An interpretive field study of packaged software selection processes
Packaged software is pre-built with the intention of licensing it to users in domestic settings and work organisations. This thesis focuses upon the work organisation where packaged software has been characterised as one of the latest ‘solutions’ to the problems of information systems. The study investigates the packaged software selection process that has, to date, been largely viewed as objective and rational. In contrast, this interpretive study is based on a 2½ year long field study of organisational experiences with packaged software selection at T.Co, a consultancy organisation based in the United Kingdom. Emerging from the iterative process of case study and action research is an alternative theory of packaged software selection. The research argues that packaged software selection is far from the rationalistic and linear process that previous studies suggest. Instead, the study finds that aspects of the traditional process of selection incorporating the activities of gathering requirements, evaluation and selection based on ‘best fit’ may or may not take place. Furthermore, even where these aspects occur they may not have equal weight or impact upon implementation and usage as may be expected. This is due to the influence of those multiple realities which originate from the organisational and market environments within which packages are created, selected and used, the lack of homogeneity in organisational contexts and the variously interpreted characteristics of the package in question.