WP3: Responsibility and Trust in Socio-Technical Systems

WP3 primarily involved researchers at both Edinburgh and St Andrews. INDEED research in this area involved Russell Lock, Ian Sommerville, Tim Storer, Natalie Harvey, John Dobson, Stuart Anderson, Massimo Felici & Conrad Hughes.

Whilst some areas of dependability are well understood in a business context, research into responsibility modelling in particular has been largely overlooked, which has led to individual organisations recording reponsibility information in their own proprietary manners. INDEED aims to bring about new responsibility models, notations and tooling to aide in the generic modelling of responsibilities between organisations in addition to merely within them.

The research explores the applicability of graphical responsibility modelling in a number of different domains.

Responsiiblity Modelling as a Consultancy Service

We developed a new consultancy based approach to understanding and analysing organisational structures through the creation of models of responsibility. These models can be explored in group discussions, to help discover inconsistencies and vulnerabilities in the way people interact and use resources. Responsibility models are a high-level presentation of a system that allow the responsibilities of human agents and technical systems to be treated in a unified way.

We believe this technique to be useful in supporting the design of socio-technical systems (ie those systems where human, organisational and technical issues are all considered) and in the analysis, evolution and reassessment of existing systems as part of change management processes. We use our notation to identify and discuss: unassigned responsibilities, duplicated responsibilities, un-communicated responsibilities, mis-assigned responsibilities, responsibility overload and the provision of backups.

We also use keywords to perform risk management, for example to discuss the implications, severity and coping strategies associated with resources and responsibilities being late, or not available when needed, thus allowing us to identify potential vulnerabilities in the organisational responsibility structure and in the resources made available to support these responsibilities.