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Custom essays: Groupware

Currently informational technologies and telecommunications are changing the face of business: working processes get more intense, more connections with partners and customers evolve and companies end up having a large flow of information. Thus, sooner or later most companies come to the necessity of implementing groupware and automating routine functions. There are numerous groupware packages offering a variety of functions such as document management, enhanced collaboration processes, tracking documents, merging and storage of different document versions, special features such as digital threading and digital signatures etc (Miller, 2005). The selection of groupware should naturally be based on the functionality that the particular business needs.
However, it is not easy to select and implement a groupware, since this process touches a lot of spheres and factors inside the company which might at first seem unrelated to technology at all (Hills, 2005). The purpose of this paper is to single out three key important things which a company should do before implementing and using groupware systems. After reviewing several articles related to groupware and its implementation, I was able to determine the following 3 sets of actions that a company should necessarily perform before actually purchasing and installing groupware packages.
First of all, the company should assess its internal culture and structure, and determine whether the organization is ready for collaboration and for using groupware facilities. The key driver of all organizational performance are people, not technology, and it is critical for successful use of groupware that employees should be ready to share information, delegate control over this information and accept the increased accessibility of documents. Often, for companies with a rigid structure and autocratic working culture groupware cannot be effectively used because of the approach to work and collaboration. Thus, the company should start from assessing whether its employees are ready for collaborative work (Hills, 2005), and if this is not true, first of all modify current corporate culture to be more open and flexible. This is a must for successful groupware usage.
Secondly, if the company’s personnel is ready to accept groupware, it is important to perform a thorough assessment of what is actually needed, what can be automated, and what benefits might be gained via implementing groupware (Miller, 2005). This might result even in restructuring business processes and changing the circulation of information within the company. Simple transfer of information would most probably be not effective. For example, a company that purchased Lotus Notes and simply copied its paper-based procedures into the system, eventually scrapped the application (Strom, n.d.). Thus, the organization should carefully study its business processes, determine what can be automated and identify new benefits of automation. After this reworking, it is reasonable to select several most appropriate groupware packages.
Finally, the company should clearly analyze what support is required for installing and maintaining chosen products (Strom, n.d.), and the amount of training needed for the employees to master the necessary functions. The choice should be directed by such factors as more user-friendly and understandable interface, easiness of customization and maintenance costs. It is common practice to hire external contractors for installing and maintaining the groupware, or to assign these functions to internal IT department, if it does not prevent them from their direct duties.
The above-mentioned three steps are essential for any organization that is about to select and implement a groupware package. Naturally, there exist more external and internal factors which might also impact the choice and functioning of groupware. However, it is necessary to note that two of these three key sets of action related to the employees and not to the technology itself. Thus, management should keep in mind that performance is shaped by people rather than by technology, and place the focus on people’s needs while implementing new groupware.

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