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Abstract

While the mechanisms of generification during implementation and use of large-scale systems are well known, this paper extends and analyzes the notion into the design phase of generic systems and provides insight into the associated socio-technical key mechanisms at play. The paper draws on the information infrastructure literature, and emphasizes how generic systems’ designs always face infrastructural challenges and opportunities in the development process. The paper illustrates how a vendor solved the infrastructural challenges by (to a large degree) lending on local practice, translating perspectives, and carefully adjusting their design strategy over time. We argue that our findings have implications for practice because they underscore the malleability of the collaboration process between vendor and users. First, we suggest that designing a generic system calls for a flexible vendor willing to change and adjust the development strategy along with the evolving project. Second, to strengthen the user-developer collaboration, we highly recommend giving the user-participants, at the very early stage of a development project, a basic understanding of software design, and raising their skills in making precise contextual narratives. Third, we emphasize the importance of the project management’s engagement in recruiting clinical personnel and in making it possible for the clinicians to participate in the project. Empirically, the paper presents the initial stages of a large electronic patient record (EPR) development project that has been running from 2012 in the North Norwegian health region and is due to finish in 2016.

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