Lesson learnt from the implementation of IS in schools (part II)

2. Implementation of IS is not all about technology

Over emphasis on technology is one of the main factor that caused failures in implementation of IS. Powers that be had to quickly realise that implementation of IS is a multi faceted and multilevel affairs. There is no such thing as one size fits them all. Technology is just one part of the successful implementation equation. Researches and case studies in industries have shown that factors need to be considered are socio technical in nature. All the technological, organisational, managerial, individual, psychosocial, political, and environmental factors have to be given equal prominence in the strategic planning of IS implementation. It may sound trivial to the techno centrix people but many a time a superb system failed not because it was technologically deficient but failed due to failures of the implementors to take into serious considerations of the human and nature wares (if there is such a term). Apart from technological factors that may covers issues like design, architecture, platform, technology infra, integration, hardware, software, maintenance and support etc; issues like training, expertise, champion, school culture, financial support, resource distribution, organisational structure, top management support, IT knowledge of the management, and psychological readiness are equally important. For example, schools that were successful in their endeavour into the implementation more often than not have a highly supportive top management. To cite another example, a school is implementing a highly sophisticated web based rancangan mengajar system to be utilised by teachers. Every week teachers would submit online their work schemes. If the principal or the designated parties do not make an effort to check and electronically endorse the daily work scheme, it will not be able to be used. Teachers would quickly become discourage and no sooner would stop using the system. In this case a change of work culture by the principal is very badly needed. He or she must check and endorse the work online. There is nothing wrong with the system but it is the users who refuse to change that cause the system to stall. The ignorant principals may not have been sufficiently trained to know the importance of changing their work culture. So you see the chain reaction involved is quite substantial and it is not entirely technological in nature.

Users must also get away from the notion that IS is just simply and electronification of their manual work. It is a big mistake to think along that line. IS is suppose to be a tool to improve your work to make it more effective and more efficient, but you may have to change your work habits to effect that advantage. Apparently the industries have been reaping the advantage of IS in improving their efficiencies but schools are notoriously slow in exploiting that advantage. Of course there are islands of excellence in the sea of ordinariness.

All these factors have to be carefully mapped into the implementation plan just like the scrutiny given to development of prototype, lab testing, acceptance testing etc. Implementors who fail to take this socio technical view into consideartion will continue squandering millions of ringgit into projects that will have very little chance of success.

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