Elements of a System, Introduction of a System

Elements of a System

The following are the elements of a system:

a) Outputs and inputs

b) Processors

c) Control

d) Feedback

e) Environment

f) Boundaries and interface

a) Outputs and inputs: An objective of a system is to produce an output that has value to its user. Inputs are elements that enter the system for processing. Output is the result of processing. Determining the output is an initial step in specifying the amount, nature, and regularity of the input needed to run a system.

b) Processors: The processor is that element of the system involved in actual transformation of input into output. It is the operational part of a system. Processors may alter the input completely or partially, depending on the specifications from the output. This provides that as the output specifications alter, so does the processing. In some cases, input is also modified to enable the processor to handle transformation.

c) Control: The control element guides the system and is the decision making subsystem that controls the pattern of activities governing inputs, processing and output. Output specifications decide what and how much input is required to keep the system in equilibrium.

d) Feedback: Feedback is an important component of a system. The output of the system is measured against performance standards and changes made in the input or processing to meet the required output. Positive feedback strengthens the performance of the system. Negative feedback provides the control element with information for action. Feedback can also be collected from the user after the system is implemented. The user informs about the performance about the new system. This feedback often results in enhancements to meet the user's requirement.

e) Environment: Environment is the source of external elements that act on the system and it often determines how the system should function. For example, a library's environment consisting of booksellers, publishers, and the organization the library is attached with, may provide constraints and consequently, influence the actual performance of the library.

f) Boundaries and Interface: A system should be defined by its boundaries that identify its components, processes, and interrelationships when it interfaces with another system. For example, circulation system in the library is restricted to issue and return of books, reminder generation, reservation of books, etc. It is not involved in book acquisition. However, it can provide inputs for acquisition. In system analysis, information of the boundaries of a known system is vital in knowing the nature of its interface with other systems for successful design.