Characteristics of a System
All systems, be it a library system, billing system, accounting system, transportation system or medical system have certain common characteristics. These are;
a) Systems are organized
Structure and order are an integral part of a system. The components in the system are arranged in a particular order and have a structure to achieve specific objectives. For example, in a library system, the hierarchical relationships start with the Chief Librarian on the top and go downward to the level of library clerks. This arrangement portrays a system-subsystem relationship, defines the authority structure, specifies the formal flow of communication, and formalizes the chain of command.
b) System components interact with each other
Interaction is the manner in which each component in the system functions with other components. In a library, circulation component interacts with users; the acquisition component department interacts with the cataloguing and classification department.
c) System components are interdependent
Interdependence means that parts of the organization or computer system depend on one another. They are co-ordinate or linked together according to a plan. One subsystem depends on the input of another system for proper functioning; that is, the output of one subsystem is the required input for another system. No subsystem can function in isolation because it is dependent on the inputs it receives from other sub-systems to perform its required tasks. In the example of the library system, the circulation sub-system cannot function without the acquisition subsystem.
d) System components are integrated
Integration is concerned with how a system is tied together. It is somewhat more than sharing a physical part or place. It implies that parts of the system work jointly within the system although each part carries out a unique function. Successful integration will typically produce synergistic effect and greater total impact than if each component works separately.
e) System has a central objective
A system works to achieve a central objective. The objective of a library system is to meet the information needs of the user.
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