There was a time when Information Technology was considered as a secondary function in the organization. With globalization and spread of technology and computer system IT has emerged as an important organizational function. Information Technology is more than the support function in an organization because IT can help to solve business problems. Information Technology can also help decision makers to make business decision.
There was a time when the cost of Information Technology was very high. That was the time when IT was being used primarily by large organizations only. With time the cost of technology has come down and with the emergence of concepts like Software as a Service, small and mid size organizations have also find it affordable and convenient to use Information Technology (George, 2008).
The case study of ‘Study in Queensland’, presents a classical example where Information Technology and Information Systems could be used to resolve business problems. At present the operations are handled manually that wastes lot of time. It appears that expansion of firm would not be possible unless it adopts Information Management System. IT systems would certainly help to develop a platform where information can be shared in real time across multiple offices. One of the issues in current manual system is that staff misses some of the files. With the incorporation of Information Management System, soft copy of student files would be stored in an electronic medium. The file transfer would be easy and staff would be able to access the file from multiple locations without any delay. It would be correct to say the incorporation of such system would require changes in the current way of operations. Therefore change management would be an integral component in this project. The training of staff would be important to ensure that the true benefits from Information Management System could be realized.
It is important that the firm should act swiftly in order to develop a responsive and effective Information Management System. It is also important that the existing business problems of the firm could be realized so that IT system can help to overcome these problems. It is also important that firm should involve its internal and external stakeholders in order to bring this change. Information Management System or any ERP system can help the firm to achieve operational excellency (Leidner, 2013). It is important that the business stakeholders of the firm should list down their requirements before any system is developed. It would not be incorrect to say that the requirement-gathering phase would be one of the most important phases in the entire project. Therefore Hui and Thia would play a critical role in the entire project.
The leaders of the company that the leaders of the company should not consider this as an IT change. This change or transformation from manual processes to automated process, driven by Information System, should be considered as a major business change that would have an impact on the way business is done by the firm.
It is correct that the Information System does come with initial cost. Therefore Hui and Thia should also perform the cost benefit analysis before any decision about Information Management System is being made. The firm is a small firm; hence it should go for the model of ‘Software as a Service’. It would help the firm to save the cost and it would also help to reduce the risks of expansion. It appears that Information Management System could help the firm to develop the strategy of expansion into multiple locations.
Different questions of case study that would help Hui to take the decision can be discussed as below:
In order to help SIQ management, define what information systems are and briefly explain how information systems are important to future operations at SIQ. While answering this question, explore the different kinds of information systems that could be beneficial to any small business.
An information system (IS) is a system composed of people and computers that processes or interprets information. Information System can help SIQ to overcome business problems. Information System would help SIQ to streamline its business operations. It would also help in better management and effective governance. In a small organization, Information System could be used to collect data and process it according to the needs of the analyst, manager or business owner. There are various forms of Information System that are being used widely by small and mid size organizations. These systems are transactional processing systems, Customer relationship management systems, Business intelligence system, Knowledge management system etc. These types of Information Systems are being used by small and mid size organizations to manage their customers, to govern the staff and to streamline their operations.
Small and mid size organizations use the Information System to share information among different departments. For example, the managers in Gold Cost can access the timesheet of employees in Sunnybank. Supervisor in different locations can handle the payroll and employee grievances. An ERP system has the capability of IT system that could be used for both internal and external operations. ERP (Employee Resource Planning) system can help small organizations to take fast and effective decisions. It also helps the management of small organizations to develop a rapport with customers. A high level of customer satisfaction can be achieved with Information Systems.
Identify and discuss the problems faced by SIQ and list these problems in order of priority.
SIQ is small firm that handles its operations manually. The success of operations of SIQ depends a lot on the skills of its staff members. SIQ is competent to operate as a single location company but it would be difficult to manage operations across multiple locations. The problems faced by SIQ in order of priority can be discussed as:
Student file management: In the current environment, the files of student are stored in manual form. As mentioned in the case study, a considerable amount of time is lost to search the file. This would be a major problem, once SIQ is expanded. The search would be difficult if SIQ has a very large database of students.
