The Business Systems Planning (BSP) approach to information needs is a valid method of determining requirements for a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System. The BSP methodology provides for a logical approach to identify information needs for a computer system. The methods could, of course, be used for a non-computer system of information needs, but is primarily intended for computer systems. The BSP methodology is espoused by IBM and is taught as a one-week course.


A look back at the history of Northwest Pipeline (NWP) as an independent company will help to place this discussion in the proper perspective. NWP, which was previously the Northwest Division of El Paso Natural Gas Company, was divested by court decree on February 1, 1974. Picture in your mind a new company approaching 1 billion dollars in gross sales with approximately 900 employees, most of which were pipeline operations personnel; Minimum staffs in all areas, no corporate computer or computer systems, no technical computer systems, no gas accounting systems and on and on. NWP began hiring and bought computer systems and acquired a computer. Very few major computer systems were initially developed in-house. NWP has grown rapidly in terms of personnel having more than 1400 employees at the present time. These employees are literally from allover the world, each having brought his own methods of accomplishing his task. Each, therefore, from executives down, had different information or data needs. The purchased major computer systems had been modified and required additional modifications, and by 1979, were generally due for replacement. Information needs were changing rapidly within the gas industry due to regulatory changes and contract provision changes. It was therefore necessary that NWP establish major directions for the Management Information Systems division and computer systems development.


NWP management determined at this time that another long range plan needed to be established. The decision was also made at this time to engage into a Corporate Business Systems Planning (BSP) Study in order to establish the long range plan for systems development.


The BSP approach to establishing a long range plan for systems development is a methodology taken up and encouraged by IBM. The basic concept of BSP is "Top Down Planning with Bottom-Up Implementation". The BSP methodology is based upon an understanding of the business, its flow of information, and its operations and environment. This methodology is directed to the various functions or processes required to accomplish the business purpose and ignores organizational lines. The BSP Team was selected from NWP's various organizations, there by representing a cross section of disciplines needed by NWP to operate, and yet hold the team size to the maximum controllable level. The team had now developed a conceptual model of NWP's information systems. To verify or correct the team's model, a matrix was constructed of the NWP organization against NWP's business processes to show the extent of involvement by each member of management in every business process.

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