Author: Chan, Cheong-ping
Title: Applicability of soft approaches to information systems analysis and design : the perspective of organizational stakeholders in a government engineering maintenance workshop in Hong Kong
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 1993
Subject: Management information systems
Strategic planning -- Data processing
Hong Kong Polytechnic -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Computing
Pages: 1 v. (various pagings) : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: The research concerns with the study of applicability of soft approaches to systems analysis and design in a problem situation which occurs in the author's workplace - a Government engineering maintenance workshop. The 'real-world' problem situation is unstructured because it involves both organization development and information systems development encompassing social, political and technological changes. The author adopts action research as the research approach. Action research is an applied research which might be seen as a subset of the case study and field experiment categories. It focuses on the change process itself rather than some hypotheses under test. A methodological framework in the form of a problem-solving strategy is established for the research to follow. After elaborating the concepts of organization development and information systems development, the author puts forward a cognitive map for the system project. The research then starts with the formation of the parallel learning structure which serves to provide organization intervention for carrying out the organization development in a bureaucratic workshop organization. The author, being a facilitator of the study group working under the auspices of the steering committee, is engaged in the system project through continuous human intervention - participating, consulting, observing, experimenting and influencing the interaction of the organizational stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project. In view of the softness or unstructuredness of the problem situation, the author has selected a hard-and-soft approach for systems analysis and design, i.e. Multiview, which embraces concepts of: Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), Effective Technical and Human Implementation of Computer Systems (ETHICS), Data Analysis, and Structured Analysis. The research reflects that Multiview is a blended framework. It applies soft approaches in soft problem-solving in the human activity analysis stage, and uses hard approaches in data analysis and modelling in the information analysis stage. A somewhat flexible framework (contingency approach) is adopted at the subsequent socio-technical design stages. Throughout the system project process, due attention has been given to the most valuable asset of the organization - organizational stakeholders. It appears that this issue has not been emphasized in hard approaches which assume that problems have been straight-jacketed and conflicts fully resolved prior to information systems development - which is not always the case in real-world situation. The selection criteria of an information system development approach depend on (a) three internal factors - 'problem context', 'approach', 'analyst' and (b) four external factors - 'system input', 'system environment', 'organizational stakeholders', and 'system output'. Three Trilogy Models are put forward to illustrate the interrelationship between internal and external factors pertaining to hard or soft approach for systems analysis and design. Soft approaches accrue the maximum benefits when applied to an established organization where an unstructured problem situation containing multiple problem ownership exists. As these approaches are analyst-driven and behavioural-oriented, aspects of applicability in terms of functionability and critical success factors, and inapplicability have to be considered.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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