Web Technology to Support Work Processes in Energy Policy Research - A Case Study with Energy Efficiency Standards
This paper focuses on a process to design and build a web-based system to assist staff in day-to-day management and contemporaneous documentation of their work. Other groups that want to use web technology to support their work could apply the approach presented here, but the design itself pertains to a particular set of issues in a unique context. Each user must apply the approach to identify their objectives and design a site to meet them. The main question that the Energy Efficiency Standards Group addressed was: "How can we facilitate documentation of interim results and final products while conducting a complex, interdependent set of analyses by multiple authors under time pressures for delivering a final product?" The approach to address this question includes categorization of the components of the work, discussions with staff, development of infrastructure support for documentation, implementation of the documentation process and integration with the workflow, and follow- up with staff. The search for a solution raised a number of issues such as the need for a thorough understanding of the work, consensus building by inclusion of key staff, and deliverable scheduling to allow for contemporaneous documentation. Documentation results vary among the product analyses, from extensive internal and external use to much slower adoption. Complaints include the length of the input forms and pressure from clients to deliver results. But with repeated demand for interim output, the need for thorough contemporaneous documentation still remains. Accordingly, as problems arise there is continued commitment among the staff to address them.