Systems practice

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 577–589 | Cite as

Systems thinking for information systems development

  • Li D. Xu


Although many information systems development methods (ISDMs) are available, past experience indicates that none of them completely supports the design process. One of the major problems is that the traditional ISDMs represents a poor match for some subsystems or dimensions involved in the information systems design (ISD). This paper presents an integration and interpretation of recent research on the mismatch of the ISDMs with the ISD process and suggests that systems ideas can be used to learn about and clarify our perceptions of the ISD processes. First, some important systems concepts such as systems, subsystem, dimensionality, system types, and characteristics are introduced. Second, some lessons of mismatch learned in the past that are related to those systems concepts are discussed. The discussion includes experiences learned through the ISD process such as communication problems, inadequate analysis of systems maintenance, lack of understanding of the relationship between the nature of the subsystem/dimension to be represented and the selection of tools, difficulties in integrating subsystems and dimensions, as well as Brooks' Law along with others. Third, some recommendations are given concerning how to avoid mismatch with a systems concept phase. Fourth, some guidelines are provided for implementing the tasks of the systems concept phase. Finally, a number of areas where research appears needed are mentioned.

Key words

systems thinking information systems analysis information systems design information systems development methods software engineering 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li D. Xu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management Science and Information SystemsWright State UniversityDayton

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