Management Information Project
A NEW SYSTEMS INITIATIVE Houston Area Windows Company (HAWC) is an twelve-year-old company based in Houston, Texas. HAWC headquarters is located on the South East side of Houston. Currently, there are four local service centers providing installation and repair services for the greater Houston area. HAWC is organized into five logical units: Sales and Marketing, Product Installation and Repair, Training, Accounting and Finance, and Human Resources. All units except Product Installation and Repair are located at HAWC headquarters on the South East side of Houston. Product Installation and Repair services are performed from all locations. Many of HAWC's business activities involve collaboration between professionals in different departments – often in different geographic locations. To serve customers properly, communication between team members must be as effective as possible. HAWC employees sometimes must have corporate information available at their fingertips. In order to meet customer expectations and remain competitive, managers at HAWC want to extend the access to communications and information that their employees have available at the home office and make the information available to them at service centers and, eventually, at other locations outside the headquarters office. As part of an ongoing effort to improve business performance within HAWC, managers have become aware of complaints made by various customers. Several customers have complained that products and services provided by HAWC have not met the standards of quality which they expected. In some cases this has happened because sales representatives have made promises which could not be delivered by the Product Installation and Repair employees. In some cases, the Product Installation and Repair employees were not even aware of the promises made by the sales reps. As products and services are being sold, unforseen circumstances occur and new information becomes available which cause changes in the products and services required by the retail shops. As these changes are discovered, Change Orders are issued to document the chages in the service and sales contracts. These change orders have been issued as paper documents and faxed to everyone who needs them. Often the delay in delivering the paper change orders causes problems. Often, changes go through several iterations, resulting in multple versions of the change order. When there are differences in documents used by sales, accounting and the employees delivering the products and services, frustration is almost inevitable. Currently, there is no method which makes information from change orders available on a timely and consistent basis to all parties which need the information. Currently, HAWC employees in the Accounting and Finance unit operate a version of the SAGE 50 accounting system. This system serves as the "back end" accounting system. Recently, HAWC executives held a meeting to discuss the possibilities for an extended information system which would handle several kinds of information through a distributed system. Such a system would be a "front-end" system which could empower employees from multiple business units to work effectively from remote locations. This meeting followed requests by members of the Product Installation and Repair group and requests from the Human Resources group. These two groups wanted better access to company information systems while they were doing work away from the home office. Members of other groups had made similar requests in the past.
HAWC's chief information officer (CIO) took on the job of evaluating the company's options for developing and adopting such an extended information system. In his weekly meeting with his managers, the CIO asked for help from several of his top employees to form an analysis and development team to research the project. The CIO asked the analysis and development team to interview the managers of the five business units within HAWC to determine the needs and specifications for the proposed system and prepare a requirements document. The CIO called the project the "Fast Local Information Processing System", or the "FLIP" system. INVESTIGATING NEEDS OF THE ORGANIZATION The first step in developing Houston Area Windows Company' Fast Local Information Processing (FLIP ) system is to investigate needs and define the system's requirements. To accomplish this, the analysis and development team interviewed the stakeholders, those persons who have important interests in the development of the system. The team knew, in general, what upper management had in mind for the system. The team talked with representatives of the five business units (Sales and Marketing, Product Installation and Repair, Training, Accounting and Finance, and Human Resources) who will be using the new system. Below are the results of this investigative phase. Alex Webster, the manager of Human Resources (HR), says that HR workers are required to spend lots of time looking up payroll deduction information for workers. This information is kept on standardized forms filed at the HR office. The HR manager wants senior managers and other selected employees to be able to access archived records dealing