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A Critical Review Of Information Management Information Technology Essay

The management of the Information System has been assessed to be disintegrated from the management of the organisation which is commonly involved in the strategic decision making process. Furthermore there has been an increasing demand of integrating business management system with the Information System.

High extent of heterogeneity of Information Management System has been observed. As an example the absence of WAN and perhaps LAN highly affect the communication process, internal and external to the organisation.

There is little integration / coordination between Information System as result of which the information communication technology (ICT) staff has been observed to be in a denial phase while questioned for their and information system technical competencies.

Due to the ignorance of the ICT staff, the upgrading or replacement requirement of the legacy system goes un- noticed.

It has also been observed that there exists no strategic direction that is being provided or planned for the technological environment.

Due to the identified issues, the quality of Information System seems to be affected which further raises issues such as lack of consistency of the involved processes, duplication errors and storing and retrieving obsolete / out of date information.

Due to the disintegration of the management of Information System and business operation, several issues such as lack of commitment and support from higher management, limited resource allocation etc. further emerge.

There are several business needs and issues that is still needs to be addressed such as mounting pressure from the clients to deliver innovative and flexible services. It has also been assessed with in the same context that due to the above identified problems, technical growth of the information system and the staff has been affected  

In terms of strategic direction, there appears to be many ambiguities in organisational strategies as a result of which increasing competition challenges the organisation and subsequently its growth.

Potential investments to be made

Drawing on the above analysis, the potential investments have been proposed to the organisation. Prior to this, a model ‘IS failure model’ proposed by Lyytinen and Hirschheim (1987) suggests that there can be four types of failures: correspondence failure, interaction failure, process failure and expectation failure. Correspondence failure refers to Information Systems failure in meeting its design objectives, interaction failure refers to end- users maintaining no or low interaction with Information Systems, process failure refers to Information Systems overrunning the allocated budget or time and expectation failure refers to Information Systems failing in meeting the stakeholders' expectations. The theoretical implications of this model have been discussed in the second report. Implying this theoretical model in accordance with the critical analysis of the identified problems with the current Information Management Systems at this point, the following potential investments have been identified for the organisation:

Deploy / develop a comprehensive, well-structured and well-integrated Information Management System. This system should have the capability of accommodating all business systems / applications with in the organisation.

Establishment of project of implementing / developing the Information Systems, which further requires developing a project management team.

Design and implement risk management policy, and subsequent procedures to ensure that the newly implemented / developed Information Systems is capable of operating at all times.

Evaluation of the above- proposed investments

The management should understand that the above investments are huge in terms of required resources such as time, money and human capital. In addition, these investments also require long- term higher management commitment and support towards implementing and developing of the system. Thirdly, the above investments will take the form of a ‘project’, which has its own demands and pre- requisites to be fulfilled. Lastly the management should be well aware of the fact that the project success (implementation / development of Information Systems) depends on several factors where as return on investments (ROI) may not be realised in near future.

The proposed investments have been made because they have the capability of addressing all the four factors suggested by the IS failure model (Lyytinen and Hirschheim's,1987). The development of the Information System will ensure that correspondence and interaction issues as identified with the current Information Systems will be addressed. The development of new system will also ensure that process failure and expectation failure will also be addressed.

2. Making recommendations for how the process and methods could be improved, with explanations for recommendations

The above- proposed investments will be possible through following five principle suggested by Cottrell and Rapley (2001).

The management should identify the complexity of the nature of the project and should focus on deploying technology / application incorporated with the entire system. Secondly any bespoke application / system should be upgraded and or replaced as appropriate. While purchasing a large suite of application from a single vendor, the possible problems should also be strongly considered. It should also be realised that using a single technology at all instances cannot be the ultimate solution and a product cannot be capitalize over ‘for life’ due to the changing demand of the technology and business. The justification for this recommendation is that not complying with the suggestion will ensure that the complex nature of the project is well understood and realised that the inherence complexities and problems cannot be just avoided rather they need to be addressed strategically. It will also ensure that the management should stop seeking for simple approaches such as believing in vendors’ marketing tactics for selling their technology solution.

While developing the Information System the involvement of end user is crucial to success. Secondly before the initiation of the project, the management should also create awareness with in the organisation so as to inform the people with the importance and need of the project. This recommendation ensures that the developed Information Systems serves its intended purpose since end user involvement will identify real- life problems unique to the organisation. Creating awareness about the need and significance of the development on Information Systems will avoid possible resistance from the ICT staff, who is currently confident of their skills and the capabilities of the Information Systems, even though the clients’ demands for flexible and improved systems have been persistent.

The project sponsor and stakeholders must also be informed and updated with the project success /progress at all times. Involving and informing the project sponsor and stakeholders will develop a trust- based relationship between the project manager and the sponsor / stakeholders. Secondly in case of project delay, overrunning budget, time constraints etc. (all of these problems are common to any project), the project management will be in a better position to justify project delay and keep the interest of project sponsor alive.

The management should also priorities the business needs such as answering to questions like: what is more important upgrading the technology to mitigate security threats or installing new business application etc. Prioritising business needs will be focused towards the urgent needs thus fulfilling the business objectives and saving the organisation from further damage in terms of reputations, credibility, low profit margins.

