Month: May 2013

Great new IT systems (not) Part 2

As editor of an international journal I have to manage submitted papers, authors, reviewers, reviews, editorial decisions, final materials and publication schedules. Doing this manually is very tedious so I was pleased when the publisher announced a new on-line submission system to help with these tasks. Unfortunately, it is a very poor system. As a reflection on the process of project management, and what can go wrong, I believe the following issues are the most problematic:

1. Not involving the appropriate stakeholders early in the project.

2. Not making it clear on deployment if the system was intended as a beta test version or a full release.

3. Not providing a clear process or contact person for reporting bugs.

4. Not responding to bug reports

5. Creating a system around a rigid business process as seen from the management perspective (from some theory about how journals work rather than actual experience)

6. Not testing that outputs are correct (for example an old version of a paper appears as the current version in some cases)

7. Sending messages from the system using a generic source address so messages sent from the system disappear into spam folders and are never seen again.

Like many systems, this one works partially, and can be used with a few workarounds that bypass its more bizarre features, but it is a shame that a system that could have been so useful is more often than not a  source of frustration.