CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

Paper Report

Title: Ethonographic Work Flow Analysis : Specifications for Design
Authors: Danielle Fafchamps
Citation: Reprinted from Human Aspects of Computing : Design and Use of Interactive Systems and Work with Terminals, pp709-715
Reprinted in: Baecker, R.M., Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work 1993, pp. 218-221

The primary concern of this article is to create a mini-conceptual framework and techniques for data collection by employing ethnographic workflow analysis. This analysis is primarily a technique for studying information related behavior in a work place. This article is an effort at aiding manufacturers of "off the shelf software" by bringing the users' voice into the design process without interrupting their activities.

The conceptual framework consisted of the following components - a professional environment sharing a common professional goal; contexts of work which are structured practices that may be labeled; events which are the building blocks of work contexts and patterns for characterization of work practices. Since, these designers are faced with an inherent disadvantage in the reluctance of users to partcipate in the design process (because of lack of incentive for them), it is imperative that they find out what the users do and what they need.

The data collection step in this procedure involved the use of techniques like thinking aloud, guided tour, structured observations, written artifacts and focused interviews. Analysis was carried out using the following schemes - breakdowns which are actual or foreseen problematic situations; actions which are information related behavior; comments on objects, procedures, entities, others and self; descriptions that include statements on the information infrastructure of the clinic which was the where the data was gathered from.

The design specifications included a Patient Status Display for readily esta- blishing a patient context forthe physician and a Patient Details Display from where the physician gets more patient-specific information. In this respect the system works as some kind of an expert system advising the physician what needs to be done based on previous experience. The group work in this scheme is when there is a new physician taking over on different days.

Report prepared by: Thottikalai Rajavelu Email: rajavelu@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: February 07, 1997            Report date: February 10, 1997