J. Software Engi neeri n g & Applications, 2010, 3, 983-989
doi:10.4236/jsea.2010.310115 Published Online October 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/jsea)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
Towards an Efficient Information Systems
Development Process and Management: A Review
of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
Achimugu Philip1, Babajide Afolabi2, Oluw aranti Adeniran2, Oluwagbemi Oluwatolani1,
Gambo Ishaya2
1Computer Science Department, Lead City University, Ibadan, Nigeria; 2Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Obafemi
Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Email: {check4philo, tolapeace, igpeni}@ yahoo.com, {bafox, aranti}@oauife.edu.ng
Received July 31st, 2010; revised August 26th, 2010; accepted August 31st, 2010.
Before Information Systems are developed, they must have undergone a process called Systems Development Life Cycle
(SDLC) using appropriate methodology. The SDLC consists of phases varying from author to author. However, an in-
formation systems project can only be successful with intense interaction amongst project manager, systems analyst,
system designers and the end users. Viewed from the project managers perspective, the SDLC lacks the essence of
project management activities. Similarly, end users involvement is not clearly specified . The main aim of this pap er is to
propose a framework for information systems management and development process which accommodates the views of
the different participants. Furth ermore, the paper sharpens the concept of conventional SDLC, on the basis of the pro-
posed framework. In addition, tools and methods that are appropriate for the implementation of the framework are
herein discussed.
Keywords: SDLC, Information Systems, Framework, Project Management, Development, End Users
1. Introduction
The early applications of computers were implemented
without the aid of any explicit Information Systems (IS)
development methodology and appropriate management
techniques. In these early days, the emphasis of computer
applications was towards programming. This meant that
system developers were technically trained but were not
necessarily good communicators. This often meant that
the needs of the users in the application area were not
well established, with the consequence that the IS d esign
was frequently inappropriate for the application. Few
programmers would follow any formal methodology; in
most cases, they use rule-of-thumb and rely on experi-
ence [1].
Estimating the date on wh ich the system will be opera-
tional was difficult and applications were frequently be-
hind schedule. Programmers might spend a very large
proportion of their time on correcting and enhancing the
applications which were operational. Typically, a user
will come to the programmer asking for a new report or
modification of one that was already supplied. Often,
these changes had undesirable effects on other parts of
the system, which also had to be corrected. This vicious
circle will continue, causing frustration to both pro-
grammers and users. As computers increased rapidly in
number and management was demanding more appropri-
ate systems for their expensive outlay, the situation cou ld
not continue. Th ere were three main changes [2]:
1) The first was a growing appreciation of the part of
the development of the system th at concerns analysis and
design and therefore, the role of the system analyst as
well as that of the programmer;
2) The second was realizations that as organizations
were growing in size and complexity; it was desirable to
move away from one-off solutions towards a more inte-
grated appro ach;
3) The third was an appreciation of the desirability of
an accepted methodology for the development of infor-
mation systems.
Organizations today are much more concerned about
the effects of competition than they were in the past;
Towards an Efficient Information Systems Development Process and Management:
984 A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
therefore, no organization would like to stand the risk of
being overtaken by other competitors on the same play-
ing ground with equal opportunities. Organizations that
acquire prompt delivery of information system projects
and posses efficient management skills will always be at
the fore front of this global digital drive which com-
mands profits for organizations and good quality of ser-
vices for users and customers. Although, traditional uses
of information technology still exist, new information
systems development has become one of the most im-
portant weapons for organizations to gain competitive
advantage. New application development is the most
vigorous for those organizations that recognize informa-
tion as a resource for achieving their strategic goals.
Existing literature provides some formal methods and
management models for information systems develop-
ment which cannot explain all the tasks that must be
performed by the diverse group of people that are in-
volved in the development process of information sys-
tems. For instance, the waterfall model in isolation can-
not fully explain the perspective of the project manager,
same goes to the capability maturity model and hosts of
others. The primary management goal is to build a
working information system under a planned budget and
schedule. The activities such as planning, organizing,
staffing, leading and controlling are of particular impor-
tance in managerial activities [3].
The main aim of this paper is to propose a framework
for an efficient information systems development process
and management that will enable information system
projects to be promptly and successfully completed
through the integrated efforts and view of the project
manager and end users, along with other project staff
members such as system analysts, developers, program-
mers and maintenance programmers.
