This paper reports a case study where Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) was used to help automate a largely manual administrative (examination) information system in a Pakistani university. Various design suggestions for information system improvements, both administrative and IT-supported were made (and implemented) through comparison with another university in Denmark which is well supported by computer systems. An action design research approach with an interpretative epistemology/ontology was adopted. Though the single comparison experience is difficult to generalise, we conclude that SSM (with some adaptations) can enable a socio-technical comparison and design effort and offer a prototype process. The comparison stimulates forward-looking design, but great care must be taken to accommodate cultural differences, and further research is necessary to integrate more sophisticated cultural analysis tools into the design process. The research extends SSM in information system development (ISD) - from a single situational analysis to a comparative process and can be adapted as a pattern for practitioners with similar automation needs.
- information systems development
- cultural analysis
- soft systems methodology
- interaction and transformation
- action design research