Chapter 19Context Diagrams and Context Matrices

The context diagram and context matrix are tools that can help us understand components that interact with a chosen system. For example, a context diagram might show the relationship between users, organizations, and systems that interact with a given business product. The context matrix takes those relationships and attempts to forecast their aggregated influence on output performance. What is important about using these two tools in unison is that they require a married level of specificity between the system one is analyzing and the subsystem. For example, a bad use of a context diagram and context matrix would be to have the internal system as an unmanned aircraft and then to have the external system as global aircraft regulations. “Global aircraft regulations” is too broad as compared to “an unmanned aircraft,” which is the main system.

The core system and the external system are meant to identify what factors most significantly impact the use of a system. The context diagram in Figure 19.1 shows all the relationships that can influence the play experience of a toy called Little Chefs. The nature of the child playing, of other children in the room, the availability of consistent, accessible electricity, the other toys available, the proximity of edible food or real life, serviceable cooking utensils, whether there is liquid nearby that could spill on the toy, right down to the material of the flooring under the toy – each ...

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