Suitable Information System Development Methodologies Information Technology Essay

The way in which information systems are conceived, analyzed, designed and implemented within the organization is known as Information Systems Development, (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003 & 2006). It appears to be a main concern in the Information Systems area (Cotterman & Senn 1992).

This report examines the nature of methodologies, the differences between them, the impact of the methodology application on the Information Systems Development and examine which methodology might be appropriate for Bradmore House. The report analyses the current IT systems and the organizational structure, before recommending specific types of methodologies because the steps involved has to be relevant to the study. The organization issued information regarding the businesses it ran and what was required by each business. Furthermore, the investigation analyzes key characteristics of each methodology type before deciding whether it is viable for the organization or not.

The use of Information Systems Development Methodologies (ISDMs) will aid the current workings and also enhance future development potential within each business.


2.1 Definitions

“An information systems development methodology can be defined as a collection of procedures, techniques, tools, and documentation aids which will help the systems developers in their efforts to implement new information systems. It will consist of phases, themselves consisting of sub phases, which will guide the systems developers in their choice of the techniques that might be appropriate at each stage of the project and also help them plan, manage, control and evaluate information systems projects” (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2006).

“ISDM is a recommended collection of philosophies, phases, procedures, rules, techniques, tools, documentation, management, and training for developers of information systems” (Maddison, 1983).

It’s found that all of them concentrate exclusively in the technique role of information systems in order to identify current user needs, to identify current problems, evaluate user expectations and develop operational information processing systems with design and implementation using appropriate methodologies.

The main role of the ISDM is to develop effective information processing systems in the most effective way using a frameworks or guidelines consisting of phases and sub phases, which conducts developers to use tools and techniques appropriate at each stage of the development (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2006). Methodologies are based on the systems development life cycle (SDLC); figure1 illustrates one version of this life-cycle. The important thing is to demonstrate an overall picture of how systems are developed and brought to delivery. Although there are many variants, it has the following basic structure (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2006)

Figure 1

2.2 The Use and Non-Use of Methodologies

According to Avison and Fitzgerald (2006), the early applications of computers – say, until the 1960s – were largely implemented without the utility of an explicit information system methodology. In these early days, the emphasis of computer applications was toward programming, and the skills of programmers were particularly appreciated. The systems developers were therefore technically trained but were not necessarily good communicators. This often meant that the information systems design was sometimes inappropriate for the application.

Few programmers would follow any formal methodology. Frequently they would use the rule – of – thumb and rely on experience. Estimating the date on which the system would be operational was difficult, and applications were frequently behind schedule.

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As an answer for some of the problems above discussed, the use of methodologies were devised and adopted by many organizations.

The use of a methodology improves the practice of information systems development (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006). These include the ability to:

Ensure precisely the requirements of an IS

Systematically present a method of development in such a way that progress can be efficiently monitored

Provide support development in a planned and controlled manner that contain costs and timescales

Produce a well documented system which is easy to maintain

Identify any change to a system as early as possible in the development process

Provide a system that can be accepted by the people affected by that system in order that they can verify analysis and design work and train other users to use them

Provide a well managed and organized structure of the process of change

These abilities are important when adopting a particular methodology because it leads to a better end product, a better development process and better standardized process. It will have a direct impact on the nature, structure and content of system (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006).

Methodologies can be very useful when developing ISs depending on how it is being used, if the wrong methodology is used in the wrong circumstance then it can become a problem and if the right methodology is used in the right circumstance it tends to lead to a better IS process but it may not guarantee a project success.

On the other end the non use of methodologies may lead to a less efficient information system, a disorganized documented system, with lack of control and management, and perhaps to an expensive and slow timescale system that tends to be incomplete.

2.3 Methodologies to be considered

The methodologies to be considered are Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method (SSADM), and Merise which will be evaluated using a matrix.

3 The Needs of the Organization

Based on the evidence the following types of systems were found to of some relevance to the organization including:

Accounting (to record income and expenditure)

Computerized Based and Virtual Reality Displays (Long-Term)

Database Management Systems ( which needs to be upgraded, to keep record data about artifacts, volunteer workers, local authorities and other funding related bodies)

Financial ( to record financial transactions, and successive expenditure of the funds)

Human Resource (to keep record of all employees, payroll details)

Intranet & Extranet (Long-term)

Local Area Network (for administrative purposes that integrate with the Borough’s network spine)

Management Information Systems

Marketing (to support marketing decisions)

Online Booking Systems (to book BH as the venue, and an online gift shop)

Payroll (for pay slips production for employees)

Point of Sale (to link the within the shop to the network to allow for more accurate inventory listing, accounting and to improve the cash flow as part of increasing the income)

Sales (for validation of orders, checking etc.)

Security Systems (to protect the valuables artifacts)

Stock Control (to provide up to date information on quantities, prices, minimum stock levels, and re-order quantities)

Website Development (for marketing and sales promotion purposes)

3.1 Training

When developing ISs, training is part and partial of it when comes to develop the system and user guidelines, but if it is just to make the general employees IT literate, then it will be a different type of training. For example, when using finance system training will be given purely on that and for employees who are not IT literate they will need generic IT training which falls for example the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) sponsored by the British Computer Society.

