Digital Government Systems: Tackling The Legacy Problem Through A Game-Based Approach To Business Requirements Analysis

Alexandrova, Assia E. (2018). Digital Government Systems: Tackling The Legacy Problem Through A Game-Based Approach To Business Requirements Analysis. PhD thesis The Open University.



Government agency reliance on legacy systems is problematic: they are costly to maintain, difficult to integrate with and they hinder innovation. However, the replacement of legacy systems is not a straightforward endeavor, and it often results in technology substitution that is not accompanied by business process change. The focus of this dissertation is on the phenomenon of legacy system replication wherein the requirements for applications replacing outdated technologies mimic legacy features and reflect status quo operational processes that have been historically shaped by the legacy system itself. This problem is referred to throughout the dissertation as the “legacy problem.” The dissertation investigates its roots and proposes an approach to overcome it. Specifically, a mixed method research approach is taken, including a survey of public sector practitioners to explore the extent of the legacy problem, and a series of semi-structured interviews with government information technology and management professionals to delve into the dynamics of legacy system replacement projects. Findings indicate that the legacy problem often stems from a lack of critical analysis of business requirements and the desire to minimize the risks associated with organizational change, which often result in missed opportunities for digital government innovation. As a consequence, the dissertation proposes a candidate approach to deal with the legacy problem in the development of a requirements game (RE-PROVO) which supports requirements discussions structured around the themes of legacy (or heritage) preservation and innovation. The game is evaluated by local government practitioners through several iterations and their feedback is analysed to gauge the potential utility of the approach. The results indicate that with a streamlined user interface and accentuated game elements RE-PROVO can be a valuable and effective tool for requirements analysis in legacy system replacement projects.

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