Information system implementations in developing countries have demonstrated a tendency to fail to persist over time. This thesis addresses this issue of sustainability by exploring how global software development and local capacity building can improve an information system’s ability to endure.
Following an action research approach; I have worked as a core developer in a global software development project and participated in an effort in Vietnam for establishing a local development team. My effort included training and employment of students at the project’s partner university, implementation of information systems, and practical problem-solving related to development.
Firstly, this thesis explores challenges and solutions regarding global software development and capacity building in developing countries. The case study from Vietnam demonstrates that exposing students to realistic environments in terms of requirements and feedback from users of a real-life information system encouraged practical, independent problem, which eventually increased learning. Also, combining software development with implementation support entailed comprehension of the user domain and training in requirements management as well as personal ownership and commitment to the system.
Secondly, this thesis explores challenges and solutions regarding adaptation of information systems to local contexts while maintaining global requirements. By means of experience from the global development effort I show that making solutions to local requirements as general as possible allows for including the functionality in the global solution and avoiding maintenance of local branches, and hence curb local-global tensions. Additionally, I show how flexible solutions to local requirements can benefit the global network if similar requirements are likely to emerge at other nodes.
Eventually, an IS implementation project’s capability for local requirements gathering, contextual system adaptations, cultivation of learning processes, and establishment of persistent working routines has been identified in the literature as vital in order to achieve sustainability. From a pragmatic point of view; I demonstrate how and why establishing local development and implementation teams is a favourable approach for accomplishing these tasks.