with payroll deductions. Only HR employees can do this now, and only from specific workstations in the main office. Since turnover is extremely high, HR would like to be able to provide limited service to selected employees from other, sometimes remote, locations. HR employees would benefit from having employees monitor some of their own information. The other employees would benefit from having access to current information about their own benefits and deductions. The Training branch of Houston Area Windows Company works with and trains new employees in the skills needed to install and repair air conditioning systems. This requires scheduling of trainers and other training resources. Harvy Fox is the head of this group. Trainers already have PC-based (desktop) systems that allow them to perform this scheduling at the home office. It would be helpful to have offsite access to the scheduling tools and services used in training their clients. Trainers want a change in the system which will assist them with scheduling tasks which they must perform when they are away from their desktop computers. Trainers are requesting a tool that helps them keep track of appointments, access schedules, find resources, notes and references stored on the corporate servers, and consult with other professionals at HAWC. James McHenry, the manager of the Sales and Marketing branch of HAWC, has needs that are similar to the needs of the Training branch. The Sales and Marketing (SaM) branch must communicate with suppliers who provide products to the service centers. SaM employees need to be able to communicate with suppliers and exchange certain documents. A device that allows them to exchange documents with suppliers from any location would be very useful. Currently, contract and delivery information is handled by the Sales and Marketing, Product Installation and Repair, and Accounting and Finance sections. This information is gathered by Product Installation and Repair (PIR) employees and then analyzed by the accountants. The results of the analyses are then entered into database via the accounting portion of the information system. Currently, estimated
delivery sheets are created from Progress Report sheets which have been filled out by Product Installation and Repair employees. This has been a source of considerable frustration for the PIR employees who have to wait for their own work to be entered into the accounting system before it is available for them to use. The PIR employees have to wait for the clerical workers to enter the information and then wait for the accountants to process the information before the employees can use their own information to work with their clients. One area of improvement suggested by the CIO would be the development of an application which would allow PIR employees to enter estimated delivery information into a local, front-end database which they could access in consultations with their clients. Product Installation and Repair (PIR) employees realize that certain suppliers are considering expansions from their current accounting systems to much more complicated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. This would allow them to better follow the products and services provided for the clients. Other suppliers, with main offices in Mexico, would like the option of dealing in Spanish rather than English. If HAWC decides to expand its services to cover the needs of these clients by including facilities from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, the technical expertise must come from department head Ray Boynton or from Paula White, the other senior employee in the PIR branch who has ERP experience. An area of concern in the SaM branch is the poor access to the invoice system. Invoices are prepared by the accounting system and then sent directly to the customers. SaM employees do not have current knowledge of what invoices have been sent or what invoices have been paid. SaM employees can ask the accounting group (headed by Mary Evans) for invoice reports, but the current process is slow and acrimonious. A front-end system which provided invoice content and current status information to SaM employees would be quite helpful. Employees in all branches need to consult with others inside and outside the HAWC organization. These employees use information which currently is only available from the main office. Sometimes, employees need to access this information while away from the office. A few of the requirements which are common to all units were summarized below:
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All units are under pressure to provide better service to their customers. All units want faster access to informaion. All units want limited (indirect) access to some information from the Sage 50 accounting system. Most units want the ability to indirectly access data and enter some data remotely using standardized corporate forms. Most employees want access to information from external locations such as an airport, hotel or taxi. All units want multiple communications modes including real-time text and forms sharing for communicating with others inside and outside of HAWC. All units want the ability to exchange documents among employees.