Trust and reliability among customers (students): As reported in the case study, some of the student files get missed in the operations. This creates the question on the credibility of SIQ to manage customers. If it continues, SIQ would soon have a bad reputation in the market. The market is a competitive market and there are a number of large players in the market. SIQ would not be able to expand in multiple locations and get more customers if it is not able to establish trust with customers.
Staff management: In the current environment of SIQ, it is difficult to perform the back tracking and study the performance of staff. The company lacks any internal mechanism of control that could be used to measure the performance of staff. At present the leave policies, staff requests etc. are managed by Hui and this would not be possible if SIQ handles its operations from multiple locations. The information sharing across multiple sites in manual operation is also a big challenge for SIQ.
What are the business requirements of SIQ? Which business processes should SIQ â€¨computerize and what benefits would that bring about for SIQ?
In order to achieve the end objectives of Information System, it is important that SIQ could identify its business requirements and should match the business process with its business requirements. The business requirements of SIQ can be listed as:
1. SIQ should be able to expand its business in multiple locations. For SIQ to grow, it must open offices at the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Sunnybank. This is an important business requirement that needs the incorporation of Information Technology at work place.
2. The management of SIQ is finding it difficult to manage its employees. The system is compromised with human errors. The customer reputation is getting disturbed with human errors. Customer management and customer relationship is an important business requirement for SIQ.
3. Hui was concerned about the security of student information. In order to expand, the files of student would change many hands in the current manual processes. Protecting the security of data is an important business requirement for SIQ.
It can be said that SIQ should focus to computerize both its internal and external business process. Two of the most important business processes that SIQ should computerized in the first phase would be HR or employee management, and customer relationship management. The computerization of these two processes would bring efficiency at work place that would be a key input for SIQ to expand.
Which types of information system/s can help SIQ manage its business issues and fulfill â€¨business requirements? Explain in detail, how each information system that you propose will â€¨assist SIQ’s efficiency and contribute to the firm’s competitive advantage.
Few of the important types of information systems that would help SIQ manage its business and fulfill business requirements would be customer relationship management, transaction processing system and knowledge management system. The contribution of each of these information systems with respect to operations of SIQ can be discussed as:
1. Customer relationship management: This information system would help SIQ to develop effective customer relationship. With this information system, SIQ can bridge the gap between customers’ expectations and management perception of customer expectation. It would ensure that customers complains can be minimized and customer satisfaction can be maximized (Maier, 2010). This in turn would contribute to the firm’s competitive advantage.
2. Transaction processing system: One of the major problems for SIQ is to manage its operations and daily transactions between employees and customers. This Information system would ensure that a balance could be achieved between operational effectiveness and responsiveness (Melville, 2010).
3. Knowledge management system: This information system would be used to govern internal employees. This system would ensure that HR policies could be communicated among staff from different locations. This system would also ensure that training and development programs could be used effectively to impart training to staff members across multiple locations.
How can business decision-making be improved as a result of the information systems / â€¨technologies that you are proposing?
One of the goals and objectives of Information System is to help management to make effective decisions. Information systems would also help management to make fast and efficient decisions. One of the prerequisites for effective decision-making is plenty of information. The presence of information systems would ensure that the information is easily accessible to all the stakeholders. Information system would ensure that information could be shared at real time. With the incorporation of information system, different departments in an organization can communicate with each other without wasting any time. For example, customer executive at Gold Coast can tell the HR manager at Sunnybank about the functioning of operations in Gold Coast office.
One of the important inputs for business managers to make decision-making is the access to all the facts and information before making any decision. The decision-making could be improved, as with Information System stakeholders would have access to all the information. The data could be used by managers and business leaders to make ‘on the spot’ decisions. The incorporation of information management system would be useful in decision-making as the information can be easily collected and compiled with the help of Information systems. The data and information collected from information system would also be more accurate and more reliable. It would also help in decision making as the data and information could be collected for a larger window of time. Information system would also help to analyze the trend in the organization and the trend analysis would also help management to make effective and efficient decision.
How can the proposed new locations for SIQ connect effectively to each other? Explain how â€¨SIQ may utilize technologies such as the intranet, extranet, Internet and mobile applications â€¨to communicate with SIQ’s key stakeholders.
