Capturing change in socio-technical system with problem frames

Brier, John; Rapanotti, Lucia and Hall, Jon G. (2005). Capturing change in socio-technical system with problem frames. In: Proceedings of Requirements Engineering: Foundations of Software Quality (REFSQ), 28 Jun 2005.



Within organisations, business processes are increasingly supported by socio-technical systems — combinations of people and technologies working synergistically. In the commercial sector at least, business processes are increasingly complex and volatile due to the rapid pace of change in the marketplace, and this has an impact on their supporting systems. In this sector, organisations feel the same pressures for change from their shared context, and similarities should therefore be found in their responses to it. In a change situation, an organisation will typically have already functioning systems and processes upon which the impact of change in the problem context is felt. The issues raised by change are not, therefore, those of building solutions from scratch but those of adapting a current solution to the change. This is not a new observation: it is the basis of Business Process Re-engineering, for instance. Problem modelling, as suggested by Jackson’s Problem Frames approach, is only beginning to be applied in an organisational setting; we suggest, in this paper, that it can (suitably extended) be used to capture patterns of change in this domain. One other characteristic of the Problem Frames approach is important to us: it provides a conceptual framework for correctness which, in this paper, we adapt to allow correctness of changed solutions to be inferred using stepwise arguments from those of the original solution. We illustrate our approach on a real world example taken from the files of a practising consultancy firm in the area of change management.

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