Agility of enterprise information systems: A conceptual model, design principles and quantitative measurement
A modern enterprise has to react to permanent changes in the business environment by transformation of its own behavior, operational practices and business processes. Such transformations may range from changes of business processes to changes of information systems used to support the business processes, changes in the underlying IT infrastructures and even in the enterprise information system as a whole. The main characteristic of changes in a turbulent business environment and, consequently, in the enterprise information system is unpredictability. Therefore, an enterprise information system should support the operational efficiency of the current business model, as well as provide the necessary level of agility to implement future unpredictable changes of requirements.
This article aims to propose a conceptual model of an agile enterprise information system, which is defined as a working system that should eliminate the largest possible number of gaps caused by external events through incremental changes of its own components. A conceptual model developed according to the socio-technical approach includes structural properties of an agile enterprise information system (actors, tasks, technology, and structure). Structural properties define its operational characteristics, i.e. measurable indicators of agility – time, costs, scope and robustness of process of change. Different ways to build such an agile system are discussed on the basis of axiomatic design theory. We propose an approach to measurement of time, cost, scope and robustness of changes which helps to make quantitative estimation of the achieved level of agility.