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Q1. Apply the Soft System Method to this Situation case, including system diagrams and conceptual mapping in order to brainstorm, analyse and make suitable recommendations. Provide a detailed narrative explaining your thinking process.

Q2. Investigate further suitable approaches and tools that could be used to investigate, illustrate and make recommendation to solving problems. Please consult all your course materials and undertake relevant literature search.

Q3. What are the main insights or new understandings that you gained from the application of SSM to the case study?

Q4. Review the relevance and suitability of hard or soft approach in highlighting issues faced by it.

Soft system method applying in Philips

Soft system methodology is considered as an approach to the organizational procedure modeling as well as can be utilized both for common issue solving as well as management of change. The methodology has been developed from the earlier system engineering approaches. This is a data driven business strategy that is used by the business management that follows a well devised plan to implement the strategy in the market. This data in this strategy is of utmost importance and has to be prepared very precisely. The profit of the company can be increased by altering very small details that could be greatly impact the production of the product. In the present study, soft system method has been applied in Philips that assists the organizations gaining competitive benefits. On the other hand, suitable approaches for solving the issue is discussed in the present study along with main insights in SSM. In addition, relevance as well as suitability of hard or soft system approach are discussed in the study.

Rus and Tolley (2015) stated that soft system methodology can accommodate several perceptions of the actors, judgements as well as values. SSM attempts for learning as well as appreciating the issue between the groups of stakeholders compared to setting up an issue, which is pre-defined. The purpose exploring approach can assist the managers of Philips in enhancing the business when it comes to the process of taking decision and make the organization competitive with the market. Most of the work engages with the interviews as well as meetings in order to obtain insight of the situation.

Recruitment and selection is one of the most crucial activities within the business enterprise by which new candidate and workforce can invite within company. It is the first step in creating a strong resource base (Zhu and Azar 2015). It is great responsibility of HR assistant to design a systematic schedule for conduct interview. Following are systematic procedure of recruitment and select that will design by HR manager for hire candidate for HR assistant position within Marks and Spencer-

Recruitment planning- In this stage, HR manager in the Philips will focus upon the recruitment planning. It is the first stage in the recruitment process in which vacant position are assessed and defined. In this, HR manager consider upon the experience, skill of candidate and define the job specification. A well-structured recruitment plan is an obligatory to appeal potential candidates from a pool of applicant (Prakash and Mukesh 2014). In this stage, HR manager consider that potential candidate should experience, qualified and capable to take responsibility related to objective of business enterprise. As Philips HR manager is looking for the HR assistant so he/she will consider job specification and personal specification for HR assistant post (Powell 2018). Following are various aspects that will consider by HR manager of Philips in the recruitment planning stage-

Identify vacancy- HR manager will consider Number of post to be filled, Number of position, qualification and experience required and duties and responsibility to be performed by HR assistant in this stage.

Recruitment planning

Job Analysis- HR manager will recording and collecting the job information, data regarding the job specification, check the accuracy of job information and identify the skill, knowledge and ability for required job.

Job description- HR assistant is very specific job in the HR department who is responsible to handle a variety of employee’s related administrative duties. He/she acts as a liaison between HR manager and employees (Khan and Naeem 2018). He/she promotes the effective and smooth communication and promotes solution of all queries between employer and employees. Following are various roles and responsibilities of HR assistant within Philips corporation-

  • HR assistant is responsible for operate the day to day operations of HR functions like training and development, recruitment and selection, employees engagement, employees relation, workforce planning etc.
  • HR assistant is also responsible for provide clerical and administrative support to human resource executives.
  • HR assistant is responsible to coordinate the HR projects such as training, meeting survey etc.
  • HR assistant is also responsible for handle the grievance procedure and handling complaints.
  • HR assistant is also responsible for conduct initiate orientation to newly hired workers within organization (Zeng et al. 2017).
  • HR assistant has responsibility to  coordinate communication with candidate and make the schedule of interview for them
  • HR assistant is also responsible for assist the recruiters to source candidates and update the data base in effective manner.
  • HR assistant is also responsible for deal with personnel request allied to human resource matters, rules and regulation.

