Sunday, 9 March 2008

The contribution of IT to Organizational Behaviour

Information technology influences the behavior of organizations. Name one effect of IT implementation and long-term usage you assume having a positive contribution and one having a negative consequence. Explain why you see them as such.

"Honey, I'm leaving for the psychic prison, see you tonight". Genius.

I work as an IT specialist within a local government organisation. Historically these
organisations have been considered poor when quantifying their performance in terms of
'Organisational Effectiveness'. "We live in a world in which the resources available to us
are not sufficient to meet all of our desires" (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). This statement
has never been truer in local government where a series of reports commissioned by
parliament are forcing organizations like mine to do more with less - at the moment my
workplace really is a system of change and transformation. The implementation of IT is
probably seen as the biggest factor in realising efficiencies - bigger than improving the
workforce, bigger than giving better service to customers.

The IT implementation that I see having a positive long term effect is CRM (Citizen
Relationship Management). Organisations like mine provide an incredibly wide range of
services - administration of housing benefit, environmental health, domestic and commercial
waste and social care are just four of hundreds. A computer-based CRM system allows the
council to join all these services together and means that the citizen only has to
communicate with the council once to engage with any or all of these services, rather than
having to deal with a number of discrete departments. The implementation has come as a
result of environmental pressure in terms of the needs of citizens - when they deal with a
private sector organisation such as a bank or telephone company they expect to communicate
with a single representative who can sort out all their queries. The same expectation comes
when dealing with the council, and the idea of a 'one stop shop' for services is being
embraced nationwide and backed up with an effective CRM system. Work is now being done on
creating 'one version of the truth' - in reality a single unified view of a customer which
combines all their interactions with different council departments. There is also a drive to
include georgraphic information in an effort to further improve customer service. This IT
implementation is definitely a long term investment.

An IT implementation with negative consequences has been the IT system used by Human
Resources to administrate workforce - related issues. I usually take a dim view of human
resources officers but having read the introduction to organisational behaviour I realise I
am falling making 'fundamental attribution error' and should look at organisational - based
reasons as to why I find them difficult to deal with. Certainly their IT system was forced
upon them with absolutely no consultation at ground level. It is difficult and unintuitve to
use making their organisational structure slow to respond. They don't get much support at
all - one IT specialist is available to help with their problems. Contrast this to CRM which
has as many as ten specialists available on the phone to answer all manner of queries (be
they to do with functionality, training, development or error handling). I know from talking
to some of the officers that the system stops them doing their job well because they know
that no matter how hard they work at a task the system will limit its overall effectiveness.
And management constantly talk about replacing it, but because the system is bolted onto the
payroll infrastructure its very hard to do so. This sort of 'will they, won't they' talk
saps morale to the extent where people quit their jobs which causes even more problems.

Huczynski, A & Buchanan, D (2007) Organizational Behaviour (6th Ed.) Harlow: Pearson
Education Ltd.

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