Armed with this initial information, team members are now ready to start the next logical step of the process, preparing a requirements document. System Requirements - Hardware
After interviewing representatives from the various business units at Houston Area Windows Company, the analysis team members feel that they understand what services the new Fast Local Information Processing (FLIP ) system should support. As with most business systems, the analysis team should consider components and interfaces used to access the services (the front-end of the system) and supportive hardware and software used to deliver the services (the back-end of the system). A primary goal of the FLIP system is to extend communications and information services beyond the main office to employees in the field. Houston Area Windows Company wants to be sure that the features provided by the new system are completely compatible with features available to employees at their desks. The front end of the FLIP system, therefore, will require that compatible interface capabilities are delivered by both remote devices and desktop devices. The new system requirements will make demands on corporate servers which run the SAGE 50 package as the back end of the system. The corporate servers host the accounting system and the primary database used by the accounting system. The analysis and development team members must organize their considerations of storage, processing, and input/output considerations for the remote devices, desktop devices, and server devices on which the system would run. The analysis and development team members recognize that much of the functionality of the new system is already available to employees at the desktop through their home office workstations. The company implemented common, standardized workstation platforms 24 months ago. The analysis and development team members agree that Houston Area Windows Company does not need to upgrade or purchase additional hardware for users to run current software applications at their desks. The CIO who initiated the investigation phase of the project realizes that the use of remote devices will dictate some requirements of the server and software that will support the FLIP system. When meeting with the potential users of the system, the analysis and development team initially determined that remote devices should be small enough to carry and use easily in a hotel, an airport or a taxi. HAWC currently has a few laptop computers. Although these would meet most of the needs for the new applications, currently owned machines are considered by some to be "too bulky to use in a cab". All HAWC employees have cellular phones. These devices have very limited keypads and relatively small display screens. They cannot be used to easily compose or analyze lengthy documents. The analysis and development team reviewed the goals of using remote devices within the FLIP system: to communicate by voice, text messaging, forms sharing and e-mail; to access corporate information such as customer records; and to provide analytic tools. If most of the processing will take place on a separate front-end server, the remote device would not need significant processing power. Because data will also be stored on the front-end server, the remote device would not require large amounts of data storage capacity. Because employees will use the remote devices for text communications, filling out reports, and other text-intensive data entry, the remote devices should have adequate keyboard capability. The CIO would like the initial implementation of the new project to be made available to 8 "key" employees. He would like to limit the new hardware costs for these key employees to under $ 1,000.00 each. He hopes that the system could be extended to other (less critical) employees for a new hardware cost less than $ 800.00 each. Specific Application: Additional details about payroll information requests
When an employee is hired at Houston Area Windows Company, that person selects from a list of benefits and services which require contributions from the employee. The employee contributions are deducted from the employee's pay each pay period. These deductions are combined with required deductions for medicare, social security, state income tax withholding and federal income tax withholding. Each pay period, all deductions are subtracted from gross pay and paychecks are printed by the corporate payroll program. If an employee wants to review his or her selection of deductable benefits, he or she must turn in a signed request on a special form to the Human Resourses department. When these form are received, the HR department logs the request and creates a report of selected benefits for the employee. This report is printed by HR and delivered to the employee by company mail. If an employee wants to change his or her selection of deductable benefits, he or she must turn in a signed request on a different special form provided by the Human Resourses department. When a request for change in deductions is received, the HR department logs the request and creates a special form for the employee. This form allows the employee to change selected deductable benefits. Then an updated report of selected benefits is printed by HR and delivered to the employee by company mail. Some deductions are the same every pay period. Other deductions vary because they are based on a percentage of gross earnings for the pay period. If an employee wishes to estimate his or her gross pay, deductions and net pay for a particular period, he or she must do so without any help from the payroll system or the Human Resource department. It is clear that many employees would like much more direct access to their benefits and deduction information, including a mechanism which would allow them to estimate their deductions and net pay based on hours worked during a pay period. Specific Application: Additional information about Training Programs Because of the high turnover at Houston Area Windows Company, HAWC has chosen to offer training courses in the skills needed to install and repair airconditioners. HAWC offers these training courses to new employees and also offers the courses, for a fee, to students enrolled in the Houston Community College Air Conditioning Tech program. Until recently, all the information about training courses was passed by ads in newspapers and notices in the HCC course offerings. Management is considering expanding the availability of its offerings by posting descriptions of its training courses on the internet and accepting applications for its courses from clients using an internet portal. Currently, when an interested person inquires about traing courses, a staff member in the Training department sends a course description and a schedule of available training courses. The course description describes the content of the available courses. The course description also includes information about the time, place and cost of each training course. If the prospective trainee indicates an interest in a particular training course, a staff member in the Training department calls the prospective client on the phone. Training customers must sign a contract and receive an invoice. As training progresses, trainees are required to complete various tasks and submit evidence of their understanding and completion to the training course instructor. The training course instructor evaluates the progress of the trainees and posts that evaluation to the trainee's course record. Currently, trainees can check on their progress only by receiving feedback from the instructor during training sessions or contacting the instructor.
