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Controlling the Systems Development Process

19 January, 2016 - 12:35

Would it surprise you to learn that many organizations are not successful at developing information systems? Unfortunately, this is true. Indeed, one report said one in four enterprise systems projects went over budget, 20 percent were terminated before completion, and 40 percent fail to achieve business objectives one year after completion. 1 Table 6.3 summarizes a few reasons why organizations fail to achieve their systems development objectives.


To overcome these and other problems, organizations must execute the systems development process efficiently and effectively. The key to achieving these objectives is to control the development process. Apparently, that is not an easy chore, or more organizations would be successful at it. We can understand the complexity of the systems development process by comparing it to a construction project. Assume you are in charge of the construction of an industrial park. What problems and questions might you encounter? First, you might want to know how much of the project is your responsibility.

Table 6.3 Reasons Why Organizations Fail to Achieve Systems Development Objectives
  • Lack of senior management support for and involvement in Information Systems development. Developers and users of Information Systems watch senior management to determine which systems development projects are important and act accordingly by shifting their efforts away from any project not receiving management attention. In addition, management should assure that adequate resources, as well as budgetary control over use of those resources, are dedicated to the project.
  • Shifting user needs. User requirements for information technology change constantly. As these changes accelerate, there are more requests for systems development and more development projects. When these changes occur during a development process, the development team may be faced with the challenge of developing systems whose very purposes have changed since the development process began.
  • Development of strategic planning systems. Because strategic decision making is unstructured, the requirements, specifications, and objectives for such development projects are difficult to define; and determining “successful” development becomes elusive.
  • New technologies. When an organization tries to apply advanced information technology, it generally finds that attaining systems development objectives is more difficult because personnel are not as familiar with the technology.
  • Lack of standard project management and systems development methodologies. Some organizations do not formalize their project management and systems development methodologies, thereby making it very difficult to consistently complete projects on time or within budget.
  • Resistance to change. Some people have a natural tendency to resist change, and Information Systems development projects signal changes—often radical—in the workplace. Business process reengineeringis often the catalyst for the systems development project. When personnel perceive that the project will result in personnel cutbacks, threatened personnel may dig in their heels, and the development project is doomed.

Are you to handle legal and financial matters? Who obtains the building permits? Are you to contact the tenants/buyers to determine special needs? The project’s size and duration cause another set of problems. How will you coordinate the work of the carpenters, masons, electricians, and plumbers? Or, how will you see that a tenant’s special needs are incorporated into the specifications and then into the actual construction?

Information Systems developers encounter similar problems. Given such problems, they have concluded that systems development must be carefully controlled and managed by following good project management principles and the organization’s quality assurance framework embodied in its systems development life cycle methodology. These are described in the following subsections.