IMS5320 - Semester 2 , 2006 unit guide

Semester 2, 2006

Chief Examiner

Douglas Hamilton


Caulfield : Douglas Hamilton


This unit will provide students with an understanding first of the nature and importance of IT risk in organizations, with a specific focus on risks in IT projects, and second on the causes and implications of IT failures. Students will gain insights into a range of theories, concepts, and key issues associated with IT risk and ISD/IT failure.


Knowledge and Understanding

At the completion of this subject you should have knowledge and understanding of:

C1. The importance of identifying and managing IT risk in contemporary organisations

C2. The costs of inappropriately identifying and managing risk, resulting in IS/IT failures, dysfunctional systems, and systems which fail to deliver value to key stakeholders

C3. Strategies for risk management and risk minimisation

C4. The major theories and conceptsdeveloped for the analysis of IT risks and failures

C5. The relevance of human and organisational factors to successful risk management

C6. Relationships between the theory and practice of IT risk management

Attitudes, Values and Beliefs

Have developed attitudes which allow you to:

A1. Adopt a critical approach to current orthodoxy on risk identification & management

A2. Be sceptical but not cynical about the content in vendor promises in business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning approaches, tools, techniques and packages

A3. Appreciate the requirement to appropriately manage IT risk in IT dependent contemporary organisations

Practical Skills

Have the skills to:

P1. Apply IT risk and failure theories and concepts to the analysis of organisational situations where the potential for risk or failure may be involved

P2. Apply appropriate tools and techniques to the planning and management of IT risk

Relationships, Communication and TeamWork

S1. Students may be required to work in teams to complete some of the assessment.

S2. Develop small group communication skills


Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed

24 credit points of IMS 9000-level units, or equivalent; or 24 credit points of graduate level units in the Master of Information Management and Systems, Master of Information Management and Systems (Professional), Master of Information Technology or the Master of Business Systems, or equivalent; or an approved undergraduate degree in information systems (IS) or information management (IM) or equivalent

, or equivalent. You should have knowledge of

Foundation knowledge in information management and systems fundamentals

Unit relationships

IMS5320 is an elective unit in the IT management specialisation of the MIMS.

Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed

24 credit points of IMS 9000-level units, or equivalent; or 24 credit points of graduate level units in the Master of Information Management and Systems, Master of Information Management and Systems (Professional), Master of Information Technology or the Master of Business Systems, or equivalent; or an approved undergraduate degree in information systems (IS) or information management (IM) or equivalent

, or equivalent. You should have knowledge of

Foundation knowledge in information management and systems fundamentals


Texts and software

Required text(s)

There are no required textbooks for this unit. A text recommended as background reading is Jordan, E. & Silcock, L. 2005. Beating IT Risks. Chichester: Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-02190-X.

Textbook availability

Text books are available from the Monash University Book Shops. Availability from other suppliers cannot be assured.

Software requirements

There is no software requirement for this unit.

Hardware requirements

Students studying off-campus are required to have the minimum system configuration specified by the Faculty as a condition of accepting admission, and regular Internet access. On-campus students, and those studying at supported study locations may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to n hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Recommended reading

  • Abdel-Hamid, T.K. & Madnick, S.E. (Fall 1990). The elusive silver lining: how we fail to learn from software development failures. Sloan Management Review. 32 (1): 39-48.
  • Corbato, F.J. (1991). On building systems that will fail. Communications of the ACM. 34 (9):72-81.
  • Ewusi-Mensah, K. (1997). Critical issues in abandoned information systems development projects. Communications of the ACM. 40(9): 74-80.
  • Ewusi-Mensah, K. and Przasnyski, Z.H. (1994). Factors contributing to the abandonment of information systems development projects. Journal of Information Technology. 9(1994): 185-201.
  • Flowers, S. (1996). Software failure, management failure. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Flowers, S. (1997). Information systems failure: identifying the critical failure factors. Failure & Lessons Learned in Information Technology Management. 1(1997): 19-29.
  • Glass, R.L. (1998). Software Runaways: Lessons Learned from Massive Software Project Failures. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
  • Keider, S.P. (1984) Why systems development projects fail. Journal of Information Systems Management. 1 (3): 33-38.
  • Keil, M., Cule, P.E., Lyytinen, K. & Schmidt, R.C. (1998). A framework for identifying software project risks. Communications of the ACM. 41(11): 76-83.
  • Keil, M. & Robey, D. (2001). Blowing the whistle on troubled software projects. Communications of the ACM. 44(4): 87-93.
  • Korac-Boisvert, N. & Kouzmin, A. (1995). Transcending soft-core IT disasters in public sector organizations. Information Infrastructure and Policy 4: 131-161.
  • Lyytinen, K. (1988). Expectation failure concept and systems analysts' view of information systems failures: results of an exploratory study. Information & Management. 14 (1988): 45-56.
  • Lyytinen, K. & Hirschheim, R. (1987). Information systems failures: a survey and classification of the empirical literature. Oxford Surveys in Information Technology, 4: 257-309.
  • Lyytinen, K. & Robey, D. (1999). Learning failure in information system development. Information Systems Journal. 9(2): 85-101.
  • Matheson, L.R. & Tarjan, R.E. (1998). Culturally induced information impactedness: a prescription for failure in software ventures. Journal of Management Information Systems. 15(2): 23-29.
  • Remenyi, D. (1999). Stop IT project failures through risk management. Oxford, Butterworth: Heinemann.
  • Sauer, C. (1993). Why information systems fail: a case study approach. Alfred Waller: Henley-on-Thames.
  • Library access

    You may need to access the Monash library either personally to be able to satisfactorily complete the subject.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

    Study resources

    Study resources for IMS5320 are:

    The IMS5320 web site on MUSO, where lecture slides, weekly tutorial requirements, assignment specifications and supplementary material will be posted.