When a trainee completes a particular training course, a certificate is issued. When a trainee needs to verify his or her total training accomplishments, that trainee must make a request to the training department. When such a request is received at HAWC, a staff member in the Training department prepairs a report showing all training programs taken and the results achieved during each training course. There has been a certain amount of complaining by trainees that the composite training reports are slow to arrive and often inaccurate. Specific Application: Additional information about Estimates, Bids, and Actual Costs The employees in the Product Installation and Repair branch at HAWC work with customers to make sure that all services are properly completed and all purchased equipment is delivered on time and as promised. One of the jobs of the Product Installation and Repair branch is to compare actual times and costs with budgeted times and costs to provide the kinds of early warning that could prevent "flubbed" installation or repair services."Flubbed" deliveries are those whose actual cost or delivery time is unacceptably higher than budgeted cost and delivery time. Experience has shown that in many "flubbed" deliveries, early hints of potential problems provide opportunities to correct flawed processes before things get completely out of control. Certain employees in the Product Installation and Repair branch at HAWC work with established customers to provide customized assemblies and repair services. These services are ordered on an individual basis. The person who will perform the work must estimate the time and resources necessary to complete the task. That person must provide a written estimate which describes the parts and services required. The special service agreement serves as a contract between the customer and HAWC. Then the responsible employee must perform the services necessary to meet the terms of the agreement. Currently, there is little follow-up to improve the quality of cost and time estimates. Specific Application: Additional information about Access to Invoices As Sales and Marketing employees at HAWC work with clients, disputes occur from time to time over the status of invoices. Some clients are seriously late in paying their invoices. Having this information available to the employees who work with these clients can reduce the risk of non-payment by preventing employees to sell or provide extensive services to non-paying clients. In other cases, errors may occur in the processing of invoices to reliable clients. Employees who deal with these clients can provide valuable services by verifying the status of reliable clients and giving them positive support in resolving the problems. The possibility of Sales and Marketing employees checking on the status of invoices does not mean that they would have direct access into the corporate accounting system. Access would be "read only" from a special front-end system, allowing no changes to be made to the status of client accounts within the company accounting system. One type of investigative query would be to check the status of a particular invoice for a client. Another type of investigative query would be to request a list of certain accounts payable to show patterns of billing dates and payment dates for a particular client. A third type of investigative query would be to compare the amounts billed to the clients with the actual work done on behalf of those clients in order to prevent accidental over-billing and accidental under-billing.
Other possible Applications Custom Assemblies and Repair Services ("CARS") : The CIO mentioned that there were a number of "flubbed" deliveries involving Custom Assemblies and Repair Services. It would be useful to have reporting capability for deliveries which are unacceptable late or above estimated costs. This would require a system which handled queries about late and over-cost deliveries. Change Orders : The CIO also mentioned the possible advantages of a Change Order system. Currently, when an order is changed, paper documents are created and copies of those paper documents are sent to affected parties. This practice is slow and inconsistent. It would be useful to have storage and reporting capability for orders which have been changed. This would require a system which handled queries about change orders from all affected parties. Status of Purchases and Inbound Deliveries : The CIO also mentioned the possible advantages of a system which would allow affected personnel to track the status of purchases and inbound deliveries. It would be useful to have ad-hoc reporting capability for all purchases and inbound deliveries. This would require a system which handled queries about any purchase order or any inbound delivery. System Requirements - Software After interviewing representatives from the various business units at Houston Area Windows Company, the analysis team members feel that they understand what services the new Fast Local Information Processing (FLIP ) system should support. As with most business systems, the analysis team should consider components and interfaces used to access the services (the front-end of the system) and supportive hardware and software used to deliver the services (the back-end of the system). The CIO who initiated the investigation phase of the project realizes that the use of remote devices will dictate some requirements of the software that will support the FLIP system. The CIO is aware that developing a system from scratch can be extremely costly and time-consuming. He knows that there are products availble from vendors which might be able to handle the requirements being proposed. In the past, these vendor provided packages were too expensive to consider. Systems