User Involvement – Definition

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Doll and Torkzadeh (1990) defined user involvement as the participation of users in a number of activities related to developing process of information system. In their own research, Barki and Hartwick (1989) attempted to distinguish between user involvement and user participation due to some different characteristics. User participation tends to be more correct rather than user involvement in case behaviours or activities performed in the developing process of information system are indicated. User involvement aims to imply the psychological conditions of an user and some compatible features in a relationship between an user and the system.
User Involvement – Critical Factor in Information System Development
First of all, there are only few system developers who have been responsible for addressing problems of the system and finding solutions for them from the beginning. As a consequence, other developers could not handle the system problems effectively. It is likely that the most effective answer should include communication with the system users. As stated by Beyer and Holtzblatt (1995), users are objectives who have experienced some direct interaction with the system for usage purpose so that they tend to achieve an adequate amount of deep understanding of both satisfied and dissatisfied features. Thus, information and feedbacks provided by users prove remarkably valuable to system developers in analysing the system requirements. If a continuously interactive channel between users and developers is set up, there would be more possibility for developers to improve the system.
In addition, based on secondary data collected from users involvement, system developers might evaluate users’ requirements so that they could synthesize data into a less complicated methodology. As a result, the system could be developed into an easier direction in order to minimise steps of the improvement process.
Another critical point of user involvement is that developers could be given a variety of decent details of users’ difficulties and working habits in using the initial models of the system. As analysed by Sun (2013), it proves not easy for users to utilize the system since the system is designed and developed from the concepts and ideas of developers. In other words, the system is created from the thought and mind of developers instead of users’ needs; therefore, apart from developers, no users could find it easy to handle the system. By involving users data in developing system, needs and habits features of users would be discovered early; thereby, conflicts between users and developers in handling the system might possibly be reduced gradually till nearly the most satisfied degree for both sides. More important, during the process of involving users in developing the information system, developers also have a chance to understand the communication language used by users. Users who are regarded as experienced people in their system environment tend to use their own kinds of language whereas developers who are considered as experts in their system environment also tend to use their different language. The conflicts in language would cause conflicts in handling and developing system. It is the convergence between users and developers that would enable developers to approach users’ language. By that way, the efficiency and effectiveness in developing system would increase so much.
User Involvement – Phases
User involvement tend to happen in three phases of the information system development, including initial study, analysis, design and implementation phases, and maintenance phases, as stressed by Avison and Fitzgerald (2003). During the initial study phase, users’ opinions of system problems should be interpreted into systematic language to specify key conflicts. The analysis phase is responsible for synthesizing key conflicts from main users with technical background to develop the system into a less complicated and more comprehensible model. In the design phase, user involvement would make the system language balance between technical and simple purposes. During the two final phases, users’ tests on the newly created system would enable developers to fix bugs.

- Avison, D. E. & Fitzgerald, G. (2003). Information systems development: Methodologies, techniques and tools. 3rd Ed. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.
- Barki, H. & Hartwick, J. (1989). Rethinking the concept of user involvement. MIS Quarterly, pp.53-63.
- Beyer, H.R. & Holtzblatt, K. (1995). Apprenticing with the customer. Communication of the ACM. Vol.6, pp-45-52.
- Doll, W., & Torkzadeh, G. (1990). The measurement of end user software involvement. Omega, Vol.18, No.4, pp.399-406.
- Sun, Z. (2013). User Involvement in System Development Process. Paris: Atlantis Press.

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