The existence of feedback and its relationship with information systems planning success
For many years now, information systems planning (ISP) has been one of the major concerns of IS Managers. Despite the wealth of research in the ISP area, particularly over the last decade, there is little sign that IS Managers are having greater success with their ISP activity than they did previously. From an analysis of the existing literature, feedback was identified as a neglected area of ISP research but one with the potential of providing a reason as to why ISP is still judged to be only partially successful within organisations. The focus of this thesis is on the extent to which feedback exists and what relationship it has with ISP success. Two types of feedback were investigated, feedback on the ISP system and feedback on the IS plan, the former addressing the activity itself while the latter is concerned with feedback on the contents of the plan. These were both conceptualised in terms of three main components (activities): monitoring, reviewing and updating. In addition, the research identifies ISP system characteristics related to ISP success, providing the foundations of a system-oriented evaluation tool upon which organisations can build their own tailor made diagnostic tool. Finally, the research looks at contextual factors related to feedback as a basis for future contingency-based research. Case study and survey research were used to answer the four main research questions: (1) To what extent does feedback exist within organisations?; (2) Is feedback related to ISP success?; (3) What ISP system characteristics are related to ISP success? (4) What contextual factors are related to feedback? Case study research was used to test the validity of the research instrument within the public sector context, while survey research was used to gather data from a variety of organisations concerning their ISP practices. Two self-administered mail questionnaires (one for the IS Planner, the other for non-IS participants of the ISP activity) were used to survey 145 individuals from 90 organisations. The results of the survey indicated that neither ISP system nor IS plan feedback were prevalent in organisations: only 19% and 38% of organisations exhibited all three components of feedback, respectively. There was also evidence to suggest that organisations exhibiting more feedback exhibited more ISP success and that informal feedback, on average, was more common than formal. These results suggest a possible reason as to why IS Managers arestill struggling to make their ISP successful. In the main, organisations seem ill-equipped to monitor, review and update their ISP activity. As a consequence they may also find it difficult to assess and take on board recommendations made by previous ISP research studies, thus providing a potential reason as to why ISP problems that were identified over a decade ago still exist today.