called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems provide extensive tools for dealing with customer relationship problems. Portions of ERP systems called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) modules have been developed in a modular fashion so that they can be marketed separately. As technology develops, the costs of both hardware and software are changing. New technologies may provide solutions which were not feasible in the past. The IT employees at HAWC are familiar with the Windows 7 operating system and the Microsoft Mobile Operating System. They use Microsoft Office 2007 for end-user applications. The programmers use Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 (C# or Visual Basic) for more complicated applications. The programmers and the CIO are aware that the Windows 8 operating system has been released and will eventually replace the Windows 7 operating system, and that Visual Studio 2010 has been released to replace Visual Studio 2008 on newly purchased computers. Houston Area Windows Company is considering a move to replace all remaining Windows 7 systems with Windows 8 systems and replace Visual Studio 2008 with Visual Studio 2010 within the next year. The CIO has decided that any new applications which will be developed must run under one of these operating systems ( Windows 7,
Windows 8 or MS Mobile). The CIO wants to know how a transitions from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and from Visual Studio 2008 to Visual Studio 2010 would effect the operation of the proposed FLIP system. The analysis and development team has decided to create Prototype models for all proposed new applications. The prototypes would include alternate designs for data entry forms and additional Report forms. The analysis and development team has decided to include documentation and the associated (prototype) forms and reports in the preliminary design document. The CIO has decided that prototypes for the new system including new forms, new reports, and new data structures will be developed on desktop machines first and then deployed to remote devices after they have been tested and approved on the desktop machines. The CIO has suggested that any new prototypes should be developed using either Microsoft Office products or Visual Studio products. In particular, the CIO has suggested that the analysis team use MS Word, MS Excel, MS Access, MS Visio or Microsoft Visual Studio to develop prototype forms and reports. It is obvious that some trade-offs must be made in selecting the components to be included within the FLIP system. The CIO asked the analysis group, in conjunction with the potential users of the system to evaluate the relative importance of each of the functional requirements identified so far using a scale from 0 (totally Unimportant) to 10 (Absolutely necessary). The following table is the result of that analysis effort. Factor Access to corporate records and information systems Ability to enter data for corporate standardized forms Ability to exchange documents among employees Applications must be supported within Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows Mobile op. system Access to the Internet and Web Remote devices must have adequate keyboard capability Less bulky than current laptops ( first 12 units) Multiple communications modes, including real-time text, for communicating with others inside and outside Houston Area Windows Company Importance 10 10 10 10 8 7 7 6
Access to information from remote locations, such as in an airport, hotel 6 or taxi Initial new hardware cost (first 8 units) less than $ 1,000 each Expandable to other users at less than $ 800 each (new hardware) Less bulky than current laptops (after first 8 units) 5 5 5
The CIO wants the analysis and development team to consider these priorities in developing a requirements document suitable for internal or external use. Database Considerations
After interviewing representatives from the various business units at Houston Area Windows Company, the analysis and development team found that several of the specified requirements for the Fast Information Response (FLIP ) system for Houston Area Windows Company involve database activities, including :
Access to corporate information extracted from current (back-end) information systems Limited (indirect) data entry from special forms within proposed front-end system
A primary goal of the FLIP system is to provide communications and information services to employees away from the home office. HAWC is a small company. The main database is controlled by the accounting unit. This back-end database must interface with front-end applications which use Microsoft Access databases. Front-end applications use data from the main database indirectly, but the flow of data in front-end applications is almost always one-way (from the main database to an application database and then to the user of the application). Within the main database, there are tables used by the Accounting System, including GeneralLedger, AccountsReceivable, AccountsPayable, Payroll, GeneralJournal and several specialized journal entry tables. Under strict controll of the IT director, data can be extracted from these tables and inserted into the front-end FLIP system. The Human Resources group uses front-end applications which use data from an Employee table and the Payroll table of the main Accounting database. The Accounting and Finance group uses data from a Customers table and data from the AccountsReceivable table of the main Sage 50 Accounting database. The PIR group uses a Customers table and a ContractDetails table and interfaces with the AccountsReceivable table from the main Accounting database. The relationships among the various tables should be established by Relationship rules which relate named