The problem area of invoice matching at Neon Electrical- a case study of SSM in business systems analysis and design
Today's business systems analysts deal with problem areas which can be diverse in size and complexity. The tools they use to clarify these problem areas are traditionally 'hard' systems methodologies such as Structured Analysis and Design Method (SSADM) (Downs, Clare & Coe 1988). These methodologies help the analysts define 'what' needs to be done in order to solve a problem. When problem areas are too fuzzy to be able to identify what the problem is, analysts may use a method such as Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to clarify 'why' a system exists by defining its ultimate objectives. This report outlines the various stages of SSM and illustrates how the methodology can be employed by use of a case study. It investigates how business analysts tackle problem areas at a national electrical wholesaler known as Neon Electrical. The report gives an account of the problems faced by staff and management at Neon when trying to clarify various problems caused by their purchase invoice matching system. It shows how SSM is applied to the areas of concern in order to clearly define the problems and to subsequently recommend viable solutions. Throughout the case study the value of SSM as a tool for business systems analysis is considered. The report concludes the investigation by reflecting on the various strengths and weaknesses of SSM.