Evaluation of the Performance of Information Systems Implemented
at the University of Tripoli, Libya
Tareq Salahi Almigheerbi
, David Ramsey
and Anna Lamek
University of Tripoli, Tripoli, Libya
Wrocław University of Science and Technology, Wrocław, Poland
Keywords: CD-ERP, Assessment, Exploratory-study, Initial Case Study, Business Activities, Libyan Higher Education,
CPIT Model, Zuboff’s Model, Nolan’s Model.
Abstract: Evaluating the performance of information systems (ISs) has emerged from the increasing influence of
information technology on the effectiveness and efficiency of work processes in an organization (Bryman and
Bell 2007). The aim of the overall study is to overcome a lack in the literature regarding the assessment of
information systems (IS) in Libyan Higher Education (LHE), especially universities. The aim of this initial
article is to focus on the University of Tripoli (UOT), a study that will be extended to other Libyan public
universities. A description of the study, its significance and objectives and the methodology followed are
presented, together with an analysis of the findings on the basis of appropriately chosen models. Finally, we
assess the current level of ISs implemented in UOT by analyzing the findings based on these models.
In Libya, access to the tools of information and
communication technology (ICT) is still lagging
behind, especially in government services. Libya, as
a developing country, is eager to adopt new
information technologies, although the
implementation and use of modern technology in
Libyan education are slow and at a low scale for many
reasons (UNICCO 2009). There is a gap in the
literature regarding the adoption of ICT, especially
ISs, in Libyan Universities. This study aims to answer
the main question of an ongoing research project,
namely How does ICT in Libyan Universities look in
the 21
century after years of serious technical,
economic and social development? To answer this
question, an assessment of the ISs implemented in
Libyan Universities is conducted by using
appropriate methods as described later. Indeed, the
authors have carried out an initial case study of UOT
as the first step in a field study in Libya, while other
case studies will be conducted at other Libyan
universities to get a fuller spectrum.
A study was conducted (Bakeer and Wynn 2014)
on the use of ICT in Libyan universities with the aim
of addressing this imbalance by analyzing how ICTs
are used in Libyan universities. A new model for
assessing ICT utilization in Libyan universities was
proposed and applied at the University of Misurata
(Bakeer and Wynn 2014). In (Elferjan 2015), training
was highlighted as a factor required to enhance the
education system. A few other unpublished studies,
available only in Arabic, have investigated specific
factors. This has led to a lack of available literature
covering the issues related to ISs implemented in
LHE, particularly in universities (Elferjan 2015). In
this paper, UOT was chosen as the subject of an initial
case study. Interviews were conducted with IT
specialists working at the ICT Centre of UOT. To
give a wider view, three models were chosen to
analyze the data obtained, specifically: Zuboff’s
model, Nolan’s model and the CPIT Model.
This case study aims to describe the present situation
of ICT at UOT and will be used for future comparison
with other Libyan universities. Hence, the authors use
the term “initial case study”. Besides guiding
adaptations of the survey and interviews for other
case studies, this initial study will be useful in
deciding how many case studies should be used in a
future study. What makes this study unique is the
treatment of locally-deployed ISs that are not e-
Almigheerbi, T., Ramsey, D. and Lamek, A.
Evaluation of the Performance of Information Systems Implemented at the University of Tripoli, Libya.
DOI: 10.5220/0008119902030211
In Proceedings of the 11th International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (IC3K 2019), pages 203-211
ISBN: 978-989-758-382-7
2019 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
solutions (web-based), as well as classifying the
business activities in UOT based on the model used
in (Zornada and Velkavrh 2005). It should be noted
that the overall goal of this research project is to
assess the applicability of Collaboratively-
Developed, ERP model (CD-ERP) within Libyan
public universities.
In this study, only aspects of ICT associated with
IS implementation which are deployed in UOT to
handle business processes (educational activities,
research activities and other business activities) are
UOT was chosen as the subject of this study since one
of the authors is a staff member and it is the leading
university in Libya. Also, UOT has been contributing
effectively to the establishment of many universities
in Libya by providing consultants and educators.
Hence, these collaborations have led to the existence
of similarities between all of the Libyan universities.
UOT is a public university, the largest institution of
higher education (HE) in Libya and the national
leader in academic teaching, scientific research, and
knowledge development. It consists of 6 campuses
distributed over the city of Tripoli. There are 20
faculties (colleges) and 154 academic departments.
