Richard Nolan (1974) has discussed a framework for IS planning, popularly known as Nolan stage model. The basic premise of the model is that any organization will move through stages of maturity with respect to the use and management of IS. While progressing, an organization must go through each stage of growth before it can move to the next stage.
In fact Nolan stage model is a contingency model, which helps managers diagnose the stage(s) of IS in the organization and thus provide a set of limits to planning. The model has been called contingency model because it states:
IF these features exist THEN the information system is in this stage.
The Nolan stage model has identified four stages of information system growth. A brief description of these stages is given below:
The First growth stage is known as initiationstage. In this stage, the technology is placed in the organization. A few applications in the organization are computerized. There are only a small number of users. This stage is characterized by minimum planning.
This growth stage is called expansion or contagion stage. During this stage rapid and uncontrolled growth in the number and variety of IT applications takes place. Many users adopt computers in solving their IT related problems.
This stage is known as formalization or controlstage because in this stage, organizations gain control over the technology’s resources by implementing formal control processes and standards. Thus, organizations are able to apply cost-effective criteria. However, controls sometimes become barriers in attaining potential benefits.
Nolan has described this growth stage as maturity or integrationstage as by this stage organizations gain sufficient experience and maturity in IS/IT applications. In this stage, applications are integrated, controls are adjusted. Planning is well-established. That is why this growth stage sometimes is also called the stage of perfection.
Nolan in 1979 enhanced this model to 6 stages. In the enhanced model, the first 3 stages remain the same and the maturity stage of the four- stage model has been sub- divided into 3 more specific stages which have been renamed as stage 4, stage 5 and stage 6 respectively.
Stage 4 is called Integration stage, stage 5 is called administration stageand stage 6 is called maturity stage.