Information systems in organisations Essay


Successful system roll-out is non a undertaking that can easy be achieved. As many administrations and authoritiess have found to their cost, it is non merely the instance that they can throw money at an information system in the hope that it will be successful. The primary instance survey used is that of the London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Despatch system. After looking at the background of the instance the execution and subsequent failure are discussed. The grounds for failure are explained, which show the undertaking as basically being doomed from the start. Although system failure is a common happening many administrations do non look to larn from the errors of the yesteryear, ensuing in several other high profile instances. There are some schemes, nevertheless, that can be adopted in order to battle against failure, which chiefly side on the softer facets of system design such as direction, organizational civilization and human dealingss.

What are the major causes of systems roll-out success or failure? What strategies can administrations take to guarantee the success?

To reply this inquiry to the full we must foremost understand what an information system ( IS ) is ; and more significantly, what constitutes the success and, or failure of an IS. “ An information system in an organisation provides procedures and information utile to its members and clients ” ( Avison & A ; Fitzgerald, 2003 ) . Flynn ( 1992 ) besides describes it as “ An information system provides processs to record and do available information, refering portion of an organisation, to help organizations-related activities. ”

An IS is made up of a complex set of factors, including human, organizational, proficient, political and fiscal factors ( Flowers, 1996 ) . The interaction between these can give rise to either the success or failure of a system roll-out. The success of an IS is measured chiefly on whether or non it meets the productiveness mark of being developed on clip and to budget, and the quality mark of run intoing the client ‘s demands. “ A successful system is one that meets its marks of quality and productiveness ” ( Flynn, 1992 ) . An IS is deemed unsuccessful if it fails either one, or both of its marks. In some cases the system is ne’er really delivered to the terminal user, which evidently is another instance of system failure. “ An unsuccessful system is one that fails to run into either its quality or its productiveness marks ” ( Flynn, 1992 ) .

Successful system roll-out is non the easiest of undertakings, with many authoritiess and companies happening this out to their cost. In some instances these cost have run into 100s of 1000000s of lbs. The latest Standish Group study “ CHAOS Summary 2009 ” shows that more undertakings than of all time are neglecting, and besides that the figure of successful undertakings is on the lessening. Merely 32 % of undertakings met their marks and could be classed as successful ; with 44 % of systems run intoing either merely some or none of their marks and 24 % were ne’er completed ( The Standish Group, 2009 ) . There are estimations that the cost of undertaking failure in the U.S. entirely is good in surplus of $ 100 billion ; underscoring merely how dearly-won a job system roll-out can be if non done right.

One ground as to why there are so many cases of IS failure is partially due to the fact that a batch of the clip they are constructed “ without a full apprehension or expectancy of world ” ( Xalles Limited, 2005 ) . This is known as the ‘Vacuum Mentality ‘ syndrome ( Xalles Limited, 2005 ) . These worlds include alterations in engineering, alterations made by the user community, reorganizations, alterations of demands, alteration of cardinal participants and undertaking patrons, issues with resources and alterations of procedures ( Xalles Limited, 2005 ) . This thought is backed up by Maddison & A ; Darnton ( 1996 ) who explain that “ human issues are normally more of import than proficient 1s in finding success or failure. ” Foregrounding the fact that it is non needfully proficient issues with an IS that are the chief jobs during the development procedure, but alternatively 1s sing human incompetency.

One of the most dramatic IS failures reported in recent old ages is that of the London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Despatch ( LASCAD ) system. The LAS is the biggest ambulance service in the universe, covering with over 2,500 exigency calls a twenty-four hours. This necessarily put monolithic strains on the manual paper-based system that was being used, which already had several major jobs with it. This led to the criterions of public presentation falling below the 1s agreed to as portion of the national criterions for ambulance response.

It was, hence, imperative that a new, more effectual computing machine aided dispatch system was introduced in order to run into the public presentation degrees. The new system worked by a Control Assistant having an exigency call and come ining the inside informations given by the company into the CAD system. Using call-box identifier and mapping systems, the exact location of the company was calculated. Based on the information on the incident the CAD so worked out a degree for the exigency, therefore informing the Control Assistant on the appropriate specializer vehicles and accomplishments that should be deployed to the exigency. The most appropriate and closest vehicle to the incident was so pinpointed via the usage of nomadic informations terminuss and the vehicle tracking system, and despatched to the exigency. The CAD system sent inside informations of the incident to the vehicle via the on-board computing machine. Throughout covering with the incident the crew were invariably updating the CAD system as to their reaching at the scene, their going from it, their reaching at the infirmary, and eventually when they were free to cover with another call ( Flowers, 1996 ) .

