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Secrets to legitimizing information systems projects

on January 13, 2011

This is a video interview I shot at the ICIS Conference in St. Louis, Missouri reporting for Dice News. Dice is a client of Spark Media Solutions and is the leading career site for technology and engineering professionals. Find out more at

When you’re trying to introduce a new information system project into an organization and it’s about changing that organization, to get the business to regard that change the stakeholders have to accept that change as “legitimate.” Such was the focus of the research paper, “Exploring Legitimation Seeking activities in an Information Systems Project” by Dr. Donal Flynn, Senior Lecturer at the Manchester Business School and Dr. Youngqin Du, Business Analyst at Shell.

Flynn and Du looked at the process of getting that legitimacy. In their analysis they saw there were three different types of legitimization: gaining (getting the project off the ground), maintaining (ongoing), and repairing (when the IS project goes south).

The reason IT teams must get a project legitimized is because there’s a gap between their group and the business stakeholders. To increase the chances for acceptance, the IS team needs to close the gap and try to deliver what the stakeholder wants. Either change the IT systems to suit the needs of your different stakeholders, or change the stakeholders to suit the needs of your IT systems.

Analyze the situation early on to decide which way you’re going to go, but at the same time be willing to switch if that tactic doesn’t work.

Stock photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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