The case study mentions that SIQ to grow must open offices at the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Sunnybank. Information system would definitely help the offices in these locations to establish effective channels of communication. The technologies like Intranet, extranet and Internet would be used among offices in these locations to establish a network that could be accessed by officials and employees. With the penetration of Internet and mobile phones the communication channels have become more efficient. With the penetration of Internet, people in different locations can easily communicate with each other. SIQ should also establish its own network in the form of Intranet.
The Intranet would be a local network in SIQ. It would be a secure network that would be used only the employees of SIQ and outside people would not have access to this network. The emails of SIQ would be configured over this network. The Intranet would be used as official channel of communication among all the members of SIQ. With Internet, the mobile phone penetration has also increased. The smart phones can be used by SIQ to remain connect 24X7. With Internet, Intranet and Mobile phones senior management would be able to access the data and information of the firm anytime and anywhere (Norton, 2008). Management would be able to work from home and remain connected with staff members. Users and staff would use the mobile applications in order to remain informed about the proceedings of the firm. It can be said that Internet and mobile phones would make the life easy for management and employees of SIQ.
What are the possible security, ethical and privacy issues that all stakeholders of SIQ need to â€¨be aware of? What systems could be implemented to address these issues?
Some of the risks associated with the incorporation of Information system are the ethical and privacy concerns. Some of the possible security, ethical and privacy issues that all stakeholders of SIQ need to be aware of can be discussed as:
Security issues: Any computer system or Information system comes with some security issues. Different computer systems are connected together over Internet and Intranet. The computer systems in a network are used to transfer information from one system to another. Hackers can read the transactions between computer systems and this possesses security issues (Nachmias, 2008). The security issues are one the most important issues associated with network of computer system and information systems.
Ethical issues: There are certain ethical issues that are associated with the incorporation of information system. Most of these ethical issues are concerned with the privacy of individuals and workers working at SIQ. It is important that the management should make only ethical decisions while making professional decisions.
Privacy issues: One of the most important concerns of information system is the privacy issue. It is believed that the privacy of individuals is compromised in the system driven by computer systems. It is important that the sensitive data and information should be kept confidential so that high standard of privacy can be maintained at SIQ.
There are certain communication protocols that could be used by SIQ and other companies to avoid these issues. The information system at SIQ should be shared by firewalls and the computer systems and network should password protected. The information should be shared in an encrypted manner.
What change related issues is SIQ likely to encounter? How should SIQ manage this change â€¨process?
The implementation of any Information system brings lot of issues of change management. The existing staffs at SIQ have a method to operate and certain guidelines to follow. The incorporation of information system would bring a fundamental change in the way operations are managed in the company. Information system would be a radical redesign and it is important that the existing staff of SIQ should support these radical changes.
It is observed that employees often find themselves reluctant to change. Employees tend to comfortable with their positions and they would not want to change. To ensure that SIQ is able to implement the change without any issues, the motivation levels of staff members should be kept high. The change issues could only be managed if staff is provided confidence that the change is for their benefit. SIQ should educate the staff members about the numerous benefits of Information systems before initiating any change.
It is also important that different employees should be made change agents. The issues of change management are handled best when employees are given responsibility to manage the changes (McLean, 2008). Employees should get a feeling of self-belongingness and the management of SIQ should value the opinion of staff members while implementing the change. The big picture that is expected from the change should be communicated to all the internal and external stakeholders of the firm.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The above paper discussed the incorporation of Information system for SIQ. The company wants to expand into multiple locations but it fears that the company would not be able to manage its operations through manual processes. It is strongly recommended that SIQ should opt for information system to manage its operations. The information system would enable SIQ to manage its employees and customers. Certain set of important recommendations for SIQ can be listed as:
1. It is recommended that SIQ should have an effective change management plan at place. It is believed that organizations are not able to realize the true benefits of Information system because change management is not effective at work place. The change management at SIQ should involve all the low levels staff members, mid level managers and top-level employees.
2. It is recommended that SIQ should plan to manage all the privacy issues and ethical issues. It is important that the privacy of employees should be one of the most important concerns for management. It is recommended that SIQ should realize the need of its staff members before initiating any change.
3. It is recommended that SIQ should bring this change in a phased out manner. It is recommended that SIQ should focus on different modules of information systems in a phased out manner.
4. It is also recommended that SIQ should also involve all the external stakeholders at the time of requirement gathering. The planning of change would be developed based on the input of all the internal and external stakeholders.
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