1. Apply the basic process of soft systems methodo

1. Apply the basic process of soft systems methodology to a case study.

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Module name:

Systems Thinking

Module code:


Title of the Assignment:

Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) Case Study Assignment

This coursework item is: (delete as appropriate)



This summative coursework will be marked anonymously



The learning outcomes that are assessed by this coursework are:

1.      Apply the basic process of soft systems methodology to a case study.

2.      Select and apply the appropriate diagramming tools to analyse a problem situation.

This coursework is: (delete as appropriate)




This coursework contributes 50% to the overall module mark.

Date Set:

12 Feb 2018 (week 20)

Date & Time Due:

25 March 2018 (week 28)

The ‘normal’ coursework return date for this work is:

14 May 2017 (week 33)

When completed you are required to submit your coursework to:

Laurence Brooks, via  Turnitin through Blackboard

Late submission of coursework policy: Late submissions will be processed in accordance with current University regulations which state:

the time period during which a student may submit a piece of work late without authorisation and have the work capped at 40% if passed is 14 calendar days. Work submitted unauthorised more than 14 calendar days after the original submission date will receive a mark of 0%. These regulations apply to a student’s first attempt at coursework. Work submitted late without authorisation which constitutes reassessment of a previously failed piece of coursework will always receive a mark of 0%.”

Academic Offences and Bad Academic Practices:

These include plagiarism, cheating, collusion, copying work and reuse of your own work, poor referencing or the passing off of somebody else`s ideas as your own. If you are in any doubt about what constitutes an academic offence or bad academic practice you must check with your tutor. Further information is available at:

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/dmu-students/the-student-gateway/academic-support-office/academic-offences.aspx and



Tasks to be undertaken:

In this assignment you demonstrate your understanding of SSM, along with your critical analysis skills, judgement and insight.

Guidelines on Harvard referencing can be found in the library. There is a leaflet and a URL: www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Images/SelfStudy/Harvard.pdf (or got to the library website and search for ‘Harvard guide’) and an online tutorial: www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Support/Guides/index.php?page=495. Further information can be obtained from the librarians and/or CLaSS.

Soft Systems Study of a UK Government ICT Initiative.


  1. You are required to select ONE of the following prominent UK Government IT Initiatives:

·         UK Smart Meters Programme https://www.nao.org.uk/report/update-on-preparations-for-smart-metering/

·         Universal Credit Benefits System https://www.nao.org.uk/report/universal-credit-progress-update-2/

·         General Practice Extraction Service https://www.nao.org.uk/report/general-practice-extraction-service-investigation/

·         Identity Assurance Programme. https://www.nao.org.uk/report/identity-assurance-programme/

·         National Cyber Security Programme https://www.nao.org.uk/report/update-on-the-national-cyber-security-programme/

·         HMRC Aspire Contract https://www.nao.org.uk/report/managing-replacing-aspire-contract/

·         BBC Digital Media Initiative https://www.nao.org.uk/report/memorandum-on-the-bbcs-digital-media-initiative/

  1. Collect all the relevant documentation you can find using web sources. Make sure you note any details needed for Harvard referencing purposes, for example journal title, article title, and/or URL and date accessed.
  2. Develop an understanding of what is involved in the initiative. To do this you will apply SSM techniques being taught in the module.
  3. Develop an SSM model which analyses the failure as far as the data you have found will allow. In this assignment you demonstrate your critical analysis skills, judgement and insight. The SSM Model should contain:
    1. Brief summary of the Initiative. (250 words)
    2. Rich picture(s)
    3. Analysis 1,2 and 3 comments; these three analyses are usually conducted by visiting the company and talking to people – you won’t be able to do that so you should comment on what these analyses are about, how you can work them out from the sources you have, and what your analysis tells you in this case.
    4. CATWOE
    5. Root definition(s)
    6. Purposeful activity models
    7. Issue Catalogue.

NOTE that tasks 4b to 4g are studying the Initiative process (not the resultant or intended IT system)

  1. Identify THREE interventions which might have made or will make a difference to the programme.  Give a brief explanation of each intervention, including a description, how it would be put into practice, and how it might have helped.


Deliverables to be submitted for assessment:

There is one deliverable, an SSM report, containing:

  1. Title page showing module code and title, your name, your Pnumber, date.
  2. Table of contents and numbered pages.
  3. SSM model (with contents as described above in Task 4).
  4. Explanations of your three suggested interventions (with explanations as described above in Task 5).
  5. Bibliography showing references in Harvard referencing format


  • Your report is expected to be about 15-20 pages, to include text and relevant diagrams and models. The point is to demonstrate your understanding of SSM, rather than being mechanistic about the components of the model.
  • Diagrams can be created on a computer (eg. using Visio, or another drawing application) or handwritten, scanned and inserted into your report document. If handwritten, then the diagrams and models must be readable.
  • This is an individual assignment. It will be submitted through Blackboard and Turnitin in the usual way, as an online report only.


The system under study is the system and activities around initiative or programme (and not the intended ICT system).

How the work will be marked:

See marking grid below.

Module leader/tutor name:


Contact details:



Apply the basic process of soft systems methodology to a case study.

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