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User involvement in e-government projects

Interact 05-workshop
: Folstad, A.; Krogstie, J.; Oppermann, R.; Svanaes, D.

Fulltext (PDF; )

Oslo: SINTEF, 2005, 74 pp.
Workshop on User Involvement in e-Government Development Projects <2005, Oslo>
ISBN: 82-14-03807-3
Reportnr.: SINTEF report STF90 A05110
Conference Proceedings, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer FIT ()
user participation; usability

e-Government may be defined as "the use of information and communication technology in public administrations combined with organizational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes and strengthen support to public policies" (eEurope 2005: An information society for all). e-Government IT development projects include IT-based service and system development in the public sector where the end-users either may be employed by the government or may be external users including citizens or private enterprises.
Three main questions were expressed • How should user involvement be conducted in e-Government projects?
• Are current methods for user requirements engineering and evaluation sufficiently suited to the characteristics of e-Government development? • What is the state-of-the-practice for user involvement in e-Government
projects today? The workshop is structured in four sessions. Sessions 1-3 are constituted
of paper presentations. Session 4 will be group discussions.
Session 1, "Strategies for user participation in e-Government development", includes three papers oriented towards how end-user participation may be integrated in e-Government projects on a strategic level. Oostveen and Besselaar describe the challenge of conducting user involvement in large-scale e-Government projects with existing methods and offer an analysis of factors specific for e-Government projects to include users as employees and as citizens on all hierarchical levels. Experiences with combining participatory design and technology assessment in two large-scale projects are presented. Oppermann provides background on methods of user participation and discusses user participation and supporting expertise in ergonomics as a combined strategy for e-Government development. He concludes that adaptivity and end user development complements the possibility for the user to identify and articulate own requirements before or during design and implementation, as well as provide a means for user participation throughout the system life cycle.
Følstad argues that e-Government project leaders of today are well aware of the importance of user involvement. However, in order for the methodological toolbox of Human-Computer Interaction to be used in e-Government projects HCI experts need to explicate the importance of utilizing user-involvement methods particularly suited to the software development process. With their combined coverage of participatory design and HCI approaches to e-Government development as well as discussions of methodological consequences of the strategic approaches to user participation the three papers of the first session should provide an interesting backdrop for the remainder of the workshop.
The papers of Session 2, "Stakeholders in e-Government projects", are oriented towards the stakeholder level of user involvement, rather than the level of end-users. The concept of stakeholders may include government bodies and decision makers as well as organizational units and professional groups. Mansour, Karabey and Amaldi argue for the importance of taking a stakeholder perspective on systems development. Their argument is well grounded in the case of redevelopment of the National Health Services where important socio-technical issues has been overlooked due to a "hard" approach to engineering requirements, rather than a "soft" stakeholder-oriented approach. Stefanova, Kabakchieva and Borthwick present a case of participation of different national and EU-levels of government in a concrete e-Government project on identity management architecture. A critical element in this project is the engagement of EU governments in order to stimulate political consensus and support and the authors present the project's government engagement strategy which constitutes a way to conduct stakeholder-involvement at an international government level. The final paper in the second session is written by Risan who presents a case of e-Government development where an incremental approach to system development has enabled the development project to navigate between powerful stakeholders. The case is the development of a trial version of an electronic mail journal where the involvement of only a few stakeholders and a limitation of scope of the service have made it possible for the journal to evolve to become an institution. All three papers of the second session present interesting cases of e-Government development. In addition they serve to broaden the scope of user involvement to include also the level of stakeholders. Session 3, "Methodological approaches to user-centred e-Government development", includes four papers directly oriented towards particular ethodological approaches to user-centred development of e-Government development. Inglesant and Sasse present the challenge of developing increasingly ubiquitous e-Government services for large numbers of heterogeneous users. A case study of information systems in transport is presented, and a situated design approach is presented as a possible methodological approach to go beyond the mere support of static usability knowledge. Holmlid presents service design methods as a supplement to user-centred design practice in e-Government development projects. The service design approach and methods are illustrated through a case of government public relations. The two last papers to be presented at the workshop are both addressing the methodological challenge of bridging the gap between e-Government project owners and (external) software developers. Artman and Markensten points out that it is often assumed that user involvement is the responsibility of the developer organisation. However, for many e-Government projects the requirements and specification is developed before the developer organisation is included in the loop. The consequence is a gap in knowledge between the (often internal) project team involved in the specification phase and the (often external) project team involved in the development phase. Artman and Markensten explore personas and prototyping as a methodological vehicle for what they term "a procurement approach to user-centred design". Skjetne also addresses the gap in knowledge between the procurer or customer and the developer. Grounded in theory of boundary objects Skjetne explicates a number of characteristics of objects that may serve to bridge this gap. Prototypes are then discussed with regard to their adequacy as boundary objects. The methodological considerations of the papers in the final paper presentation session serve as a focusing and detailing of the issues dealt with in the two previous sessions.