2. Information Systems Management and
Development Process
New information system development typically starts
with a temporary organizational structure called project
team. Typically, a project team consists of a project
manager, system analyst, programmers, etc. A project
manager, usually a senior system analyst in the organiza-
tion has the responsibility of the entire project. The pro-
ject members must intensively interact with users. For
prototyping projects, the team must include the users.
The importance of users’ participation in information
systems development is highlighted by an increasing use
of new software productivity tools such as Computer
Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tools. These tools
enable users to be actively involved in the system devel-
opment process, and to improve the chance that the final
system will be adopted by users. It therefore must be
emphasized that information systems can be successfully
completed only with intense interactions among project
participants. A critical analysis of information system
management and development process suggest that its
different aspects should be highlighted according to dif-
ferent participants. Therefore, the management and de-
velopment process is divided into three levels, each of
which corresponds to a type of participant. A set of ac-
tivities that should be performed at each level is defined
as a schema. The hierarchical architecture consists of
thee schemas: manager’s, actor’s and user’s schemas.
2.1. Manager’s Schema
This schema represents a set of activities performed by a
project manager. Proper project management is a neces-
sary ingredient for successful project implementation.
The project manager must effectively use the manage-
ment tools for proper project management. The project
management goal must be achieved through appropriate
management activities. These managerial activities are
categorized into five functions: planning, organizing,
staffing, leading and controlling. Each activity of a man-
ager can be readily placed within one of these five man-
agement functions. This perspective is what a project
manager must conceive during the course of project
management. This level corresponds to manager’s
schema. The logical view of information systems con-
ceived by each individual actor must be mapped into the
manager’s schema. In other words, each activity per-
formed by actors must confirm to the manager’s goal.
This mapping also can ameliorate communication barri-
ers among project developers and manager.
2.2. Actor’s Schema
This schema represents the activities assigned to system
analyst, programmers and maintenance programmers.
These developers, ex cept fo r man ag ers will be referred to
as actors. The primary goal of actors must be to meet
user’s requirement as spelt out in the Software Require-
ment Specification (SRS) document. The actor’s goal is
to develop the information system that will be success-
fully adopted by end users. This schema explicitly en-
compasses the SDLC, from system planning to mainte-
nance. A set of activities at this level is referred to as
actor’s schema.
2.3. User’s Schema
This schema represents the activities performed by end
users; it must aid actors to develop a successful system.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
Towards an Efficient Information Systems Development Process and Management: 985
A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
The user’s schema represents a set of activities by end
users. The main purpose of this schema is to identify and
describe the tasks that are required of users to guarantee
the success of the project. Users and actors often have a
many-to-many relationship. In other words, one actor
may work with several users and one user may work with
several actors. The user’s schema must be mapped into
the requirements.
The hierarchy is useful for describing a concept for
information systems management and development. Any
information system project can neatly be matched into
the prototype framework. The primary advantages of the
three schema hierarchy are highlighted as follows:
First, the information systems development process
can be better understood by project participants. Better
understanding of other participant’s perspective of the
development process results in improved communication
among project members along with users. The commu-
nication gap has been the most significant cause of sys-
tem failures. Secondly, the hierarchy views the entire
development process as an integrated entity. It integrates
different views and thus reduces the task duplication.
Furthermore, the hierarchy sharpens the idea of how the
information requirements can be mapped into strategic
goal for the information systems in an organization. It
also presents mapping between users and actors. This
mapping is significant especi ally for protot yping approach.
The three schema hierarchy can accommodate both the
top-down view and the bottom-up view of the systems
management and development activities. Obviously,
systems management and development consist of both
management and development processes. Typically, the
management process in isolation starts with an activity
by a manger. The activities performed by a manager
must be mapped into activities with actors and then ac-
tivities by users. This transitive specialization corre-
sponds to a top-down view for systems development. In
contrast, to management process, the development proc-
ess starts with the activities performed by the users. The
activity performed by the users must be triggered by us-
ers’ requirements. The activities are mapped into activi-
ties by actors and then activities by managers. This spe-
cialization corresponds to a bottom-up view for system
development. The hierarchy also highlights the user par-
ticipation in the project. It is of particular importance for
prototyping approaches. The role of SDLC in prototyp-
ing is sharpened by a specific description of user’s in-
volvement. This improvement is of particular interest
because the traditional SDLC discourages more effective
approaches like prototyping.