Job Specification- In this stage, HR officer in Philips will focus upon the qualification, experience, training and development, work responsibilities, planning of career, emotional characteristics for recruit the HR assistant within corporation etc.

Job Evaluation- Job evaluation is a procedure of assessing, analysing and evaluating the worth for a job in relation to the other jobs in the business unit. The main purpose of job evaluation is to determine and analyse which job commands how much pay (Zarei et al. 2014). HR manager will consider various methods such as job classification, job grading, job ranking etc in this stage for job evaluation.

Strategy Development- In this stage, HR manager of Philips will consider upon the recruitment strategy and tactic. In this aspect he/she will consider type of recruitment, geographical area, recruitment sources etc.

Searching- Searching is the procedure of recruitment that is divided into two-step that is source activation and selling.HR manager will consider sources that is internal and external source. Manager will select eternal source for searching the right candidate  under which  he/she will use direct advertisement , campus recruitment, direct recruitment method.

Screening- Screening process starts with process of filtering the application of the candidates. In this stage, HR manager of the Philips remove unqualified or irrelevant candidates that were received through sourcing (Chong and Lee 2015). Only effective, highly qualified and attractive candidate application select in this stage by HR manager for HR assistant position in Marks and Spencer. After shortlisting of application, HR manager finally conduct the interview for selected applicants for HR assistant position. HR manager will conduct face to face interview under which he/she will analyse and evaluate candidate potential, knowledge, ability and performance and select then on the basis of company requirement.

Evaluation and control- In this stage HR manager of Philips will consider various aspects such as advertisement cost; cost incurred in recruitment method like agency fees, advertisement charges etc.

In any industry, there are many sector of it that instead of providing profit to are company or behaving like as asset to the firm is just the waste and a liability and has no engagement in the company (Hadfield et al. 2017). The strategy of lean six sigma recognizes these waste first and deal with them. The waste disposal in any firm is very important for reducing underutilized aspect of the company. These aspect of the company that is staying idle and not participating in the growth. Therefore it is necessary to implement lean by which “waste” and “value added” could be dealt in the firm.  Below are the list of seven non-adding value or “waste” that are often described as the seven waste:

  1. Unnecessary motion or movement: The underprepared workstation in the company is the main reason of this waste. The workstation should be developed keeping in mind the movement of each and every employees so that unnecessary motion could be avoided.
  2. Defect: The defective product percentage has to improve in any company for the proper utilisation of the resources and minimising waste materials (Jeong et al. 2018). This can be done by ensuring that there are ample checking station and machine for their product which can detect any defective pieces.
  3. Inventory: The stock should not be in excess amount or less than the required amount. This is where the strategy of data analysis comes into play. The data collected has to be properly analysed and report has to be made as to what amount of product is needed to avoid any stockpiling.
  4. Processing: The mistakes or neglect in the processing stage of any product is to be avoided and should be checked, this will automatically decrease the amount of the defect pieces that could be the result of negligence in the firm.
  5. Transportation: Diekhans and De Doncker (2015) mentioned that the transport facility of the product has to be properly routed; both the internal transport facility in the firm as well as the outer facility. The best route and the most efficient route has to be taken while doing so. This will avoid any unnecessary delay and might also save some extra fuel cost.
  6. Waiting time: This ‘waste” arises due to lack of synchronization in the company between its various departments. The time taken during each shift can also impact the overall productivity of the company and its employees.
  7. Overproduction: The company need not to be over-optimistic in dealing with the amount of product that they are making (Collings et al. 2018). This might as well become a stock that will become a liability for the firm.

Strategy Development

Apart from above stated “waste” or there is a term i.e Lean Thinking which work under the principle that an organisation is formed by processes. The five lean principle are a way for an organisation to eliminate waste, add value, and improve and enhance their prospect in the market.