3. Suggesting a set of specific guidelines to assist in the development of Information Systems plans within the organisation

Drawing on the above analysis and recommendation, following guidelines (stages and techniques) are also proposed. These guidelines will assist the management in development of Information System plan.  

3.1 Stages of designing / developing the new Information System (Purrie and Galliers 1999):

Identifying the input data and how to capture the data or enter the data in the system;

Identify the output of the Information System which are also known as deliverable;

Identify the processes carried out by the computer that entails the process of converting input into output;

Design the structure of data ware house /database that needs to be referenced in the system;

Identify the security issue and subsequent measures along with backup provision;

Define system testing and implementation plan and procedure.

Following techniques / methodologies have been outlined to be deployed by the organisation

3.2 Techniques of developing Information Systems

Project management (adapted by Curtis, Ward and Chappamn 1991; cited by Ward, 1999; Chapman and Ward, 2003): This process is formed of nine phases: a- define, b- focus, c- identify, d- structure, e- ownership, f- estimate, g- evaluate, h- plan and i- manage.

The system development life cycle (adapted by Gregory, 2009). Outlining the Systems Development Life Cycle following stages should be used: a) Project planning and feasibility study, b) Systems analysis, and requirement definition, c) System design, d) development, e) testing, f) implementation, e) post- implementation

Section B: Accompanying your business report you are to submit an academic/learning review, which critically reviews the academic theory and writings that have informed your report. Remember, writings, which you have dismissed or deemed inappropriate are of equal importance to informing your report.

The business report presented in section A assesses and makes recommendation to the examined organisation that fall under four broad categories. These categories have been assessed and explained in the following sections of this paper.

The Systems Development Life Cycle

The software development life cycle is explained as a process of development and maintenance of software (Gregory, 2009). This technique has been recommended to the organisation to be deployed while developing software, application and systems. It has been evaluated that using a structured and standardized tool for the development process, can ensure the success. Explaining each phase, the feasibility study enables the developer to determine whether or not particular changes with in the business process and integrated applications are feasible to take on. Since development of a software / system requires capital, money and people, therefore most common question that this phase answer is that whether or not the particular type of change to the business is feasible in terms of cost and benefits. The second phase is a analysis phase which aims to a ascertain where the problem exists in the system while making an effort to fix it. This phase breaks down the system into different pieces so as to analyse the circumstances, examine the project goals and analyse the broken pieces. In doing so, the user gets engaged and accustomed to the definite requirements of the system. This phase sometimes involves the end user / project sponsor so that detailed and precise set of requirement can be obtained. The next phase is the system design phase which aims to describe the detailed requirement of demanded functions and operations. This phase requires a lot of documentation, as result of which a new system emerges in the form of module. The outcome of this phase is verification of design. After the completion of design phase, the aims of development phase is to transform design specifications in to executable programmes. The procedure involves in this phase ensure the developer to clearly understand the requirement of design and function. Some of the activities involved in this phase are creation and testing of the programme code along with modification of test plan. The testing phase is crucial during the entire process where system, user acceptance, and unit testing are carried out. This is an important yet difficult phase because by this time different opinions emerge and decision are needed to be taken in terms of how much subsequent iteration should occur. In addition, different types of testing such as integration testing, regression testing, performance testing etc. are also carried out during this phase. Followed by this phase is the implementation phase during which modular and sub- system programming code is completed. The developer also carries out the unit testing and module testing and final implementation process is accomplished.

Project Management

Development of projects in an organisation is crucial to its success due to the changing needs and demands of the internal and external business environment. Kutsch (2008) identifies that several UK based organisations are commonly involved in information technology (IT) project and development of similar programmes every year, however they end up with a high rate of failure. Assessing one major factor in project failure is ineffective project management practices with in the project environment. Other considerable factors that contribute towards project failure are: ineffective leadership, lack of communication with in the project environment and with the stakeholders, and lack of ongoing support and commitment provided by the higher management. Drawing upon the provided case study, an important consideration should be made by the management towards the discipline of project risk management. PMI (2004), defines project risk management as an organised process of identifying, scrutinizing, and responding to the incurred risks as project related series of incident that may not be known, however the incurred risk have had a capacity of opposing outcome on the way towards attainment of project objectives. Whittaker (1999) recognizes the most highly ranked failure factor as ineffective project risk management. Therefore based upon the hypothetical implication, deployment of following phases of project management have been highly recommended in order to avoid the possible failure factor. These phases are explained as follows:  The ‘define’ phase aims to achieve a comprehensive, shared and clear understanding of the project by the involved people. It has been evaluated that the define phase fulfils the fundamental needs of the project and makes the project objective, strategies and overall purpose clear to the project team. The second phase is the ‘focus’ phase, which explains the involved team members with clear and shared understanding of the process of risk management. The initiatives undertaken by this phase are: defining the project scope in context of objective, required resources, and adaption of the required approach of the project team towards evaluating the project outcome. This is the phase where stakeholders of the project and risk management are recognised. Following this phase is the ‘identify’ phase, which recognizes the shared understanding of threats and opportunities that are inherently associated with the project. Along with defining the scope of the ownership strategy, this phase also ensures that the project key members posses clear and detailed understanding of their respective accountability and overall project objectives.  Following the defined phase is the structured phase that aims to organize the project through testing the assumption upon which many decisions would be taken. This phase also establishes a complex structure for the project if needed. The initiatives that are taken by this phase are exploring the possibilities of communication with in the team environment, prioritizing of jobs and presentation of ordering, and restructuring the classification. The fifth phase is ‘ownership’ which defines and allocates owner and accountability. By doing so ownership strategy is scoped through clear explanation of project objectives and accountabilities of the owner with in the project environment.  The next phase is estimate phase that develops an understanding of the risks, which are crucial in context of causing harm to the project.  The seventh phase is ‘evaluate’ phase, which assesses the significant problems and issues that had been encountered during the project. The outcome of this phase is to integrate the following risks as a result of major risk along with assessing the overall impact of risk occurrence. The eight phase is ‘plan’ phase that builds a project base plan and associated risk management plan so that analysis, selection and description of the plan can be justified against project completion and potential success. The ‘manage’ phase aims to observe, monitor and control the project growth along with developing the project as needed.

Risk management

Risk has been explained as the possibility of risk occurrence that may result in causing loss to the subject (Kammen and Hassanzahl, 2001). A formal definition of risk management has been provided by European Foundation of Quality Management (2005), as a structured use of identification, assessment, management, and monitoring of risk with in the organisation. In the business context, the business risks are inevitable since businesses operate in environments that support development process of risk (Barole 2000). Drawing on the example of the examined organisations, the organisation has been observed to be operating with risks of disintegrated business systems that may also be obsolete and due for replacement or upgrading. In case this risk comes in contact with any threat to the organisation such as loss of client etc. then the consequences that will be faced by the organisation will be loss of business credibility, reputation and so on. In order to establish long-term relationship with its stakeholders, businesses must keep them well informed about business conduct including the risk management practices (Boswell, 2001). Deploying the risk management practices require the support of information system which further means that modern organisation are in fact a network of outward and inward flow of information that provides a favourable environment to development of risk along with causing hard to the organisational assets. The concept of risk management suggests that risk can be managed, mitigated or transferred (COSO, 2004). Therefore the examined organization should consider the fact that risks can be mitigated through placing appropriate measure. It should also consider that risk could be transferred to the third party, however risk cannot be eliminated.

The discipline off risk management is important because of the associated advantages such as a) securing the tangible and intangible organizational assets, b) offering cost effective business solutions, c) monitoring and managing identified risk, and d) analyzing and assessing risk. While deploying the project of developing information system in the organisation, it can be ensured to need the project deadline within a time and budget constrain.  The examined organisation can also achieve improved business practices by means of strategic planning and cost effective solution. Further benefits of risk management are resource optimization, reduced cost of doing business and development of a dynamic contingency plan (Rees and Allen 2008).

However the management should understand that the impact and influence of with occurrence may vary from organisation to organisation, therefore any general solutions that are not being designed while the unique business issues and challenges were considered, may not provide the expected result.

IS failure model

While developing an Information Systems, the success is anticipated. However, it is also an established fact that a high number of IT / IS projects see failures. With in the same context, a model of IS failure has been adapted which identifies four categories of failure factors. This model is proposed by Lyytinen and Hirschheim (1987) that recognizes that difficult situations that exist with in the environment as a result of which failure is due to correspondence issues because the IS fails to meet the design objectives. Any software / system that is developed must meet the design and function objectives as requested by the client and as needed or else the investments made in the project development cant be executed. Drawing on the studied examination, if for example the design and functional requirement of the new Information System are not addressed, then the entire aim of the project will be jeopardized. The other issue arises when there is a failure of interaction of the users with the Information Systems. This means that while developing the Information System, if the end users of the system are not involved or less involved then required, then the end product is less likely to fulfill the purpose of the developed system. Secondly it should also be strongly considered that the system must serve the needs and demands of end- user or else can end up in waste of valuable organisational resources. The third issue arises when there is a process failure due to overrunning the budget and or time constraints. Even though, this is a common problem with most of the projects however, lack of risk management and maintaining communication with stakeholders can further make the situation worst. It has been evaluated that a proactive rather than a reactive approach of the project manager towards these constraints can result in project success. The fourth failure factor that the model suggests is the expectation failure when the Information Systems fails to meet the expectations of the stakeholders. A common reason for this is lack of communication between the project team and the project stakeholders as well as lack of end user involvement. Therefore the management is recommended to take these issue sunder consideration in order to ensure the project success.

Conclusions

During the process of development of Information Systems, the four major critical success factors that should be considered by the management is deployment of: a) effective project management / project risk management initiatives, b) effective risk management initiatives, c) a structured process of software / system development such as Systems Development Life Cycle and, d) implying an analytical tool such as IS failure model that identifies the reason of failures as the project progresses. Specific to the examined organisation, these critical factors can ensure the development of the Information Systems that can further contribute towards organisational development and addressing the current issues and problems faced by the organisation.

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