Discussion: Design Framework

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Discussion: Design Framework

Discussion: Design Framework

Work Design Framework As the place and time of work becomes less distinguishable from other aspects of people’s lives, the concept of “jobs” is changing and being replaced by the concept of work. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, a job meant a discrete task of a short duration with a clear beginning and end.11 By the mid‐20th century, the concept of job had evolved into an ongoing, often unending stream of meaningful activities that allowed the worker to fulfill a distinct role. More recently, organizations are moving away from organization structures built around particular jobs to a setting in which a person’s work is defined in terms of what needs to be done.12 In many organizations, it is no longer appropriate for people to establish their turfs and narrowly define their jobs to address only specific functions. Yet, as jobs “disappear,” IT can enable employees to better perform their roles in tomorrow’s workplace; that is, IT can help employees function and collaborate in accomplishing work that more broadly encompasses all the tasks that need to be done.

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In this chapter, a simple framework is used to assess how emerging technologies may affect work. As is suggested by the Information Systems Strategy Triangle (in Chapter 1), this framework links the organizational strategy with IS decisions. This framework is useful in designing characteristics of work by asking key questions and helping identify where IS can affect how the work is done.

Consider the following questions:

• What work will be performed? Understanding what tasks are needed to complete the process being done by the employee requires an assessment of specific desired outcomes, inputs, and transformation needed to turn inputs into outcomes. Many types of work are based upon recurring operations such as those found in manufacturing plants or service industries. The value chain helps in understanding the workflow for key tasks that are performed (i.e., purchasing, materials handling, manufacturing, customer service, repair). Increas- ingly, much work is done at a keyboard and involves managing knowledge, information, or data. Each type of work has a unique set of characteristics and tasks that needs to be supported by information technology.

• Who is going to do the work? Sometimes the work can be automated. However, if a person is going to do the work, who should that person be? What skills are needed? From what part of the organization should that person come? If a team is going to do the work, many of these same questions need to be asked. However, they are asked within the context of the team: Who should be on the team? What skills do the team members need? What parts of the organization need to be represented by the team? Will the team members be dispersed?

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