Socio-Technical Systems

Socio-technical systems (STS) are complex systems comprising of social and technical aspect and both of these hold significance. Risk management in these systems is a difficult task. As with large and critical system upfront documentation and analysis is a must in order to keep track of everything. The social factor is important as a human agency involved has great influence on the system. The culture, norms, and values of the system and the physical environment does impact the functioning of the system. Timely recruitment of highly skilled staff or training and educating the present staff is important as with time when the systems evolve the people running it need to update their knowledge and skills as well to cope with the changing times. We have seen many risky socio-technical systems getting developed with time. Life support systems are one big example. This invention, used in ICUs is life-saving technology but at the same time, it has made death as a deed. It has also gotten the government, medical profession, doctors, and society involved both legally and ethically. Everyone sees death with their own perspective. Similarly, food production has gone massive. Lesser developed countries are growing fruits, vegetables and meat to meet the needs of highly developed countries. Though it is fulfilling the needs of the latter at the same time it brings the risk of carrying any infections. Antibiotics are used heavily to control any infections, which has adverse affects on the humans consuming it and makes the growth rapid. Earlier food was grown locally and consumed there as well and so no infections were widespread. Every system with it brings it benefits and drawbacks, to have a good control over these Actor dynamic systems should be used to better analyze these complex systems. All the factors that have an impact on the running of the STS should be thoroughly analyzed. Any risk should be identified to formulate a possible solution. With large systems, agile methods don’t work well as they don’t support formal documentation. Along with that, it is very hard for an organization to adapt to a new culture and people to change their values or way of thinking. Agile also welcomes changes at any stage, which is not suitable for big systems as an upfront documentation need to be done beforehand, which should be approved as for critical systems external regulations and laws needs to be followed and these systems need a certification of being safe. Whereas in agile, after every iteration a product is released and for critical systems, it is not safe to release any part of the system until it is assured through thorough testing that the entire system is running safely.


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