Artefact as an Audit Trail

Vignette 1: Leisure Time Catering (Anderson, Hughes, & Sharrock)

Cooperative Arrangement

Small group of co-workers (17). Location within a site, some co-location at desks. Ability to oversee and overhear other peoples work. Focus on one type of artefact, invoices, how they are constituted and how they work their way round the office.

Representation of Activity

The activity is represented in the invoice. The paper processing path (or trackway, Star and Greismer, 1989) for invoices within a catering firm is encapsulated on those invoices. Different invoices have different routes round the office depending on whether, for example, they need to be approved by the chairman. At different parts of the process the invoices are stamped, initialled, signed, coded and so forth indicating a particular action has been carried out by a particular person on a particular date. This record allows a worker to see almost 'at-a-glance' the process that any given invoice has been through and serves as a reference to the context of decision making. During processing this, "stratified record of work", serves as a resource to quickly see what has been done, what needs to be done and what any problems might be. After processing it serves as an accountable record of having completed the work properly.

Ecological Arrangement

The two important aspects to capture about the ecology are the invoice itself and its movement round the office.

Coordination Techniques

Coordination is achieved with the invoice as a medium of coordination. Each worker in series carries out their required activity, for example a processing or signing task, amends the invoice respectively and then passes the invoice on to the next person in the process. The placement of the invoice in the in tray of the next worker signals the change in process stages. The information on the invoice should indicate what work has been done by who, when. The record also facilitates for the present holder of the invoice to communicate with the previous workers for clarification and so forth.

Community of Use

Inter-organisational group of workers in an accountancy department of a small catering company.