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One.Tel case study

Discuss about the Professional Practice And Ethics of One Tel.

There can be several ethical issues that might be faced by an information and communication technology practitioner. The individual could have had training in ethics from Australian Computer Society. In the following report a case study of One. Tel a telecommunication company has been taken. The company was facing problems with its billing system. Customers were being issued wrong bills and this raised many ethical issues for the information technology professionals in the company (Buttle and Maklan, 2015). The problems of stakeholders in this situation have been discussed. The actions that information technology professionals in the company could have taken have also been discussed.

One.Tel was an Australian company which became insolvent in 2000 (Bloomberg, 2017). There were many reasons for this company becoming insolvent but the major one was the mismanagement by the top management of the company of its information technology department. The directors of the company followed hands on control of the company. The top management of the company was non technical. The middle management of the company was almost non existent.  There were technicians who were highly paid and were young. Systems were built in the company for billing, call centre, dealer  management and debt collection. The systems outsourced were the financial system and a data warehouse used to generate performance indicators.

The billing system was developed in house by the company. It was one of the leading telecommunication companies in Australia at the time. Billing system in any company is very important. The billing of goods and services is essential for any cash flow to take place. When bills are presented to the customer, the individual makes a payment to the company. The billing system in One. Tel became faulty. There were cases of wrong calculations being made in the bills (Atrill, McLaney and Harvey, 2014). This can happen if the sales staff of the company and the employees taking the payment are inefficient or corrupt. They do not properly understand how the computer software for billing operates. Other reason could be that the billing system put in place is faulty. Then it is the information technology professionals in the company who are to be blamed. There was lack of proper internal controls in the company (Chron, 2017). The accounting staff could be responsible.

It was found that the accounting system in the company was inadequate. The customers were getting hurt by the wrong billings (Searchcrm.techtarget.com, 2017). This was a question of ethics. It is the right of the customers to get correct bills. They should not be asked to pay a wrong amount. Moreover the bills from the company were getting delayed especially after the implementation of the Goods And Services Tax. This indicated that the accountants of the company were not aware of the taxation rule (Atrill, McLaney and Harvey, 2014). There was a need to train the staff of the company better. There was a damage to the company’s reputation because of wrong billings. The major stakeholders in this case are employees, shareholders, directors, customers, government and other regulating bodies. This is a case of fraud and mismanagement of the company.

Stakeholders

There are employees of the company who are suffering because of the faulty billing system in the company. They are otherwise honest employees but their work is faulty because the software in the computers is not working properly. They have to take the blame for the wrong output. As the billing is incorrect, the company loses customers and the profitability of the company is adversely affected. This would have an impact on the owners, that is, shareholders of the company. The customers are harassed as they are asked to pay the wrong amounts, that too, not in time. The government is another stakeholder which would like to stop this kind of fraud and inefficiency. The auditors of the company and the accounting regulation bodies would also be concerned by the wrong accounting in the company (ASIC, 2017).

The company employed information technology professionals including ICT which are known as Information and communication technology practitioners (The Australian, 2017). These people plan, design, test and improve information technology systems. They manage databases and ensure data integrity and security. They are programmers and data analysts. These people knew what was going on in One. Tel. They would have been disturbed by the wrong bills being made. It is there ethical duty to take some actions when wrong billings are being made in the telecommunications company. Australian Computer Society wants its members to follow certain ideals as they work in different areas (ACS, 2017). The information technology professionals who become members of the society have to abide by certain rules or ethics.

In the case of the company the employees of the company knew what was going on and still not protesting or taking steps to improve the situation. The conduct of the information technology professionals was against the code of ethics of Australian Computer Society, namely, 1.2.3 Honesty (acs.org.au, 2017). According to this provision the member of the society should not breach the specific trust of the stakeholders. In the given case the customers trusted that the company was handing them over the right bills. But this was not being done. They were being given wrong bills. Their trust was being broken. One. Tel was a big company and people trusted the company to be honest in its dealings. This provision of the code of conduct requires that the member should be honest and integrity must be there in all decisions and actions (The Australian, 2017). The person must not be deceptive and truthful. In accordance with this value one should not knowingly mislead a client regarding the suitability of a product or service.

Ethical issues

The employees of the company were being paid handsomely. They did not care much if the billings were wrong. In this case there was a breach of ideals or ethics. The employees were misleading the customers by knowingly giving them wrong bills.

According to code of conduct provision 1.2.4 Competence, the information technology professional should accept only that work which the person believes can be performed by the individual. Otherwise the person should take the services of qualified people who can do the work correctly (acs.org.au, 2017). An information technology professional cannot know everything but at least the person should know the one’s work for which the individual is paid. If the person cannot do the individual’s work it amounts to cheating if the person continues doing inadequate or wrong work. The person should provide services which meet the needs of the stakeholders which are customers and employees of the company. The person should not misrepresent one’s skills and knowledge. The person should accept responsibility if the individual has done any wrong. In this case wrong is being done.


