Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Reducing Perceptual Differences in End Users: Potential and Possibilities for Continuing Training Programs

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

Reducing Perceptual Differences in End Users: Potential and Possibilities for Continuing Training Programs

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Perceptions of two groups of end users were compared on importance of and satisfaction with support services provided by information technology (IT) personnel Importance ratings of one group of users were significantly higher than the other group. Surprisingly, satisfaction ratings were virtually identical. In prior research, users who placed higher importance on IT support were less satisfied than the comparison group when those expectations were not met. Establishment of continuous training programs for endusers is encouraged to reduce perceptual differences, improve end user satisfaction, job satisfaction for IT personnel, and meet organizational requirements.

INTRODUCTION

This research compares the perceptions of different groups of end users on two dimensions of information technology (IT) support.1 One dimension is the level of importance of certain features (response time, follow through, etc.) associated with IT support. The second dimension is the users' reported level of satisfaction associated with these IT support features. If a particular feature is very important to the user it is expected that such user will not be satisfied unless his or her expectations are met.

Various aspects of end user satisfaction have been studied in prior research.2 However, these issues continue to be important to researchers and to organizations. Indeed, Lee, Kim and Lee (1995) call for increased research into the personal and organizational impact of end user computing in an organizational context because of the use of end user computing as a "competitive weapon." To achieve competitive advantage organizations must ensure that IT support helps end users maximize use of information technology. The first step in designing effective IT support is to obtain an understanding of what end users believe are important services. Focusing resources on these IT support features can improve efficiency and satisfaction among end users. If IT support is able to meet end user needs in the initial contact, waiting time and callbacks can be reduced or eliminated.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that all users have identical perceptions of IT support. Even within one organization, users are rarely homogeneous - they have different skills, use different software and hardware, and may have different expectations of what computers should be able to do. Shaw, Parti dge and Ang (2003) referred to these differences as the user's technological frame of reference. They found that users reporting overall satisfaction with IT support were self-directed learners, viewed the computer's role as a "task completer" and typically used more complex applications. On the other hand, dissatisfied users were not self-directed learners, viewed the computer's role as a "task enhancer," and usually worked with less complex applications.

In the Shaw et al. (2003) study, IT personnel preferred to solve non-routine problems, displaying "little patience" with repetitive requests, and responding more readily to technical issue requests. This would imply that IT personnel are more responsive to users who use more complex applications and are more technologically sophisticated. Working with such users may provide greater professional job satisfaction for IT staff; however, it probably does not adequately address the overall needs ofthe organization.

To address the gap between individual and organizational needs, a separate function of IT support could be created to provide continuous training for users. In most organizations the skills and knowledge of users varies widely depending on the education, training and job function ofthe users. Improving the technological competency of all users could reduce the need for routine requests, allowing IT support personnel to focus on the more complex issues. This would improve end user satisfaction with IT support, job satisfaction for IT personnel, as well as benefit the organization. …

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