Current IT situation
At the given moment information technologies, used in the company Bandon Group Inc. perform the following functions: 1) administrative and financial reporting; 2) order processing; 3) sales prospecting; 4) connecting the divisions of the organization; 5) data integration and analysis; 6) territory management (Summer, 2005). This enterprise employs a great variety of applications, for instance, CRM (Customer Relations Management) solutions and OMD (Office Machine Management) programs. These programs operate as separate entities, but not as parts of a single framework (Summer, 2005).
One of the key issues, faced by this company is the absence of a relational database that would help to transfer and update data sets (Summer, 2005; Lahdenmäki & Leach, 2005). This shortcoming makes reporting and querying very complex and time-consuming. It should be taken into account that the managers of various divisions within Bandon Group Inc. adopt different strategies while integrating information technologies. For instance, some of the departments use a Soaring package that is compatible with Microsoft SQL Server. The thing is that it allows ad hoc queries and reports, whereas the managers of other departments claim that this tool is insufficient to support new business processes.
It should also be pointed out that the use of hardware also varies in this organization, for example, Bandon Phoenix uses Cisco Router in order to get access to the Internet, whereas Bandon Salt Lake City does it by means of T-1 (Summer, 2005, p 174). Although this difference between these tools may not be so significant, this detail demonstrates that IT policies within this company lack consistency.
Overall, it is possible to argue that lack of integration is one of the major difficulties for this organization. This is why the executive officers have long decided that they need an enterprise resource planning system. It may help them to reduce inventory, improve accounting control, and minimize the risks of delay (Hamilton, 2003, p 43). More importantly, the management expects that this tool will enable to better coordinate the work of business units and gain full control over
The gap between the current IT situation and desired IT direction
In order to work out the strategies for the improvement of the IT system in Bandon Group Inc., one should first identify the needs of this enterprise. Marketing is the key business process in this organization, and to make it more efficient the company requires the following software solutions:
- an integrated tool for sales prospecting;
- user-friendly database;
- sales analysis tools (Summer, 2005).
These are the difficulties, faced by each of the divisions. In turn, administrative needs are similar across the departments, namely:
- the need for invoicing subsystem;
- tools for obtaining customer service data,
- software solutions for making inventory reports.
Finally, it is necessary to discuss the needs of customer service departments as excellence in this particular aspect is one of the reasons why Bandon Group Inc occupies a leading position in the market. They have to cope with such problems as
- inability to share the technical updates of the vendor,
- lack of barcoding for parts inventory;
- the gap between the ordering system of the vendor and OMD (Summer, 2005).
These are the major problems that the management of this company has to address in order to enhance its operational and financial performance.
Judging from these needs, one can single out those steps which the management has to undertake. They should develop or procure sales prospecting tools, create a customer-oriented website, develop a web-based invoicing system, redesign the OMD system so that it would be available via laptop (Summer, 2005, p 175). These are some of the tasks that have to be accomplished by the management.
Overall, it seems that a customized ERP system would help the management to bridge the gap between the current IT situation and those goals which Bandon Group strives to reach. First, it is multi-functional and can perform a great variety of tasks, including data migration, the monitoring of supply chain, customer service, financial reporting, and inventory control (Hamilton, 2003; Dumas et al, 2005).
Therefore, it can substitute both OMD and CRM systems as well as reduce the number of software solutions, used by the company. Another thing that should not be disregarded is that the ERP system is instrumental for the integration of various business units. Bandon Group Inc consists of five divisions, and at the moment, they use different soft and hardware. The critical issue is how to customize this ERP system or adjust it toward the needs of this particular company.
As a rule, the developers of ERP applications attempt to make these programs as flexible as possible so that the end-user could easily change various settings. However, very often the companies are forced to alter some elements of the program code in an effort to make this software more appropriate for the needs of one particular organization, and this change can be very expensive. Yet, even despite this limitation, the adoption ERP system is an effective strategy for the solution of the problems, encountered by Bandon Group Inc.
Dumas M., Aalst W. & Hofstede A. (2005). Process-aware information systems: bridging people and software through process technology. NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Hamilton S (2003). Maximizing your ERP system: a practical guide for managers. NJ: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Lahdenmäki. T & Leach M. (2005) Relational database index design and the optimizers: DB2, Oracle, SQL server, et al. NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Sumner, M. (2005). Enterprise resource planning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.