My-Briefcase Limited (MBL) is a small manufacturer with 200 employees. It has been growing consistently due to the quality of its products, innovation and good customer service it has expanded continuously. It is based in an old mill near the centre of Bradford. It now manufactures 15 types of business briefcases.
Today, MBL has a number of centralized departments, namely: Accounting, Marketing, HRM, Engineering and Design, Sales, Purchasing and Warehousing, Manufacturing, Logistics and Despatch. It buys products from a variety of suppliers, such as producers of plastics, locks, leather, etc. MBL has contacts with a number of local, national and international retailers and wholesalers. Each of its department plays an essential role in selling its brief cases to a customer. For example, the purchase department orders raw materials, which are held as inventory in the warehouse. The warehouse then forwards them onto the manufacturing department to meet production orders.
Different departments handle different types of information and use basic systems; for example, the Accounts department is involved in handling purchase orders and paying for goods, whereas the marketing department collects information about the popularity of products and then advises the Engineering and Design Department to design particular types of brief cases. It also markets and advertises the products.
Recently, MBL’s Managing Director identified the need to use IS to enhance and gain greater business efficiency and effectiveness, primarily due to international competition. He has decided to create a new IS department. An initial priority of MBL is to acquire a new stock control system and an up-to-date integrated Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) system (software and hardware). This new CAD/CAM system will have implications for the organisation. It requires a robust and efficient data network that is able to simultaneously connect multiple systems throughout the organisation. The new proposed system would affect many categories of workers and stakeholders of the organisation in addition to its engineering and design staff (e.g., it may lead to redundancies in the workforce). MBL also wishes to use a shop floor data collection system to gather data concerning worker output, productivity, etc. and measures related to product quality and wastage, etc.
Due to the growth in MBL it as also identified the need for several additional IT systems across many of its departments. Different departments need different systems to address different levels and types of functionality. For example, IT systems required by senior management would normally support long term decision making regarding the overall progress and efficiency of the company. Additionally, these different systems need to interface and collaborate in order to increase the quality and quantity of information available to the different departments and the employees.
You have recently been employed in the new IS department of MBL as a Business Systems Analyst. You have been asked to produce a report on the role and acquisition of IS for Senior Management, Department Heads and line Management at MBL. In your report you are required to have a number of sections, and these are listed below:
- Management have expressed their desire to acquire new CAD/CAM system and you have been asked you to provide comparative analyses of what systems and hardware are available to purchase/lease and to provide a clear justification of the best option for MBL to adopt. You will need to provide details of the process you would follow to select the CAD/CAM system. This involves identifying the requirements of the CAD/CAM systems, identifying and evaluating potential suppliers, delivery, installation, training, etc. The process would also need to identify the criteria (e.g. speed, quality, flexibility, cost, etc.) you would use to select in acquiring such system that will be acceptable for company’s designers. CAD/CAM systems are one of a range of potential process technologies that MBL could employ. Process technologies have an impact on the operations of an organization in terms of the layout (fixed, variable, cellular, etc.) of the facility, product methods (job, batch, mass, etc.), flow of materials, etc. As part of your analysis you need to identify the impact of process technologies on these aspects of the organization, their advantages, disadvantages and if appropriate any mitigating strategies.
For this portion of the task you need to cover the following aspects:
- A list and description of different types of CAD/CAMsystems available together with any other process technologies required to support them.
- An analysis of impact on the organization from on operational perspective paying particular attention to the potential impacts on layout, processes, materials flows, types of operation, etc.
- The choice of IS acquisition process withrelevant justifications, taking into account the organisations size, products, etc. This needs to cover all aspects including acquisition, selection, delivery, installation, testing and validation.
