The evolving role of information specialists : change agents in process redesign
The research investigates the past, present and potential future role of Information Specialists (ISps) in process oriented companies. It tests the proposition that ISps in companies that have undertaken formal process reengineering exercises are likely to become more proactive and more business oriented (as opposed to technically oriented) than they had previously been when their organisations were organised along traditional, functional lines. A review of existing literature in the area of Business Process Reengineering and Information Management reveals a lack of consensus amongst researchers concerning the appropriate role for ISps during and after BPR. Opinion is divided as to whether IS professionals should reactively support BPR or whether IT/IS developments should be driving these initiatives. A questionnaire based ‘Descriptive Survey’ with 60 respondents is used as a first stage of primary data gathering. This is followed by follow-up interviews with 20 of the participating organisations to gather further information on their experiences. The final stage of data collection consists of further in-depth interview with four case study companies to provide an even richer picture of their experiences. The results of the questionnaire are analysed and displayed in the form of simple means, frequencies and bar graphs. The ‘NU-DIST’ computer based discourse analysis package was tried in relation to summarising the interview findings, but this proved cumbersome and a visual collation method is preferred. Overall, the researcher contends that the supposition outlined above is proven, and she concludes the research by suggesting the implications of these findings. In particular she offers a ‘Framework for Understanding and Action’ which is deemed to be relevant to both practitioners and future researchers.