Change Management

Automated Tools for Change Management

Collaborative Work Tools

Collaborative work tools support group decision making and facilitate the development and historical maintenance of project decisions. Collaborative tools have developed out of research programs in group decision making at the Universities of Arizona and Minnesota in collaboration with IBM. Relatively primitive software of the 1980s for facilitating meetings has blossomed into a new industry for facilitating group work. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is a major contributor of new technology to this industry. 

The specific technologies involved range from the relatively familiar, like electronic mail, or e-mail, to the exotic, for instance, media space clear boards that change our concepts of being there (see Table 18-2). Many of the technologies are emerging, but the emergence is at such a rapid rate that by the new century we will routinely use many of these technologies at work, if not at our homes.

FIGURE 18-17 Variation Development

Media space technology allows several participants to sit on opposite sides of a clear glass board display that has electronics imbedded in it. The board can display computer images, text, and graphics as well as reflect hand-drawn notes and graphics of the meeting participants. The most effective use at the moment is between two people who both have clear access to the board. Clear boards allow people to see both the work and the co-worker, minimizing attention shift time. At the moment, the technology requires the people to be co-located, that is, in the same room; but the intention is to provide video conferencing capabilities using clear boards that are mirror images, thus simulating the face-to-face experience with the added electronic board interface. Thus, the user sees both the face of the other participant( s) and the contents of the board simultaneously. By removing the limitations of both time and geography our concept of being there is altered. By removing these limitations, clear board technology facilitates group work. This technology was developed, in this country, at Xerox PARC.

A different type of product provides a text-based communication environment that supports group passing of messages with storage of reader comments. Such a product, Notes provides an e-mail feature with the capability of user-built discussion forums and other data-sharing features. These products allow the development of decisions, history of the process, and easy sharing of information within and between work groups.

TABLE 18-2 Collaborative Work Tools

Tool Vendor Functions



Morristown, NJ

A video windowing system that allows the user to cruise offices visually and, perhaps, initiate a visit. Uses telephone and video technologies.


NeXT Computer

Mountain View, CA

Multiuser drawing program


Dept, of Computer Science University of Calgary

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Real-Time Conferencing Toolkit; requires Interviews Software, Unix running X-Windows


Lotus Development Corp.


E-mail, group bulletin board, data sharing

Oracle Mail, Alert, Toolkit, and Glue

Oracle Corp.

Redwood City, CA

E-mail, application development, and application programming interfaces for LANs


Farallon Computing, Inc. Berkeley, CA

Sharing of single-user software among several users

Video Whiteboard

ACM SIGCH1 Proceedings ’91, pp. 315-322

Wall-mounted whiteboard that portrays shadow of the other user


ACM SIGCHI Proceedings ’90, pp. 313-320

Multiuser drawing program

Windows for Workgroups

Microsoft, Inc.

Belleview, WA

LAN-based windows sharing