A critical systems approach to business intelligence system development


  • Carin Venter North West University
  • Roelien Goede North West University


Action research, Business intelligence, Critical systems thinking, Critical systems heuristics, Business intelligence system development


Business intelligence is becoming increasingly important in organisations.  Business intelligence systems are very expensive to implement.  Unfortunately these systems often fail to realise business benefits, even when they are technically very good.  Traditional development approaches enable developers to develop technically good systems.  However, a business intelligence system is a social artefact as well as a technical artefact; it should aim to improve the organisational context of its users rather than merely automate existing business processes.  Yet, traditional development approaches do not enable developers to incorporate these social and organisational dimensions into their artefacts.  Methodologies in the critical systems thinking paradigm aim to also explore the relevant social dimensions of a problem context in order to provide richer and more meaningful solutions.  This paper describes an action research study whereby critical systems thinking principles (operationalised by critical systems heuristics) were applied as part of a business intelligence development project; the principles were applied during the business requirements analysis phase.  The aim was to emancipate participants to explore: what is relevant; who needs to be involved in determining what is relevant; and how to handle conflicting views regarding the new business intelligence system.

Author Biographies

Carin Venter, North West University

Roelien Goede, North West University



How to Cite

Venter, C., & Goede, R. (2016). A critical systems approach to business intelligence system development. Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2015 Berlin, Germany, 1(1). Retrieved from https://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings59th/article/view/2463