A PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF CRITICAL SYSTEMS THINKING TO IMPROVE A BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM’S BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS
Keywords:data warehousing, business intelligence, critical systems thinking, action research, total systems intervention, critical social heuristics
Efficacious decision-making requires relevant, intelligible information. Organisations implement data warehousing/business intelligence systems to provide required information timeously for improved decision-making capabilities. Unfortunately, more than half of these systems fail. Data warehousing/business intelligence systems are multi-faceted and have a technical as well as social dimension. Failure to incorporate these systems’ social dimensions lead to low adoption rates and, ultimately, failure of these systems.
The critical systems thinking paradigm is founded on the idea of emancipation through methodological pluralism and critical awareness. The total systems intervention strand of critical systems thinking embraces pluralism, i.e. the idea that different methodologies, from different paradigms, can be applied during different phases of interventions, to enrich the ultimate solution. This study applies an action research approach to incorporate critical systems thinking principles, operationalised by total systems intervention, to critically reflect and choose a suitable methodology whereby to elicit a richer set of business requirements.This paper starts by introducing and motivating the study. It then discusses the theoretical concepts of the study, i.e. action research, business requirements elicitation and the critical systems thinking strand that is total systems intervention. The remainder of the paper is structured according to the action research phases, i.e. diagnosis, action planning, action taking, evaluation and specification of learning.