The local teaching staff has 2970 members, while the
international teaching staff numbers 80. A total of
70822 local students and 1598 international students
are registered in undergraduate programs, while 3628
local students and 93 international students are
registered in graduate studies. (University of Tripoli
In recent decades, many authors have addressed the
issue of the evaluation of IS performance. Factors that
influence the success or failure of information
systems are often discussed (Platisa and Balaban
2009). A number of techniques and models developed
to study organizations from an informatics
perspective were chosen keeping in mind the
technological and organizational differences in a
developing country, such as Libya, from the countries
where these models were developed and tested. To
evaluate performance, the following theoretical
framework is used.
Within this theoretical framework, this paper
addresses the following research question: How do
the ISs deployed at UOT look after years of serious
technical, economic and social development?
In this section, the research elements are summarized
including: the strategy and approach followed, the
research method used, the method of data collection,
the sample, the research process, data analysis, and
the limitations of the research.
5.1 Research Strategy, Approach and
In this study, the authors have observed a single case
study, where the subject is UOT. Moreover, the two
main research approaches are deductive and
inductive. As the authors investigated the
implementation of ISs used in UOT, the inductive
approach is appropriate, since it involves qualitative
research in which the researcher collects data and
develops a theory on the basis of data analysis. Data
collection was based on interviews with purpose was
to collect data on the level of ICT in UOT with
emphasis on the deployment of ISs.
5.2 Sampling
Convenience sampling is a type of non-random
sampling where members of the population who are
easily accessible to a researcher are studied (Dornyei
2007) (Roestad 2016). Such a method was chosen due
to the specific nature of the population, individuals
who are working on/familiar with ISs in the context
of UOT. Also, the population is “hard-to-reach”. As
it is an initial study, the results can direct future
research, to be carried out with more accuracy.
KMIS 2019 - 11th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Systems
5.3 Design of Data Collection
The design of data collection and analysis of the
target population were based on the concept of
snowball sampling/respondent-driven sampling
(RDS). RDS is a popular method of data collection in
the study of "hard-to reach populations", such as the
homeless (Salganik and Heckathorn 2004). The use
of snowball sampling in such cases has created a
widespread perception of chain referral methods in
general as methods of convenience sampling (Bonnie
1979). RDS combines "snowball sampling" (getting
individuals to recommend those they know as
subjects, who, in turn, recommend those they know
and so on) with a mathematical model that weighs the
sample to compensate for the fact that the sample was
collected in a non-random way (Heckathorn 2012).
5.4 Recruitment Strategy
Using RDS, a researcher identifies one individual
within a population as a "seed," collects data from the
seed and obtains additional participants in the study
based on the social network of the seed. These new
participants then serve as seeds for identifying more
participants. Thus, the snowballing of participants
also illustrates the social network within a population
(Salganik and Heckathorn 2004). Recruiting is thus
driven by respondents rather than by interviewers
(Schonlau and Liebau 2012). A method combining
aspects of both snowball and RDS sampling was
used. Each respondent was asked to give an estimate
of the size of their network. This helped to decide
whether to use interviews or questionnaires, which
depends on the estimated size of the network of the
5.5 Target Population
Based on the structure of UOT, the Centre for ICT
was established to build and develop a technical
environment improving the quality and efficiency of
both academic and administrative performance
within the university. Consequently, the Centre for
ICT was the best starting point for our study,
especially as it contains a department committed to
developing and maintaining the ISs implemented
across the university.
Three participants from UOT, labelled T-1, T-2 and
T-3, were interviewed. The responses received from
these respondents provided the authors with an initial
understanding of the general level of ICT in UOT. In
particular, these responses enabled an assessment of
the level of the ISs deployed and UOT’s capabilities
for implementing in-house applications.
Table 1: Brief description of the respondents who
participated in the study.
Years of
Former Head of ICT Centre
Head of ICT Centre
Head of IS Department
The respondents were all experienced in the use,
support and management of ICT within the
university. These selection criteria for the initial study
could also be useful in future field studies. The details
of the respondents are given in Table 1.
The authors witnessed a new shift in the Centre
for ICT, which gave the opportunity to observe a
critical change affecting the entire ICT process at the
university. The authors started the interview process
with the former head of the Centre for ICT (T1) when
he was still in the position. This interview was paused
due to an unexpected battle in Tripoli, during late
summer 2018. By the end of the battle, a new head of
the Centre had already occupied the position. Despite
this, the interview with the former head of the Centre
was continued, since he held the most knowledge on
the things occurring at the Centre, as well as being the
initial seed of the sequence of interviews. He
proposed the new head of the ICT Centre (T2) as a
potential seed. The authors interviewed the new head
of the Centre, who in turn recommended the head of
the Information Systems Department (T3). This
proposal was natural, since the target component of
ICT was the level of IS deployment rather than the
overall ICT level. The respondents were first
introduced to the study via e-mail and then contacted
by telephone for the first session of the interview.
