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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND

Critical Success Factors for Accounting Information Systems Data Quality

A dissertation submitted by

Hongjiang Xu, M Com(IS), B Ec(Acc), CPA

For the award of

Doctor of Philosophy

2003

I

ABSTRACT

Quality information is critical to organisations success in todays highly competitive environment. Accounting information systems (AIS) as a discipline within

information systems require high quality data. However, empirical evidence suggests that data quality is problematic in AIS. Therefore, knowledge of critical factors that are important in ensuring data quality in accounting information systems is desirable.

A literature review evaluates previous research work in quality management, data quality, and accounting information systems. It was found that there was a gap in the literature about critical success factors for data quality in accounting information systems. Based on this gap in the literature and the findings of the exploratory stage of the research, a preliminary research model for factors influence data quality in AIS was developed. A framework for understanding relationships between stakeholder groups and data quality in accounting information systems was also developed. The major stakeholders are information producers, information custodians, information managers, information users, and internal auditors.

Case study and survey methodology were adopted for this research. Case studies in seven Australian organisations were carried out, where four of them were large organisations and the other three are small to medium organisations (SMEs). Each case was examined as a whole to obtain an understanding of the opinions and perspectives of the respondents from each individual organisation as to what are considered to be the important factors in the case. Then, cross-case analysis was used to analyze the similarities and differences of the seven cases, which also include the variations between large organisations and small to medium organisations (SMEs). Furthermore, the variations between five different stakeholder groups were also examined. The results of the seven main case studies suggested 26 factors that may have impact on data quality in AIS.

Survey instrument was developed based on the findings from case studies. Two large-scale surveys were sent to selected members of Australian CPA, and Australian Computer Society to further develop and test the research framework. The major findings from the survey are: 1. respondents rated the importance of the factorsI

consistent higher than the actual performance of those factors. 2. There was only one factor, audit and reviews, that was found to be different between different sized organisations. 3. Four factors were found to be significantly different between different stakeholder groups: user focus, measurement and reporting, data supplier quality management and audit and reviews. 4. The top three critical factors for ensuring data quality in AIS were: top management commitment, education and training, and the nature of the accounting information systems.

The key contribution of this thesis is the theoretical framework developed from the analysis of the findings of this research, which is the first such framework built upon empirical study that explored factors influencing data quality in AIS and their interrelationships with stakeholder groups and data quality outcomes. That is, it is now clear which factors impact on data quality in AIS, and which of those factors are critical success factors for ensuring high quality information outcomes. In addition, the performance level of factors was also incorporated into the research framework. Since the actual performance of factors has not been highlighted in other studies, this research adds new theoretical insights to the extant literature. In turn, this research confirms some of the factors mentioned in the literature and adds a few new factors. Moreover, stakeholder groups of data quality in AIS are important considerations and need more attention. The research framework of this research shows the relationship between stakeholder groups, important factors and data quality outcomes by highlighting stakeholder groups influence on identifying the important factors, as well as the evaluation of the importance and performance of the factors.

II

CERTIFICATION OF DISSERTATION

I certify that the ideas, results, analyses and conclusions reported in this dissertation are entirely my own effort, except where otherwise acknowledged. I also certify that the work is original and has not been previously submitted for any other award, except where otherwise acknowledged.

_________________ Signature of Candidate

____________________ Date

ENDORSEMENT

___________________ Signature of Supervisor

_____________________ Date

III

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of many people who provided help, support, and encouragement, enabling me to complete my PhD dissertation. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of my principle supervisor, Andy Koronios who guided and encouraged me from the beginning and throughout my whole PhD candidature, as well as my associate supervisor Noel Brown.

Other friends and colleagues in the Faculty of Business and particularly in the Department of Information Systems provided invaluable assistance, support and feedback. Special thanks to Ed Fitzgerald, who helped me at many critical stages of my research and to Michael Lane and Latif Hakim, whose friendships helped me greatly on completion of this dissertation.

Finally, I wish to express my gratitude and love to my parents for their unreserved love, support and encouragement. The courage and determination they taught me have made my life so wonderful.

IV

Publication listThe following is a list of publications of the candidate, which are direct products from this PhD research.

Book chapter

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Xu, H., Koronios, A., & Brown, N., 2002, Managing Data Quality in Accounting Information Systems, IT-Based Management: Challenges and Solutions, Joia, L. A. (Ed.) Idea Group Publishing: Hershey PA, ISBN 159140-033-3 (h/c), eISBN 1-59140-075-9

International refereed Journal article

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Xu, H., Nord, J, Brown, N. & Nord, D, 2002, Data quality issues in implementing an ERP, Industrial Management & Data Systems, volume 102, number 1, pp47 58. Xu, H., Nord, J & Nord, D, forthcoming, "Key Issues of Accounting Information Quality Management: Australian Case Studies," Industrial Management & Data Systems, accepted and scheduled for publication.

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International refereed conference proceeding papers

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Xu, H. & Al-Hakim, L. 2003, Do IT Professionals Think Differently? Information Resources Management Association International Conference (IRMA2003), Philadelphia PA, USA Xu, H. & Al-Hakim, L. 2002, Accounting Information Systems Data Quality: A Critical Success Factors Approach, Information Resources Management Association International Conference (IRMA2002), Seattle WA, USA Xu, H., Koronios, A. & Al-Hakim, L. 2002, Critical success factors for financial information systems, Pacific Conference on Manufacturing (PCM2002), Bangkok, Thailand Xu, H., 2002, The Survey of Factors Impacting Upon Accounting Information Quality, ACME International Conference on Pacific Rim Management, Los Angles, USA Xu, H., Koronios, A., & Brown, N., 2001, A model for data quality in accounting information systems, the invited session Data and InformationV

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x

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Quality (DIQ), the 5th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and informatics (SCI2001), Orlando, USA x Xu, H., 2001, Key Issues of Accounting Information Quality ManagementAn Australian Case Study, International Conferences on Info-tech & Infonet (ICII2001), Beijing, China Xu, H. & Koronios, A., 2000, Critical success factors for accounting information systems data quality, the invited session Data and Information Quality (DIQ), the 4th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and informatics (SCI2000), Orlando, USA Xu, H., 2000, Managing accounting information quality- an Australian study, the 21st International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS2000), Brisbane, Australia.

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National refereed conference proceeding papers

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Xu, H., 2001, A Case Study on Factors Influencing Accounting Information Quality, Systems in Management 7th Annual ANZSYS Conference, Perth, Australia Xu, H., 2001, Stakeholder Perspectives of Accounting Information Quality, The Annual Conference of CHISIG, the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group of the Ergonmics Society of Australia (OZCHI2001), Perth, Australia

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International conference proceeding papers

x

Xu, H. & Koronios, A., 2000, Knowledge quality management in eBusiness, European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM2000), Bled, Slovenia

VI

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1

INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.3.1 1.3.2 1.3.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 BACKGROUND ........................................................................................................................ 1 RESEARCH PROBLEM AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS .................................................................. 2 JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS RESEARCH ....................................................................................... 4 Gaps in the literature..................................................................................