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Successful IT systems
Successful IT systems

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4 Stakeholders in systems success

The point was made earlier that not all judgements about an individual system will necessarily be the same. There is a classic model of systems success by Delone and Mclean (2003). The only group of people this model specifically refers to is users. But who are the users? In relation to the original version of their model they do not define users, but it can be inferred that their definition was a narrow one. However, by their 2003 paper the definition had widened. As they pointed out:

Within the e-commerce context, the primary system users are customers or suppliers rather than internal users. Customers and suppliers use the system to make buying or selling decisions and execute business transactions.

(DeLone and Mclean, 2003, p. 24)

This, however, is not an entirely satisfactory summary ­– what about potential customers? Have you ever been about to buy something over the internet and then become so irritated by the site that you have decided not to bother after all? Many people have. Were they users of the site?

A very useful concept here is that of stakeholder. This concept is said to have been first used in 1963 within an internal memo at the Stanford Research Institute in California to refer to those groups without whose support the organisation would cease to exist. Freeman (1984, p. 46) defined it as ‘any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives’. Nowadays it is used even more loosely to refer to people who have a vested interest in a situation.

There is a range of stakeholder analysis techniques – Bryson (2004) identifies 15 – but here we shall be looking at just the three main aspects of stakeholder analysis. These enable you to:

  • identify stakeholders
  • understand key stakeholders
  • prioritise stakeholders.