After this, a list of the additional information needed
was e-mailed to them and eventually video-
conference sessions were held to conclude the
interviews. The languages used in the interviews were
Arabic and English for easier communication with the
respondents. The lengths of these interviews were
between 35 minutes and 2 hours.
Evaluation of the Performance of Information Systems Implemented at the University of Tripoli, Libya
The Centre for ICT.
The ICT Centre provides networking services, access
to the Internet, Intranet services, e-mail, software
development and technical support, as well as
technical consultancy and training to the University's
IT staff. The Centre is directly responsible to the
University President. Apart from the administrative
department of the Centre, there are five departments
namely, Networking and Information Security,
Department of Information Systems, Department of
Technical Support and Maintenance, Department of
Electronic Publishing and Department of
Documentation and Statistics
Business Activities in UOT and the Information
Systems implemented
To study both business and associated sub-
business activities, the authors adopted a model of
business activities in HE institutions presented by
(Zornada and Velkavrh 2005) as shown in Figure 1.
This model was discussed with the interviewees to
check whether or not all business and sub-business
processes had been included.
Figure 1: Business activities in a higher educational
institution (Zornada and Velkavrh 2005).
1) The implementation of educational activities
Such business activities consist of the following:
portals and forums for e-learning, a virtual library,
library system, laboratories, teaching equipment, and
administrative support for the process of education in
the form of a student information system (SIS). UOT
lacks a system unified across all faculties to support
its educational activities. Some faculties still rely on
old in-house systems to accomplish some tasks, while
others are completed using paperwork. In 2016, the
university launched a new online system enabling
students to manage their course programs. Now all
students use a unified system for course registration
and similar tasks. This system operates online, while
an offline version is under development. At present,
the exchange of information between this online
system and older offline systems (on local servers in
the faculties) is operated manually using excel/SQL
The e-learning program, consisting of portals and
forums for both SIS and the learning system, was
launched in 2010. This system was fully online, but
after the uprising in 2011, the system was limited to
managing studies, with no option to perform learning
tasks online. Also, the monthly grand program was
launched in 2012 is presently done manually using
computer applications, such as MS Excel. The
registration of new students is electronically operated
through the university's main registry.
2) The implementation of research activities
The implementation of research activities involves
research software, support for research work,
research laboratories, research equipment, as well as
the Research Information System RIS, providing
support for the research process. There is no
integrated IS for research business activities at the
university. One of the projects launched by the ICT
Centre is the Digital Archive of the University of
Tripoli, DRUoT. Its aim is to digitally store all the
output of research, theses, dissertations, books and
published papers. This system is administered by the
ICT Centre and hosted within the data centre inside
the university. Uploading privileges are granted only
to the staff of the ICT Centre, while browsing and
downloading are open to the public. One of the
projects introduced to the university is Office 365,
taking advantage of its benefits in ERP systems, E-
management and access to international journals
based on a subscription. Moreover, there are e-
solutions for the refereed journals and periodicals
issued by the faculties of UOT in various fields.
Other business activities require human resource
information systems (HRISs), finance and accounting
ISs and administrative ISs. UOT does not possess any
HRIS, except for the administration of academic
staff: this is an IS developed by staff within the ICT
Centre. Its aim is to handle the data and procedures
related to academic staff. Also, there is an IS for
students who are awarded a scholarship to study
aboard. This system is not owned by the university,
but by the Ministry itself. Other work related to
human resources is done either using MS-office
(Excel or Access) or by hand.
KMIS 2019 - 11th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Systems
Finance and accounting are partially
computerized. In the faculties, such matters are
usually done by hand or using MS-office, while the
main office of finance and accounting uses an in-
house application. The administrative IS,
incorporating a document handling system, is
computerized in the central offices, such as the
University President’s office, but handled manually
or using MS-office in other divisions. There is a so-
called “network resource management system”, a
centralized system controlling Internet access across
the university campuses, ensuring the anonymity of
users and determining privileges, such as limits on
time spent online and the amount of data that can be
3) Hosting and Data Centre
All online systems operate on the university’s
website, including: the registration system; the billing
system responsible for managing student, faculty and
staff accounts using Office 365; issuing passwords for
access to the University's wi-fi hotspot; and the
academic staff administration system. These systems
communicate electronically with the university’s
website. All online systems are hosted by a Libyan
company on a server dedicated to UOT. This option
provides control over the server, as it can be remotely
controlled using administrator privileges. It is thus
possible to install and set up any software. This server
is located in the company, but the current CIO of the
Centre is negotiating to move it to the university's
data centre, where all university data is stored. The
off-line systems are not centralized, but are under the
management of individual faculties to perform
specific services. Thus, the offline systems are hosted
locally inside faculty buildings.