- Management have asked you to evaluate the feasibility of developing systems to support B2B and even B2C e-business models for marketing and selling their briefcases and other products. You will need to provide a discussion of the differences in work processes involved in selling products using traditional means versus those that are supported via the Internet. Again, the focus is on the IT systems both hardware and software needed to support the both types of business models. These should consider the options of developing in house solutions versus outsourcing to third party organizations and groups. In particular, what are the implications for data security, data access and the ability to provide data on demand to all aspects of the MBL business? However, your proposed changes to the IS functionality within MBL will have implications for the operations aspects of the business and these need to be assessed. For example, if the aim of the B2B improvements is to allow greater flexibility in customer orders, reduce dispatch and deliver times then these again have implications for the ways in which the organization produces the briefcases. In particular the production methods, layout, materials flows, etc. within the organization. A significant aspect of the feasibility needs to be on the ways in which your suggested changes impact on the operations of the business.
For this portion of the task you need to cover the following aspects:
- An explanation of e-commerce.
- A discussion of the differences between traditional vs. Internet means of selling.
- A discussion of B2B and B2C and the advantages and disadvantagesto both the customer and the seller.
- A discussion and analysis of any proposed B2B or B2C changes on the operational aspects of the organization. These need to cover all aspects from production and inventory to dispatch and delivery.
- A discussion of organisational environments (both from an IS and operational perspective) and their relation to the organisation.
You are preparing the report as an employee of MBL and hence its needs to focus on MBL, its structure, processes and systems. You may wish to identify the ways in which MBL could identify the improvements to quality, flexibility, customer satisfaction, etc. of your proposed approach by means of comparison with competitors. However, a comparison of different briefcase manufacturers is not what is required.
Computers have become pervasive in the present day organization running. Since their first use in 1950’s in administrative data processing, they have continued to be a primary tool for enhancing the formal information Processing activities in the organization. Numerous development has been realized in computer centred information systems over the last couple of decades from supporting back office operation and spreading to the entire organisation. Organisations and information systems have intertwined interest. Information systems have been defined as software’s that aid an organization to organize and analyse its data. The design of information systems adopted by an organization depends solely on the information needs of the organization. Information systems in addition to organizing, it stores, retrieves and process data (Rudy Hirschheim, 1995). Over four decades ago, new ways of designing information systems, new approaches for analysing the systems and strategies for implement had flourished. In the recent years, there has been a budding Interest in viewing Information systems as social systems that can are theoretically implemented (Prakken, 2012). Many organizations have leveraged available technologies to manage business operations and assist in making strategic customers, production, and cost and revenue decisions. Many organizations have taken up transaction processing systems, customer relationship management, business intelligence and knowledge management system all in the interest to maximise their earning potential. This paper explores the role and the acquisition of Information system (IS) for Senior Management, department heads and line managers at MBL.
Description of different types of CAD/CAM
Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) are integrated technologies primarily involved with the use of computers to carry out product designing and manufacturing operations in an organization. By adopting CAD/CAM, MBL is assured of achieving a computer aided incorporation entire production activities from designing and planning up to manufacturing and ultimately making of desired quality standards. Types of computer aided manufacturing include 2 dimensional CAD (2D CAD), this is the initial model that was developed in the early 1970’s by Autodesk. 2D CAD is dependent on simple geometrical shapes like triangles, circles, lines, etc. to produce flat drawings. Over the years, with evolving computers technology, a 3 dimensional CAD (3D CAD) was developed which was an improved version of the 2D CAD, with 3D CAD, genuine drawings are created. The 3D images have improved visual capability and can be turned and viewed in any chosen direction (Yaguchi, 2012). IBM and Dassults are companies that developed this software. The current market is making use of 3D CAD software’s which include unigraphicNX, SolidWorks, and solidEdge. The 3D CAD can be broken down further to wire-frame models, surface models and solid models which are distinguished by their model.
Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) can be classified into numerical control (NC) machines, complete facility systems that integrate CAM with CAD. Also, industrial robots, product lifecycle software’s and flexible manufacturing systems are some of the common types of CAM. Flexible manufacturing systems CAM/CAD integrate various data exchange systems offer vast opportunities for computer – aided manufacturing. With increased innovation and growth in technology, flexible systems can effortlessly produce several similar products. Industrial robots are computer aided manufacturing type. MBL workforce faces the challenge of an unproductive human resource as robots carry out tasks that are performed. Underutilization of human capital means that MBL will suffer unutilized human talent and duplication of tasks. Computers are used to control robots by sending and receiving data on units to produce per unit time. Numeric control (NC) machine, on the other hand, applies precise formulas to process raw material into finished goods (Seames, 2002). NCS systems can be further classified according to the machine tool control system which falls under three broad types i.e. point to point, straight cut and contouring. Below is an illustration of NC machine.
An analysis of impact on organization from operational perspective
The adoption of Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing are a substantial initial investment to organizations. The productivity of agencies has been elevated as high-quality designs are produced by use of CAD. Designers are able to envisage the end product that is being made. The merging of constituent parts into phrase before final assembly of the product is achieved and this ensures product originality can be tailored from the start. By use of CAD, product animation can be enhanced before the actual product is produced hence if need of any modification is required, then the designer can make the necessary correction hence avoiding incurring high costs. In addition to enhancing the ability of the designer to synthesize, scrutinising and authenticating of design, CAD/CAM help in the production of improved and quality designs (David, 1992). By acquiring the relevant tools that help to carry out thorough engineering analysis of the recommended design. Adoption of CAD/CAM across all department bears technical challenges related to hardware, software and database interfacing (Tarek Tantoush, 2001). The technical challenges are quite eminent in many organizations than other organizational change problems.
Choice of IS acquisition process
The long-term goal, cost, and benefit of IS adoption for MBL influence the acquisition process. MBL may opt to build their own, purchase a pre-packaged system, Outsourcing or end user development. Given that MBL is a small company that is focused on growing and doesn’t have an established IT department, outsourcing from a 3rd party would be the most prudent choice. The outsourced company will tailor the IS to the accounting, marketing, warehousing manufacturing and despatch needs of MBL. The outsourced company will further be responsible for phrasing, scheduling and system support responsibilities reducing the costs. Other key factors influencing the choice of Information Systems to be acquired by MBL are user interfaces design concentrate on the need of the system users; ease of access, use, and understanding of the systems are the element the interface addresses. Also, the navigational components, informational components, and containers discussed on the use interface. Moreover, considering open versus closed system will be a key consideration. The IT department can alter an open system while On the other hand, a closed system can only be serviced and supported by the vendor (Pernia, 2012). The market share and the growth projection of MBL plays a critical role in determining the niche information system. The system will be installed to serve the precisely identifiable sets of customers as it encompasses the need forms and patterns, therefore, require less know-how of the staff. Also, the choice will be influenced by a turnkey system which is essential in tailoring the system to meet the needs of the company. As well as the system support to ensure its up and running.
Explanation of e-commerce
E-commerce is defined as conducting business over electronic network i.e. Internet. Most companies have adopted electronic commerce as a segment of their business model to tap the potential of virtue communities that constitute a large market share. With the global increase in internet usage at 3.2 billion in 2015 (Our World in Data, 2015). E-commerce is conducted on four major platform these are; business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C), consumer to consumer (C2C) and consumer to business (C2B). The emergence and growth of e-commerce have helped business solidify their market presence while penetrating into new markets (Bhusry, 2005). E-commerce offers small business to compete on an even level with large established companies as virtual shops incur less cost. Additionally, small business are which are less conservative and more flexible have an opportunity to penetrate the vast international market. Virtual communities offer business 24 hours 7days a week working environment as they can be operated from anywhere with internet connectivity. Despite the immense benefits associated with e-commerce, virtual communities tend to propagate fraudulent activities as they have concealed identities (Awad, 2002).