  1. The value should be accurately defined by the point of view of consumers and that specify the desired value of the customer to the product, its capabilities. It is important as it might not be giving any customer satisfaction or generation waste despite adding value to the company.
  2. Waste should be eliminated and value stream should be identified (Maier et al. 2018). The three critical activities such as physical transformation, information management (from order to delivery), and product definition (from design to launching) are included.
  3. Value creating steps in a firm should remain intact. Processes should be standardised based on kaizen philosophy the waiting, scraping or downtime should be limited or minimised.
  4. The want of the customer should be the primary objective of the company. That means applying the pull system, and reducing the stock or inventory. This is to ensure that the company does not produce any product that is not desired..
  5. There is no such thing as a complete perfection, and the company should refrain from having such principles (Ghosh et al. 2016). There is no end in the search of perfection in the processes but constant re-evaluation and upgrading and optimization is the way.

There are seven steps included in the SSM model such as appreciating the problem situation. After that is required to write the problem situation, develop conceptual models were formal system concepts and other system thinking are included (Escrig-Tena et al. 2018). In addition, comparison of the models with real world, defining possible changes and recommendations of actions are included in the process. With the help of SSM model, Philips can apply the process as the followed.

Workforce planning- Workforce planning is a strategy that adopts by employer in order to allot the right job at the right time and to right personnel. It is a procedure to align the requirement and priorities of corporation with its human resources. HR manager of Philips can allot the right responsibility of work to right person with help of this HRM approach and fulfil the workforce requirement.

Recruitment and Selection- Recruitment and selection are a procedure of hiring candidate for vacant position within corporation. It is a procedure of finding and attracting the potential resources in order to fulfil the vacant position in the company (Lee et al. 2018). This includes identifying the job, assess the requirement of job, reviewing the application, screening, shortlisting and selecting the right candidate for the right position according to requirement within corporation.

Training and Development- Philips also consider this approach of HRM through which it provides an opportunity to workforce to improve their skill, knowledge, ability, criteria of working (Luong et al. 2015). It is programs that assist to workforce learn specific skills and knowledge for improve their existing job at workplace.

Performance management- This is another essential approach of HRM that assist in creating a work environment or setting in which human resource are enabled to perform the best of their capability and ability at workplace. It considers upon the performance of corporation, department, human resource that develops the product and service.

Reward system- In order to retain employees within organisation for long time, it is very important to motivate and encourage by use of monetary and non-monetary reward system. In the monetary reward, management provides incentive, compensation, bonus, fringe benefits, and other financial rewards for their effective performance and potential. Non-monetary reward includes promotion, higher responsibility of job, growth opportunities etc.

As per the above discussion it has been analysed that human resource is a key asset of organisation those helps in achieve business objective. In the absence of human resource it is impossible to carry business activities and function (Collings, Wood and Szamosi 2018). Thus, HR department have great responsibility to maintain healthy relationship with employees and solve their issues and problem regarding working. With help of employee relation and employee engagement, corporation can motivate and retain employee for long time.


Employee engagement is a practice that adopt by management for involve the employees in the business decision making. It helps in managing healthy relationship between employee and employees. In order to improve employee relation, HRM should adopt the flexible working practices and employer choice policy.

Flexible working practice is one of the approaches to maintain the work life balance of workforce within organisation. Flexible working is on the rise and giving human resource flexibility on where, when and the hour they work. In this working practice, organisation allows to workers for manage their work from home or any their location that is far from home. In this includes the part time and full time job option. The flexible working practice assist to human resource in managing their working from home through which they can handle the high work load situation at workplace (Maier et al. 2018). With help of this practice, employer provides an opportunity to employee for manage their high workload situation. This also assists in maintaining balance between personal and professional life of employee. Following are various benefits of the flexible working practice-

  • Reduce Employees Turn over- By flexible working practice, employees can easily make balance between their personal and professional life because they can handle their work from home or any other location that is far from office.
  • Increased feeling of personal control over schedule and work environment- Management allows employees to determine their own schedule and work environment.
  • Reduce Absenteeism- Flexible working practice also assist in overcomes the employee’s absenteeism at workplace because they have several options to handle their work.
  • Enhance employee’s moral and engagement- This is the one most effective advantage for organisation of flexible working practice that is boots employee’s moral and engagement. Employees can automatically encourage and motivate for higher performance and working.

There are several ways to approach the management of HR in the business of Philips. However, it is significant to remember the hard and soft system approaches are academic in nature. In real business, human resource department would adopt the components of hard and soft approaches in several cases that would not be interested in the slightest in the process. The key approaches of hard HRM in Philips are making short term changes in the number of employees, minimal communication, paying adequate to recruit and retain the process. The appraisal systems need to be emphasized on making judgements.

