A groupware design framework for loosely coupled workgroups
Loosely coupled workgroups – where workers are autonomous and weakly interdependent – are common in the real world. They have patterns of work and collaboration that distinguish them from other types of groups, and groupware systems that are designed to support loose coupling must address these differences. However, loosely coupled groups have not been studied in detail in CSCW, and the design process for these groups is currently underspecified. This forces designers to start from scratch each time they develop a system for loosely coupled groups, and they must approach new work settings with little information about how work practices are organized. In this paper, we present a design framework to improve the groupware design process for loosely coupled workgroups. The framework was developed to provide designers with a better understanding of how groupware systems can be designed to support loosely coupled work practices. It is based on information from CSCW and organizational research, and on real-world design experiences with one type of loosely coupled group— home care treatment teams. The framework was used to develop Mohoc, a groupware system for home care, and the system and underlying framework were evaluated during two field trials.