ALTERNATIVE IT/IS SOLUTIONS AGAINST BUSINESS NEEDS
Part A instruction: Critically appraise alternative IT/IS solutions against business needs:
Critically appraise alternative IT/IS solutions against business needs, to bridge potential gaps in business and IT strategic alignment.
Conduct a critical evaluation of the effectiveness of various business requirements, design and integration techniques, and appraise critically alternative third party vendors and IT/IS solution providers.
Reflect on paradigms or philosophical enquiry and the application of systems and systems thinking, acknowledging the value of critical thinking in IS.
Evaluate critically the legal and ethical implications arising from new technologies in a business setting.
Make a critical appraisal of contemporary models and evaluate methodologies and practices of Business Process Modelling and Knowledge Management in the context of current research and emerging trends.
Part B instruction The Reports:
Report details: The Learn & Leisure Group: an Online Booking System Case Study
The Learn and Leisure Group (LLG) provide 50:50 split activity and study based short breaks within the British Isles. Baking Brains (for would be cake makers), Sport Savvy (for the health and sport enthusiasts) and Music Makers (for aspiring musicians) are just three of the short breaks on offer.
The LLG packages provide quality bed and breakfast accommodation via a network of approved B&Bs and activity events are arranged on location through mobile pop-up activity units.
LLG have seen reasonable year on year growth over their ten-year business history. But the market in structured activity breaks is open to the threat of new entrants, and LLG need to keep their prices very competitive to survive in the short breaks business.
Many of the new entrants to the market are ustilising technology to maximise business efficiency. The senior management team at LLG are not averse to investing in technology which will provide long term gains. One area they are particularly interested in updating is the booking system. Presently the bookings team is made up of four booking clerks who process telephone and email bookings. Therefore, you are asked to look at potential online bookings software and to provide an overview of a cost-effective solution.
A review of new entrants to the market suggest that the most comparable successful businesses in the sector have implemented online booking systems. These have been recognised as a major source of competitive advantage and LLG’s senior managers are keen to be informed about these potential business technologies. However, you also need to address the concerns of the booking clerks who have been with the business from the very beginning. They usually deal with bookings by phone and email, and they are on very friendly terms with the managers of the independent B&Bs that they depend upon for their accommodation needs. There is overt resistance from the clerks to the idea of an online booking system and there have been issues in the past regarding the acceptance of new technologies.
One of the major challenges will be to put together a clear outline of a business technology approach that is appropriate for the booking system, and a persuasive argument to gain a level of acceptance from the booking clerks.
You are a member of the SBS Consultant Team employed by the LLG group. You are required to write a professional report which deals with the issues outlined above and presents your analysis and recommendations regarding an online booking system.
Identify key business and technical challenges of LLGs potential transition to an online booking system.
Consider barriers to implementation and how these might be overcome.
Build an inclusive and persuasive argument that can be presented to the Senior Managers and the bookings team.
The word count for the report is 2000.
Please structure your assignment as a report – include: Title Page – Contents – Introduction – Main Section – Conclusions and Recommendations – References.
You must reference your report with a range of practitioner and academic publications (Include at least 10 references. References will not be included in the word count).
The report should be 2000 words in length (not including the references).
ALTERNATIVE IT/IS SOLUTIONS AGAINST BUSINESS NEEDS
In the recent past, Information technology which is commonly known referred to as IT and Information Systems have greatly influenced the way companies organize their business processes including how they communicate to their customers as well as delivery of their services. Effective and efficient alignment of how IT supports business strategies and processes is a very important factor for any company to be able to successfully have successful business alignment. The fact that the whole business world is now becoming digital is one of the many reasons that have made Business and IT Alignment one of the most researched topic globally. This is indeed a clear justification as to why the capabilities between business needs and IT is still very popular in the business world.