The aim of presenting a three schema hierarchy is to
provide a framework in which each individual project
participant can better conceive the overall view of the
information systems project. Furthermore, each project
participant can better perform his task so that the system
can be finally accepted within the organization.
3. Conceptual Framework for Enhanced
Information Systems Development and
Management Process
From a systems analyst’s perspective, the SDLC per-
fectly illustrates the systems development process. Typi-
cally, the SDLC consist of several phases. Information
systems literature has produced a variety of SDLC
phase’s nicknames. The actual name of the SDLC phases
may vary depending on authors. They generally differ in
how many phases are recognized. However, the current
SDLC concept displays some shortcomings. For instance,
the life cycle concept aggravates the communication gap
between end users and actors. It also fails to specify the
interdependency between a manager and the actors. In
order to address these problems, we have incorporated
the system management process into the enhance ISD
and management framework we have proposed in this
report. The framework is presented below:
The outset situation of the IS investment project con-
sists of the organizational norms and values, project spe-
cific contextual factors and the resources given to the
project. The actual outcomes of the IS investment project
are produced in conjunction with the business develop-
ment process, the IS development and procurement
processes. The outcomes of the IS project are defined by
the success of the system with respect to the investment
perspective, the success of the IS project implementation
and the success of the desired IS functionality. The basic
idea in our conceptual framework, presented in Figure 1,
is the inclusion and integration of all IS participants in-
volved in its development and management processes
throughout the IS product life cycle. The components of
the framework are discussed in more details in the fol-
3.1. Outset Situation
Organizations operate and survive through organization-
ally accepted rules that are justified by goals or a hierar-
chical goal system. Within organizations, there are indi-
vidual goals, objectives, desires, wishes, intentions, etc,
as well as organizational goals, objectives, missions, etc.
[4]. As pointed out by [5], any strategic investment proc-
ess employs individual and organizational values and
preferences, goals and objectives as an input. At best,
undertaking this task will help the project team members
o understand the organization’s processes, problems and t
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
Towards an Efficient Information Systems Development Process and Management:
A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
Feasibility Study:
a. Success of IS
b. Success of IS
c. Success of IS
CASE tools
(SRS) Document
IS Product(s)
specified in SRS
IS Evaluation:
a. Strategic Values
b. Risk
c. Financial
d. Su cc ess of IS
e. Success of IS
Coding and SQL
commands Enhanced IS
Norms and Valu es
IS Project
IS Project
IS Development
IS Imp le m ent a tion
IS Sustainability Plan
Business Development
a. Presentation Layer
b. Business Logic Layer
c. Database Layer
Project Manager and
Systems Analyst(s)
Projec t Manager,
Syste ms Analy st(s) and
Software En gineer(s)
Software Engineer(s)
and Systems
Syste ms Analy st(s)
and End User(s)
Systems Analyst(s)
Systems Engineer(s)
End User(s ), Pro ject
Manager, Systems
Analyst(s) , Soft ware
End User(s), Project
Manager, Systems
Analyst( s), Sof tware
a. Inter view
b. Ques tionnaires
c. Obs ervation
Figure 1. Conceptual framework for enhanced information systems development and management pr oc e ss.
Towards an Efficient Information Systems Development Process and Management: 987
A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
opportunities, thus facilitating organizational learning.
3.2. Project Contingencies
An information system can, on the one hand, be a small
application supporting only one single activity, but on the
other hand, it can be a wider system supporting the whole
company, or it can even be an inter-organizational sys-
tem. There is one additional type of information system
that deserves special attention, which are infrastructure
investments. Infrastructure investments are of high im-
portance because they create the platform on which fu-
ture applications can be built. Moreover, why the infor-
mation system is actually built, depends on several fac-
tors. In some situations a company may be forced to
build a new information system, e.g. because of legisla-
tion changes. Additionally, the senior management may
perceive that the system needs to be built, for example, to
support a business strategy. Finally, the arguments for
building the system can be from the expected and clear
quantitative or qualitative benefits from the investment
The nature of the investment varies according to the
novelty of the system. An investment can deal with im-
proving an existing system, replacing an old system or
developing an entirely new system. Reference [6] asserts
that the nature of the investment differs according to how
common this type of system is in the field of industry
where the company operates. For example, investment in
a routine system is different from an investment in an
innovative system. All these must be taken into cogni-
zance for an effective and efficient IS development and
management process at the planning stage of the life cy-
3.3. IS Project Resources
Both the material and the immaterial resources are cru-
cial while developing information systems. The integrat-
ing role of the major actors as depicted in figure 1 in-
cludes detecting possible problems and as a result of
evaluation it may be noticed, for example, that the pro-
ject needs more system development resources.
