Why user involvement?
Involving users in development and innovation has been a tradition for about thirty years within the information systems discipline especially in the Scandinavian countries. Today, almost all companies usually involve users to some extent in these processes. In Scandinavia, we are used to involve users for democracy reasons. This is founded upon the belief that users should be given the opportunity to have influence on changes in their contexts. This perspective has its background in participatory design and changes occurring in users, or employees, working conditions. Here the unions have strived to give employees the opportunity to participate in change processes and this tradition has continued to include users in voluntary contexts. Today, involving users is natural even though it might not always be easy to know how or when to involve them.
There are many benefits for involving users, some of them are:
- For democracy aspects, because it is ethically and morally right to give people the opportunity to have influence on change being implemented into their context.
- As experts of their context;
- Visions and difficulties are known and could be expressed by the users
- Needs (wishes, desires, solutions, strengths, experiences); why the users want something
- Processes, activities and structures are experienced by the user and needs to be considered in future situations
- Culture; the roles, norms and values that exists in the organisation
- Existing technologies that might need to be integrated into a future solution
- To create an interdisciplinary team
- Balance power relations between different roles and competencies
- More and better communication between competencies
- Knowledge sharing among those involved
- Develop users technical competence which leads to easier implementation of the future solution
- Expectation management; users get a sound understanding and expectation of what the future solution might offer and support
- Increase job satisfaction, commitment and system acceptance increases
- Owner-ship; when users are involved they also get a sense of owning of the future solution. This leads to less suspicion towards the product and high system
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von Hippel, E. 2001. Perspective: User Toolkit for Innovation. The Journal of Product Innovation Management 18:247-257.
von Hippel, E. 2005. Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Preece, J., Y. Rogers, and H. Sharp. 2002. Interaction Design: beyond human-computer interaction. New York: Wiley.
Magnusson, P. 2003. Customer-Oriented Product Development - Experiments involving users in service innovation. doctoral thesis, Stockholm: Economic Research Institute, Stockholm: School of Economics, Stockholm.
Schenkel, Teigland, and Borgatti 1999