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Using Drawbridge 54© to improve the quality of user participation in IS projects

Schwering, J. (2011) Using Drawbridge 54© to improve the quality of user participation in IS projects.

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Abstract:End-user participation in information system (IS) development and implementation projects is regarded by many theoreticians as an important mechanism to increase IS success. In literature, the effects of user participation have thus been much researched. The majority of these studies conclude that user participation has positive effects on IS success. In practice however, IS projects are still facing problems or even failing completely. A reason for this might be that user participation is not practiced much, because the efficiency seems to be a concern. Companies might be skeptic towards the need for the investment in time and money. Also, almost no approach to user participation is explicitly defined. This can lead to a sub-optimal approach in practice, which in turn leads to the absence of its effects. Furthermore, a successful IS change also requires complementary organizational changes in processes, tasks, structures and people. This aspect is often overlooked in practice. There are also theoretical problems thwarting the effects of user participation. The context of IS implementations has changed over the past ten years (bigger systems, more users, more stakeholders), which renders most positive studies on user participation outdated. Concretely, the positive effects of ‘system quality’, ‘user involvement’ and ‘user-developer relationship’ are much harder to achieve in today’s context. This study investigates how DrawBridge54© (DB54) – a bottomup, participative organizational change method – can contribute to the quality of user participation and solve these issues. This is done by identifying in which ways DB54 can theoretically contribute, and by measuring the effects of DB54 in four companies where the method was applied. Conclusions: The main conclusion of this study is that: - DB54 can contribute to the quality of user participation for IS implementations as a pre-IS implementation tool. In all the researched cases it achieves effects that are preconditions for a successful IS implementation. Through DB54, organizations and its employees achieve a holistic process insight and a culture of partnership and mutual respect. In an ideal situation, readiness for change, sense of urgency, organizational reshaping capabilities, perceived personal competence and a human relations culture can also be achieved. This ideal situation can be achieved by overcoming a number of challenges that are discussed in the recommendations for companies exercising DB54, and by effectuating actual changes through DB54. This sets the stage for a successful participative IS project. Also, DB54 can be used to gain insight into and effectuate the required complementary organizational changes. Other conclusions have also been reached: - DB54 can also be used as a business case tool for top-down and bottom-up initiated IS projects, because it offers the possibility to link the need for an IS to work floor issues. - Not only top management support, but also middle management support is very important in a successful participation process. The middle manager should perform what is called ‘top management support’ in literature in order to involve and commit his employees in a participation process. - In DB54, a trusted external process facilitator can identify issues that have been accepted as the way things work, identify possible solutions and he can keep the focus on objectivity and correctness. - DB54 can be regarded as an efficient method through use of lead employees, small group sizes, a transparent web-based toolset and a focus on main items and objectivity. - In DB54, the lead employees played an important role in achieving the commitment and involvement of all employees. The domain knowledge of the lead employees plays an important role here as well as the social and facilitating skills. - Participants can be skeptic towards participating in a change process. They might not want to participate at all, and thus positive effects can never be achieved for them. - Managers can perceive the participation process a lot more positive than their employees. So a participation process might not go as well as thought.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
De Steur Management, Wijk bij Duurstede, the Netherlands
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Information Technology MSc (60025)
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