Finally, there are three main categories of ISs in UOT
as itemized below:
In-house applications developed by an ICT or
faculty team using a variety of development tools,
such as VB/SQL, ASP/SQL Server and C++.
These applications have many problematic issues,
are out-of-date and badly documented.
Applications bought from local vendors and
maintained by the vendor or open-source
software. The latter are difficult to maintain or
Access/Excel applications used to support some
core activities.
Integration of such systems is limited to manual
communication. There is no bridging software.
Data is transferred in Excel, CSV or database
The findings of this initial study expose the
weaknesses of the ISs used within UOT. This section
presents an analysis and discussion of these findings
on the basis of selected models, providing the authors
with an easy way to compare ICT levels, especially
the ISs deployed, at the time of the field study, as well
as giving the reader a better understanding of the
research findings. The selected models are:
Analysis of the ISs deployed in UOT on the basis
of Zuboff’s model and Nolan’s model.
Analysis of the level of e-solutions in UOT on the
basis of the CPIT model.
8.1 Analysis of the Findings based on
Nolan’s “Stages of Growth Theory
The Stages of Growth Theory (or Nolan’s model) is a
classical method for assessing ISs. Although this
model has been modified over time, it is still used to
describe the growth of IT in an organization and to
categorize the evolution of what are known in this
context as data processing departments (Hollyhead
and Robson 2012). This theory splits the development
of IT in an organization into a number of stages. Each
stage has its own specific problems regarding
information systems, users, technology, IT personnel
and management instruments (Nolan and Koot 1979).
As illustrated in Figure 2, the first stage in Nolan’s
model is “initiation”, where the automation of labour-
intensive operations is carried out to reduce costs and
increase efficiency. All of the UOT organization is
beyond this stage. Indeed, UOT's top management,
and even the authorities in the faculties, are pushing
toward adopting the best available technologies.
Figure 2: An analysis of the growth of ISs at UOT.
“Contagion” is the second stage, when an
organization becomes more familiar with automation.
Evaluation of the Performance of Information Systems Implemented at the University of Tripoli, Libya
There is an increasing desire for new technologies.
UOT is already beyond this stage as well. All the
departments and divisions use information
technologies, ISs and software applications to
complete their business faster and more reliably.
Limited links between ISs in the same department have
already been launched by various means, such as CSV
or Excel files.
The “Control” stage follows the spread of
automation systems throughout an organization and
the failures encountered in the Contagion stage.
Some ISs deployed in UOT have been replicated in
various departments. The action taken by UOT's
management to unify the online registration system is
a good example of this. Before, each faculty had run
different course registration systems. Some faculties
with few students used MS Excel or Access to handle
such processes, while others used in-house
applications developed by their IT staff, e.g. the
Faculty of Information Technology and the Faculty of
Economics. However, we cannot say that UOT has
passed through the "Control" stage, since some
systems are replicated in various departments, such as
the document management system. Simultaneously,
UOT is, to some degree, already in the next stage,
“Integration”, since the university is planning to
manage all its business processes and sub-processes
via integrated information systems. Currently, there is
a tendency to carry out services with the support of in
house applications implemented using computer
software such as MS Excel and Access. As a result, the
authors see the level of ICT, especially the deployment
of ISs, as being between the “Control” and
“Integration stage, due to the new shift at UOT to
control the growth of ICT.
8.2 Analysis of the Findings based on
Zuboff’s Model
The concept of “automate, informate, and
transformatewas introduced by Zuboff to describe the
impact of information technologies on organizations:
“Automate refers to the use of Information
Technology (IT) instead of human resources to
undertake business processes, tasks, or work activities;
“Informate” refers to the use of IT to generate timely
and relevant data which can be used by the employees
of an organization and its external trading partners and
“Transformate” refers to the use of IT to help
organizations restructure their business models,
processes, practices, assets, capabilities, and
relationships, in order to create new products, services,
or business processes, and reposition themselves in the
market (Angeles 2013) (Zuboff 1988). Here, Zuboff's
model is used to analyze the ISs deployed in all kinds
of business activities, while business and sub-business
activities are divided into three categories, as in the
model of business activities in a HE institution
presented by (Zornada and Velkavrh 2005).
