The Electronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation provides critical perspectives on topics relevant to Information Systems Evaluation, with an emphasis on the organisational and management implications
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Journal Article

A Guideline for Virtual Team Managers: the Key to Effective Social Interaction and Communication  pp109-118

Lara Schlenkrich, Christopher Upfold

© Jan 2009 Volume 12 Issue 1, ECIME 2008, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp1 - 118

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Abstract

Globalisation has had an enormous impact on the manner in which teams operate. Traditional teams have been forced to adapt to their constantly changing environment in order to compete effectively with other business. A vast number of IT professionals work in teams, which are characterised by distribution and diversity. It is the presence of virtual characteristics that may result in numerous social problems which can negatively impact team communication and productivity, demanding more effective team management. There is much potential for conflict in virtual teams as members work across cultural, geographical and time‑bound environments. This conflict leads to ineffective communication and as soon as team members stop communicating effectively, barriers begin to form between them, which, leads to a decrease in productivity and interaction. Conflict resolution, and the extent to which it undermines performance, depends heavily on the conflict resolution approach. This qualitative research is conducted by means of a literature review only, in which several managerial models available to virtual team managers are critically analysed and combined into a proposed theoretical model of general managerial guidelines for virtual team managers. Both current and proposed models discussed within this paper should be viewed within the limitations of this research i.e., the proposed model remains untested and should be viewed as a hypothesis for future research. This research distinguishes virtual teams from traditional teams by defining characteristics that are common to virtual teams. These characteristics are: physical dispersion, crossing time boundaries, dependence on communication technologies, crossing functional boundaries, diversity, unstable team structure, non‑routine as well as interrelated tasks. The research argues that teams are neither entirely traditional (local) nor entirely Global but may be placed on a continuum of virtuality according to the virtual characteristics the team possesses. The theoretical model proposed by this research: Proposed Managerial Strategies, is intended to help IT managers overcome conflict and consequent social problems within virtual teams, which may otherwise lead to ineffective communication. The model provides managers with guidelines and strategies which may be implemented to enable effective social interaction and prevent future problems.

 

Keywords: virtual teams, globalisation, communication, distributed teams

 

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Journal Article

Changing the Communication Culture of Distributed Teams ina World Where Communication is Neither Perfect nor Complete  pp187-196

Peter Weimann, Christian Hinz, Else Scott, Michael Pollock

© Oct 2010 Volume 13 Issue 2, ICIME 2010, Editor: Shaun Pather and Corrie Uys, pp97 - 196

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Abstract

Distributed teams have been set up to work together across space, time and even organisational boundaries over the last few years, to increase the availability of scarce skills, reduce travel costs, and increase worker job satisfaction through fewer relocations. This has been due to globalisation, shorter development cycles and scarce human expert resources placing additional pressure onto project teams. Technological developments, such as various communication technologies, have helped to support this move to distributed teams. These communication technologies, including phone and video conferencing, mobile technologies and the Internet, help team members handle project tasks in a distributed or virtual team project environment. This case study based paper provides an analysis of the communication culture and tools of the distributed teams of a large German manufacturer. The communication behaviours and tools used by these real distributed teams working together in different settings on international projects are analysed. The advantages and disadvantages of the distributed work setting and the different technologies used by the teams were gathered via a questionnaire and interviews with the leader and members of the different teams. The findings show that regular face‑to‑face meetings, email and phone still play a pivotal role in team communications, even though a variety of communication tools is available. The results also indicate that, like non‑distributed teams, a need for common ground and shared meaning, or social context, are essential elements for the communications within a distributed team. Face‑to‑face meetings are still important to create a common ground and shared meaning in distributed teams. The complexity of the tasks needed to be performed by the distributed team is also affected by this social context. Team members often complain about misuse of the different tools, as well as a lack of communication rules regarding the different communication tools. The case study shows that team member satisfaction and team success can only be accomplished if the communication culture in the company takes into account the technologies used and the distributed work setting.

