Linköping Studies in Information Science
Dissertation No. 1

Metodisk systemstrukturering

att skapa samstämmighet mellan informationssystemarkitektur och verksamhet

Karin Axelsson

Akademisk avhandling

som för avläggande av filosofie doktorsexamen vid Linköpings universitet kommer att offentligt försvaras i hörsal Planck, Fysikhuset, Linköpings universitet, fredagen den 9 oktober 1998. kl 13.15.

ABSTRACT

This thesis deals with the problem of how to create an information systems architecture which is in concert with the organization, its goals and strategies. The aim is to explore the problem area and develop knowledge about how to avoid some of these problems. In a qualitative research project, case studies were performed at six organizations. The studies focused on the process of realizing an IS strategy and the results of these activities. The organizations studied had either realized a data-driven strategy emphasizing data integration and central administration of information (Information Resource Management - IRM) or a strategy advocating decentralization and local responsibility for information (Verksamhetsbaserad Systemstrukturering - VBS). The data collection was based mainly on interviews, but also contained observations and studies of written sources. Ale data analysis method was inspired by grounded theory.

The data analysis resulted in the categories of "Information systems structuring conditions", "Actors" and "User participation", which together form the core category of Factors affecting the information systems structuring. The categories of "Business language", "Distribution of responsibility", "User acceptance", "Systems understanding", "Business adjustments", and "Maintenance and changes" together form the core category The information systems' degree of organizational support. Each category consists of elements that were only observed in one of the IS strategies and elements that seem to occur independently of the chosen strategy. This indicates that the chosen IS strategy implies some influence on the organization but other effects seem to be strategy-independent. his fact has been interpreted to the effect that the actual course of action when realizing an IS strategy is of great importance. The course of action could be very much the same even if two different strategies are realized.

As a result of these findings, a human and business perspective on information systems structuring was formulated. The case studies showed that even if organizations realize an IS strategy, and therefore deprecate ad hoc-based structuring, they do not treat the structuring activities as separate from system development. The architecture design was integrated with system development and architectural issues were treated mainly from a technical point of view. The perspective formulated in this thesis implies that choices made during the information systems structuring process should be well-grounded. Decisions should be made from a holistic point of view rather than merely a technical one. As a result of this belief, the perspective does not advocate any common IS strategy (such as IRM or VBS). Instead the starting-point for the analysis is a strategy-independent analysis of the organization and its information systems. Only after this analysis is it possible to choose or to formulate the IS strategy best suited for the organization. During an action research project a method for information systems structuring was developed and tested. The method is based on the perspective discussed above.

This work has been supported by the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. the Swedish Council for Work Life Research and Swedish National Maritime Administration.

Department of Computer and Information Science
Linköping University
S-581 83 Linköping

ISBN 91-7219-296-8      ISSN 1403-6231