Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pandora Reflection

TANK Consulting had many interesting alternatives in order for us to increase profitability. Pedal to the Metal Part 1 included some new ways for us to stream revenues such as expanding and leveraging our current advertising and market penetration. Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, we can increase our brand awareness amongst a wide range of consumers. I do enjoy the idea of an interactive Open Mic Contest, and I think this can positively build our brand and consumer base. After building brand awareness and consumer base, I think that it would be beneficial to host something similar to an annual music festival. As Pandora grows, I think we can also host a concert with a number artists from different genres, and possibly some upcoming/independent artists, if appropriate. We can advertise through radio stations nationally, as well as satellite radio. We can sell tickets through Ticketmaster, TicketWeb, StubHub, and our very own website and mobile app. With the increase of concerts and shows thrown by Pandora, we can also sponsor music related events. Going viral with sponsorships, and festivals can increase our brand awareness and consumer base, which can hopefully lead to an IPO later on down the line.

I do not recommend liquidation at all because we are the first to introduce the internet radio and I am certain it will quickly expand with more users and competitors. If we aggressively promote our product, we can increase our consumer loyalty while gaining new users, which will play a key role in our execution and sponsorship of shows and concerts. Another suggestion from TANK Consulting that I found interesting would be offering tickets to these shows and concerts through our website and mobile app. This makes it easy for users to see when and where their favorite artists are playing and gives them the ability to purchase tickets with just a few clicks. Overall, TANK had many considerable alternatives to open and expand our revenue streams and I think we should keep looking forward into the age of technology and music fused together to make the experience of online radio more enjoyable.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pandora Preparation

Problem Statement
Tim Westergren, founder and chief strategist of Pandora was struggling to balance the interests of investors while staying true to his dream for Pandora. As the company stood, they were going to run out of cash by the end of the following year and Westergren had to decide if he should pull back on growth and raise just enough money to stay afloat for long enough to reach an exit, or if he should go full throttle with viral growth and exploit the first mover advantage, raising a more significant amount of capital with the hopes of a possible future IPO?

Situation Assessment
Pandora was created by Westergren and two friends with the Music Genome Project, a music discovery engine designed to connect listeners with artists.  Each song was analyzed for its' "musical DNA" and entered into the music library. This analysis determined what songs This was how the Pandora team would be able to determine what users were listening to and recommend artists and songs based on each users' likes and dislikes. 

However, Copyright Royalty Board instituted a major increase in royalties to be paid by internet radio stations for streaming music during 2007–2010.  Westergren felt that the royalties would put an end to internet radio, including Pandora. Westergren sent a letter to all listeners, in response to the increase in royalties, requesting them to sign petitions to urge Congress to take action in order to save internet radio.

During this time, CD's were becoming obsolete because downloading music from the internet and iTunes was growing at a rapid rate. In addition, radio, satellite radio and iPods were becoming the main players in the distribution of music.

If Westergren and his team raise a sufficient amount of money, the risk will be worth the reward.  The industry is in the midst of transformation, listeners are no longer buying CD’s and they do not seem to be happy with their existing radio offerings.  An increasing amount of people are switching to satellite radio and internet radio. The internet radio offers a broad offering of music with customizable stations.  We are moving into a digital age where consumers want to be able to customize as much as of their consumption as possible, why not offer customizable radio? Pandora should find ways to generate money with more advertisements, subscriptions, concerts, shows and sponsorships in order to gain more capital.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Business Impacts of Microsoft Project

After experiencing Microsoft Project, I have come to realize that it is truly a valuable tool which can analyze and plan resources, budgets, timelines and what-if scenarios. It can also easily measure progress and anticipate resources needed. Because of the many moving parts, managing projects can be a difficult task. Tracking all of these moving parts is essential and enables the project manager to complete projects on time, and within budget.

This program can positively impact businesses because of its' many abilities. It has two clear schedules, including the original and forecast schedule. The original schedule is a set of static deadlines and the forecast schedule is a way of identifying slippages relative to the original schedule. The dates are constantly recalculated and re-forecasts when information regarding progress is entered. This schedule helps make problems more visible so corrective action can be taken as early as possible.

As opposed to Excel, Microsoft Project can help businesses project staffing needs, funding and work load,  all while saving the project manager time that would otherwise be spent on scheduling, making progress more efficient. Project also allows the user to identify which tasks depend on the completion of others. Determining this relationship amongst tasks enables the user to better plan out when each task needs to be done before the next. Businesses can use this valuable tool with little to no training and it will prove apparent that its' simplicity and key features will pay off.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bombardier Reflection

After our consultants' presentation on Tuesday night, I have realized the importance of ERP and the benefits of for our implementation to our third roll-out. I do agree with their suggestions of informing our users of the importance of KPIs and using as well as discussing the benefits of KPIs' customization. Our users encountered many items that they considered "non value added" and felt that they couldn't measure their contribution to projects. Another issue we have encountered was the gap between the business knowledge of the support staff and what was really going on in the business environment. For our third implementation, we need support personnel before, during and after, as well as the support of upper management. In addition, there needs to be better communication amongst the project team. The scorecard evaluation by a third party is a great idea. This will provide us with an objective opinion and can help us evaluate what needs to be done to improve performance. Lastly, we need to invest more in training and change management. Many users complained of excess beginner pre-training and not enough advanced training post implementation as well as an insufficient amount of trainers. We must modify the training schedule and include more support after the new system has been implemented. Overall, I think the Calm Consulting had many good suggestions that we should take into consideration to ensure that our next implementation runs smoothly and hopefully we will have the plan bulletproof after this next implementation.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bombardier Case Preparation

Problem Statement
With increasing competitiveness in the aerospace market, senior management at Bombardier felt that moving to an ERP system was necessary. This new integrated system would allow efficiency and effectiveness throughout all operations.

