A study into the usability of the Formal Systems Model to investigate the Critical Success Factors that have been accepted for the management of an IT project

Taylor, Paul (2010). A study into the usability of the Formal Systems Model to investigate the Critical Success Factors that have been accepted for the management of an IT project. Student dissertation for The Open University module M801 MSc in Software Development Research Dissertation.

Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00016092


Critical Success Factors (CSF) are viewed as the key areas within a project where things must go right and that must receive constant and careful attention from management for a project to be a success. The approach is not without its problems. Firstly the inter-relationships between CSFs are at least as important as the individual factors, but the CSF approach does not provide a mechanism for taking account of these relationships. Secondly the factor approach tends to view implementations as a static process instead of a dynamic phenomenon. It ignores the potential for a factor to have varying levels of importance at different stages of the implementation process. Studies to date have focused on ways of overcoming these difficulties found with the CSF approach. This study investigates the use of two adaptations of the Formal Systems Model (FSM), a model which is claimed to be able to overcome the difficulties found within the factors approach, as well as being able to distinguish between successful and unsuccessful projects. This research was conducted by adopting the Systems Failures Approach (SFA) as a guide to study the data gathered from two UK based implementations of computerised systems. The data was fed into the FSM adaptations to consider the usability of the project-specific FSM in comparison to the FSM when used as a framework for investigating factors critical to success in implemented IT (Information Technology) and IS (Information Systems) projects. The results of this research show that the project-specific FSM is capable of distinguishing between projects perceived as successful and unsuccessful. It can highlight factors practitioners may perceive as critical to success, and also be used as a framework for investigating CSFs like the FSM. Whilst the results reveal positive characteristics about the project-specific FSM, such as being more focussed in its approach through having the failings associated with projects mapped directly onto its components. Its biggest challenge must be to overcome the reluctance of Project Managers and Practitioners to use methods and techniques in the management of their projects. Without this increase in use, White and Fortunes claim that the project-specific FSM is more accessible to Practitioners and Project Managers than the FSM cannot fully be substantiated.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions