System Design: What, Why and How

Every business runs on a system, either pre-designed or custom-made. These systems not only give structure to how the team operates but also streamline business operations to the point of profitable efficiency. So you must understand the system design, its work and appraoch.

At the core of these systems is detailed data and relevant information, built into a coherent series of macro and micro implantation architecture called modules. In the space of business, this phenomenon would take the form of business culture and protocols. Their purpose is to reduce the time between project expectations and execution.

In the intense race for innovation and profitability, unique yet tested-and-trusted operations improvement techniques – such as system designing – cannot be ignored.

Customer wants and desires are constantly evolving, making it hard for businesses to edge out their competitors. However, one way to do so is to improve the product delivery of the business. System design solves this problem – where stakeholder expectations are developed and identified, the technical requirements to meet said expectations are itemised, a logical breakdown of these needs is established, and the most profitable approach is selected as the design solution.

Quite simply, in a bid to meet the needs of clients, the same steps of system designing can be adopted in product design and delivery. The businesses constantly evolving in line with the ever-moving customer wants are the entities that stay ahead of the competition.

What Is System Design?

System design implies a systematic approach to creating a coordinated series of pre-set commands or automation. Typically, the objective is either to improve an existing way of doing an operation or to establish the best approach to achieving a set-out objective. This may be approached by taking a bottom-up where the final objective/result is broken down into its creating constituents or a top-down approach where you begin with the constituents and build up to the final result.

In simpler terms, the system design approach is the process of identifying and defining elements of a system like modules, components, architecture, interfaces and its accompanying data for a system based on the specified requirements.

This approach first appeared right before the Second World War, one of the eras when technology was going through rapid development. In a bid to solve complex control and communications problems, engineers discovered newer and better ways to improve technology. Then they needed a way to standardise their work into a formal discipline with established methods, especially for new fields like information theory, operations research, and computer science in general.

Typically, the system design process overlaps system analysis, systems engineering and system architecture, transforming from stage to system and the eventual final product. Transitioning from system requirements analysis to system design is a complex exercise. This is because multiple variables within the process rarely present a single, obvious solution to the designers.

How Does System Design Work?

The goal of system design is to distribute the needs of a large system, like a logistics transport system, an energy delivery system, or something as simple as a store’s internal systems, to hardware and software components to fulfil a particular function without further human design input. This is typically adopted during integration processes or operations improvement activities where technology is leveraged.


System Requirements Specifications (System Requirements Analysis)

System Design

System (Solution: Product or Service)

System design activities start after a system requirements analysis. A need is identified and then a system is confirmed to be required. Once this has been achieved, the requirements of the said need are specified for clarity, called System Requirements Specifications. A bottom-up or top-down approach is required to consider all variables of the resultant system created.

A designer is responsible for creating/approaching these systems, guided by a consistent set of rules and definitions. They use modelling languages to define the information and knowledge in a structure of the system, either in graphical or textual modelling languages.

The first step in the system design phase is a stage called ‘Partitioning’. Typically made easier by customer preferences and their documentation, partitioning activity is where a large system is broken down into smaller entities through a process called ‘decomposing’. This activity reduces overall complexity and allows subsequent detailed development of the process.

The next stage is creating Architectural Modules wherein other teams can simultaneously work on this system design. You should note that the primary purpose is to break down the requirements of a large real-time system into smaller, manageable units defined as architectural entities.

Up next involves the relevant teams or parties associated with the system design and its final product. In the case of a physical or digital product, teams of software and hardware engineers come together to execute the design as independent entities in a distributed configuration. It is a phenomenon that is only possible with partitioning – this step is performed in close concert with partitioning.

By the end of this step, the product would have begun taking shape with a clear path to meeting the needs or solving the initial problem that this approach was adopted.

Why System Design Approach?

As established above, system design is crucial to the growth of any business. In fact, it is the foundation of companies and must be given top priority. It is a prudent business operation to adopt a tested and trusted approach in meeting an established need, especially in the space of heavy complexity involved or new systems in need of establishment.

To better understand the vital need for systems design, here are some of its benefits:

  1. It reduces the cost of operations: System design helps to lessen the cost of business operations through automation. When manual, cost-intensive processes are eliminated and replaced with automated processes running on the right systems, operational costs will reduce and resources will be optimised.
  2. It improves consistency: For multi-platform businesses, system design enhances consistency across the platforms. It also eliminates errors and problems that may arise with product development.
  3. It boosts productivity and collaboration: By reducing manual, repetitive tasks, teams across the organisation can focus on the tasks that matter and address bigger problems. Consequently, there is an increase in employee productivity and performance. It also improves collaboration and communication in an organisation, especially for the IT staff, which in turn improves the workflow of projects and saves resources.
  4. It improves customer experience: Systems are not built for fun. They exist to cater to the needs of customers. System design ensures that relevant systems in a business are created in a way that best suits customers’ needs and gives them a stress-free, delightful experience.
  5. It enhances the agility of a business: Agility has become a necessity for businesses in this fast-changing, unpredictable world. With systems that not only solve existing problems but can also respond to problems that may come up in the future, the agility of a business will be boosted. Companies with the right systems can respond fast to internal and external opportunities and threats accordingly and effectively.

You must know system design is not a one-off process. Systems are constantly evolving, so the design and maintenance processes are continuous. To minimise the challenges of systems’ evolution, scalability is an important element of system design. Other vital elements include reliability and consistency.

Systems design is the core of a business’s operations. Companies investing in digital transformation will always need to improve their products and give customers what they need – innovation and the best engaging experience. This is why they need to identify tools and strategies to help them achieve these life-long goals. Systems design is at the top of the list.

Hidden Brains has been fortifying businesses with transformation services that allow them to scale their products and give customers the best experience for 19 years and counting. One of our transformation offerings is system design. Through a system of industry best practices, we enable organisations to make better design decisions to serve their customers better.

If you are looking for an effective way to upgrade operations and improve customer experience, our transformation services are just what you need.

Send an enquiry to [email protected] to get started on your digital transformation journey.


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