Failure of Information System
Organizations either small or large, can bring beneficial information through the use of information technology, there are many other benefits of using information system that can be used by organizations in the process of utilizing and analyzing the information more comfortably and generate accurate reports within the organization. With the help of proper applications of modern technology along with automated systems, employees, stakeholders and consumers can be protected, because these systems help in making genuine report design.
According to Lyytinen, 2006 Information System and Information Technology are the main bars on which the success of an organization is laid upon. The information systems function has unique roles and unique capabilities that are necessary for organizations.
One of the most famous and world’s most horrible terror attacks did not only shake the world economy in large but it also exposed the overall weak and poor information technology infrastructure of FBI with the help of media and government circuits. Government of US filed a series of allegations on the overall forged information network of FBI. On the other hand FBI took initiative for the purpose of ignoring its current official allegations and any sort of future incident like 9/11 attacks. The major purpose behind the installation and development of Virtual Case software was to be able to facilitate its employees regarding information sharing and collection on any task very quickly by introducing advanced IT Technologies within FBI. The information system reflects the image of an organization; at the same time its failure adversely affects the same. Millions of pounds are wasted on information system projects that fail and millions more are lost due to malfunctions of systems that have progressed beyond the implementation stage (Peters, 2005).
The implementation of new information system at FBI was supposed to replace the intense use of paper for the purpose of processing, collecting and managing every form of data and evidence that an electronic web-based hand on system in order to be able to properly facilitate instant information sharing within their departments.
21st century is an era of machines, the influence of computers, communication devices, advanced technical equipment’s and rapid flow competitive market has compelled the organizational leaders to rely on the footing of information system. The unprecedented developments in computing and communication technologies have indeed made such demands translatable into realizable goals. Thus, a large portion of the world population has its stake in information systems (Sadagopan, 2004). The overall induction of information system has replaced the conventional mechanism of time, production and planning. The capability of work force has been replaced by the effectiveness of information system. Referring to the operational activities of organizations, unlike past now our access is not limited to its physical branches in far away locations. The secure data transfer and safe record keeping is one of the key points of any organization specially when it’s a government organization, and the same is dependent on an effective information system (Sadagopan, 2004). In the case of FBI the failure of its information system can be based on various factors, the first reason that can be considered as quite evident after understanding the nature of the project is that, the overall project was based on various series of relevant still complex tasks that could have been handled independently and might have proved beneficial (Phariss, 2006). At the same time it also included a large number of sub-programs, which the department itself could have been developed as separate soft wares. According to Richard A Posner who worked out a comprehensive detailed book on the causes of VCF’s failure, “One reason for the delays in and inordinate expense of the FBI’s program for upgrading its information technology is that, the program was not limited to intelligence. It encompassed the entirety of the FBI’s operational structure” (Posner, 2005). A minor negligence or mishandling may lead to the total collapse of the system. Failure of information system should not be blamed to the system or its provider. In general when a project’s complexity level is at its peak, with an added factor of the vastness that it need to cover, then that project’s status is highly sensitive in terms of management and development.
If the project of virtual case file had been conceived by the organization with proper understanding and overall detailed thinking then the results of the project would have been totally opposite. In the process of implementation of information system there were a lot of uncertain expectations associated with it from the government and FBI mainly because both of them were expecting that everything will be covered in it, as quickly and accurately (Posner, 2005). From FBI perspective information system was considered as a service function just as accounting, industrial relations or human resources, whose task is data efficient processing and administration of the management reporting and controls systems. From this, we can derive systems that are programmed to cater the informational requirements of managerial roles and also are identified using standard informational requirement methods. As a result, systems are evaluated using criteria such as timeliness, format quality, technical power of the system and reliability.
The information system of Virtual Case File project was a complete failure because too many wrong and impractical expectations were attached to it from FBI and the government consisting of its accuracy and usability within new few years for such a complex project. Despite technological advancements of the past several decades in information and telecommunication technologies, not all organizations have been successful in the overall utilization and management of these organizations (Khosrowpour, 2000). In a detailed survey it was disclosed that IS projects are not 100% successful, only 15% to 50% are successful, whereas 20% to 25% are total failure.
In order to be able to successfully implement the use of information system, all the projects need to be properly conceived and developed first in terms of the manner on how the task is achieved keeping in mind the overall requirement of human resources and the evaluation of budgeting within the limits (Tariq, 2010). A project like VCF that was of such a complex nature and had a high security national level data compilation required, definitely was in need of effective management and the first rule implied was the hiring of professionally competent staff. But one thing that was constantly ignored was the fact that along with the competency of the employed management, intelligently utilizing the skills of human resources assigned to the said task is equally vital.