 

Keywords: communications culture, virtual teams, communication technology, communication pattern, change management

 

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Journal Article

The Dilution of Effort in Self‑Evaluating Development Teams: Agile Loafing  pp175-186

John McAvoy, Tom Butler

© Feb 2010 Volume 12 Issue 2, Editor: Shaun Pather, pp129 - 198

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Abstract

Attempts to resolve the problems in software development have concentrated on the tools and methodologies used, despite an acceptance by many that it is a sociological problem. An example of this is the procedures and processes surrounding evaluations within projects, yet ultimately it depends on individuals more than process. This paper examines one of the sociological factors inherent in a software development team to determine its impact on evaluation within a project. Social loafing occurs where individual members of a team demonstrate a tendency not to work as hard as they could or should. This "slacking off" occurs because the team provides a degree of anonymity – the individual feels their lack of work will be hidden from evaluation within the overall output of the team. Some authors purport that Agile Software development teams have low incidences of social loafing (though these are opinions rather than research findings); the contrary can also be argued. An examination of the philosophy behind Agile Software Development, demonstrated by the Agile Manifesto, highlighted the possibility of occurrences of social loafing brought about by the Agile values. Agile espouses the importance of cohesive teams, the empowerment of these teams, and the collective ownership and self‑ evaluation of work by the team. These values map onto factors which are described as affecting social loafing. An investigation of two teams over an eight month period examined if the Agile values could lead to incidences of social loafing, specifically when their work is being evaluated The investigation determined that the opposite was actually the case. This paper then goes on to determine why the findings go against the initial hypothesis and to show the impact this can have on those evaluating software development projects.

 

Keywords: teams, agile software development, social loafing, self-evaluation, participant observation, sociological factors

 

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Journal Article

Sources of Interruptions Experienced During a Scrum Sprint  pp3-18

Maureen Tanner, Angela Mackinnon

© Jul 2015 Volume 18 Issue 1, Editor: Shaun Pather, pp1 - 92

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Abstract

Abstract: Scrum, a form of agile project management methodology, comes with many benefits derived from the iterative form of software development. Various organisations within South Africa have implemented Scrum within their development teams and are fast receiving positive benefits from it. While Scrum, in many aspects of the methodology, is highly effective and successful within different organisations, there are always going to be pitfalls and negative attributes associated with the adoption and use of a new methodology. The purpose of this research is to determine the factors leading to interruptions in the middle of a sprint while using Scrum. Case studies were conducted which included 3 companies in Johannesburg and Cape Town that have implemented S crum. In particular, data was collected through the following methods: 12 face‑to‑face, one‑on‑one interviews with participating Scrum team members; and 1 group discussion with 8 participating Scrum team members. After analysis, five theoretical statemen ts were formulated pertaining to: poorly understood and defined objectives from clients, managements lack of understanding of Scrum processes, high workload, ad‑hoc requests mid‑sprint, and low interdepartmental communication. Results from this study rev eal the need to conduct possible future research on: ways to prevent these forms of sprint interruption from having negative effects on the Scrum team and the project; and the effect that these interruptions have on the relevant stakeholders involved. The results of the study thus provide managers with the opportunity to take a deeper look into the sources of their Scrum problems and provide them with an understanding as to how they may prevent these interruptions from causing long term, negative effects on the project and the team.

 

Keywords: Keywords: Scrum, Sprint, Sources of Interruptions, agile software development, Scrum Teams

 

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Journal Article

Investigating the Characteristics Needed by Scrum Team Members to Successfully Transfer Tacit Knowledge During Agile Software Projects  pp36-54

Deon Takpuie, Maureen Tanner

© Mar 2016 Volume 19 Issue 1, Editor: Shaun Pather, pp1 - 82

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Abstract

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to propose a theoretical model describing what makes Scrum team members successful at transferring knowledge. Twelve semi‑structured interviews were conducted at two Scrum companies in Cape Town, South Africa. Partic ipants interviewed ranged from project managers and Scrum masters to software developers, business analyst and testers. The interviews were all transcribed, then analysed using thematic analysis. Past studies have already identified factors (i.e. charact eristics that enable people to transfer knowledge) that are known to impact knowledge transfer. This study further extends the body of knowledge by revealing how these existing factors are interrelated while impacting knowledge transfer. In addition, new factors (i.e. empathy and articulation skills of the source) are proposed, which were found to further impact knowledge transfer in Scrum teams. The results have shown that recipients perceive team members who are able to successfully transfer knowledg e as having the following characteristics: motivation, capability, credibility, empathy, articulate and ability to communicate enough. The contribution of this study to practice is a list of team member characteristics, that HR managers could foster throu gh appropriate training, to help improve the knowledge transfer within Scrum teams. This paper offers new contributions and a theoretical model to the under researched area of knowledge transfer within Scrum teams.

