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The system’s down

“System” is a special word. Probably the most overused and abused word in our business lexicon. Bandied about, in multiple contexts, the word itself doesn’t tell us much.

“The system’s down”, they say.

So what’s the problem?

Is the hardware or the input device broken?

Or is the network offline? Is bandwidth usage heavy?

Could the database be corrupted, or the data be incorrect?

What about the person? Are they using “the system” correctly?

Perhaps the documentation—the forms and manuals—are out of sync?

Possibly the procedures, guidelines, and scripts are dated and no longer relevant?

Maybe it could be the software? Does the computer program have a logic or control issue?

Systems comprise systems. A hierarchy of components, layered like a set of Russian Dolls, coming together to accomplish an outcome. Operating systems roll-up into information systems roll-up into business systems roll-up into industry systems.

So tell me, what part of the system isn’t working?

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