Failure of Information System in an organization creates a crappy image among the clients and business associates but when it is on a government level a feeling of mistrust is developed. Elements of human error and fraud also influence the system failure but the same can be mended with a well-fabricated information system (Scott, 2006). According to Wilson. S, 2005 all the major problems were already there because FBI didn’t really understand the nature of the project thoroughly; the whole organization were constantly rearranging and replacing contractor’s team members on regular basis by considering it a special task for them. In order to be able to fully accomplish the implementation of Information system, it definitely requires the abilities of the most professional and highly paid experts. The failure of information system at FBI was the unclear picture that FBI had of the project and the staff related to the project was constantly being changed.
The same study identified in its findings that FBI had low profile human resources like inexperience project manager, contract coordination managers or senior IT managers so they were compelled to hire top professionals outside FBI on a high pay rate. Lastly one of the most important and most crucial reason for the failure of implementation of information system at FBI was the least involvement of higher authorities and the input by the inspection and other task evaluators that were appointed by FBI. The input of team evaluation was very important but because of the least involvement of any authority member, there was no input or feedback, the project was continued without checking if it’s going well or not.
The implementation of information system project was planned in such a way that professionals associated with it were required to take congressional approval before making any deviation in the plan or taking any type of action that was related to the betterment of the project, this step of getting approvals only resulted in complicating the project in terms of exceeding cost up to $5,00,000 (Marchewka, 2010).
The overall lack of input from authorities not only created suspicion, complexities, and uncertainties but also resulted in negativity and conflict among developers, programmers and FBI’s software users. The people involved in the development were expecting great response for their queries and problems from the FBI’s officials but no attention was given to the project developers and programmers (Scott, 2006). Besides the overall response that was provided was not professional at all from the FBI staff and due to this non-professional and slow response not only delayed the implementation of information system but also provided some unexpected results. Bad communication and unrealistic expectation from the FBI created further delay in the project. Installation and designing a information system in an organization, needs sharing of ideas and concern from the managers, a well sufficient budget have to be allocated for the same. Thus aiding in designing the most appropriate information system as well as producing best result in the long run.
According to few popular scholars, any project cannot be stopped when large activity of a project jammed because it is difficult to consider the work as a project (Scott, 2006). In the case of FBI the instructions provided that developers team have to work according to the plan and do proper care of adjustments and deliveries. For such a giant nature of project like VCF project it was important to be self-motivated. The VCF was out of tracks from the very beginning due to mishandling and lack of management.
In order to be able to successfully implement the use of information system, the simple and easiest way of this project was to be able to divide tasks in a number of small series and each task was categorized and then the submission, completion and usability ratio of virtual case file software was possible (Goldstein, 2005). The major reason of step-by-step procedure was that this project reflects high level of national security, due to this reason it needed much basic work and planning for the purpose of setting milestones. The blame of the failure of the information system project was put on the VCF contractor IT agency Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) stating that they delivered 700,000 lines of bug-ridden codes and that the functionality of the software was off the target (Goldstein, 2005). If regular check and feedback were provided this failure would have never taken place.
Information system when inducted in an organization, it assigned multiple tasks, expectations are higher. Unfortunately when it does not meet the users or client’s requirements, it is regarded as a failure. Reasons could be many. It can be clearly estimated that the root of the problem lied in its vaguely set standards and requirements. VCF failure was a collective contribution from communicative issues, changing objectives and unrealistic resources estimates indicating that it lacked proper human resources utilization and planned project management.
Lyytinen. K, 2006. Information Systems: The State of the Field. England. John Wiley & Sons
Peters. G, 2005. Information Systems: Achieving Success by Avoiding Failure. England. John Wiley & Sons
Sadagopan. S, 2004 ‘Management Information Systems’ India Prentice-Hall of India.
Phariss, R. (November, 2006). The Importance of Requirements Definition in IT Systems Development, Systems Analysis, IS 6840. Viewed 20 May, 2012 < http://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/f06Papers/Phariss/ >
Posner, R. A. (2005). Remaking Domestic Intelligence, Issue 541, P. 13. Viewed 20 may, 2012 < http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/who-killed-the-virtual-case-file >
Khosrowpour. M 2000, ‘Organizational Achievement and Failure in Information Technology Management’. London Idea Group
Tariq, S. (September, 2010). Report: Why do IT projects fail? Managing Projects. Viewed 20 May, 2012 <http://www.shuhab.com/Downloads/WhyDoITProjectsFail.pdf >
Scott, D. (2006). I. T. Wars: Managing the Business-Technology Weave in the New Millennium. David Scott Publication, United States
Marchewka, T. J. (2010). The FBI Virtual Case File: A Case Study, Communications of the IIMA. Northern Illinois University.
Goldstein, H (September 2005). Who Killed the Virtual Case File? Viewed 20 May, 2012 < http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/who-killed-the-virtual-case-file/0 >