columns in different tables. For instance, the ContractNUM field would be defined as the primary key in the Contracts table. There can be only one record in the Contracts table for any specific value of the ContractNUM. There would be a ContractNUM in the Invoices table, and also a ContractID field in the ServiceDetails table and the Invoices table. These serve as Foreign keys. The ContractID field would be defined as a Foreign key in the ServiceDetails table since there can be several services provided for any particular Contract. Since different employees would work on different contracts, the Contracts table would contain an EmployeeID field which serves as a foreign key to establish relationships between the Contracts table and the Employees table and identify the employee with primary responsibility for the contracted project. The Contracts table would contain a CustomerID field. This field could serve as a foreign key to establish relationships between the Contracts table and the Customers table. The CIO wants to expand the number of applications which use database interfaces. The CIO is considering two new applications which would expand the use of the Contract portion of the current database system. Contract information is currently handled by the accounting section using spreadsheets. This information is gathered by PIR employees and SaM employees, and then analyzed by the accountants. The results of the analyses are then entered into database via the accounting portion of the (back-end) information system. Currently, the spreadsheet is created from Progress Report sheets filled out by PIR employees. This has been a source of considerable frustration for the PIR employees who have to wait for their own work to be entered into the accounting system before it is available for them to use. The employees have to wait for the clerical workers to enter the information and then wait for the accountants to process the information and produce reports before the employees can use their
own information to work with their clients. One area of improvement suggested by the CIO would be the development of an application which would allow selected employees to enter cost estimate information into a local, front-end database which they could access in consultations with their clients. A second area of concern is the poor access to the invoice system. Invoices are prepared by the Sage 50 accounting system and then sent directly to the customers. Most HAWC employees do not have current knowledge of what invoices have been sent or what invoices have been paid. Employees can ask the accounting group for reports, but the current process is slow and acrimonious. A front-end system which provides invoice content and status information to employees would be quite helpful. The analysis and development team has decided to create Prototype models for all proposed new applications. The prototypes would include alternate designs for data entry forms and additional Report forms. The analysis and development team has decided to include documentation and the associated (prototype) forms and reports in the preliminary design document. The CIO has stated that prototype models for newly proposed data collection applications can be developed completely within the MS Office suite, MS Visual Studio, OR can be developed as HTML Web pages using other HTML editors. For security reasons, the CIO does not want the system analysis and development team to make changes to the Accounting portion of the database system. New applications will have access to local front-end databases which interface with the employee/users. The senior accountant will be in charge of interfacing local, front-end databases with the back-end database used by the Sage 50 accounting system. Internet, E-Commerce, and Collaboration Considerations Any remote devices used within the new system might be outfitted with virtual private network (VPN) software to allow employees to use secure (authenticated and authorized) input and output to securely view private corporate information from the front-end database using the Internet and a Web browser. Using standardized web protocols and (VPN) software, HAWC employees could access information systems that previously could only be accessed from the home office. HAWC's Fast Information Response (FLIP ) system will rely on standardized Internet and Web protocols and technologies for all of its applications that deliver corporate data through the remote devices. The remote device's Web browser and Internet connection software would be provided by the manufacturer or by the current Internet Service Provider and/or the cellular network provider. Currently, A T& T provides cellular phone service and internet service. The decision as to who provides the interface software depends on the type of remote device selected for the FLIP system. The CIO has decided that the application developers at HAWC would design Prototype Web pages that will represent the user interfaces for the new system. The CIO wants EACH MEMBER of the analysis and development team to propose at least one new application to improve customer service applications within the company. The analysis and development team has decided to create Prototype models for all proposed new applications. The prototypes would include alternate designs for data entry forms and additional Report forms. The analysis and development team has decided to include documentation and the associated (prototype) forms and reports in the preliminary design document. The CIO has stated