Figure 3 presents an analysis of the adoption of ISs
at UOT based on Zuboff’s model. Educational
activities and administrative support for the education
process are the only processes among the university’s
core functions to be facilitated by advanced ISs. Hence,
enhancement of the current ISs and new ISs are needed
to fully "Transformate" the servicing of educational
activities. Support for both research activities and
other business activities is insufficient for
"Transformating" all the related activities to be
Figure 3: An overall analysis of IS adoption at UOT on the basis of Zuboff’s model.
KMIS 2019 - 11th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Systems
8.3 Analysis of the Level of
e-Solutions in UOT using the CPIT
The Connect, Publish, Interact, Transform (CPIT)
model was developed by the UK Department of Trade
and Industry to evaluate the impact of e-business
technologies on an organization’s business processes
based on a 2-dimensional matrix. The aspects
considered are: “Connect”, referring to the use of
basic Internet technologies; “Publish”, referring to
publishing information using online technologies;
Interact”, referring to two-way communication via
the Internet and finally “Transform”, referring to an
organization using online technologies to fully
transform its business processes (DTI 2003). For
convenience, the analysis of UOT’s e-solutions is
divided into three parts, as in the model of business
activities in a Higher Education (HE) institution
presented by (Zornada and Velkavrh 2005).
Firstly, an analysis of the e-solutions adopted for
educational activities at UOT is illustrated in Figure
Figure 4: Analysis of e-solutions adoption for educational
activities at UOT.
Among the activities facilitated, interaction is best
seen in the online content related to educational
activities, especially in the case of the online SIS and
its services. Figure 5 summarizes the analysis of the
adoption of e-solutions in research activities at UOT.
Figure 5: Analysis of e-solutions adoption in research
activities at UOT.
Figure 6 summarizes the analysis of the adoption
of e-solutions in other business activities at UOT.
Figure 6: Analysis of e-solutions adoption in other business
activities at UOT.
In general, the level of adoption of e-solutions for
educational services seems to be beyond the level
observed in other business activities in all aspects,
with interactive content being available to students
and staff via the online SIS system. However,
Figure 7: The overall analysis of the adoption of e-solutions at UOT on the basis of the CPIT Model.
Evaluation of the Performance of Information Systems Implemented at the University of Tripoli, Libya
improvement is needed, as stated by each of the
experts. None of the kinds of business activities is
close to being served by a fully transformed system,
which is represented by the "Transform" aspect in the
CPIT model. Unlike in the case of educational and
research activities, there is no capability of interaction
based on any online system available for other
business activities. Figure 7 illustrates the overall
analysis of the adoption of e-solutions at UOT on the
basis of the CPIT Model.
This study can be interpreted as a pre-testing of
research techniques and methods, questionnaires and
interviews, while also gaining information on the
state of ICT in LHA. Identifying practical problems
involved in the research procedure, such as the
interpretation of instructions and time limits, was also
considered to be an objective. Moreover, it helps to
project the number of case studies, as well as the
minimum number of participants that should be
involved in future research.
Based on the above, the sampling technique and
recruitment strategy were effective and led to
valuable findings. Furthermore, the authors were able
to analyze the findings on the basis of Zuboff’s
model, the CPIT model and Nolan’s model.
Regarding the practical problems of the research
procedure, the initial study went beyond the planned
deadline, partially due to the battle in Tripoli during
the summer of 2018. Using online communication
was ineffective on many occasions and the authors
were sometimes forced to wait for an answer for days.
Also, keeping the online sessions active was not easy.
Regarding the number of case studies to be
conducted, the initial study indicated that ISs
developed by Libyan public universities are already
in use in other HE institutes across the country,
indicating the similarity between Libyan universities.
Also, the time spent on this initial study has led to
tighter limitations on the time available for further
research. As a result, a total of three case studies is a
strategic choice.
After conducting the initial study, the authors
propose to interview two participants in each of the
additional case studies, based on the assumption that
the other two case studies are characterized by a
similar structure to UOT. The second type of data
analysis is based on quantitative data to collect
information and expectations regarding the current
ISs. The initial study indicated that the department
responsible for IS deployment is the Department of
Information Systems at the ICT Centre. The
involvement of all the staff at the Department of
Information Systems in the ICT Centre and at the ICT
office in each faculty is targeted. This study comes as
initial research in a project to assess the applicability
of the CD-ERP model in LHE. Further case studies
will be carried out in other Libyan universities. The
results of this series of studies will be applied to the
planning of future IS development in Libyan
universities at national level. Also, the author
recommends using process mapping and system
profiling to achieve a better understanding of the
basic business processes and associated ISs.
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Evaluation of the Performance of Information Systems Implemented at the University of Tripoli, Libya