The Concept of Business Alignment
The business alignment usually revolves around optimizing of communication between the executives who make business decisions and the It managers who are usually in charge of the company’s technical operations. Some of the main factors that are usually considered when designing an effective business alignment include; flexible business plans, efficient cost allocation as well as appropriate IT architecture. The technical managers are the ones who are usually charged with the responsibility of ensuring that they are able to come up with It systems that are in line with the business culture but they can still allow the business to reap maximum return on investment(ROI). The IT department is usually charged with the role of producing business value through the IT system that it comes up with. Based on this, alignment is usually defined as the the business system’s ability to demonstrate a positive relationship between information technologies and accepted financial measures in relations to performance.
Despite the many differences between the IT professionals and business personnel on what strategy to take, there is always need for common decisions to be made which will lead to trust between the two sides. This will ensure there is a consensus in making of decisions. The value is usually derived from the way the IT tools are used in the business. Portfolio management is another very vital area that usually leads to the success of the business and IT alignment. This is because through it there is efficient decision making on what is to be funded and what is not to be funded and this eventually leads to success of the company or the organization.
There are two types of strategies that are usually fused together in an attempt to ensure there is effective IT governance. These two strategies are; business strategy and IT strategy. At the external level, business strategy is made up of business competencies and business governance while on the other side for IT strategy at the external level it is usually made up of technology scope that is divided into systematic competences and IT governance (Luftman, 2004). On the strategic fit, the internal level of business strategy usually has administrative structure that is made up of organizational infrastructure, process. Unlike the business strategy, at the internal level, IT structure is made up of architectures that are mainly made up of IT infrastructure and processes. The internal level I mainly influenced by the environment in which the two strategies are operating. The functional integration separate business and IT, this model also highlights four domains which are harmonized for the system to operate effectively. These four domains are usually made up of; infrastructure, scope, competencies, skills and processes.
Phases of Business IT Alignment
The successfulness of any form of business and IT alignment requires effective communication between executive level and those working on strategy translation. The IT Business IT Alignment Cycle usually plays a vital role in ensuring this whole arrangement works. This cycle usually introduce a framework that IT department usually rely on in the management of the wide range of activities within the company. This Business IT Alignment Cycle is made up of four different parts, these are, plan; model; mange and finally measure. Through the cycle, the business is able to share its set objectives between the business and IT managers. This streamlines communications and ensures it is the set objectives are achieved by the use of minimum resources as possible (Luftman, 2004).
Steps to Business IT Alignment
There are many challenges that usually make it very difficult for any organization to achieve perfect alignment. This is due to the dynamic nature of the business which keeps on changing on daily basis. The fact that the external environment of each business keeps on changing right from the competitors, the legal and economic environments keep on changing. The cultural environment is another that has kept on evolving hence making the business IT alignment a very difficult task. The knowledge tools such information technology and information systems are also changing rapidly hence the need to maintain differentiation as the main form of competitive advantage. It is very necessary to ensure that one avoids continuous change since it usually leads to perpetual misalignment. Business and IT alignment is a process that needs time for it to operate effectively.
According to Sabherwal & Chan (2001) there are eight stages that are usually followed to have effective Business IT Alignment. The first step is usually about; identifying of business drivers. Here the business needs that are driving IT are identified. These business drivers keep on varying depending on the needs at hand. The second step is usually creating of IT vision. This is the stage where IT capability is identified in line with the business strategy, process and available infrastructure. It is this vision that actually lays the policy that influence the creation of the IT capability identified. The third step is the assessing of the already existing IT alignment. This ensure that all the dimensions of alignment that is investment, organization and assets helps in understanding the current IT capability compared against the target IT capability.
The fourth step is the identification of the alignment gaps based on the analysis of the desired IT capability and what is available at the moment. The fifth step is usually about polarizing IT initiatives. This is the step that actually fixes that are vital in ensuring that both the business and IT are aligned. The sixth step is about the evaluation of the implantation options. The seventh step is about creation of migration. This is where the IT roadmap plan is created and planned on how it will be actualized. There are various requirements that are needed to ensure that the whole idea of Business IT Alignment is actualized. Some of these requirements include: performance profiling, the business requirements, data requirements, and status reporting as well as financial requirements.
