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Otago Business School Research:
Software That Matters

Dr Stephen MacDonell - Otago Business School“The challenge for software programmers is understanding what goes on in the work place and how businesses can leverage that.”

Software development is an ever-increasing industry worldwide, yet not all software is able to reach its potential. Introducing new software technologies into a workplace only flourishes if users and developers both understand how to make it work.

The challenge for software programmers is therefore to understand what goes on in the work place and how businesses can leverage that, to benefit their clients. New systems that help embed the process through the maze of organisational hierarchies are vital for successful deployment.

A more contemporary model incorporates management and infrastructure beyond simply the “nuts and bolts” technical challenges, with a set of principles that capture user requirements. It understands that the success or failure of a piece of software has different perspectives for different cultures and business hierarchies – it is highly contextual.

What we’re doing

Information Science researcher Dr Stephen MacDonell is improving workplace productivity, using a systems approach to optimise software function, effectively bridging the gap between developer and user.

His current research is addressing the growing diversity of information ecosystems and the need to consider, model and understand such systems in new ways. The goal is to identify and document what tools and methods in use that are most effective, beyond a simple software training course.

His team have already worked with New Zealand’s software sector, health IT providers, the corporate sector and SME’s. They have been going into the workplace to follow the introduction of new systems and how they relate to outcomes. They then isolate where the problems are and track them, and identify the structures vital to achieving goals and outcomes.

The individual company benefits from this engagement as a result, but at the same time, models for software development and for handover processes are being refined. The outcomes benefit developers and users; better systems mean more positive results, providing value in both productivity and profitability.

The Information Science department runs seminar series for students, colleagues and industry, which has created relationships with business that allow students to address issues of interest. Information Science is keen to develop this interactive industry engagement further.

Contact Details

Dr Stephen MacDonell
Department of Information Science
Otago Business School
Tel. 03 479 8183
Email: stephen.macdonell@otago.ac.nz
Department of Information Science Staff Profile

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