Gary C. David 1, Susan Newell 2
  • 1 Bentley University, 175 Forest str., Waltham, Massachusetts, 02452, USA
  • 2 University of Sussex, Sussex House, Falmer Brighton, BN1 9RH, United Kingdom

Practices, Processes, and Systems Design: Why Consultants Need to be “Everyday Ethnographers”

2016, vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 9–33 [issue contents]
Enterprise systems (ES) are intended to tie together the various functions of an organization through the integration of information flows, data management, organizational processes, and workplace activities. Compared to legacy systems, which can be siloed in disparate parts of the organization, enterprise systems are meant to be used across the entire ’enterprise’. The biggest benefits of these systems include businesses achieving greater standardization of work, data management, and having an information system that makes for better decision making and greater responsiveness to changing conditions. As they constitute a fundamental shift in how work is done, ES can be inherently disruptive as the technological landscape of an organization is transformed through the installation of a new information system. This also makes them prone to failure, as the installation of the system is often met with large delays, user resistance, and a failure to integrate with existing work practices. In this paper, we contrast reengineering approaches (i.e. the restructure of work) with implementations in which the technology is fitted more to existing work practices, to achieve more incremental and less disruptive change. We argue that while consultants strongly promote a reengineering-led ES implementation, their adopted methodology for understanding existing business processes is such that they are able to grasp only an idealized view of these processes, often very different from actual practice in any specific context. We propose instead that consultants adopt a practice-based, ethno-methodological approach, essentially becoming everyday ethnographers, who can better inform these business, organizational, and managerial decisions.
Citation: David G., Newell S. (2016) Praktiki, protsessy i sistemnoe proektirovanie: pochemu konsul'tanty dolzhny byt' «etnografami povsednevnosti» [Practices, Processes, and Systems Design: Why Consultants Need to be “Everyday Ethnographers”]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 15, no 1, pp. 9-33 (in Russian). DOI: 10.17323/1728-192X-2016-1-9-33.
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