Difference between traditional Vs Internet means of selling
E-commerce and traditional commerce have much difference among them. For example, while e-commerce is a business model that conducts commercial transactions over the Internet, traditional selling is the segment of the firm that concentrates on the exchange of goods or services. Also e- commerce offers it customer convenience and time-saving effect compared to the traditional form of selling as with e-commerce as long as there is internet coverage the client can access the product or service from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, e- commerce unlike traditional selling offers geographical coverage and offers business a broad market to explore due to the ever increasing virtual communities presence who consume products and service of the firm. Operating traditional business considerable employment of human capital which attracts high operational costs as employees have limited working hours. However, with e-commerce, hours of operation are all around the clock and requires few personnel to operate as one person can serve hundreds of customer hence cutting down on costs. Moreover, traditional commerce offers the customers an opportunity to interact with the vendors. However, in the case of e-commerce, the interaction is limited to online chats. The ability of suppliers to communicate with their customer has the benefit of building strong customer relations with the client and also offers the personal appeal hence the possibility of better negotiations.
Advantages and disadvantages of B2B and B2C
B2B (business-to-business) refers to the exchange of goods and service to other business by demonstrating value rather than eliciting emotions. With growth in technology and the use of the internet, business to business trading promises high growth and returns compared to B2C. Therefore, many large companies are keen on exploring (Bidgoli, 2002). For example, IBM is currently rolling new strategies to cognition in business. Security, health, security, etc. The advantage associated with B2B include; more business growth opportunity as there is a large untapped virtual market, improved sales due to breaking geographical barriers hence ability to reach more new clients. Moreover, b2b lowers the operational cost as the business can access more foreign suppliers for raw materials (J Botha, 2008). Business to Consumers (B2C) on the other hand is carried directly by a firm and the customer who are the end users of the goods or service (Elliot, 2007). B2C focuses on promoting a company's goods or service to the consumers by actively devising ways which invoke emotional response among the consumers. The advantages associated with B2C model include; differentiation by individuality as businesses can tailor products or services to meet specific customer needs. Also wasteful production is avoided as the company produces just enough to meet the current demand hence less capital holding slow moving products. In addition to having a better knowledge of the customers, B2B has the advantage of increasing the customer loyalty while giving their customers an exceptional shopping experience (Dixit, 2016).
An analysis on proposed B2B or B2C changes on the operational aspect of the organization
Given that MBL is a small and growing company adopting a business to consumer (B2C) model will be the best model to take to help it realize its strategic goal of expanding (Justin G. Longenecker, 2012). Also strategizing on appropriate B2B models to create demand will require BML to focus value demonstration. By concentrating on customer behaviour, BML will make the necessary changes to their product to meet the specific needs of their clients. By creating a healthy relationship between the customers and BML, customer loyalty will be enhanced and thereby focus their energy in penetrating new markets. Further, given that BML is centred on growing, cutting of cost will help the company realise the goal sooner by avoiding excessive overproduction but focus on the real demand for the briefcase prevailing in the market. BML should also adopt Suitable office information system (OIS) to handle the hundred or the thousands of their customer profiles. An efficient IS will help segment for target outreach campaigns while aligning specific sales, services and marketing processes thereby achieve greater sale and growth.
Organisational environment refers to the composition of forces or institutions that surround an organisation affecting operations, performance, and resources. Environments can be cl; classified as either internal or external. The internal environment of BML consist employee behaviour, the organization's culture, mission, and leadership styles. For example, BML culture is primarily innovation and creativity. On the other hand, external environment of BML consists of factors that influence operations and determine the opportunities and threats. For example, the customer needs of BML shapes the productivity of the company. Also, technological development is an external force hence need for BML to adopt IS to enhance product quality.
For managers to efficiently operate BML, they will need to understand their environment. Utilizing the Management information system (MIS) to integrate information across all departments in the company will ensure the company management can make reports hence need to have an executive support system to support strategic decisions. Further BML need to explore e- commerce to take advantage of the broad virtual market which has immense on lower labour and tax cost. With the vision of starting small and evaluating BML relationship with its customers and the company internal capabilities, BLM will implement its IS strategy. In addition to growing BML content, analysing the client's behaviour lead to successful social marketing.
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