Imformation Technology

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Introduction to Information Systems

Information Systems
Introduction – Why do Systems Fail?

Background to systems
• Central criticism of information systems
has been (and still is) that:
many systems do not do what their users
require and thus fall into disuse
require and thus fall into disuse.

• In order for a system to be considered
successful it needs to meet quality and
productivity targets

Productivity targets
• The system is delivered on time and
within budget.
• These targets relate to:
– successful management of the project, from
inception to implementation

This course:

Examines the role of information, data and knowledge
in the development of information systems

Looks at the role of a methodology and critically
assess the benefits and limitations of the traditional
systems development frameworks

Critically evaluates a range of approaches to aid the
analyst to carry out requirements analysis

Examines future trends in the use of methods in
developing information systems

Quality targets
• The system meets the requirements
specification (i.e. it serves the purpose for
which it was originally intended)
• these targets relate to
targets relate to
– an understanding of the business area
– the user requirements
– the organisational constraints
– other environmental factors

• As we have already said, for a system to
be deemed successful it must meet its
quality and productivity targets
• A system may considered unsuccessful
on a number of different levels:


Unsuccessful systems
• The system is never delivered to the user
– there are a number of reasons for abandoning
a project.
– Often, this is a better course of action than
this is better course of action than
implementing a system that will never be
properly used.

Unsuccessful systems

Unsuccessful systems
• The system fails one or both of its targets
and is rejected by the users.
– Here, the system is delivered to the users
despite the fact that it may late over
despite the fact that it may late, over-budget
or both.
– System is rejected before it becomes

Quality issues resulting in
unsuccessful systems

• The system fails one or both of its targets
and is accepted by the users

• The wrong problem has been identified

– probably the worst outcome for an
unsuccessful project
unsuccessful project
– system is operational despite all of its
– May be resented by users.
– May hinder organisation rather than help it.

• Neglect of wider organisational issues

Productivity issues resulting in
unsuccessful systems

• Incorrect analysis
• System developed for the wrong reasons

Systems failures (1)

• Users change their minds
• External events may occur that change the
• Implementation may not be feasible

• Unsuccessful systems are not new.
• The complexity of a system does not
necessarily relate to its chances of
success or failure
success or failure.

Another general cause for an unsuccessful
system may be poor project control.

• Throughout the history of Information
Systems development spectacular failures
have been apparent


Systems failures (2)
• Early problems of quality and productivity
discussed in the Garmisch conference
• In 1989, reported in the Washington Post:
1989 reported in the Washington Post:
– Federal agencies incurred costs of $9 billion
in 1982 for IS development
– They incurred costs of $17 billion in 1989 for
IS development

Systems failures (4)
• DTI report (1983) showed that:
in the UK of 15 organisations, only a half
found job reductions after computer systems
were introduced. In some cases, many jobs
were created.

• DTI report (1985) found that:
time-scale overruns occurred in 66% of projects.
55% were over budget.

Systems failures (6)
• Many high-profile failures...
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