To define end users and identify a number of different groups of end users.
To describe what is meant by end user development.
To look at a number of advantages and problems and risks with EUD.
To examine the type of project which is suitable for EUD.
To look at the ways in which IS professionals can support both EUC and EUD.
Lally, L. (1995) ‘Supporting appropriate user-developed applications: Guidelines
for managers’ Journal of End User Computing, 7(3) 3-10.
What is an end user?
A very broad definition of an end user is anybody who:
 Is not an IT professional
 And physically uses any of the organisational ISs in some way.
 And/or provides data to the organisational ISs in some way.
 And/or makes use of the information from organisational ISs in some way.
Note that ‘end user’ is the same as ‘user’.
Types of end users
Traditionally end users were broken into two groups, direct end users and indirect end
 Direct users actually use the computer software of the system. They may come from
any level of the organisational hierarchy.
 Indirect users supply data to the system and/or use the information from the
system. The proportion of indirect users has decreased because so many people
now use computers as part of their work.
What is end user computing?
End user computing has been defined in a variety of ways. For example:
‘the capability of users to have direct control of their own computing needs’
(Davis & Olson, 1985)
‘the use and/or development of information systems (IS) by the principal users of
the systems output’ (Wetherbe & Leitheiser, 1985).
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'the adoption and use of information technology by personnel outside the IS
department to develop software applications in support of organisational tasks'.
(Brancheau & Brown, 1993)
Definitions differ greatly in breadth.
The definitions tend to have got narrower and more focused on users developing
applications as time has gone on, but you will still find people using it in the broad sense
of the term.
Identify several activities that would be included in the first 2 definitions of EUC, but
not in the 3rd.
What has lead to EUC?
The rise of EUC has been made possible by:
 increasingly inexpensive hardware
 increasingly easy to use software (i.e. software packages intended for the use of
individuals with little knowledge of computing).
 improvements in communications - enabling users to gain access to organisational
It has been largely driven by user demand for computing resources to enable control of
information resources – but this demand has occurred because the changes to
technology have made it possible.
Other reasons proposed for the enthusiasm with which users have adopted EUC include
the backlogs in application development by IS departments and general dissatisfaction
with the IS environment in organisations.
What is End User Development?
An end user developer is defined as an end user who develops applications systems
to support his or her work or the work of other end users.
These applications are known as user developed applications (UDA). So EUD is the
development of UDAs by end user developers.
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Examples of UDAs include?
Tools used to develop UDAs include?
How do UDAs differ from traditional ISs?
The differences between a UDA and a system developed by traditional methods include:
A UDA is developed by an individual solving a job-related problem, rather than by a
professional analyst and programmer solving someone else's problem.
A UDA is more likely to be developed using productivity tools than 3rd generation
programming languages.
A UDA is more likely to be developed on a personal computer rather than on a
mainframe or minicomputer.
Other differences might include:
Less formal specifications and development process?
Less development time
Less documentation
What do end users develop?
Mainly personal ISs to be used by the end user.
Possibly also personal ISs for other people.
Members of sections/groups may develop workgroup or departmental ISs.
Not likely to be Enterprise ISs - requires too much control over corporate ISs, skills
and training that end users don’t have. These are systems where organisational
data and organisational goals are directly involved.
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Advantages of EUD
There is a ‘software crisis’ in which:
There isn't enough software developed and there is a backlog in professional
development. This problem exacerbates as users become more computer
literate and demand more software.
Software that is developed frequently does not meet the real needs of the users.
This is often because the problem definition or the requirements are faulty.
EUD could be part of the solution.
EUD will increase the amount of developed software. Users develop their own
systems when they want them. Organisations also benefit by the reduction in the
End users understand their needs. The problem and requirements do not need to be
interpreted to others who may misunderstand.
EUD extends user control, providing satisfaction to the user and a motivation to
take responsibility for their system and data.
Examples of risks Of EUC
1. An executive used a spreadsheet to predict sales. This projection was used to
plan the hiring of additional employees and expansion of the firm’s inventory. The
sales projection was wrong by more than $8,000,000. The executive, working
alone, neglected to compensate for discounting planned for a key product. Thus
some figures in the pricing formula were incorrect, giving erroneous output, which
led to bad decisions.
2. The division manager of a Fortune 500 company used a spreadsheet to develop a
profit and loss model. This was reviewed by several other managers and changes
suggested. As each change was validated, the manager’s assistant added it into
the spreadsheet.
The assistant detected an apparent ‘error’ and changed one formula. To avoid
embarrassing the manager who had introduced the ‘error’, the assistant did not
report the change. Important decisions were based on the model. Subsequently
the ‘error’ was found not to be an error. The assistant’s change cost several
hundred thousand dollars.
3. A corporation was negotiating to acquire another firm. The finance VP constructed
a model of the corporation before and after acquisition. This model was used to
calculate a purchase offer. A fault in the model led to an overvaluing of 150%. It
was accepted immediately. Overnight the price of the parent firms stock dropped
40%. The corporation was unable to complete the financing of the integration,
planned savings were not achieved, profits nose-dived and the result was
involuntary bankruptcy.
