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Questioning the IT artefact: User practices that can, could, and cannot be supported in packaged-software designs

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Information Systems
Issue number5
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)542-554
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The purchase of packaged software has brought new opportunities and challenges to the development of information systems. An important question for packaged software consumers is how a software package will support, change or inhibit practices. To address this question, our paper focuses on the decisions made by a team developing four different software prototypes, with increasingly relaxed constraints on data content and structure. Each prototype significantly enlarged the number of health promotion planners that could be supported by the software. Consistent with the literature, the software designers balanced specificity (constraint) and generality (opening) in the software to incorporate a desire to serve a broad audience, and a need to be relevant to various sub-groups within this audience. Given a detailed knowledge of the software artefact, including the data content and structural choices made by designers, we hope to enable software consumers to question IT artefacts and their spokespeople, so they can make active and informed choices about software generality and specificity. We also suggest that this questioning process is shared across both customised and packaged software, and that the inscription of technology by designers may be either deterministic and detailed, or emergent and general. The implications for packaged software research and practice are considered.