On the other hand, in the soft HRM approach, the strategic focus on longer-term planning, strong as well as regular two-way communication, competitive pay structure with proper performance associated rewards (Maier et al. 2018). In addition, flatter organizational structures and democratic leadership styles are the main features of soft system approach in Philips.


On the basis of above discussion it has been summarised that human resource management plays a very crucial role within the Philips through which  several functions of HRM such as recruitment and selection, training and development, workforce planning, employees engagement, employee relation etc can conduct. Marks and Spencer, HR manager should consider upon the flexible working practise through which employees can make balance between their personal and professional life. It has been also concluded that HR assistant is very specific job in the HR department who is responsible to handle a variety of employee’s related administrative duties. The hard approach to HRM can be expected in resulting a more cost effective workforce where cost-effective workforce can be taken in quicker way. On the other hand, the soft approach will be appealed to the touchy feel process. However, the issues involved with soft system approach can be helpful to gain benefits in the workforce.


Chong, C.Y. and Lee, S.P., 2015, April. Constrained agglomerative hierarchical software clustering with hard and soft constraints. In 2015 International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering (ENASE) (pp. 177-188). IEEE.

Collings, D.G., Wood, G.T. and Szamosi, L.T., 2018. Human resource management: A critical approach. In Human Resource Management (pp. 1-23). Routledge.

Diekhans, T. and De Doncker, R.W., 2015. A dual-side controlled inductive power transfer system optimized for large coupling factor variations and partial load. IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, 30(11), pp.6320-6328.

Escrig-Tena, A.B., Segarra-Ciprés, M., García-Juan, B. and Beltrán-Martín, I., 2018. The impact of hard and soft quality management and proactive behaviour in determining innovation performance. International Journal of Production Economics, 200, pp.1-14.

Ghosh, S., Roy, S. and Sanyal, M.K., 2016. Soft System Methodology as a Tool to Understand Issues of Governmental Affordable Housing Programme of India: A Case Study Approach. Journal of The Institution of Engineers (India): Series A, 97(3), pp.343-354.

Hadfield, S., Wang, Z., Rieffel, E.G., O'Gorman, B., Venturelli, D. and Biswas, R., 2017, November. Qantum Approximate Optimization with Hard and Soft Constraints. In Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Post Moores Era Supercomputing (pp. 15-21). ACM.

Jeong, S.H., Jang, J.H., Cho, H.Y. and Lee, Y.B., 2018. Soft-and hard-lipid nanoparticles: a novel approach to lymphatic drug delivery. Archives of pharmacal research, pp.1-18.

Khan, B.A. and Naeem, H., 2018. Measuring the impact of soft and hard quality practices on service innovation and organisational performance. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 29(11-12), pp.1402-1426.

Lee, S.H., Shin, S.H., Madsen, M., Takei, K., Nah, J. and Lee, M.H., 2018. A soft lithographic approach to fabricate InAs nanowire field-effect transistors. Scientific reports, 8(1), p.3204.

Luong, M.T., Pham, H. and Manning, C.D., 2015. Effective approaches to attention-based neural machine translation. arXiv preprint arXiv:1508.04025.

Maier, J., Weiherer, M., Huber, M. and Palm, C., 2018. Imitating human soft tissue on basis of a dual-material 3D print using a support-filled metamaterial to provide bimanual haptic for a hand surgery training system. Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery.

Powell, J., 2018. An introduction to systems theory: from hard to soft systems thinking in the management of complex organizations. In Complexity and Healthcare Organization (pp. 43-58). CRC Press.

Prakash, A. and Mukesh, R., 2014. A Biometric Approach for Continuous User Authentication by Fusing Hard and Soft Traits. IJ Network Security, 16(1), pp.65-70.

Rus, D. and Tolley, M.T., 2015. Design, fabrication and control of soft robots. Nature, 521(7553), p.467.

Zarei, B., Azizian, S., Shishehgar, M. and Sadeghi, S., 2014. Networking in marketing and advertising companies: a soft system methodology approach. Journal of Marketing Research.

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