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Risks in EUD
There are also risks and disadvantages with EUD. Many of these systems fail in one way
or another, mainly in the areas of security and integrity.
The main problem is that end users are generally not trained in software development
and this impinges on the quality of their systems.
As well, while users know what they need in general terms, they are not trained to
translate a general goal into specific requirements.
Failed systems principally affect the personal work of the end user developer.
However, this failure can also impact on the organisation when decisions are made on
the basis of poor or faulty information.
Development of software systems by end users can also distract individuals from the
job they are actually paid to do within the organisation.
Avoiding the risks in EUD
The risks and problems with EUD are no reason for placing all development back in
the IS Department.
There are at least three ways that the gains from EUD can be maximised and the risks
Encourage users to confine their efforts to projects that are likely to bring
Provide training (on both development tools and systems analysis and design)
and support to end user developers.
Ensure that in necessary areas, the IS Department assumes a certain level of
management over EUD, because it is part of the corporate stock of IS
A real estate agent developed a complex real estate investment spreadsheet application
for her firm. She did not document the application because she knew in detail how it
worked, and she was the only one who used it. The spreadsheet required the input of 23
pieces of data and she did not build in any edits to check whether each piece of data
was within a reasonable range. She had no problem using the spreadsheet. However, a
year after completing the spreadsheet she left the firm and her replacement had to
spend many hours figuring out how to use the spreadsheet. Also, the spreadsheet was
designed to use a loan amortisation calculation of only 15 or 30 years, When the
replacement entered a loan term of 25 years, the spreadsheet appeared to work
properly, but in reality the information it produced was erroneous. The firm was led to
invest in a large real estate venture in which they lost a substantial sum of money.
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Is it the developer’s fault that the firm lost money?
What actions could the developer have taken to ensure that this problem hadn’t
What could the firm have done to prevent this problem occuring?
The JDF Corporation strongly supports application development by end users.
Consequently many users are actively engaged in developing their own applications,
both for personal computers and for the mainframe. Recently the internal audit
department performed an audit of JDF’s users application development approach.
The audit report contains some disturbing findings. The auditors found numerous
instances of the same data being stored several different times (what is the problem
with this?) both on the mainframe and on personal computers. In addition, they found
that essentially the same application software had been created several times. For
example, the home appliances division and the home electronics division had both
created marketing analysis systems. Although these two systems are not identical they
are very similar.
Based on their findings the auditors have recommended that the corporation reassess
its commitment to application development by users.
Do you agree with the auditors that their findings are a serious problem?
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What recommendations do you have for the JDF Corporation?
Suitable projects for EUD
Projects for EUD must be ones that the end user has the skills and experience to
tackle successfully. They must also be projects that are not ‘mission-critical’ for the
Because of the potential problems with UDA some types of applications are probably
not suitable for EUD (Bowman, 1990)
1. Applications with significant exposure to fraud
2. Applications with significant risks due to disclosure of sensitive information to
unauthorised persons
3. Applications that generate information used to advise clients or produce reports for
regulatory agencies (has this changed?)
4. Applications that feed central databases
5. Applications that impact the operations of multiple workgroups in an organisation
6. Applications requiring significant communication technology to link geographically
dispersed locations.
Salchenberger (1993) suggested that if the following conditions are met an application is
suitable for end user development:
System scope is limited (not organisation wide)
Level of decision-making supported is operational or tactical
System life expectancy is short to medium
Projected development time is short
Detailed user specifications are available
System is not overly complex
System can be developed with 4GL tools
System can be developed with a minimal amount of support from IS staff
Number of concurrent users will be small
Data volume is low to moderate
Data significance to other departments is limited
Data security is not a serious problem
A range of output formats is needed
Extensive auditing is not needed
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Which of the following applications do you think are suitable for end user development?
1. Sales forecast by territory
2. Manufacturing process control
3. Customer billing and accounts receivable
4. Mailing list
5. Enrolment at Murdoch
Support for end users
Support of the end user by the IS Department is an important aspect of minimising the
risks of EUD.
Many organisations have set up Information Centres(IC) which are special
organisational units designed to facilitate and coordinate end user development
Typical services offered by an IC include:
 training
 consulting
 technical and operations support
 hotline assistance
 management of data
 software evaluation
 debugging assistance
 newsletters
 documentation support for user applications.
The IC represents an ideal model of support. The actual structure of the support
mechanisms will vary from full-blown IC to somebody to answer the help desk phone,
and including organisations reliant on an outside consultant.
The IC should provide support and training for all end users, not just developers. It
has to be able to tackle the full range of problems that may be presented. Support
professionals need a variety of skills and constantly up-to-date knowledge of the
industry. Because of the growth of demand for support from EUC and EUD, often in a
climate of budget cutbacks, this is often a stressful job.
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The main areas of support required by end users using applications are:
Keeping hardware and software running.
Training users in application use.
Assisting users with collecting/transcribing data, including extracting and down
loading data from organisational ISs and converting data formats.
End user developers have additional support needs:
Training in suitable development tools.
Assistance with areas of development such as database construction,
documentation, problem definition and requirements determination, choice of a
development environment and testing and debugging.
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