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Information System Flexibility and the Cost Efficiency of Business Processes Essay

The work of Gebauer and Schober entitled “Information System Flexibility and the Cost Efficiency of Business Processes” states that for an information system (IS) must be flexible if it is effective and must “be able to accommodate a certain amount of variation regarding the requirements of the supported business process.” The problem statement is clear noting the need for flexibility in the information system.

The study is noted as being significant in that it “contributes to IS theory building with a focus on the effects of IS flexibility on the cost efficiency of a given business process.” (Gebauer and Schober, 2006) The primary objective is stated to “present a theory of the impact of IS flexibility on the cost efficiency of a given business process” as well as establishing the “importance of IS flexibility as a success factor of IS management.” (Gebauer and Schober,)

The literature review is thorough and examines the characteristics of a business process and specifically the three dimensions of the business process including: (1) uncertainty; (2) variability; and (3) time-criticality. (Gebauer and Schober, 2006) Many previous studies are cited in the study of Gebauer and Schober (2006) and the shortcomings in those studies as well as the strengths of the study being noted. The concept of Information Systems (IS) flexibility is reviewed as well as past studies in this area.

The study is clear in its statement of several preliminary propositions. A model structure is illustrated outlining a two-stage decision process. Relationship between variables of analysis were specified by distinguishing among three strategies to perform a process task: IS flexibility-to-use, IS flexibility-to-change, and task performance outside of an IS (manual operations). (Gebauer and Schober, 2006)

The study is reported to systematically analyze a formal quantitative decision model, which allowed us to obtain a refined set of propositions that included combinatorial effects of business process characteristics, yet that at the same time also become more situation-specific.” (Gebauer and Schober, 2006)

Findings of the study are stated to demonstrate that “IS flexibility-to-change is cost efficiency deployed to support a business process characterized by a high level of uncertainty, whereas a low level of uncertainty corresponds efficiently with IS flexibility-to-use.” (Gebauer and Schober, 2006) The model is stated to indicate that “high process variability tends to limit the value of an IS over manual operations, whereas a high level of time-criticality of process requirements tends to increase the value of an IS over manual operations.” (Gebauer and Schober, 2006)

The discussion is based on the research problem and there is adequate interpretation of the findings. The interpretation is separate from the results and the results are discussed in regards to previous research studies. There are some limitations stated in the study and the conclusions are clearly stated and reasonable. There are suggestions for methods that could be used to better refine the study process and ultimately render more accurate results.

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