Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Is Process Innovation Evolution in Organisations

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Is Process Innovation Evolution in Organisations

Article excerpt


One type of innovation, called here Information System (IS) Process Innovation has become important for organisational effectiveness. IS process innovation (ISPI) is defined here as any new way of developing, implementing, and maintaining information systems in an organisational context (Swanson, 1994).

IS development (ISD) can be described as a change process, which aims at improving and changing a present information system (IS) or implementing a new information system. IS process innovations (ISPIs) on the other hand play a major role in changing the information system development (ISD) process in organisations, and they can improve the process and outcomes of information systems. In the context of our paper we consider that a specific ISPI is chosen for use at a specific ISD project.

Our ISPI definition is relatively broad and covers a wide range of innovative activity within IS development. First, an ISPI can embrace changes in the technologies that offer new computing functionality or novel non-functional features (like portability, security) for the delivered IS. Typical technological innovations include adoptions of programming languages or operating systems. ISPIs can also include administrative innovations, such as the deployment of project management methods, the introduction of participative approaches to guiding development interactions, or the contracting of development work outside. In Swanson's terminology, ISPIs thus cover thus both technological (Type Ia) as well as administrative innovations (Type Ib) (Swanson, 1994).

Both administrative and technological innovations can be further classified into two sub-categories. In the administrative ISPI category we distinguish between management innovations (M) and description innovations (D). Within the technological innovations, we separate between tool innovations (TO) and core technology innovations (T). The motivation for such classification is that most of the IS development literature clearly distinguishes between organisational innovations (like project management principles, programming teams, extreme programming) and notational innovations (like the development of UML, method engineering and so forth). Some ISPIs specifically address the need for software engineering task improvement or advance core technologies including programming languages or data base management systems.

Management innovations (M) embrace changes in rules and administrative processes that improve, control, manage and co-ordinate development activities. Examples of managerial innovations are project management guidelines or organisational arrangements, such as chief programmer teams (Swanson, 1994). Description innovations (D) include changes in notational systems and standards, which are used to describe and communicate development products or processes between different stakeholders. Such innovations include the adoption of standardised modelling techniques like Data Flow Diagrams or Unified Modelling Language (UML). Some ISPIs-especially within description and managerial innovations- have long life spans. Cases in point are the more abstract concepts of decomposition and structured design or the idea object orientation (Fichman and Kemerer, 1993). Such ISPIs create cumulative paths within organisations that over time solicit incremental flows of complementary innovations, which center on a focal "starting" ISPI. Some ISPIs can thereby induce disruptive innovations into ISD processes as they fundamentally change the nature of the problems and design spaces they impose (Lyytinen and Rose, 2003).

Tool innovations (TO) include capital-intensive software assets such as application generators, CASE tools, documentation tools, data dictionaries, etc. They may also include mundane technologies that range from desktop publishing software, GroupWare applications to indexing software. …

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