Chapter XI

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Using Causal Mapping

to Support Information

Systems Development:

Some Considerations

Fran Ackermann

Strathclyde Business School, UK

Colin Eden

Strathclyde Business School, UK

Abstract

Identifying what different stakeholders in a business need from Information Systems

development has always been seen as problematic. There are numerous cases of failure

as projects run over time, over budget, and, most significantly, do not meet the needs

of the user population. Whilst having a structured design process can go some way

towards reducing the potential of failure, these methodologies do not attend sufficiently

to clarifying and agreeing objectives or to considering the social and cultural elements

inherent in the ownership and adoption of any new system. Instigating an effective, and

structured, dialogue between users, developers and, when appropriate, sponsors, is

therefore a critical consideration. Linking user needs, as they see them, to the language

of IS developers and vice versa is crucial. Both parties need ownership. This chapter

focuses upon the use of causal mapping, supported where appropriate by special

software, that facilitates the development of a shared understanding (of both business

needs and IT opportunities) and through this common platform enables a negotiated

and agreed outcome. The nature of the outcome invites translation to structured design

processes.