The record of failure to deliver large-scale information systems (IS) in a timely fashion that offer value to major commercial and public organizations is legendary. Just looking to critical success factors such as top management support and user involvement in order to understand how to deliver better systems can at best be a partial solution. We seem to overlook an obvious area in our organizations: what can we learn from our information system development (ISD) historical patterns? In order to develop this idea we draw on parallels in sport where current performance and behaviour are believed to be closely linked to historical precedents, or “form”. In that domain, historical patterns are a fallible but valuable predictor of success. Our thesis is that past negative patterns in ISD will tend to repeat themselves without radical intervention. Put another way, failure begets failure. After examining the game of football as an allegory for ISD, we look briefly at two organizations that have experienced a pattern of failure in the IS area in the past but have transformed the way they build IS, moving from negative patterns to successful ones. This chapter ends with suggestions for managers charged with developing new IS as to how they might use their understanding of ISD “form” to improve their chances of success.
- Information systems