Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


Many opportunities for benefitting from information technology (IT) are not discovered until IT systems are in operational use. The realization of these benefits depends on local efforts that cannot presume top-management support but must themselves generate the innovation potential necessary to improve system use. To facilitate such local efforts, we propose effects-driven IT improvement. It consists of iteratively specifying, realizing, and evaluating the usage effects pursued with a system. We describe the effects-driven process and illustrate it with three real-world cases. On this basis, we discuss its contributions toward local benefits realization at the post-implementation stage. Our overarching contribution is to provide a means of operationalizing and packaging improvement initiatives in a manner that combines local and lightweight experimentation with the data-driven realization of meaningful effects. The three cases illustrate that the effects-driven process can reopen the window of opportunity for benefits realization, result in learning that calls for respecifying the pursued effect, and render evaluation data almost superfluous because the local actors are confident that the effect is substantial and real. In addition, local initiatives to improve system use may create the momentum, evaluation infrastructure, and benefits documentation necessary to pave the way for further improvements. However, these potentials come with challenges, which we also discuss