Best account I've read of exactly how a brave new all-signing, all-dancing new computer system can prove both a blessing and a curse. This is by a doctor, user/victim of a big new a system recently implemented in his healthcare group in the USA. At one and the same time, the system both saves users lots of time and consumes lots of their time, enables them to do so much more and makes it impossible to do their job properly, saves money and costs money.
It is particularly good on the work-arounds that users evolve in self-defence and how these may work, or make things worse. (In this case, a supposedly labour-saving computer system ends up causing each doctor to hire an assistant to use it – but it still probably a net benefit, even though some of the benefits are impossible to access, because of unintended side effects.)
To his credit, this is not a standard oh-god-what-idiot-designed-this! rant: it is more intelligent than that, conceding that it was right to change the status quo, and open to the idea that (some of) the nuisance he experiences might have been be necessary, even beneficial. This is a more helpful way to think about the benefits and disbenefits of computer projects than condemning systems as 'failures' for not having exactly the benefits that were promised.
And, maybe, not just computers.
I was formerly Finance Director of the Prison Service and then Director of the National Offender Management Service responsible for competition. I also worked in the NHS and an IT company. I later worked for two outsourcing companies.
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