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Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH).
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Human-Computer Interaction and Assistive Technology Laboratory (HCI & AT Lab).
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Prof. Dr. Constantine Stephanidis.
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FORTUNE European Contact Report.

This publication is dealing with the report of Greece on experiences of user participation in R&D oriented work.

Introduction

In the context of the FORTUNE project a study was conducted in Greece by the Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research & Technology - Hellas (ICS-FORTH), to assess methods and experiences of end-user participation in R&D activities.

It appears that end-user participation in R&D is rather "extensive" in Greece, a finding characterised by the authors as somewhat surprising, as there are no specific organisational and economical frameworks followed. It also appears that there is a high level of availability of users, although this availability does not emerge on a permanent basis.

According to the study conducted, user participation is active in the following stages of the product development lifecycle: definition of project goal and boundaries, identification of applying restrictions, gathering of user requirements, product analysis, product design, development of working product, training of end-users, testing of the functionality, usage and safety of the product, and finally product evaluation.

User participation is considered more effective in early stages of the lifecycle, namely the project definition stage and the feasibility study phase, as well as during the testing phase at the end of the lifecycle, because this is when better adaptation to user needs and higher efficiency and effectiveness of the product are achieved.

According to the results of the study, end-users are not formally represented in standardisation bodies and are not directly participating in standardisation work. However, their requirements and recommendations for further standardisation work in specific areas are captured through their involvement in the different stages of the product's lifecycle.

The end-user participation in R&D in Greece depends on the specific needs of the R&D project or activity. Their participation is achieved either through their active involvement in a research group that undertakes the development of the particular project, or through their involvement in a working group which is occasionally set-up to provide support in specific stages of the project lifecycle. Depending on the type of involvement of end-users in R&D activities, a different economical procedure is followed. These procedures may concern permanent contracts between end-users and the specific organisation, partnership in the context of a particular project, or contracting end-users on part-time or hourly-basis.

It has become obvious from the study results that user involvement in R&D has been considerably enhanced / empowered through their active involvement as partners in European R&D projects, their representation in European and/or National User Fora and their participation in study groups that are formed to facilitate the evolution and development of new technology at a European level. There is also a trend at a National level to work out and define a systematic organisational framework for the participation of end-users in the different stages of R&D.

As a final remark, the study clearly points out that an effort is being made to follow a systematic process for user participation in R&D in Greece. User involvement in such activities is y promoted by the R&D project work funded by the European Commission, as well as by the current trends towards the adoption of user centred approaches to product development

PDF-Download of Greek Report (320KB).

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