System and Technology Effectiveness Evaluation Levels (STEEL) are a way of assessing the effectiveness of a system across its various design functions. STEEL is both an evaluation scheme and a methodology for performing the evaluation. It distils all this into a simple and easy approach that anybody can apply.
STEEL provides an easy way of assessing the effectiveness of a system by breaking down the system into its key functions and assessing the level of performance for each function. It then provides a simple way to give an aggregate performance for the whole system.
STEEL applies to many complex systems, especially those incorporating IT or communications (ICT) functions. It is used to assess the effectiveness of a system (or, if you like, the ineffectiveness) in order to guide further effort and resources in the most cost-effective direction.
Anybody who puts complex systems “out there”, including:
You can use STEEL at any time during the system's delivery lifecycle, from inception through to operational evaluation:
A STEEL assessment will tell you whether your system is effectively delivering the business needs it set out to, and whether it is robust enough to keep going. It will highlight areas where your system is not delivering or is at risk of failing.
STEEL needs no special software or expertise. It can be applied by untrained business and maganement staff. Where project tools focus on the mechanics of delivery, STEEL focuses on the business effectiveness of the outcome.
Assessment of a complex system can be hard for a specialist, as key aspects can be hidden away in the design details. It can also be difficult to get your findings across to busy professionals with other things on their minds. STEEL helps you to draw out and communicate the key indicators and to relate them to those working on other aspects of the system outside your area of expertise.
In a way, it is simple-minded - and deliberately so. It is little more than codified common sense. STEEL extracts the key indicators of your work, that you probably already know perfectly well, and puts them into a framework that people in other areas of work can easily relate to and understand. If you are inexperienced, it provides a valuable checklist of areas you might need to address.
Not very. Every area of business and technology has its own expertise and ways of doing things. STEEL does not try to replace anything that you do already. Rather, it provides a common framework and language for pulling it all together into a coherent and manageable picture. It doesn't so much provide deep answers, as show you the things you need to think about. For example if you use an SE tool such as MOOD, it will help focus your effort on the design aspects that matter most.
Download the STEEL checksheet from here.
Updated 14 July 2015