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Asymmetrical collaboration in print shop-customer relationships

Jacki O'Neill, Tommaso Colombino, David Martin, Geoff Woolfe
The service provider-customer relationship, although not perhaps considered a typical collaborative relationship, is clearly collaborative work. However, such work is constrained by the very (service) nature of the relationship. Customer-service provider interaction can be characterised as interaction at the boundaries of organisations, each of which is likely to have their own workflows and orientations. Many service organisations attempt to facilitate this interaction by configuring their customers, using standardised forms or applications. In this way they bring the customers workflow into line with their own. In this paper we describe field work examining one particular service relationship; that between print shops and their customers. A notable feature of print shop-customer relationships is that customers prepare the material that the print shop then prints. This makes the standardization of workflows difficult, particularly within the service relationship. Technologies exist which aim to automate and standardize the workflow from customers to print shops. However, they have, up to now, largely failed to live up to their promise, leaving print shops to adopt ad hoc solutions. This paper describes the hidden work that the print shops do to make the service relationship work
The 10th European Conference on Computer Supported Co-operative Work, Limerick, Ireland, September 24-28, 2007.