Soft Systems Extension to a Hard Systems Case Study: Design and Implementation of a Health Management Information System in Malawi: Issues, Innovations and Results.

Topics: Health care, Systems thinking, Soft systems methodology Pages: 35 (10131 words) Published: July 30, 2011
B.Sc (Hons) Business Information Systems

Module: BSNIS3001 Business Analysis

Soft Systems Extension to a Hard Systems Case Study: Design and Implementation of a Health Management Information System in Malawi: Issues, Innovations and Results.


1.0Question 13
1.1Summary of case study3
1.2History of health issues in Malawi3
2.0Our problem4
2.1Definition of a problem5
2.2Soft and Hard problems5
3.0Examples of a hard systems approach5
3.1Student Example5
3.2Health example5
3.3Relating the problem approach to the case study6
4.0Defining the problem as a hard problem6
4.1Means Ends Analysis6
4.2Identifying the ends6
4.3The Ends6
4.3.1United Nations7
4.3.2Malawi Government7
4.3.3Development partners7
4.3.4Ministry of health and population7
4.3.5Directors of Hospital institutions8
4.3.6 District Health Management Team (DHMT)8
4.5The constraints11
5.0The Solution11
6.0Conclusion of hard systems approach12
7.0Question 213
7.1Soft Systems Methodology13
7.2Stage 1 and 2: The Problem Situation Unstructured and Structured14
7.3Stage 3: Root Definition of Relevant Systems17
7.4Stage 4: Building a Conceptual Model19
7.5Stage 5: Comparison of Conceptual Models with Real World21
7.6Stage 6: Define Desirable and Feasible Changes22
7.6.1Procedural Changes22
7.6.2Structural Changes22
7.6.3Attitude Changes23
7.7Stage 7: Action to Improve the Problem Situation23
8.0 Question 323
8.1 Law of Conceptualisation23
8.2 Sub-optimisation25
8.3 Synthesis27
8.4Emergent Property28
10.0Glossary of Terms32

1.0 Question 1


As a group we decided to choose the case study called, Design and implementation of a health management information system in Malawi: issues, innovations and results. The reason that we chose this case study was due to the fact that we could give a very efficient report on the case study.

The main aim of this report is to identify the problem within the case study and then put the problems into two different methods which are both Hard & Soft problems. Once these are identified we will then go into more detail on the methods. Then to some up our report well will draw up recommendations and conclusions which will give the reader a better understanding of the report.

2.1 Summary of case study

As many struggling countries like Malawi, it is very hard to collect efficient data on the current health issues and also how the health services are being managed; these two issues are the two main weaknesses within Malawi’s current health information system. The case study gives allot of data and graphical data on the HMIS design and implementation, this is very useful as it will help us with the facts of what is actually happening in Malawi. Within the case study there is quite allot of information on the current and previous health issues in Malawi and also facts alongside them to give the health issues in more detail. The best way in which the case study can be summed up is it shows Malawi’s problems in detail. It gives a sub title of the problem and then information on the problem, this helps us as a group as we are taking these problems and splitting them up into both Hard & Soft problems to come up with a heath system in order to make Malawi’s current system more efficient.

2.2 History of health issues in Malawi

Malawi’s life expectancy is the worst in the world as the average male lives to just 37 and the average female to just 36 and it is unlikely that children survive past the age of 4 due to disease and illnesses.

HIV continues to be fought in Malawi. Hardly any country in sub-Saharan Africa has not been affected by this epidemic, and...

References: Figure 6: CHAULAGAI et al (2005) Design and Implementation of a Health Management Information System in Malawi; Issues, Innovations and Results.
CHECKLAND, P. and SCHOLES, J. (1990) Soft Systems Methodology in Action. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
CHECKLAND, P. (1999) Systems thinking, Systems Practice. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester.
Figure 1: Fuchs, C. 2004. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice. Knowledge Management in Self-Organizing Social Systems, [on-line] (Accessed 16th February 2011) Available from
Figure 3: LUTWYCHE, L
MENDRAND, A. E, et al (2010) The Soft Systems Methodology, pp 1-9.
Lancs (2011) Comparing Hard and Soft Problems [on-line] (Accessed 4th March201) Available from
Wilson, B
Machol. (1965). PRINCI_SUBOP. Retrieved march 23, 2011, from PRINCIPIA CYBERNETICA WEB:
9.0 Bibliography
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