Aligning of business and IT is still a very important sector that is still a puzzle for many organizations. Despite the increased research and many insights that have been given by the numerous studies that have been done in the recent past, still many business find it difficult to integrate business IT alignment in their operations. Some key aspects of alignment have not been effectively covered hence the need for additional research which an aim of covering: the impact of outsourced IT on alignment of operations, the application of business IT alignment in SMEs. Cultural aspects of Business IT Alignment have also not been well covered. Despite the cost and other challenges involved, Business IT Alignment is gamble worth taking.
Report based on The Learn & Leisure Group: an Online Booking System Case Study
Despite the wave of technological advancement, there are still many companies that have not been able to integrate technology by undergoing the transition to an online platform. Even though the benefits of the transition to an online platform outweighs the disadvantages it is still very difficult for many to undergo the necessary changes needed to be able to use the online based alternatives. Based on LLG case study, there are many advantages that the company will enjoy when it undergoes transition of adopting an online booking system. Some of these will include: the fact that the business will have increased market size since there will be huge number of people who are able to access the site. The number or reservations can actually be increased. The payments are made quicker. This also reduces the chances of having bad debts since all the payments are made on cash basis. Although it looks appealing, the cost of undergoing a transition is one of the factors that the company needs to consider. The impact of the transition on staff morale is another thing since the online booking facilities will lead to lose of jobs since some of the employees will be laid off.
Key Business and Technical Challenges of LLG’s Potential Transition
There are various challenges that need to be looked into prior to making the decision to undergo transition. These challenges are both business and technical in nature. Some of these business oriented challenges include resistance from employees.
Resistance from Employees
Employees form the mantle of any organization. This is to mean there is need for happy and motivated employees if the productivity and efficiency in which the organization works is to be achieved. Each and every employee is aware that the introduction of an online booking system will mark and end for them unless the LLG deploys them to other departments within the company. This is to mean that there will be increased fear of losing jobs to an extent the employees will try their level best to oppose the idea of using online booking platform. The fact that technology needs a few people to run the machine also means that the security of tenure for some employees is in doubt hence they are likely to show their resistance to the idea in ways such as go slows, or even strikes.
Lack of Adequate Funds
The idea of changing the way the company operates from a manual platform to an online based is one that requires a lot of resources. Some of these resources will be required in the training of employees on how to use the new system in ensuring that they are able to deliver quality work (Ashari et al., 2014). The cost of establishing the new software that is fast and efficient when it comes to efficient service delivery means there is a huge financial outlay that is needed for the project to become a success. There is need to ensure that the necessary infrastructure that is needed for the business to be able to have an online booking platform instead of having to do it manually. Lately, the cost of making a vibrant website that can accessed by the aid of simple devices such as mobile phones, laptops among other that can access internet is very high. This is to mean for the whole idea to be actualized, there is a lot of huge initial capital outlay that is needed for this whole thing to be a success. When it comes to technical challenges that are company faced with includes:
The Need for Internet Access
One of the main factors that make this to be a technical challenge is the fact some of LLG’s clients are people who come rural areas that do not have access to internet. By changing the way the tickets are booked from a manual one whereby a call is enough to book a ticket, means there will be a huge number of people who will be unable to enjoy the tours anymore due to the fact that they cannot book online as result of lacking internet connection. This kind of technical challenge will actually change the organization’s target market since those without internet will be locked out. This will have led to loss of many customers since they are looked out by the system. The number of reservations will also reduce since those without internet connection will be another to make their reservations. This is according to Ashari et al., (2014).
Influx of Many New Customers
Lately, the world has changed in that most of the people prefer using online based applications in booking of tickets. In case of a small business, there have been instances whereby the numbers of customers that have booked online are those that the facility can accommodate. This is because there is usually huge influx of customers who mostly oversubscribe the available capacity thus leading to mismanagement. It is very necessary to ensure that the system created is able to inform the clients on the availability of capacity.
