Qualitative Analysis of IT/IS Evaluation Practices in Private Organisations in Saudi Arabia

Qualitative Analysis of IT/IS Evaluation Practices in Private Organisations in Saudi Arabia

Saeed Q. Al-Khalidi Al-Maliki (College of Business, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJMTIE.2018010101
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Many studies have been carried out on information technology/information systems (IT/IS) in the Western world, but little research has been conducted in the Saudi private sector. This study has been conducted to identify and examine the IT/IS evaluation processes employed in the Saudi private sector and any factors that hinder such organisations from evaluating their systems effectively. This article concentrates on the results of those interviews. Numerous studies have been conducted on the mechanisms of IT/IS evaluation techniques and the factors affecting their implementation, but there are very few studies in this field in Saudi Arabia, and they are generally sections of other main studies about IT implementation, use, and investment. This article aims to identify means of evaluating IT/IS in the private sector. 30 IT managers in private-sector companies were randomly selected from the list of top companies issued by the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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1. Introduction

The use of computer-based information systems (CBIS) is becoming increasingly common in many developing countries because the advancement in ICTs over the last two decades has led to a revolution in the business aspects and public services. The growth of organisations has increasingly depended on IT, which subsequently increases the need to employ appropriate evaluation strategies for IS (Barrow & Mayhew,2000).

IS can be evaluated at various stages of development, including the use of a feasibility study at an early stage, a formative (ex-ante) approach to provide feedback during the design and development process (Barrow, 1999) and a summative approach after implementation/ development. It is generally agreed that, regardless of the stage in which it is carried out, an IT/IS is often difficult to evaluate (Symons, 1990) because of the socio-technical nature of IS. The process of developing IS must pass through several stages to ensure success and optimal use. IS are usually built and developed through the strategic planning and policy development, which formulates a plan to ensure the integration of IS and that their timetables achieve the objectives of the enterprise. The role of senior management and its commitment to the development of information systems is determined, so they are convinced of the importance of adopting IS and commit to considering them as the core resources of the enterprise. The strategic planning stage provides a general overview of the enterprise in terms of its functions, data, and information needs. This stage is followed by analysis of the work from different sectors. This stage also includes identifying the requirements of applications and databases. This is followed by system operation, maintenance, and management, which witnesses transition into the new system and meets requirements including training beneficiaries, modifying procedures, and setting the regulations of utilisation and operations.

The growing literature in IT/IS evaluation reflects the current trend among contemporary researchers in establishing an overall understanding of the role of IT/IS evaluation in organisations. Much of the research is related to the evaluation of IT investment, user satisfaction, system success, stakeholder participation in evaluation, and the approaches and methods that are employed (Khalifa, et al. 2001 & Irani & Love, 2001).

In conducting an IT/IS evaluation, both public and private organisations may be hindered by constraining factors that require urgent solutions if the evaluation process is to be effective and successful. According to Symons (1990), Willcocks (1992), Al-Sudairy (1994), and Ballantine et al. (1996), most of these problems and constraints result from human, socio-cultural, organisational, and technical factors. IT/IS barriers are: limited awareness, lack of IT literacy, varying skills of IT awareness and management, lack of suitable infrastructure, and limited resources (Ahmad, & Siddiqui, 2013). The barriers that influence an IT/IS evaluation process may be due to the organisational context and the type of IS (Farbey, et al., 1993), and many researchers have identified difficulties encountered during an IT/IS evaluation process. Willcocks (1992), cited in Avison & Horton, (1992), for example, in his study of 50 organisations, indicates that there are many basic reasons for failure in evaluation practice, including:

  • Failure in understanding both human and organisational costs

  • Failure in understanding subsequent costs

  • Overstating costs

  • Inappropriate measures

  • Neglecting intangible benefits

  • Failure to fully investigate risk

  • Failure to devote sufficient evaluation time and effort to a major capital asset

  • Failure to create a strategic climate in which investment in information technology can be related to the organisational direction

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