The company known as â€˜Game On!â€™ runs up-market specialized deep-sea charter fishing trips for those anglers wanting to catch big game fish such as shark, tuna and swordfish. Customers are usually wealthy tourists but a few locals also go out. Each trip will use one boat with a skipper (captain) and a small team of 2 or 3 shipmates. The number of customers depends on the size of the boat but is usually between 4 and 8. Customers must pay in full in advance but get to keep all catches.
While the company has its headquarters in Costa Rica, they operate a globally-franchised business with operations around the world such as San Diego (California), Miami (Florida) or Perth (Australia). Each franchisee has their own local operation but reports back to company headquarters on a weekly basis all sales figures, financial data and operational issues. Periodically, the company founder â€“ Gary â€˜Big Gameâ€™ Gartner â€“ will fly out to inspect these franchise operations but otherwise they are largely self-sufficient. This business model has worked well for many years and the company is making good profits.
However, recently two major problems have appeared on the horizon:
The global economic turndown has hit the tourist industry hard â€“ especially the high-end, long-haul sector.
Attracted by historically high profits, new aggressive competitors are entering the market.
Gary is rightly concerned, as are his franchisees. Someone has to pay for all those expensive boats, offices and staff and any fall in revenue stream will hit the company hard. After some analysis, Gary and his senior management team have identified some strategic issues that must be addressed:
With so many remote franchise operations, sometimes with permanent staff and sometimes with temporary freelancers, managing the data (and the security of that data) is getting ever more difficult. Due to the nature of the locations and day-to-day business operations (often at sea), this will involve data on tablets, laptops or other mobile devices and so the company is finding it impossible to coordinate, compare, store, secure and analyse such disparate data. This highly distributed data model also makes it impossible to aggregate data centrally back at the Costa Rica HQ and then drill down into it to gain high-level strategic information â€“ to counter the two threats already outlined. There is no data management or business intelligence strategy.
* While the company has a small in-house IT team at the Costa Rica HQ, it tends to only manage the company website and local IT problems â€“ like installing packages or setting up printers at the HQ. It has no real contact with the franchisees around the world â€“ who tend to adopt local IT solutions for booking customers and running trips. There is no overarching IT strategy.
* Across the company there are various forms of IT application in use:
* Support applications: This includes payroll of HQ staff, franchisee payments, company accounting and various word processing/spreadsheet applications (done at Cost Rica HQ).
o Operational applications: This includes customer bookings, customer payment processing, boat maintenance, trip catering, staff rotas etc. (done locally at each franchise).
* Collaboration applications: With a global distributed franchise model, the need to communicate/collaborate is obviously vital â€“ but all they use now is email â€“ which can be unreliable. This is a major headache.
* The final problem for the company is not a technical or organizational one. It is a human one. With the need to gain a consolidated, highly-connected and overarching picture of all the data within the company that satisfies the demands of management, the company franchisees and high-paying clients, then high-quality IT staff will be needed â€“ well beyond current skill levels. The core IT staff will be based at the Costa Rica HQ but the close proximity to America means that the IT recruitment market is highly competitive. The company board â€“ particularly Gary â€“ is concerned about the budgetary impacts of having to source the required IT skills, where to find such talent and how to retain and develop it.
Taking on board the above case study and the associated issues and risks, address the following questions...
Question 1 (Staffing)
Advise Gary and his team on the types of IT skill sets likely to be required to satisfy the strategic aims of the company and, bearing in mind the financial implications of acquiring such skill sets, where to source such talent. Offer them at least two options. In your deliberations you should be mindful of recruitment and motivation issues and, something of particular concern to the board, the identification and development of leadership skills within the IT function.
Question 2 (Software)
Gary and his team are not IT specialists and are seeking your advice on what software options are available to satisfy their long-term aims. They specifically need guidance on:
ï‚· Options to unify & streamline their support functions (including franchisees)
ï‚· Options to unify & streamline their operational functions (inc. franchisees)
ï‚· Options to centrally aggregate data and thus extract strategic insights
ï‚· Options to optimize & secure the interface to their global franchisees
For each aspect you should clearly explain the strengths and weaknesses of each suggestion, whether that be technical, financial, logistical or otherwise.
Question 3 (Strategic Planning & Monitoring)
The development and implementation of the proposed unified IT solution, as the means to satisfying the companyâ€™s strategic aims, will necessitate the roll-out of a substantial project. Advise the board on:
ï‚· Who the key stakeholders will be and their various roles.
ï‚· How the budgetary aspects can be controlled and planned.
ï‚· What are the associated risks and how they can be managed.
ï‚· How a project manager may monitor progress of the IT roll-out.
Question 4 (IT Manager Role)
Explain to Gary the role of the IT Manager in the planning and execution of the IT roll-out and the subsequent management of the upgraded IT Department and new IT systems once that roll-out is successfully completed. You should comment upon the role ITIL will play in this process.