 

Keywords: Keywords: Agile software development, scrum, motivation, tacit knowledge, knowledge transfer, teams

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 13 Issue 2, ICIME 2010 / Oct 2010  pp97‑196

Editor: Shaun Pather, Corrie Uys

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Editorial

We have pleasure in presenting this special issue of EJISE.  As Information and Communications Technologies and the related Information Systems become ever more pervasive across all spheres of business, government and community based organizations, the scope of this journal has flexed to accommodate these varied settings in which pertinent research problems are located.   Consequently, in this special issue wide‑ranging problems related to the broad ambit of IS evaluation is reported on: 

As many countries continue to develop policies to enhance and sustain the growth of the SME sector, so too does the expenditure and consumption of IT amongst this category of business grow at an ever increasing rate thus warranting the attention of evaluation research. Avraam Papastathopoulos and Christina Beneki investigate an important concern with regards to the factors which are associated with the benefits from the adoption of ICTs amongst SMEs. In a study of the Greek SME sector the paper provides evidence that strategy plays a major role in the adoption and the appropriate use of ICTs.  Importantly their research also finds that prior entrepreneurial experience‑knowledge of ICT is significantly associated with the ICT performance. 

RFID technologies are increasingly used in a number of organisational settings for inventory control and management. Paul Golding and Vanesa Tennant contribute to our understanding of evaluation by proposing a methodology to evaluate the RFID inventory reader in a library.  Whilst the findings of this paper hone in on the application of RFID in a specific environment, the findings provide a basis for which evaluation of RFID in other similar contexts can take place, and thus adds to the conceptual base on RFID performance testing.

Notwithstanding many years of case studies and an increasing body of literature on ERP implementation and evaluation thereof questions continue to arise in respect of successful outcomes.  Brian O’Donovan and his co‑authors argue that during the ERP usage stage the intended efficiencies from ERP systems are not always realised. Having studied organisational memory mismatches and the resultant coping strategies their research posits that mismatches and short‑term coping strategies were found to contribute to ERP underperformance. 

In their paper Peter Weimann and co authors investigate the role of communications culture in a distributed team environment.  In assessing the role of ICTs in such an environment the paper argues that team member satisfaction and team success can only be accomplished if the communication culture in the company takes into account the technologies used and the distributed work setting. 

From amongst the various IS evaluation approaches, those apporaches which focus on the role of human stakeholders  are  worthy of a deeper understanding. Jeffrey Bagraim examines the multiple commitments of information technology knowledge workers and the related outcomes of such commitment. The results of his study challenges managers to review their assumptions about the organizational commitments of information technology knowledge workers.

Web 2.0 applications also receive attention in this issue.  Hooper and Evans investigate the value congruence of social networking services in New Zealand, and make an assessment of ethical information handling.  Their findings demonstrate significant shortcomings in the contractual relationships between the users and social networking services and they argue that this could be exploited in order to misuse personally identifiable data.

The paper by Racheal Lindsay and co‑authors discusses measures which are used to monitor data quality in the context of mobile devices in the UK police force.  Their findings show that whilst there are processes in place to verify data standards, these processes only take into consideration the structural completeness of data, and not other measurements of data quality, such as accuracy, timeliness, relevance, understandability and consistency.

Robbert in't Hout and coauthors studied how a wiki could be used to improve knowledge sharing.  The paper reports on a case study in which a consulting company was able to improve knowledge sharing amongst consultants during the devleopment of a Municipal Traffic and Transport Plan.  The findings  suggest that wikis need to be tuned to the learning styles that are available within the community that will use the tool.  In the context of knowledge sharing impolrtant lessons for wiki design are offered.

Finally, in a study of e‑government adoption, Rangarirai Matavire and co‑authors report on factors which inhibit the successful implementation of e‑government in South Africa. The findings of their research demonstrate that leadership, project fragmentation, perceived value of Information Technology, citizen inclusion and task co‑ordination are among the key inhibitors of e‑government success.

Shaun Pather and Corrie Uys

South Africa, October 2010

 

Keywords: affective commitment, boosting behaviour, communication culture, communication pattern, communication technology, data quality, e-Government, enterprise systems, entrepreneurial experience, ERP customising, ERP systems, ERP training, ERP usage, evaluation, grounded theory, helping behaviour, ICT-adoption, ICT-performance, ICT-strategy, interface design , knowledge management , law enforcement, library, mobile working, Municipal Traffic and Transport Planning, New Zealand Privacy Act 1993, ordinal regression, organisational memory, performance , personal security, personally identifiable information, privacy policies, RFID, social networking services , social software, South Africa, turnover intentions, value congruence, virtual teams, Wiki

 

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