The three most important things a company can do to implement and use groupware systems effectively, and why they are necessary

As we noted in the Module Home Page, the processes by which organizations determine what kinds of information technologies they need and then implement these choices are not always what "rational" decision makers would suggest. Real world IT decision processes reflect the interaction of many different sets of organizational decision criteria and different decision makers, and must contend with "legacy" or existing systems that are often deeply embedded in the organization’s context and have major constituencies. Under these circumstances, it’s a wonder that groupware finds any organizational homes.

The best groupware consultants and facilitators understand that the systems must be planned and implemented with an eye to the context in which they’re being deployed. That is, the most important decisions about groupware have very little to do with technology. They’re mostly about people, about work processes, about what to do with the existing systems, and about how afraid people are when their core functions are under attack. In a sense, the newer, better, and more sophisticated the groupware being deployed, the more the implementation process must stress how really simple, moderately helpful, and probably even boring they are. That way, threats are minimized and opportunities for creative interaction with existing technologies are increased.

The case for this module asks you to review three articles all of which play this theme in varying degrees. As you read them, think about your own organization, and how the advice being given would work out in your shop. Perhaps you’ve had some experience with implementing new information technology systems, and have seen firsthand many of these issues arise to create havoc. In any event, the picture sketched by these articles should be clear.

Joe Miller Groupware: What Works the Way Businesses Do?, 6/9/2005

David Strom, Groupware Ready or Not

Mellanie Hills (2005) What’s so hard about Groupware? Networking computers is easy compared to networking people. Intranet Journal.

When you’ve had a chance to review these articles, and examine some of the materials in the background information that further bear on these issues (and possibly do your own research as well), please prepare a 3-5 page paper addressing the issue:

The three most important things a company can do to implement and use groupware systems effectively, and why they are necessary

Try to distill some key lessons from what you know about groupware and other information technologies that would enable effective implementation of such systems.

Case assignment expectations:

Your assignment will be graded following these expectations:

– Precision: the questions asked are answered.

– Clarity: Your answers are clear and show your good understanding of the topic.

– Breadth and depth: The scope covered in your paper is directly related to the questions of the assignment and the learning objectives of the module.

– Critical thinking: It is important to read the required readings posted in the background material plus others you find relevant. Your paper should include important concepts from these readings and incorporate YOUR reactions and examples that illustrate your reflective judgment and good understanding of the concepts.

– Your paper is well written and the references are properly cited and listed

– Your paper meets the page requirements not counting the cover page or the references pages

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