Building an LDS can be a daunting task. Analysts who compare a newly proposed system to the current information system environment often say, "You cannot get there from here." Certainly the technological, organizational, and professional gaps between the information system that currently "is," (the "here") and the ideal system we hope will "be" in the future (the "there") can be very discouraging.
Once the current reality is understood and the "future ideal" is clearly defined, an education agency can undertake the formal process commonly referred to as a "gap analysis," which is often performed by third party experts. The agency can then begin to move from the present into the future. Later in this book, the processes of self- and needs-assessment are discussed to help readers identify "here" and "there." But first, Part I reviews some prerequisites to the planning process. Understanding two conceptual frameworks—the life cycle of information and the systems development life cycle—will help developers and other stakeholders throughout the creation and refinement of the system. Then, the practical matter of establishing a project management team, and a process for driving and organizing the effort, will be addressed.