The billing system in One. Tel was developed by the information technology professionals of the company (Fts-soft.com, 2017). They must have committed some mistake while developing the system. It means they did not know their work well. They knew wrong bills were being produced which could be due to the defect in the designing of the billing system. One.Tel was a telecommunication company. It provided mobile telephony and internet services to people of Australia and other countries. As an individual made a call using the services of the company, the call time and charges were recorded. Such charges were outstanding against that customer who made a number of calls during the month. The total number of calls made during the month by that customer were recorded by the company and bills were to be made in accordance with number of calls and total duration of calls.

The recording of the call duration and destination of the call were recorded automatically by the machines of the company. There was use of computer software in the entire operation (Fts-soft.com, 2017). If the computer software is not proper, that is the programming is faulty, there would be errors in recording the call duration and destination. This leads to wrong billing. This was happening at One. Tel. This means that information technology professionals have done wrong work. The seniors of the company should have replaced the information technology professionals as they were hurting the interests of the stakeholders.

According to code of conduct provision 1.2.5 Professional Development, Information and communication technology practitioners should know new technologies, practices and standards which are required in the work (Acs.org.au, 2017). Customers expect them to have special skills and they need to refresh their knowledge. This knowledge should not only benefit your customers but also other staff of the company. One. Tel was a leading telecommunications company in Australia. The customers of the company expected the staff of the company to be professionals. Billing is an important and crucial function for a telecommunication company. One.Tel like any other big company should have information technology professionals who would ensure proper systems are put in place to ensure proper billing. The top  management of the company which was non technical should have been properly informed what was the exact problem with the billing system (Billview, 2017). The technical staff of the company lacked proper knowledge of how to put in place a proper billing system. The system was not properly installed or the other staff of the company including the accounting personnel did not know how to operate the billing system properly. It was the responsibility of the information technology professionals to train the accounting staff on how the billing system software was to be handled. If there was any defect in the system, the information technology professionals should have promptly repaired it. This is how the things should be done in a professional company.

Conclusion

The customers of One.Tel had been suffering because of the wrong bills they were being handed over. The billing system which was faulty was not being corrected. There was a defect in the management information system in the company (Gray et al., 2014). The senior management and the directors of the company were not being properly informed about the ground situation. The software of the billing system was not properly working. The senior management should have called the technical staff and asked them to correct the situation. The junior information technology professionals should have explained the problem in the software to the senior management and told them of their inability to rectify the system. Then the senior management would have taken the services of more qualified and experienced information technology professionals. The company should have apologised to the customer for wrong bills and issued correct bills.

References

ACS (2017) CPD & education [Online]. Available at: https://www.acs.org.au/ (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Acs.org.au (2017) ACS Code of conduct [Online]. Available at: https://www.acs.org.au/content/dam/acs/rules-and-regulations/Code-of-Professional-Conduct_v2.1.pdf (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Acs.org.au (2017) ACS code of ethics [Online]. Available at: https://www.acs.org.au/content/dam/acs/acs-documents/Code-of-Ethics.pdf (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

ASIC (2017) About ASIC [Online]. Available at: https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/ (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Atrill, P., McLaney, E. And Harvey, D. (2014) Accounting: an introduction. Australia: Pearson.

Billview (2017) Telecommunication expense management [Online]. Available at: https://www.billview.com.au/reporting.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwub7NBRDJARIsAP7wlT-NJrDF357lHldUmTNRxH8r5VQIYrkyFySBrRZLyZO3ObpmPyxQmEkaAqfREALw_wcB (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Bloomberg (2017) One.Tel Ltd [Online]. Available at : https://www.bloomberg.com/profiles/companies/1382642D:AU-one-tel-ltd (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Buttle, F. and Maklan, S. (2015) Customer relationship management: concepts and technologies. Australia: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Chron (2017) Five common features of an internal control system of business [Online]. Available at: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-common-features-internal-control-system-business-430.html (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Fts-soft.com (2017) Telecom billing [Online]. Available at: https://www.fts-soft.com/solutions/telecom-billing/ (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

Gray, H., Issa, T., Pye, G., Troshani, I., Rainer, R., Prince, B. And Watson, H. (2014) Management information systems. Australia: John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd.

Searchcrm.techtarget.com (2017) Customer relationship management (CRM) [Online]. Available at: https://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/CRM  (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

The Australian (2017) A code of ethics in IT: just lip service or something with bite? [Online] . Available at : https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/business-spectator/a-code-of-ethics-in-it-just-lip-service-or-something-with-bite/news-story/aad385c4a02f951422f7055a58c17699 (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

The Australian (2017) Ethics essential for ICT professionals [Online]. Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/opinion/ethics-essential-for-ict-professionals/news-story/78307af0586683a61e7a0d537c5f6cf8 (Accessed: 6 September 2017)

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