    Structure and organisation

    Week Topics Key Dates
    1 Introduction & Overview
    2 Risk management Framework 1
    3 Risk management Framework 2 Assignment 1 Specification
    4 RM Critique/Risk & Time
    5 Risk & Money
    6 Risk, Gambling, Probability Assignment 2 Specification
    7 Risk & Human Error
    8 IS Failures 1
    9 IS Failures 2
    10 IS Failures 3
    Non teaching week
    11 Successful Risk Management 1
    12 Successful Risk Management 2
    13 Revision


    The timetable for on-campus classes for this unit can be viewed in Allocate+


    Assessment weighting

    Assessment for the unit consists of assignments with a weighting of 50% of unit marks, and an examination with a weighting of 50% unit marks.

    Assessment Policy

    To pass this unit you must:

    Achieve a minimum of 40% of the marks for the assignments and for the examination.

    Your score for the unit will be calculated by:

    Assignments (out of 50 marks) + Exam (out of 50 marks)

    Assessment Requirements

    Assessment Due Date Weighting
    Assignment 1 Week 9 25%
    Assignment 2 Week 12 25 %
    The exam is 3 hours long and is closed book. Exam period (S2/06) starts on 23/10/06 50 %

    Assignment specifications will be made available Harcopy at lectures and on the IMS5320 website.

    Assignment Submission

    Assignments will be submitted by hard copy to the tutors at a designated point. On-campus Students Submit the assignment to your tutor with the appropriate cover sheet correctly filled out and attached Off Campus (OCL) students [OCL only] Mail your assignment to the Off-Campus Learning Centre with the cover sheet attached. Singapore and Hong Kong Students [Gippsland only] Mail your assignment to the Distance Education Centre with the cover sheet attached. Do not email submissions. The due date is the date by which the submission must be received/the date by which the the submission is to be posted.

    Extensions and late submissions

    Late submission of assignments

    Assignments received after the due date will be subject to a penalty of 5% per weekday and 10% per weekend. Assignments received later than one week after the due date will not normally be accepted.

    This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment. 


    It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

    Requests for extensions must be made by email to the unit lecturer at least two days before the due date. You will be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary. A copy of the email or other written communication of an extension must be attached to the assignment submission.

    Grading of assessment

    Assignments, and the unit, will be marked and allocated a grade according to the following scale:

    Grade Percentage/description
    HD High Distinction - very high levels of achievement, demonstrated knowledge and understanding, skills in application and high standards of work encompassing all aspects of the tasks.
    In the 80+% range of marks for the assignment.
    D Distinction - high levels of achievement, but not of the same standards. May have a weakness in one particular aspect, or overall standards may not be quite as high.
    In the 70-79% range.
    C Credit - sound pass displaying good knowledge or application skills, but some weaknesses in the quality, range or demonstration of understanding.
    In the 60-69% range.
    P Pass acceptable standard, showing an adequate basic knowledge, understanding or skills, but with definite limitations on the extent of such understanding or application. Some parts may be incomplete.
    In the 50-59% range.
    N Not satisfactory failure to meet the basic requirements of the assessment.
    Below 50%.

    Assignment return

    We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after assignment receipt.


    Feedback to you

    You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This feedback may be provided through your participation in tutorials and class discussions, as well as through your assignment submissions. It may come in the form of individual advice, marks and comments, or it may be provided as comment or reflection targeted at the group. It may be provided through personal interactions, such as interviews and on-line forums, or through other mechanisms such as on-line self-tests and publication of grade distributions.

    Feedback from you

    You will be asked to provide feedback to the Faculty through a Unit Evaluation survey at the end of the semester. You may also be asked to complete surveys to help teaching staff improve the unit and unit delivery. Your input to such surveys is very important to the faculty and the teaching staff in maintaining relevant and high quality learning experiences for our students.

    And if you are having problems

    It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem with your study. The semester is short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

    Plagiarism and cheating

    Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

    In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

    When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

    Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

    Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

    Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.


    Communication methods

    Communication should be to the lecturer via email - the email address will be included in the notes for the first lecture.


    Notices related to the unit during the semester will be placed on the Unit Website. Check this regularly. Failure to read the Notices newsgroup is not regarded as grounds for special consideration.

    Consultation Times

    Consultation times with the lecturer and tutors should be individually arranged by email, or at tutorials.

    If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors at:

    Mr Douglas Hamilton
    Senior Lecturer
    Phone +61 3 990 31081

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    All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

    Last updated: Jul 27, 2006