at higher authorities, whose permission was critical for data collection procedure. The Proposal Plan letter that I had sent to every manager was maintained in my storage solution holder. Secondly and most importantly all letters asking permission for appointment was also placed in the holder. Minutes of meetings recorded were placed in the folders to ensure that none of the points of the meetings go unnoticed. Before arriving at the data collection stage I made sure that I obtained all possible written permission and documentation for the same. This was done so that I do not face any challenge related to data collection in the future.

The best solution

The best solution to all the challenges that I faced was to obtain prior permission before conducting the study. I deemed obtaining of prior permission as an essential documentation procedure. It was an essential element for the study to ensure that I do not encounter any challenge in the future. I visualized that only way to undertake the study and overcome possible challenges was related to my major weakness. I am employed at a junior level and position in the Company, hence none of the authorities would review my recommendations easily. I had to utilize key strength of mine, which was to adopt a formal mechanism of writing a well drafted proposal plan or letter for obtaining prior permission. I realized that I could face negative impacts from my immediate senior who could easily raise questions on me. Realising this potential threat facing me, I turned it into a meaningful activity by highlighting the various positive impact that completion of my project could generate on the company. I told them regarding the positive impact of accommodating an information system and the betterment to the company and its processes could be achieved. My senior colleagues and managers were thoroughly impressed with the idea of analysing problems with varied tools by looking at the diagrams. They were also delighted on realising the potential benefits that accommodation of information systems, which could ease their work and reduce their liability. It would increase ethical responsibility of the company y and lead to greater transparency, which would further enhance the brand name for the Company.  

Tip or suggestions

Data collection and its analysis was the most crucial aspect of the study. Though it was difficult to collect information related to the study yet it was difficult to portray the same effectively. In order to understand the problem that is faced by Home Centre thorough analysis of its transaction processing system has to be entailed. It would help arrive at possible root cause definition to the problem identified and then form appropriate recommendations. 

References

Amin, S.H., Razmi, J. and Zhang, G., 2011. Supplier selection and order allocation based on fuzzy SWOT analysis and fuzzy linear programming. Expert Systems with Applications, 38(1), pp.334-342.

Baskerville, R., Pries-Heje, J. and Venable, J., 2009, May. Soft design science methodology. In Proceedings of the 4th international conference on design science research in information systems and technology (p. 9). ACM.

Hanafizadeh, P. and Aliehyaei, R., 2011. The application of fuzzy cognitive map in soft system methodology. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 24(4), pp.325-354.

Helms, M.M. and Nixon, J., 2010. Exploring SWOT analysis–where are we now? A review of academic research from the last decade. Journal of strategy and management, 3(3), pp.215-251.

Flood, R.L., 2010. The relationship of ‘systems thinking’to action research. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 23(4), pp.269-284.

Mehregan, M.R., Hosseinzadeh, M. and Kazemi, A., 2012. An application of soft system methodology. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 41, pp.426-433.

Page, T., 2008. Soft Systems Modelling of the New Project Development Process-A Case Study. i-Manager's Journal on Management, 3(2), p.34.

Shankar, R., Acharia, S. and Baveja, A., 2009. Soft-system knowledge management framework for new product development. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(1), pp.135-153.

Sørensen, C.G., Fountas, S., Nash, E., Pesonen, L., Bochtis, D., Pedersen, S.M., Basso, B. and Blackmore, S.B., 2010. Conceptual model of a future farm management information system. Computers and electronics in agriculture, 72(1), pp.37-47.

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