3.4. Business Development Process
As information technology can make alternative opera-
tional designs possible, it in many cases plays a central
role when developing the company's business strategy
that is to be embedded in the IS product in order to im-
prove organizational processes. Furthermore, IT enables
new kinds of flexible inter-organizational arrangements.
Moreover, information technology can support the de-
velopment of new business, or new products and services.
Thus, IS projects are often connected to larger strategic
business development programs and the role of IS actors
under this category is to en sure that the IS project would
deliver the required technological capabilities for
achieving the strategic business objectives. The degree
that an IS project is involved in business development
can range from a system that supports the current busi-
ness strategy to a system that creates competitive advan-
tages and new bu siness opportu nities to the co mpany. An
information system investment is in many cases an im-
portant part of a business process re-engineering project.
The actual aim of the system investment would be cut-
ting costs, improving products or services, or serving a
certain custom er group better.
3.5. IS Development Process
In the ever-changing business environment, it is very
important to be aware of the possible changes that may,
in some situations, affect the underlying assumptions that
the investment is based on. Thus, it would be essential to
conduct evaluation regularly during the development
process. According to [3], there are basically three de-
velopment strategies: to use a system life cycle -based
methodology, an iterative methodology (e.g. prototyping)
or a mixed methodology. The choice of the development
method obviously affects the way evaluation is con-
ducted; for example, prototyping can be considered an
evaluation methodology in itself. There are several fac-
tors that affect the risk of the development process. First,
the risks would be decreased if parts of existing systems
or existing knowledge can be exploited in system devel-
opment [3]. Secondly, there are some factors related to
project management; the knowledge and skills of the
system developers and the representatives of the users
affect the risks of the IS development project; the coop-
eration within the project group and between the project
group and the users must be active in order to minimize
the project risks; and the risks of the project could be
decreased by using formal project management and con-
trol methods [3].
In summary, reference [1] presented the following fac-
tors affecting the risk of a syste m development project: 1)
Technological newness; 2) Application size; 3) Expertise
of development team and users; 4) Application complex-
ity; 5) Organizational environment (e.g. conflicts, role
3.6. IS Procurement Process
Basically, an information system may be developed
in-house (custom written), it may be developed by a
software vendor, or the company may purchase a soft-
ware package (commercial off-the-shelf). Reference [7]
described two recent trends in information resource ac-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
Towards an Efficient Information Systems Development Process and Management:
988 A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
quisition: firstly, the process has changed from an inter-
nal to market-oriented; second, there is a more distinct
focus on business processes. When using an outside
vendor to develop the system, evaluation procedures
should be explicitly designed for contracting purposes,
since all individuals acting as clients for IS projects may
not be knowledgeable about the technology related issues.
While IS often plays a central role in developing new
business processes, the choice of the IS procurement
strategy is critical for company operations. For different
kinds of systems different kinds of resources are needed
and consequently different procurement strategies are
applicable. According to the procurement principles for
choosing the efficient procurement strategy, presented by
[6], routine systems should be implemented by acquiring
software packages from implementers, while standard
applications require software contracting by analysts and
possibly other outside resources for implementation, and
speculative investments are best left for internal devel-
opment by innovators.
3.7. IS Evaluation Process
Reference [8] argued that, the evaluation process should
identify and control the critical areas of an IS project.
Before selecting the evaluation criteria and methods and
deciding who would be involved in the evaluation, it is
important to identify all the relevant interest groups for
the IS project. A covering set of evaluation criteria
should be used to make sure that all dimensions of the IS
endeavour are taken into account and assessed. The IS
evaluation process must be integrated into business de-
velopment process, the IS development process, and the
IS procur ement proce ss.
Reference [9] suggested a three-step process for IS
evaluation: 1) Intangible benefits evaluation, 2) IS in-
vestment risk analysis, and 3) Tangible benefits evalua-
tion. The steps should be taken in th is order, i.e., intangi-
ble benefits and risks should be evaluated prior to evalu-
ating the tangible benefits. In our framework, the order of
the evaluation categories “strategic value”, “risks” and
“financial profitability” reflects this suggestion. The
“success of IS development” category is placed prior to
the “success of IS usefulness” since the usefulness can
only be observed after the IS has been used for a while.