that prototype models for newly proposed data collection applications can be developed completely within the MS Office suite OR can be developed as HTML Web pages. E-Commerce, and Collaboration Considerations The Fast Information Response (FLIP ) system that HAWC is developing is all about communication and collaboration. HAWC could make limited parts of the system available to select people outside the organization by providing the necessary software, VPN access, and a username and password. For example, if HAWC collaborates with external (contract) partners on certain projects, it could make limited parts of the FLIP system available to the external partners. By creating an Extranet in this manner, HAWC would not need to provide the external partners with all of the information they request; the external partners could access some of the needed information directly. The CIO has decided that the external partners, like employees, should not use the new front-end system to interact with accounting (back-end) system transactions (active access), but it might allow employees and external partners to view copies of invoices (passive access). HAWC is a combination of a B2B company and a B2C company that provides its business and individual clients with air conditioning products and services. Within the new system, HAWC could provide Webbased, password-secured intranet to its employees and limited Web-based, password-secured extranet to its clients and external partners. Such a system could be used to provide market analysis, employee notes, and other useful information. The analysis and development team realizes that it can not meet face-to-face each time something needs to be discussed. The group has decided to use online collaboration to facillitate collaboration on the analysis and design project for the system. The group decided that it first must decide how important decision were to be made. The group then decided what "team roles" would be assigned to each team member. Then, the group decided to document these decisions by creating a team agreement document or "team charter". ERP and Customer Relationship Considerations Several HAWC suppliers have their offices and distribution facilities in Mexico. These suppliers have told HAWC that it is is losing some of its advantage because it does not have the capability to provide multiple language support and multiple currency support. The senior partner (and CEO) is afraid that HAWC will lose current suppliers, customers and lose the opportunity to attract some future clients if it does not provide multiple language support and multiple currency support. For this reason, the CEO wants HAWC to investigate the feasibility of adding multi-lingual support and multiple currency support. Two partners of HAWC are former employees of large corporations where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems were used to provide multiple language support and multiple currency support. ERP systems also provide extensive tools for dealing with customer relationship problems. The CIO of HAWC is very concerned about providing full support to current customers as well as attracting new customers. It is clear that under the current system, some current customers are not satisfied with the results they are getting. There are products availble from "EPR vendors" which might be able to handle the problems uncovered at HAWC. In the past, these vendor provided packages were too expensive to consider. Portions of ERP systems called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) components have been developed in a
modular fashion so that they can be marketed separately. As technology develops, the costs of both hardware and software are changing. New technologies may provide solutions which were not feasible in the past. The CIO wants the the analysis and development team to investigate the current status of CRM services and include the results of these investigations in the analysis of options considered for the new system. Additional Data Analysis Considerations for HAWC The System Analysis and Development team at HAWC had determined early in its investigation phase that the PIR group had problems waiting for the Accounting group to provide cost estimates. The Accounting group, which prepares cost estimates is very resistant to giving up the job of estimating costs. They say that if they give up the process they use, sales personnel will be using cost estimates which are inaccurate and unreliable. They say that they maintain the accurate data on product costs because they update their worksheets each time a product or service is billed. They also say that PIR employees have done a bad job of estimating in the past. They cite several instances where employees underestimated installation times and ended up reporting more time spent on an installation than was included in the estimated amount. In these instances, the employees turned in "actual" times on their job sheets which exceeded the amount which could be billed to the customer. The accountants are extremely critical of two employees who they claim are particularly bad about reporting more actual time than the amount which can be charged under the contract. The accountants also say that installations of two products have been underestimated frequently. The accountants supplied anecdotal data and an Excel Workbook called CostDetails.xls which they say contains data to support their claims. The employees from PIR and SaM, who are familiar with the clients and the products, don't believe the claims of the accountants and would like to use the data in CostDetails.xls to refute the accountants' claims. The CIO has stated that he wants EACH team member to show how data tables can be used to analyze product and service costs. Project-based Roles and Team Effectiveness Considerations The System Analysis and Development team has been working together on the system project for a couple of months. Some members of the team are clearly frustrated. Each time the CIO sets a deadline for