There’s a particular paradox which surrounds the management of information systems. It arises because the pace of change, both in the technology that’s available and the ideas that can be exploited to use this technolgy, is very rapid indeed, so case studies can get out of date very quicky. But some of the organisational issues have remained the same through several generations of technology. In fact the pace of change means that novelty and uncertainty are constants, and the managers responsible for implementing information systems have always had to contend with both technical and definitional uncertainty: would a system do what it was supposed to, and would it be acceptable to users and useful to an organisation? Another constant has been that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between a project being delivered within its budget, in terms of cost and time, and the resultant system being valued and usable. One of the best books on IT project failures is still Crash by Collins and Bicknell, published in 1997, and it’s significant that one of the authors is still blogging about public sector IT, and particularly about major project failures today.
Continuity and change