The application of groupware in the manufacturing industry
Groupware was developed to address the limitations of existing Information Technologies in facilitating an increased level of collaboration in todays' customer focused industries. These systems are a hybrid between a database, to organise and store previously unstructured knowledge, and an e-mail system, to disseminate this knowledge across entire organisations. Lotus Notes has become the recognised industry standard for a Groupware system, providing an application development platform on which can be built a company's knowledge infrastructure, and the research concentrates on this system. Groupware systems are not designed to replace existing technologies, rather supplement them by capturing the information outwith the structure that they impose, and there are many applications where the implementation of a Lotus Notes application is not feasible. A review of the literature revealed that there is a limited amount of guidance on what constitutes a suitable candidate for implementation. From an analysis of the functionality of the system, the research develops a detailed reference model of the ideal Lotus Notes application, in order to provide a method of rapidly assessing the suitability of a potential application to the implementation of Groupware. Three case studies are presented, utilising the reference model to identify suitable candidates and following the implementation of these through to a point where the results can be assessed, providing a level of validation for the developed model. The case studies provide the opportunity to highlight methods of overcoming the potential barriers to success, revealed by an audit against the reference model. This experience is collected together as design guidelines, cross-referenced against the reference model. The overall result being the production of a series of tools, and a methodology for their use, intended to facilitate the implementation of successful Groupware applications, maximising the benefit that an organisation can achieve from its investment in new technology.