a progress report, the team leader asks team members for specific written inputs. Each time this has occurred, one or more team members has waited until the afternoon before the report is due to provide input material. This leaves the team leader no time to organize and integrate the inputs into a meaningful and clear document. The CIO has complained about the poor organization of the documents. When these complaints are passed back to the team members, individual members have reacted defensively and harshly. Several team members blamed the CIO's negative reaction on the team leader, saying that their inputs were not given prominant placement within the progress reports. The team leader noted that the members who complained the loudest were often the last members to turn in materials. Apparently, slowing down the process does not mean giving up the right to complain about the result. The team has also been plagued by comments of the form "that's not my responsibility - it is someone else's responsibility". The team leader has decided to assign specific responsibilities (primary, secondary and shared) for various project oriented tasks to specific individuals. These "project-based roles" (like
"write the section on selected software products") would be in addition to team-based roles (like "schedule coordinator"). The project-based roles would be added to the previously assigned team-based roles documented in the team "charter" document. The team leader has proclaimed "unless we stop arguing and procrastinating and start cooperating and sticking to our schedules, this project will not be successful and we all will have to bear the burden of that". Logical Design of the new system The System Analysis and Development team at has been working together on the system project for a couple of months. The deadline for submitting the presentation of the Design Strategy is almost here and the team leader drops two "bombshells". As the first bombshell, the CIO wants to know how long it will take before the new project is "fully operational" including testing of all parts of the system, implementation and training of the persons who will be using the system. The CIO would like to see this information in "graphical form". The System Analysis and Development team has interpreted this as meaning that some form of project management tool should be used to create a graphical output which would show important steps and important milestones in the project life cycle. As the second bombshell, the CIO has reiterated that he wants each member of the System Analysis and Development team to provide specific examples of prototype components to be used in the system design process. That means that each member must provide representations of some part of the system that they have been working on. Testing and Implementation Strategy and Schedule for the new system The System Analysis and Development team has been working together on the system project for a couple of months. The deadline for submitting the presentation of the Design Strategy has arrived. The CIO would like to see this information in the form of a Presentation (Powerpoint slides or a multi-page website). The team leader believes that the work of each individual needs to be identified (remember, the CIO has reiterated that he wants each member of the System Analysis and Development team to provide specific examples of prototype components to be used in the system design process). The team leader also believes that the Presentation should be an efficient and effective communication vehicle easy to understand and visually pleasant to view. This means that there must be some coordination of efforts to properly integrate everyone's separate contributions into an effective presentation. This will take TIME and EFFORT. Getting the job done effectively will be difficult, if not impossible, if team members wait until the last minute to submit their portions of the presentation. Legal Issues, Security Issues and Participation Issues for the new system The System Analysis and Development team just submitted its Design Strategy Presentation to the CIO who scheduled a presentation meeting with senior management. At the presentation to senior management, managers asked several questions about security of company data. The CIO promised that the System Analysis and Development team would look into all security issues which were raised. After the presentation to senior management, the System Analysis and Development team held a "debriefing" to discuss what went well and what did not go well on the project. Several members complained that their ideas were not given enough importance. The team leader complained that some members caused hardship for the group by not keeping up with the schedule for completing their
assignments. This caused extreme difficulty for the two members who were responsible for integrating individual contributions and editing the final presentation document. This disregard for scheduling details was blamed for a couple of embarrassing errors in the final document which was presented to senior management. Materials which were submitted at the last minute contained inconsistancies and gramatical errors which were not caught in the last-minute editing process. (The CIO was very angry about this). In an effort to reduce this type of problem in future projects, the CIO asked each member of the System Analysis and Development team to evaluate the processes used by the team and to evaluate the participation of each of the team members. The members who submitted contributions after the due dates protested that this would lead to unfair accusations, but the CIO did not relent in his efforts to evaluate the processes used by the team and to evaluate the participation of each of the team members.