The purpose of the CAD system was to eliminate the inefficiencies of the old paper-based system. However, as the LAS shortly found out this was far from the instance. On Monday 26th October 1992 the full LASCAD system went unrecorded. It became rapidly apparent, nevertheless, that it could observe header with the volume of calls. A figure of calls were someway acquiring ‘lost ‘ in the system, taking to double calls being made ( Flowers, 1996 ) . This meant that people who were in exigency state of affairss had to wait, in some instances, for 30 proceedingss for their call to be dealt with. Even when the calls were dealt with, the ambulance allotment system had besides failed significance this had to be done manually, ensuing in farther holds. Amidst the confusion, it was even reported in some instances that two ambulances turned up to a individual exigency, or that one ne’er turned up at all ( Flowers, 1996 ) .

As the twenty-four hours progressed, the figure of calls increased, seting even more force per unit area on the already faltering system. The newer calls were now overwriting the earlier calls, ensuing in even more incidents non being dealt with. The state of affairs became that bad that all the waiting lines were cleared in an effort to decongest the system. However, this merely succeeded in doing the job even worse, as a new inundation of calls that were antecedently ‘lost ‘ came through ( Flowers, 1996 ) .

It was merely Tuesday afternoon when the system was finally shut down as a consequence of the intensifying state of affairs ( Finkelstein, 1993 ) . The LAS were alternatively forced to return to a former portion computerised system. Merely over a hebdomad subsequently they were back utilizing the to the full manual system.

It is impossible to see all of the factors that contributed to the death of the CAD system. However, there are several major issues which could, finally, be seen as the lending factors towards its failure. Flowers ( 1996 ) states that the primary grounds behind the failure were those of the design of the system, the direction ethos, the procurance procedure and the timetable to which the system was developed. The system had been designed without sufficient testing, and on the footing that it would be runing in a ‘perfect universe ‘ where everything goes harmonizing to program. It relied entirely on the demand that all the information received was perfect. In world this was far from the instance, and so the system was unable to sufficiently dispatch resources to the incidents. As highlighted in the official enquiry into the failure:

“ It is likely that the development squad did non hold full grasp of the importance of these elements or, at least, of the effects of failure, or less than perfect public presentation, of any one portion ” ( Finkelstein, 1993 ) .

The direction ethos at the LAS was one that was “ inward looking and antique ” ( Flowers, 1996 ) . As a consequence of the recent restructuring which had been forced upon the LAS by the National Health Service, there were reported high degrees of emphasis amongst senior direction, which had seen a great figure of antecedently loyal staff quitting ( Mellor, 1994 ) . In the old ages taking up to this there was a distinguishable deficiency of investing in countries such as the preparation and development of directors. During the execution procedure a study was commissioned by the LAS into staff attitudes. It was clear to see from the consequences that staff had small religion in the direction and were non satisfied with their occupations. This position had already been exposed from the consequence from a study conducted in 1989 ( Flowers, 1996 ) .

The functionary enquiry besides highlighted a civilization within the administration that bred a fright of failure amongst the employees ; whereby the success of the system was the 1 and lone consideration ( Flowers, 1996 ) . This created an ambiance in which people were scared to advert any jobs or uncertainties they had with the system. As a consequence the system had become a ‘sacred cow ‘ , in the fact that it became unreasonably immune to unfavorable judgment from anyone associated with it.

Senior directors believed that the system could be developed at a cost of merely & amp ; lb ; 1.5 million. To run into the rigorous fiscal limitations sing the purchase of the system, it was recommended by the choice squad that the LAS accept the lowest offer, no affair who the stamp was ; unless they believed they had “ good and sufficient ground on the contrary ” ( Flowers, 1996 ) . The effect of being forced to accept a stamp in this mode was that the 1 with the lowest offer was an inexperient little package company that had soberly underestimated that undertaking at manus ; hence the ground for their offer being well lower than all others. Having ne’er worked on a undertaking of this sort the company ‘s resources were massively stretched, taking to falling criterions in countries such as quality confidence, ensuing in several errors being made with the development of the package.

The inflexible clip graduated table of merely 6 months to which the system was set was far less than the industry norm of 18 months for a undertaking of this graduated table. It was believed by a huge bulk within the LAS that the clip graduated table was extremely unrealistic. Inquiry Team member Paul Williams stated that “ The timetable was impossible ” ( Mellor, 1994 ) .

