Classification, Organisational Knowledge, Bounded Objects, Evolution, PiMS
The process of developing and implementing new organisational information systems necessarily involves reaching agreement - implicitly or tacitly - about the codification and interpretation of the data being held on the system. Numerous decisions have to be made as to how to classify information, how to represent it through the choice of category labels, who may access it and how. Sometimes this can be resolved locally or at the organisation level; in other cases resort will be made to an established standard or system of classification outside the organisation. The latter may include public computer standards or de facto standards embedded in widely established software systems. In many domains of administrative and professional life there is a tendency to create systems that classify information in a standard way. However, in the process of moving information from its local origin to a standardised classification, the local meaning and organisation of information underpinning existing current work practices may be sacrificed. If such changes are not managed appropriately, the consequences are likely to be disruptive and present a significant threat to the dependability of information systems, the information presented and the decisions based thereon - with important potential consequences for the activities of the organisation.
Our work analyses on the responses of users and of the project team to the problems of working with and evolving a classification of work procedures that is central to the organisational purpose of the new system. Our aim is to reflect on the methodological implications of needing to address such problems. We review related literature on classification as a socio-technical process. A case study outlines how we are working with the Trust to help devise better mechanisms for managing the evolution of a PiMS (Patient Information Management System). Our findings point out the implications for methodologies for IT systems design and evolution. The detailed focus upon the design, implementation and use of information systems allows us to consider various opportunities that may exist whether in terms of improved change management procedures or computer-based tools - to deploy computer-based systems in a more effective and more dependable manner.
 Stuart Anderson, Gillian Hardstone, Rob Procter and Robin Williams. Down in the (Data)base(ment): Supporting Configuration in Organisational Information Systems. In Ackerman, M., Erickson, T. and Halverson, C. (Eds.) Evolving Information Artefacts, Kluwer.
 Gillian Hardstone, Luciana D'Adderio and Robin Williams. Standardization, Trust and Dependability. In Karen Clarke, Gillian Hardstone, Mark Rouncefield and Ian Sommerville (eds), Trust in Technology: A Socio-Technical Perspective.
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