Poor Booking Systems
There are many providers who usually engage in creation of sung systems for different companies. At times people usually get unlucky by giving the project of making the software program to someone who is less competent. This leads to formulation of a system that is not desirable that instead of attracting customers, it ends up putting off some of the potential customer. So that is another key challenge that one has to actually factor in. therefore there is need to take sufficient time and do research about the service providers before making up ones’ mind on who exactly to give the project to. Time is also another key factor that cuts across. The time taken from the very first step of booking for ticket online to the final step. This is because the load time is very key for people, and when a system loads for a longer period of time will just be a demotivating facto instead of a motivating factor. Based on this analysis then it is arguably in order to state that despite the use of online platform for booking the number of sales made will increase as time goes by that is after the online platform has grown and become integral.
How to Overcome the Barriers Mentioned Above
There are very many way in which the barriers mentioned above can actually be handled. Some of these methods are actually factor in that they depend on which of factor it is. When it comes to resistance from employees, there are very many ways oi which the organization can actually address this challenge. One of these way of addressing this challenges includes: communication between the top management and the employees prior to bringing of the software. This will ensure that the concerns of both parties are effectively addressed as result there will be resistance (Sabherwal & Chan, 2001). Another key strategy of ensuing that transition is very successful is by ensuring that the employees are included in the decisions making early enough before the transition takes place. This will ensure that they are aware the organization’s goals hence they are likely to back them up. Having transition gradually is also another good strategy that the company can actually embrace. This will mean that the company gives the employees’ time to learn slowly as the still use the manual booking system.
On the financial barrier, the organization needs to organize itself by planning in advance prior to making the move. This will ensure that the organization has sufficient funds needed to ensure that necessary infrastructure is in place before making the transition move. This will make it possible for the organization to get quality services as well as be able to train its employees efficiently on how to use the new technology as a form of creating competitive advantage. Doing cost analysis will also be another vital section since it will ensure that the company is able to use the minimum amount post but generate the highest value possible. Partnering is another vital aspect that would actually enable the company to reduce its initial outlying costs. Each partner will actually contribute her share of initial capital needed to ensure it has much needed resources to set up the whole project that will eventually end up with a transition.
When it comes to the idea of internet connection, most of the people in the developed countries usually have access to internet. This is to mean by ensuring that the products that the site is up to the task and the quality is unquestionable, then it will be able to achieve the set target. The stability of the site as well as protection from malicious users, it is advised that a website will be checked regularly to ensure that it is able to function accordingly.
When it comes to the booking systems, the company needs to ensure that website is of high quality, this will the reduce cases of poor systems that take so long loading. Through effective planning the company is able to ensure that the tender creating the website it gave someone qualified and one who has been able to make in the recent past. In flux of many clients is another key issue. Despite the fact that company is likely to have cases of influx of customers leading to seasonal surplus demand. Therefore the company should actually communication whether there is sufficient or limited capacity (Xiang et al., 2014). This will actually reduce the cases of having to book tickets more than available capacity. The machines should be organized in a way that it is able to only allow one to book a ticket when there is sufficient capacity is lacking.
Based on the points noted above, the advantages of switching form a manual booking system to an online booking ticket system are very many compared to the disadvantages. The fact that technology is improving on daily basis means it is inevitable to ignore. It is therefore necessary to ensure that those against its use are advised on the risk involved if they are going to ignore the application of an online booking system at the expense of a manual one. Increased working hours since with the online booking platform its works any time and any day meaning the operating hours will also increase as result hence more income. The fact that technology only requires fewer employees mean that the employer will be in a position to reduce the wages and pay only as a result of using Technology.
- The LLG should enhance effective communication in office to ensure that all the views of the employees involved were actually factored in the making of the decision.
- The company has gradual transition by ensuing having both the new booking system running parallel to the new one in an attempt to ensure the employees are not under duress to learn their new interfaces.
- There should be efficient training prior to implementation the transition idea with the idea pf having
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