Developing living information systems through systems tailorability : deferred systems design
An interpretivist investigation of computer-based business information systems was conducted in two commercial companies and two higher education institutes, by using both quantitative questionnaire survey and qualitative interview research methods. The investigation focused on the social and organisational context of information systems development and usage in these organisations. The utility of structured methodologies is now being questioned by some researchers who are calling for alternative approaches, and this investigation draws on that alternative strand of thinking. The collected data primarily reveals that the development and usage of information systems happens in changing organisations, which suggests that the design and usage of information systems must cater for such a changing or dynamic environment. Therefore the data is interpreted using a philosophical outlook encompassing the notion of "living" information systems and Critical Theory, and this philosophical stance regards information technology as liberating human endeavour in organisations. Five sub-concepts and the concept of deferred system's design are derived from the data, which have been formulated to account and cater for change in information systems environments. The concept of deferred system's design encourages the design of information systems which allow for organisational human behaviour, consisting of organisational change, uncertainty, and learning, to be mediated by information technology. A systems design principle called `deferred system's design decisions' is derived to enable designs of tailorable information systems, which may be regarded as one form of living information systems to facilitate such organisational behaviour. An intersubjective theoretical model called the spiral of change model of tailorable information systems is proposed to explain and understand better the changing organisational environment in which information systems must be developed and in which they must function. To inform practice a computer tool is proposed which enables conceptions of " tailorable information systems that employ the principle of deferred system's design decisions and enables modelling changing or dynamic information systems.