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3.2 Evaluating Methodologies

Avison and Taylor (1997, p. 74) identify five different classes of situation and appropriate approaches as follows:

Well-structured problem situations with a well-defined problem and clear requirements.

Well-structured problem situation with clear objectives but uncertain user requirements.

Unstructured problem situation with unclear objectives.

Situations where there is a high user interaction with the system.

Complex problem situations, combing two or more of classes 1-4 (Multiview) requiring a contingency approach to information systems development.

Based on the organization’s needs each methodology will be evaluated looking at the people issues to begin with, identifying what needs to be done (Given that there is a variable level of IT literacy, there is a need for formal training to improve the use of IT and convert paper-based systems to IT based functions) and the systems that are actually being developed (the organization systems needs) by using the evaluation techniques to work with which include:


Common characteristics displayed by ISDMs such as philosophy or rationale; structure; life cycle; techniques; case tools; user involvement; support – literature, training; propriety / non propriety; etc.


Such as: cookbook, toolkit, holistic, reductionist, etc.


Requirements of the organization (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006, p.596 & 597)

A good way to this is to create a matrix.

3.4 Matrix

Matrix is a technique that will be used to compare methodologies (using characteristic, classifications and the criteria) listing the requirements on the left-hand side of the table, and then listings the methodologies that might be appropriate along the top. It acts as a summary; all information will be presented in one table (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006).

[H=Hard, S=Soft, C=Cookbook, T=toolkit, R=reductionist, Ho=Holistic]






H, C/T, R

H, T, R

H, T, C & R






User Participation



Method Support

Payroll Systems


Financial Systems




Accounting Systems


Stock Control



Online Booking Systems



Website Development



3.5 Recommendations

For evaluating the methodologies, the more ticks the better, and therefore the recommended solution will be the one with more ticks. In order to satisfy the developmental needs of the organization it is recommended to use a combination of methodologies because not all requirements can be met by structured methods or by the RAD methods.

Research accomplished by Avison and Fitzgerald (2003) had emphasized that many traditional methodologies are still being used, along with alternative methodologies and approaches.

Although SSADM is the methodology with more ticks it does not cover the entire SDLC, so by itself will not be enough to do everything. As result it is recommended to combine both SSADM and DSDM (DSDM covers the entire SDLC) to meet the developmental needs of the organization. DSDM is a framework so SSADM techniques could be implemented into DSDM. SSADM and DSDM are de facto standards for information systems development, which give them some credibility. The two methodologies were developed originally by UK consultants and are used in public sector as well as private and government projects.

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BH has a well-structured problem situation with a well-defined problem and clear requirements, which makes it easier to identify the methodologies to be implemented for example SSDAM would be suitable to develop Database Systems, Payroll, HR etc. whereas DSDM would be suitable for Online Booking Systems and Website Development Systems.

“SSADM provides project development staff with very detailed rules and guidelines to work. It is highly structured. Another reason for its success has been in the standards provided (often exercised by completing pre-printed documents or through supporting software tools). Documentation pervades all aspects of the information systems project. SSADM has seven stages (0 to 6) within a five module framework – with its own set of plans, timescales, controls and monitoring procedures. The Activities of each stage are precisely defined as are their associated end products – this facilitates the use of PRINCE (Project In Controlled Environments)” (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006)

“DSDM addresses the needs of all project participants: business management, project managers, solution architects, solution developers, solution users, and assurance personnel” (Stapleton, 2003)

DSDM Focus on helping people to work effectively together to achieve the business goals quickly. It provides a flexible yet controlled process that can be used to deliver new systems, which combines the most effective use of people’s knowledge, tools and techniques such as prototyping to achieve tight project delivery timescales.

4 Methodology Selection

4.1 DSDM

The Dynamic Systems Development Method was developed in the U.K. in the mid-1990s (De facto standard in UK and Europe since 1990s). The Consortium has grown from strength to strength, both within the UK but also Europe and beyond. It is today RAD (Rapid Application Development) method of choice amongst a growing population of End Users and IT specialist alike.

“In 1994 a group systems developers from companies interested in rapid development came together to form an independent and ‘not for profit’ Consortium to discuss and attempt to define a standard RAD method. There was some concern the RAD was becoming associated with a ‘quick but dirty’ image whereas the Consortium believed that RAD should not only be rapid but also disciplined and high quality. The term they defined became known as DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method)” (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006)

4.2 DSDM nine principles:

1)Active user involvement, 2)Empowered teams that the authority to can make decisions, 3)A focus on frequent delivery of products, 4)Using fitness for business purpose as the essential criterion for acceptance of deliverables 5)Iterative and incremental development to ensure convergence on an accurate business solution, 6)Reversible changes during development, 7)Requirements that are base-line at a high level, 8)Integrated testing throughout the life cycle, 9)Collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders.

4.3 Weaknesses:

1) Not scalable, 2) Stringent constraints on time and resources, 3) Lack of formalism

4.5 Techniques:

1) MoSCoW Prioritization, 2) Controlled Prototyping, 3) Facilitated Workshops, 4) Timeboxing

4.6 DSDM Process

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