IMBOK domains - Information systems projects


Information technology is useless until it is engineered into information systems that meet the needs of the business systems. The IMBOK separates out the technical aspects of systems development from the implementation of a new system in business. Very different skills and capabilities are required.

Getting business people to articulate their needs can be extremely difficult. Consider the case where a new customer relationship management system is to be developed, based on web technologies. Customer relationship management is not happening right now, at least not in any formalised sense. So, how can anyone tabulate and describe the facilities and functionality that might be needed? Project management is the information management process that delivers systems, and project management is still difficult. Project managers tend to focus on tasks, milestones, deliverables and budgets. Success is seen in "coming in on time and on budget" irrespective of the actual outcome at the level of the business. It is a rare project manager that can see how all the detailed work in a project will produce the business benefits that represent the fulfilment of strategy, but that understanding is necessary to achieve.


Related research: Budzier & Flyvbjerg blow the lid off IT project management optimism

Budzier, A., Flyvbjerg, B., 2011. Double Whammy - How ICT Projects are Fooled by Randomness and Screwed by Political Intent. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2238057

This paper is a classic example of an academic work (it is extremely rigorous, and based on examination of more than 1400 projects) that carries a clear message for everyone whose reputation depends on successful management and completion of IT projects. Essentially, they focus on unreasonable optimism (rendering project planning ineffective) and the denial of random events (that mess with a project once it is 'running'). They conclude with discussion of the underlying processes that lead to 'power-law behaviour', which indicates some of the pitfalls and shortcomings of cost and cost risk management that management must deal with.

Have a look at this one - for me it demonstrates a successful focus of academic research on a critical organisational issue: how to manage IT projects effectively.

Related research: Case studies give a rich picture of real experience

Stillman, L., Monash University, Centre for Community Networking Research, Victorian Council of Social Service, 2010. Doing IT Better project: final report. Centre for Community Networking Research, Caulfield School of IT, Monash University ; Victorian Council of Social Service, Caulfield East, Vic.; Melbourne.

Larry Stillman and colleagues provide a completely different view of improving things in a 'community' context. This long report is a fine example of a major academic effort that was directed at assisting government to understand how to 'do IT better'. The report includes copious details of how the project was set up, the methods that they used (it is an example of 'grounded theory' research) and draws a range of conclusions about leadership, policy development, knowledge sharing, impact measurement, and the avoiding of duplicated effort. If you are impressed at the care and attention to detail in their approach, as I was, you will find many good ideas to assist you in driving IT-enabled change in any kind of an organisation.