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What is CATWOE Analysis?

Submitted by AbhaPandey on Fri, 2011-09-23 16:06

CATWOE was defined by Peter Checkland as a part of his Soft Systems Methodology (SSM). It is a simple checklist for thinking. It is one of the generic techniques that Business Analyst use to identify the what the business is trying to achieve, what are the problem areas and how is the solution going to affect the business and people involved in it.

Let us again take the example of Automation of  Leave approval Process to better understand this analysis.


There are six elements of CATWOE:

1. Clients

Customers or clients are stakeholders who are the users of the system or process. These are the people who’ll benefit of suffer due to the change in the system/process. The first step in a CATWOE analysis is to identifying such customers and understanding how the process or system affects them.

Few Helpful Questions would be:

  • Who is on the receiving end?
  • What problem do they have now?
  • How will they react to what you are proposing?
  • Who are the winners and losers?

In the above mentioned example, employees are at the receiving end. Due to the present manual system, they are facing the problem of long processing time for application and tedious job of tracking their application. There could be mixed reaction from the employees on this change. The people familiar with the computer technology may be happy but the senior citizens who are not comfortable with computers might resist the change.


2. Actors

These are the people involved in the implementation of the changes in the system/changes.

Few Helpful Questions would be:

  • Who are the actors who will 'do the doing', carrying out your solution?
  • What is the impact on them?
  • How might they react?

In our case these would be the development team from the IT dept. and the HR department.


3. Transformation

These are the changes that the system or process brings about. A CATWOE analysis requires listing the inputs and the nature of change inputs undergo to become outputs.
Few Helpful Questions would be:

  • What is the process for transforming inputs into outputs?
  • What are the inputs? Where do they come from?
  • What are the outputs? Where do they go to?
  • What are all the steps in between?

The transformation in our example would be from manual paper work to online application.

4. Weltanschauung

Weltanschauung, also known as “Worldview” is the big picture and the wider impact of the transformed system/process. The system/process is analyzed to come up with the positive and negative impact on the overall business. This is the most crucial step in CATWOE analysis as different stake holders have different approaches to the same issue. The primary difference in the CATWOE analysis prepared by each stakeholder lies in Weltanschauung, and the purpose of a CATWOE analysis is to make explicit such different worldviews.
Few Helpful Questions would be:

  • What is the bigger picture into which the situation fits?
  • What is the real problem you are working on?
  • What is the wider impact of any solution?

The overall impact of automation of Leave approval Process would be increased efficiency of the HR department and all employees as the time duration of the whole leave approval process reduces.


5. Owner

These are the Decision makers who have the authority to make the changes, stop the project, or decide on whether to go ahead with the change.
Few Helpful Questions would be:
Who is the real owner or owners of the process or situation you are changing?

  • Can they help you or stop you?
  • What would cause them to get in your way?
  • What would lead them to help you?

In our example the process owner would be the Head HR.


6. Environmental constraints

Abha Pandey
Business Analyst, with experience in Requirement Gatherings and Business Process Consulting
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