Ideally, IS evaluation would cover all the above catego-
ries, but, however, it is expected that the focus of evalua-
tion is different depending on who conducts the evalua-
tion and where the initiative for the evaluation comes
from. Reference [5] stated that the focus of evaluation
changes according to the organizational interests, which
may be on a number of levels, e.g. costs and benefits,
organization’s competitive position or industrial relation s.
We argue, however, that whether the organization’s in-
terests are taken into account appropriately depends on
the knowledge and skills of the evaluator. Thus, the sen-
ior management should carefully consider who should be
involved in the evaluation. The result of the evaluation
should be delivered to each person related to the project
so that the information received from the evaluation can
be employed in the decision making phase. Most likely,
the decision itself would be continuing with the invest-
ment (maybe after some minor changes), changing the
specifications, range or implementation method of the
system, or ‘freezing’ the project. In addition, the changes
might include e.g. schedule changes; reorganization of
the project (e.g. project management can be changed); or
vendor changes. The reasons for these changes may be
obvious mistakes, unexpected problems, a new experi-
ence about the project that changes the idea of the right
course of action, or changes in the company's environ-
ment, that are beyond the company’s control.
3.8. Outcomes
The outcomes of an IS project are identified as the suc-
cess of 1) IS implementation, 2) IS investment, and 3) IS
functionality. IS Evaluation should not work only as a
justification mechanism but as a tool for experience
learning. During the IS development process, feedback
from the evaluation process should lead to corrective
actions if necessary. These actions might include, for
example, a change in the information system develop-
ment or procurement strategy, or a change in the re-
sources that are given to the project.
Saarinen [10] noted that evaluating the success of an
IS implementation should consider at least two dimen-
sions: the process and the product success. Evaluating the
conduct of the IS development process would facilitate
the learning for future projects. The product success in-
cludes both the IS fun ctionality and the realization of the
expected benefits from the IS investment. Hallikainen
Heikkilä, Peffers Saarinen, and Wijnhoven, reference [11]
puts it that to learn conducting evaluation and managing
information system projects more effectively, the per-
ceived success of the evaluation process itself can be
measured in terms of: evaluation efficiency, precision,
and effectiveness. Evaluation efficiency can be divided
into efficiency of evaluation process and cost of evalua-
tion. Evaluation precision can be further divided into
satisfaction with evaluation criteria and methods used;
and satisfaction with contents, usability and reliability of
information produced by evaluation. Finally, evaluation
effectiveness can be divided into usefulness of the results
of evaluation when making decisions concerning this
particular project; and evaluation supporting in aligning
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
Towards an Efficient Information Systems Development Process and Management:
A Review of Challenges and Proposed Strategies
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSEA
information technology and business functions.
4. Conclusions
Our proposed framework is useful in describing a con-
cept for information systems management and develop-
ment. Any information system project can neatly be
matched into our proposed framework. The primary ad-
vantages of our framework are highlighted as follows:
First, the information development process can be bet-
ter understood by project participants. Better under-
standing of other participant’s perspective of the devel-
opment process results in improved communications
amongst project members along with users. The commu-
nication gap has been most significant cause of system
failures. Second, our framework views the entire devel-
opment process as an integrated entity. It integrates dif-
ferent views and thus reduces the task of duplication.
Thirdly, our proposed framework sharpens the idea of
how the information requirements can be mapped into
the strategic goal for the information systems in an or-
ganization. It also provides a mapping between users and
actors (developers). This mapping is significant espe-
cially for prototyping approach.
Finally, our framework accommodates both top-down
view and the bottom-up view of the systems management
and development activities. Typically, the management
process in isolation starts with an activity with by a
manager. Activities performed by the manager must be
mapped into activities by the actors followed by activi-
ties by the users. This transitive specialization corre-
sponds to top-down view for systems development. On
the contrary, the development process starts with the ac-
tivities performed by the users which must be triggered
by the users’ requirements. These activities are mapped
into activities by actors and finally activities by manger.
This specialization corresponds to a bottom-up view for
systems development. The conventional SDLC phases is
however, sharpened by the incorporation of clear cut
roles assigned to users during the life cycle of an IS
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