Complexity and risk in IS projects: a system dynamics approach

Article Authors: P. Ssemaluulu and Williams Ddembe


In spite of ongoing research on IS risks and the increased sophistication of the tools and techniques developed, IS risks continue to be a challenge to IS professionals and managers. Increased complexity leads to increased risks. When we are confronted with a complex system, our knowledge and understanding of how different components work and interact, and accordingly how the system as a whole works, will always be incomplete. While many researchers have dwelt on project management techniques, it is apparent that we cannot have all the answers in advance since we cannot foretell the future. Due to the increasing complexity of IS solutions it is seen that existing information system development methodologies do not tackle this adequately. The primary purpose of this paper is to highlight how System Dynamics which employs systems thinking can be used to deal with the study of organizations (companies, public institutions, and other human organizations) as complex systems of human activity, with plurality of interest and values. It also shows how System Dynamics models can help companies to manage the risks and uncertainties related to complex IS projects. This paper partly describes some variables in an ongoing research where we aim to use the system dynamics methodology to create a better understanding of the link between information quality and customer satisfaction. We critically look at two variables that we deem important in the search for this relationship. These are complexity and risk in IS projects