How can our information systems help us be more productive?

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Productivity is defined as output per hour by workers – and it has flatlined in the UK over the last ten years.

Our output depends on the tools we work with – and information systems are a vital part of that toolkit.

There are some who argue that we have not invested enough in technology while others think that recent technological changes have less potential to transform productivity.

So – how can we select and implement information systems that will improve productivity?

William Delone and Ephraim McLean came up with a model to measure the success of information systems in 1993, which they they revised in 2003, called the D&M IS Success Model.

It remains one of the most influential theories in the field, cited in in thousands of papers, and is a useful one to keep in mind when looking at a new system.

The model has 6 dimensions that are linked together with process flows and feedback loops. They influence each other, and in turn some elements are influenced by others.

The model begins by looking at quality – and sees quality as having three dimensions: information quality, system quality and service quality.

Information quality is all about what the system stores, delivers to the user, and produces for the user.

System quality relates to how the system works – does it do what is needed quickly or not?

Service quality depends on the organisation behind the system – are they helpful and is there guidance that is easy to follow or not?

These dimensions need to be looked at independently to assess quality fully.

The next two dimensions are user based.

First there is the user and the system – and this needs to be looked at from two angles.

How does the user plan or intend to work with the system?

How does the system actually use the system.

The quality of the system directly affects these user choices – we may intend to use a system, but if it is of low quality or the information is not good enough, we probably won’t.

We can measure user satisfaction based on their experience of using the system and their feelings about quality.

The last dimension looks to measure net system benefits.

These need to be some combination of saving money, saving time, increasing productivity and increasing sales.

The D&M IS Success Model seems deceptively simple – but it is a “parsimonious framework” that organizes many of the success metrics from research.

If a system scores well on these six dimensions then it should help us be more productive.

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