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Theoretical themes

Perspectives on system evaluation

We start by giving a deeper understanding of the conceptual roots of systems thinking and how to evaluate soft systems (Checkland, 2000). It will also zoom in on some more practice-oriented models to evaluate information systems by functions and supplier characteristics (Wei et al, 2005) and models to understand what generates information systems success (DeLone and McLean, 2002). The main message is that you, as an evaluator, must broaden the scope of analyses and not limit the analysis to purely technical aspects.

Besides the system perspective, the course has the following conceptual main themes: Economic evaluation of IT, Societal evaluation of IT, and Technical evaluation of IT.

Economic evaluation of IT

This theme will focus on the financial/business consequences of an IT-investment. Many equate “economic evaluation” with the impact on profit and cash flow, but we prefer a somewhat broader view of the term. That’s why we talk about business consequences. “Business case” is a widely used term for a report used in an organisation (also in the public sector) to argue the merits of an investment in new technology, or a new process etc. You will get practical tips on how to produce a business case (Schmidt, 2003/2005), how to choose evaluation methods for different types of information systems (Joshi and Pant, 2008) and how investments in new systems should be linked to strategy and concomitant changes in an organisation (Cöster et al., 2012).

Societal evaluation of IT

This theme will look closer on evaluation of, and investments in, information systems on a societal level. The texts in this theme are mainly compiled from experiences in the UK on how investments in e.g. health care information systems, can be evaluated. In this theme you will both learn about relevant perspectives on societal evaluation of IT and learn from practical examples (Irani et al, 2005; Jones 2008; Lewis, 2003).

The main challenge in societal evaluation is that the consequences of the systems appear in many different situations, to many different actors and come in many different forms. It may even be the case that the consequence of an information system is perceived as a benefit by one stakeholder and as deterioration by another stakeholder. Evaluating information systems on a societal level requires a multi actor/multi dimensional evaluation of the consequences.

There are other important goals to strive for, in organizational settings, than profit. You will specifically learn about a new concept that tries to capture the Social Returns on Investment (SROI). Such returns are of course most obvious in the societal evaluation of IT, but will gradually also play a more important role in organisational evaluation.

Technical evaluation of IT

This theme will focus on the more technical aspects of a system. For example, this could refer to compatibility or performance issues. This theme also highlights different stakeholders’ (technicians and non-technicians) attitudes towards technology and which difficulties these differences may generate with regard to mutual understanding (Orlikowski and Gash, 1994).

A basic understanding of software architecture is provided by Jalote, P. (2005). Trying to understand basic building blocks of software and how different sub-systems relate to another is an important skill when assessing the qualities of a system (e.g. reliability, stability, performance, scalability, etc.) from a technical point of view.

Organisations may increasingly see the need for integrating disparate and distributed information systems, e.g. to invent new business processes or to increase performance. Integration is an engineering and management problem alike. Giachetti (2013) draws on various obstacles and presents different integration types (e.g. connectivity, data sharing, interoperability, and coordination).

Sidansvarig: carl-johan.petri@liu.se
Senast uppdaterad: Sun Aug 27 21:47:50 CEST 2017