Dynamic process modelling for business engineering and information systems evaluation
This research is concerned with the pre-implementation evaluation of investments in Information Systems (IS). IS evaluation is important as organisations need to assess the financial justifiability of business change proposals that include (but usually are not limited to) the introduction of IS applications. More specifically, this research addresses the problem of benefits assessment within IS evaluation. We contend that benefits assessment should not be performed at the level of the IS application, as most extant evaluation methods advocate. Instead, to study the dynamics and the interactions of the IS applications with their surrounding environment, we propose to adopt the business process as the analytic lens of evaluation and to assess the impacts of IS on organisational, rather than on technical, performance indicators. Drawing on these propositions, this research investigates the potential of dynamic process modelling (via discrete-event simulation) as a facilitator of IS evaluation. We argue that, in order to be effective evaluation tools, business process models should be able to explicitly incorporate the effects of IS introduction on business performance, an issue that is found to be under-researched in previous literature. The above findings serve as the central theme for the development of a design theory of IS evaluation by simulation. The theory provides prescriptive elements that refer both to the design products of the evaluation and the design process by which these products can come into reality. The theory draws on a set of kernel theories from the business engineering domain and proposes a set of meta-requirements that should be satisfied by business process models, a meta-design structure that meets these requirements, and a design method that provides guidance in applying the theoretical propositions in practice. The design theory is developed and empirically tested by means of two real-life case studies. The first study is used to complement the findings of a literature review and to drive the development of the design theory's components, while the second study is employed to validate and further enhance the theory's propositions. The research results support the arguments for simulation-assisted IS evaluation and demonstrate the contribution of the design theory to the field.