The use and effectiveness of system development methodologies during the development of community based systems in South Africa
For the past few decades researchers, development agencies and government have focussed on the use of Information and Communication Technologies to improve the socio-economic status of people in underdeveloped rural communities. In recent years there has been remarkable recognition of the importance of developing systems that address the specific needs of rural communities. Education, health, commerce, government and agriculture are amongst the needs of rural communities that could well be addressed by these systems. System development is a complex process and studies have shown that if poorly conducted, the process could lead to the failure of the system being developed. Due to differences in context and application, the processes followed in the development of the rural community systems need to differ from those of commercial applications. One such difference is the choice of the Information System Development Methodology (SDM) used. Following a methodical approach to Information Systems development is important as it improves discipline, standardization and monitoring of a quality system. There are hundreds of SDM available for use during development and choosing the wrong SDM has been linked to problems such as systems being delivered late, being over budget or not meeting the needs of the users. Developing systems for disadvantaged communities is different from developing system for organisations or even affluent communities. Some of the challenges that developers encounter include lack of structure, poor computer literacy, and poor infrastructure. Lack of user involvement during system development has been linked to system failures. A Living Labs approach to socio-economic development is aimed at involving multiple stakeholders towards improving the living standards. Developing Community Information Systems aimed at solving varying community problems is one of the objectives of the Living Labs. There are only few CISs that are fully operational from South African Living Labs, and a number of systems developed are not in use. Poor user involvement and lack of use of system development are some of the reasons for system failures. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the use and effectiveness of System Development Methodologies when developing community information systems aimed at socio-economic development of disadvantaged communities. To achieve the objectives of this study, an interpretive, multiple case study research was conducted in three Living Labs around South Africa. To improve the chances for success during the development of Community Information Systems for use by disadvantage communities, this study proposes a framework for evaluating use and effectiveness of SDMs. The second output of the Study is an SDM framework that could be adopted specifically for Living Labs which adopts an agile approach and prototyping. These frameworks takes into account the social attributes of people in disadvantaged communities, the nature of the living lab, the nature of the systems being developed and the role of the users in the systems being developed.
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