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Abstract

This article combines two real world cases involving expensive, but highly unsuccessful IT initiatives in small companies. One initiative used commercial software package; the other used custom-built software. Both cases illustrate common mishaps that occur in smaller companies whose employees and management have not paid much attention to the challenges of building systems in organizations. Both cases leave the reader with questions about what should be done next. Students using these cases benefit in the following ways: Each of these brief cases provides enough details to see how project and life cycle principles really do matter, and how lack of attention to these principles frequently leads to disaster. Students comparing the two cases can identify for themselves a set of project principles that might have led to better outcomes. Each case provides a possibility of asking students to deal with a series of questions that any business professional must deal with in defining an IT initiative and deciding whether it has a high probability of success. These questions include: What problem does the IT initiative address? What work system has this problem? Exactly what information will the information system create or use? What is the relationship between the information system and the work system it supports? How would success be measured? Each case also provides an opportunity to look at prior student recommendations and question whether they are justified by the facts or whether other recommendations might be better.

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