Staff complained of the insufficiency of the preparation received for the system. There were major uncertainties about the quality of the preparation received and that it was provided long before the system was really implemented ; intending it was non every bit effectual as it could hold been. The state of affairs was made even worse by the fact that the control room staff were trained individually to the ambulance staff, which caused the potency for miscommunication.

Other grounds include the fact that it had been decided by direction that there was to be a trade off between the public presentation of the system and serviceability. The system was developed with small input from system users such as ambulance crews, with no LAS staff being assigned full clip to the undertaking ( Mellor, 1994 ) .

These, hence, were non ideal conditions in which to establish the new CAD system. Flowers ( 1996 ) , on the other manus, argues that “ there is ne’er an ideal clip to present a major new computing machine system. ” However, he does besides travel on to state that seldom has such a big graduated table information system of all time been introduced under such hard fortunes ( Flowers, 1996 ) . This was non the first clip that the LAS had tried to implement a CAD system for ambulances. Get downing in the early 1980 ‘s the system was doomed after trials revealed it would non be able to cover with the sheer volume of calls and so was abandoned in 1990 at a cost of & A ; lb ; 7.5 million.

For a system roll-out to be successful it must incorporate these “ four stages: Execution Planning, Implementation Delivery, Post-Implementation Support, Post-Implementation Analysis ” ( Xalles Limited, 2005 ) . These execution methods are based on a figure of rules and premises. The attack by direction to the undertaking should be disciplined. As the instance of the LASCAD has shown ; strong and effectual direction is indispensable for the success of a system. Directors should be able to competently handle and issues or jobs that develop during the execution of the system. Accurate and concentrated certification is needed in order to efficaciously pass on throughout each of the execution phases. The terminal user ( s ) should be kept in head throughout the development procedure so that the System Requirement Specification can be met. It is indispensable that administrations learn from the errors of others sing the roll-out of an information system. However, this can present rather hard as many administrations, if they have troubles, tend to maintain these jobs ‘in-house ‘ , as non to convey any negative imperativeness to themselves.

In decision it is clear to see that the roll-out of a successful IS is non an easy accomplishment, with administrations non ever larning from the errors of others. After reading several instance surveies of high profile IS failures including LASCAD, TAURUS and Heathrow Terminal 5, it shows that the monetary value of failure are highly high with these companies losing 10s of 1000000s of lbs between them, and in the instance of the LASCAD people losing their lives. These instances besides highlighted that the chief contributing factors towards the death of each undertaking were in fact from hapless direction, instead than proficient troubles. It is argued that the chief factors for success comprise of timing and budget, perceived usefulness and easiness of usage, suiting the administration ‘s concern scheme and aims, the direction civilization and human dealingss, and in conclusion credence of the system by the user ( s ) ( Maddison & A ; Darnton, 1996 ) . In order for a system roll-out to be successful all of this must be taken into consideration.


  • Avison, D. & A ; Fitzgerald, G. ( 2003 ) . Information Systems Develolpment: Methodologies, Techniques and Tools Third Edition. Mcgraw Printing
  • Flynn, D. J. ( 1992 ) . Information Systems Requirements: Determination and Analysis. McGraw-Hill International
  • Flowers, S. ( 1996 ) . Software Failure: Management Failure: Amazing Narratives and Cautionary Tales. John Wiley & A ; Sons Ltd.
  • Finkelstein, A ( 1993 ) . “ Report of the Inquiry Into The London Ambulance Service ” . International Workshop on Software Specification and Design Case Study. The Communications Directorate.
  • Finkelstein, A & A ; Dowell, J. A Comedy of Mistakes: the London Ambulance Service instance survey. School of Informatics, City University.
  • Lin, A ( 2009 ) . Information Systems in Organisations. Department of Information Studies, The University of Sheffield.
  • Maddison, R. & A ; Darnton, G. ( 1996 ) . Information systems in organisations: bettering concern procedures. Chapman & A ; Hall.
  • Mellor, P. ( 1994 ) . Cad: Computer-Aided Disaster ( High Integrity Systems ) . Vol. 1, 2, pp. 101-156.
  • The Standish Group ( 2009 ) . “ New Standish Group study shows more project neglecting and less successful undertakings ” [ Online ] . hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 1 January 2010 ] .
  • University College London ( 2009 ) . “ Unit 3: Case Study London Ambulance
  • Service CAD System ” [ Online ] . hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 5 January 2010 ] .
  • Xalles Limited ( 2005 ) . “ Successful Systems Implementation ” [ Online ] . hypertext transfer protocol: // % 20Systems % 20Implementation.pdf [ Accessed 30 December 2009 ] .