Dealing with complexity: elaboration of a suitable information system development at AUT Business School using soft systems methodology

Arz, Hans-Jürgen
Nolan, Terry
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

As a result of an initial assessment of Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) application for accreditation to AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), one of the single most important issues identified was the management and development of an ‘Information System’ (IS) to increase the productivity and efficiency of the daily business at AUT’s Business School. Firstly, this study attempts to identify, through qualitative interviews with selected staff members of AUT’s Business School, user requirements for a file sharing information system. Adopting Soft Systems Methodology, Checkland’s (2006) proposed ‘CATWOE’ model, rich picture and root definitions are used to elicit and evaluate the users’ system requirements. Secondly, by using Checkland’s proposed tools, this study strives to evaluate the information systems currently used at AUT (“I-Drive”, “Novell GroupWise”, “Knowledge Base” and “Wiki-Software”). The systems are evaluated in terms of possibilities and restrictions of sharing information through expanding to a ‘file and knowledge sharing’ system that meets the identified user requirements. Thirdly a realisability analysis is performed to determine the implications of the user requirements (identified through interviews) upon an existing information system or a new system. Finally, to provide a solution for the identified issues and given recommendations, a ‘conceptual model’ (Checkland P, 2006) is developed.

Findings from this study indicate that information and file sharing at AUT Business School is at a sub-optimal level of performance. The prime reasons for this problem appear to lie with ‘soft’ organisational issues, including the organisation’s culture, together with a lack of set operational standards and regulations, rather than with the information systems themselves.

Due to the confidential nature of this inquiry, the names and titles of interviewees have been disguised.

Management Information Systems , System analysis , System design
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