Socio-technical system

Executive Summary

(Sommerville p21) "Socio-technical systems include one or more technical system but crucially also include knowledge of how the system should be used to achieve some broader objective..." meaning the system has defined operational processes as an inherent part of the system which could be governed by internal policies and / or external regulatory requirements and possibility government laws.

Organizations, people & systems

(Sommerville p34) Socio-technical systems are organizational systems intended to help deliver some organizational or business goal. If you do not understand the organizational environment where a system is used, the system is less likely to meet the real needs of the business and its users. (Gold et al., 2001) "These valuable resources typically evolve over a long period of time through the accumulation of organizational operation experience"

Human and organizational factors

(Ming, Ye. 2008) "Organizational infrastructure factors include systems, policies, culture and the knowledge of the organization members other than founders, as well as organizational routines and structures. We created a latent variable called organizational capital, comprised of three distinctive aspects of organizational resources: employee skills, financial access, and organization attributes."

Organizational processes

Operational processes are the processes involved in using the system for its intended purpose. For new systems, these have to be defined as part of the system design. Operational processes should be designed to be flexible and should not force operations to be done in a particular way. It is important that human operators can use their initiative if problems arise.

Process changes "Does the system require changes to the work processes in the environment?" (Sommerville p35)

Job changes "Does the system de-skill the users in an environment or cause them to change the way they work?" (Sommerville p35)

Organizational changes "Does the system change the political power structure in an organization?" (Sommerville p35)


Within an organization there are complex interactions, the processes of systems engineering overlap and interact with operational and procurement processes. Such human and organization factors such as management structure and politics can have a significant effect on the organization's operation, therefore nothing can be changed in isolation, everything is linked and has a relationship, and even a slight change in one area can have a major impact in another area of the organization.


  • Ian Sommerville, (2010) Software Engineering (8th edition), Chapter 1, 2, 4 Pearson Education
  • Ming, Ye. 2008. Analyzing the Impact of Organizational Factors on Performance of E-Business. In Wireless Communications, Networking and Mobile Computing, 2008. WiCOM
  • Thi Nguyet Que Nguyen, (2008) The impact of knowledge management infrastructure on organisational competitiveness in a Confucian-socialist market economy 978-1-4244-1672-1/08
  • A. H. Gold, "Towards a theory of organisational knowledge management capabilities", Published doctoral thesis, University of North Carolina at Chaper Hill, USA, 2001.

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