3.10 IT Systems in Organisations (HL only)

ITGS Higher Level students must study the topic 3.10 IT Systems in Organisations, which builds upon the content in 3.9 Introduction to Project Management. The book covers extensively the theory of project planning, design, and creation, plus famous examples of project failures, and practical exercises to reinforce understanding. Project management methodologies such as PRINCE2 and PMBoK are also covered. This chapter links to the content in ITGS syllabus section 1.9 Policies, 3.2 Software and specific scenarios including 3.1 Business and Employment. This chapter is available for free download from the sample chapter page. Support resources are available for:

  • Types of development
  • Legacy systems
  • System development life-cycle (SDLC)
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Testing
  • CMMI
  • Installation
  • Maintenance
  • Development approach
  • Project management methodologies: PRINCE2
  • Famous project failures
ITGS textbook sample chapter

IT Systems in Organisations Notes

The sample chapter of the book covers IT Systems in Organisations in detail. Download here (PDF, 3.42MB) or view online.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Lesson starter activity

Lesson resources: Starters

Not surprisingly, cartoonists have long made fun of the IT project development process. The classic 'Tree Swing' cartoon (left), in which ten different stakeholders perceive the same project in ten different ways, has more than a grain of truth to it.

xkcd also has a good attempt with its Good Code cartoon, really summing up the problems of both waterfall and agile methods of software development.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Legacy systems

Legacy systems

How UK banks are flirting with IT disaster (Zdnet) discusses the large amount of legacy hardware and software being used in the UK banking industry. As the BBC reports, banks are likely to suffer more and more software failures as a result of this in the near future. However, Computer Weekly explains that replacing these systems will take years.

This Forbes article goes into more detail about the process of upgrading from legacy systems, making it very clear why "Moving a large bank from its existing 20 or 30-year old legacy system to a new core banking platform is often compared to changing engines on an airliner flying at 30,000 feet."
Updated: 2014-11-07
Agile and waterfal models

Development approaches: Agile and Waterfall methods

Two Ways To Build A Pyramid is an article from Information Week which explains the Agile and Waterfall methods of development in quite a unique way. This is helpful for students who are having problems visualising the PDLC process. Why big IT projects always go wrong is good background reading that explains the difficulty of developing IT projects.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Project schedule

Analysis stage: Project schedule

GanttProject is an open source tool for creating both Gantt and PERT charts. It is Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible.

A classroom activity I like which helps students understand PERT charts is the chicken and pasta task. It asks students to create a PERT chart and the Critical Path for a simple meal (recipe given).
Updated: 2014-11-07
User interface prototype

Design Stage: User Interface Prototyping

User interface prototyping often takes place during the design stage of the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Having students develop a sample interface for a system (perhaps the mini case study described above) can be an effective way of teaching the benefits of such tools.
  • FluidUI is a nice online prototyping tool with a free trial. Prototypes can be created for a variety of screen formats, from desktops to mobile phones.
  • ForeUI is a similar tool, but needs to be downloaded and installed. (Mac, Windows, Linux)

Updated: 2014-11-07

Case Study: FBI Virtual Case File (VCF) project

There are myriad examples of failed IT projects that can be used to help students studying IT Systems and Organisations understand the importance of the correct development approach. It can be useful to have students research the case studies below and investigate what happened, what went wrong, and what mistakes could be avoided next time. These can be studied as an introduction to the IT Systems in Organisations topic, or towards the end, where students will be able to apply their knowledge to clearly identify the mistakes that were made.

The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't (Washington Post) is a good introduction to the FBI's Virtual Case File (VCF) project.
Updated: 2014-11-07

Case Study: FBI Sentinel project

This is not a mistake - the FBI really does appear here twice. The Sentinel project was the follow-up to the Virtual Case File (VCF) system covered in the textbook, which was abandoned after 5 years and $150 million of wasted investment. Incredibly, the Sentinel project also suffered major problems during its development, including massive budget overruns and huge delays. It was eventually put into service however, after a private contractor was brought in to finish the system. Nevertheless, it remains a good project development case study. Useful resources include:
Updated: 2014-11-07
NHS IT project

Case Study: NHS National Programme for IT

The UK National Health Service (NHS) started its ambitious National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in June 2000. The high-profile project aimed, among other goals, to connect over 30,000 doctors to a centralised system of patient records. The was beset by problems with suppliers, development schedules, budget overruns and, worse of all, a lack of confidence in the system from patients and doctors - the end users. £12.4 billion and 10 years later, the system was scrapped after having delivered some - but by no means all - of the required functionality. The following articles provide  a chronological insight into the system:

Updated: 2014-11-07

Case Study: Air Force Expeditionary Combat Support System

The US Air Force's Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) was an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project designed to reduce waste and improve efficiency in the Air Force. Instead it was scrapped in November 2012 after 7 years and $1 billion had been spent on the project. It was estimated that even if the project was completed, it would involve another $1.1 billion and 8 more years, and would only offer 25% of the requested functionality. Useful resources include:

Updated: 2016-02-05
Projecet failure examples

Other examples of project failure

The Canadian Ministry of Children and Family Development may have to abandon a $180 million computer system after a report found flaws in its functionality and usability.

The BBC abandoned its Digital Media Initiative project in 2013 after spending almost £100 million. The project never became operational before it was scrapped.

FirstNet, a $47 billion network designed for police, firefighters, and other emergency responders, is already obsolete before it is completed.

Updated: 2016-11-20