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--- System design and analysis ---

1.2.4

Identify the relevant stakeholders when planning a new system.

 

Teaching Note:

S/E The role of the end-user must be considered when planning a new system.

Who is a relevant stakeholder?

TOK Utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest number. The means justify the ends.


 

Sample Question:

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JSR Notes:

"Stakeholders" are people who will be influenced by the implementation of the new system (or the development of a new software applicaiton) - in other words, those who "hold" a "stake" in the changes that will be brought. Systems and software are certainly developed with the end user most pointedly in mind. But it is important to note that the people affected by a new system are not limited to those who directly use it. And each group of people influenced will have its own requirements, interests, and needs.

So, here is another more formal definition of a stakeholder:

stakeholder in the development and deployment of a system is an individual, group, or organization that has an interest in the realization of the system.

The Variety of Stakeholders

There will almost always be a wide variety of stakeholders in a particular project, and all stakeholders need to be considered. Naturally, some stakeholders will hold more sway than others. But the architect of the system must ensure that there is at least the opportunity for adequate stakeholder representation across the board, including all non-technology stakeholders (such as retailers and users) and all technology-focused ones (such as developers, system administrators, and those intended to maintain the system). If this is not done, and not all stakeholders are considered and included early on, this very well may be asking for trouble in the future.

Disgruntled Stakeholders

Whenever a new system is implemented there are bound to be some groups of people who will be unhappy and who will even fight against the new system. And if only for this reason, the implementers of new IT systems need to acknowledge them address their concerns as stakeholders throughout the development process.

Meantime, balancing competing wishes and needs among various stakeholders - even ones that are on board with the project - is not always easy. Consideration of the priorities of various stakeholder groups needs to be on-going and sincere, so that if/when conflicts occur between groups, sound, well-reasoned decisions that are made can be respected by all parties.

Another ethical consideration is that considerations of profit do not taint the balance with which various stakeholders are viewed and listened to.

 

Example of Stakeholders in the implementation of a new Hospital Database Systems:

Who is the most relevant stakeholder? The end-users should always be, so it's the patients in this example. All software engineers and systems developers need to always keep the end-user front and center during the planning, design, and implementation of the IT system. And sometimes this can be harder than you would think. What often can happen is that the developers get so caught up in their own little world, and the "coolness" of their code etc. they forget who they are actually making it for. With this, remember the old addage: "The customer is always right."

And note that one problem with considering the end-user in the planning and design of a new IT system is that the end-user could change - for example, people in a different age group than originally envisioned end up the prime users of the system.

The TOK Link: Utilitarianism

Often, with the implementation of a new IT system, some stakeholders will experience negative consequences, yet for the "greater good" it is determined that the project must go forward. And often this is hard to argue, but on the other hand, it always can be argued. And beyond that, there is always the question of who it is, in the first place, that determines the project must go on?

 

IA Solution Connection and Considerations

Often times the IB CS IA solution has mainly one stakeholder with whom you will communicate, and this is the end user themself. But there are bound to be lots of other stakeholders as well, and they do need to be considered. So it would be great if you could contact and talk with them as well.

Take for example, an IA project intended for a robotics tournament; the following are all stakeholders, and all should be considered to varying extents when designing that system:

- Coaches and mentors

- Players

- The school Activities Coordinator and the Activities Office

- IASAS or other sponsor sporting organization

- Judges

- Plus any other people who use the program and are affected by the results of the competition

But the one main thing to keep in mind as you get started with your IA is that there is almost certainly one person who is *not* the number one stakeholder, and that is you! You need to keep in mind that you are making this program for Mr or Ms xyz, not for yourself. And so you need to stay in touch with them, and get their feedback, not just in the beginning, but as you progress.

 

Jose: Reminder here about what a full IT system is, with examples, like grading system at a school, or an IT system in a bank, recycling program/system in an American city