These large systems are very complex and often result in a performance that is below expectations. In the early 2000's, Bombardier underwent multiple rounds of ERP implementation, the first of which, was thrown out mid-way after $130million had already been spent. Bombardier then hired a consulting team  to help get senior leadership on board and create a project plan, which was wen Bombardier Manufacturing Information System (BMIS) was born and soon after, successfully implemented the integrated manufacturing system in two plants.

With the improvements of the Mirabel and Saint-Laurent plants, Bombardier would like to further analyze their implementation efforts and look at a Best Practices approach to ERP implementation in order to enhance their project. Understanding how a Best Practices approach could assist with an even more successful round of ERP implementation will help senior management evaluate their situation.

Situation Assessment
The first work in order in a Best Practice approach to the ERP implementation would be to define clear goals and objectives. A new ERP system will affect many different departments and business processes in many different ways. It is vital to establish goals and objectives, along with a strong management support, if Bombardier would like to achieve the overall goal.

The second best practice is ensuring that you are choosing the right software. Software must match the organization's informational needs, process, functional requirements and workflow. After much consulting, Bombardier chose to use SAP and implement the BMIS system for manufacturing facilities as management felt it was the best option for the organization.

Another best practice is to prepare for business transformation. Completely changing the way information flows throughout an organization is going to, in turn, change the roles of employees and business processes. During the ERP implementation, Bombardier must dedicate time and resources to change management. They must establish a clear process to help workers though the ERP implementation.

In order for business transformation to go smoothly, there must be training and support resources. A new ERP system requires highly qualified consultants  who are experienced in implementation and training at any time when a problem or question arises.

Bombardier will also need to create a concise implementation plan and timeline. A critical part of implementing an ERP system is deciding the steps and when and how to overcome each step. Deciding to switch over to a new system during critical periods of business may be detrimental to the organization.

Lastly, Bombarier will need to allocate the necessary resources financially, managerially, and with training and change management.

The transition with the ERP implementation at the Saint-Laurent plant went significantly smoother than the transition at the Mirabel plant. This is because Bombardier made the necessary changes with process, management, clearer goals, and better training. The mistakes made during Maribel were corrected and executed smoothly at Saint-Laurent, and with each implementation, the process can constantly be improved.

Some were not as eager to implement the new project as the VP of Operations at the Maribel plant. Attendance at meetings were dwindling and IT was complaining about the lack of information for training materials. When implementing at the Saint Laurent plant, Bombardier plant managers were much more involved. Their intense involvement resulted in a clearer vision and increased motivation and understanding. Employees were provided with visual aids/presentations that convinced employees that there was a need for change and should be used at during every implementation from this point forward. These presentations described how Bombardier was doing in relation to its' competitors and how the new ERP system will improve the company and its' profits.

The proper training was also not implemented during the Maribel implementation. Training was insufficient too far in advanced prior to implementation and employees could not remember everything they had learned when the BMIS system was launched. At the Saint-Laurent plant, training was re-vamped and employees were more satisfied, however, both plant employees felt that support left too soon after implementation. For the next implementation, Bombardier should ensure support to be available for an extended period after the system goes live.

I think gaining the employees trust and agreeance is vital to the success of any project and should not be taken lightly. Keeping them up with training and changes will only positively contribute to the bottom line, morale, and work ethic.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Puerto Rico Education Project Reflection

After Jagr Consults presented their recommendations on possible solutions to remedy the problems associated with cost, time efficiency, language and cultural barriers, employee morale and positive impacts of future projects, I would have to stick with my original recommendation of keeping the current employees and doing what needs to be done to make them happy and productive. If we send the unhappy employees back to the United States, we can not promise them the same positions because of the lack of projects. This can lead to a breach of contract and may result in employees taking legal action, which can negatively impact employee morale, reputation and integrity of USCO.

Also included in the negatives of sending some or all of the unhappy employees back home and hiring local Puerto Rican contractors can still lead to a significant language barrier because this recommendation is based off of the assumption that we will find the "right" employees for the job and that these employees will be fluent in both Spanish and English. If they are not completely fluent in English, the new contractors may run into issues with communication amongst our American USCO employees.  We will also have to invest the time and money into training the new programmers, and time and money is something that we do not have to spare. I think understanding why some employees are unhappy and coming up with solutions to remedy their concerns is more beneficial financially and morally as opposed to going back home and hiring brand new employees. There are cost efficient alternatives to help the families feel more comfortable for their temporary stay in Puerto Rico while keeping our valuable employees and getting our project on or close to the three year timeline.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ubuntu for Montclair State University?

After our discussion on Ubuntu, I started to think about whether or not it would a beneficial to install this operating system on all workstations, computer labs and laptops throughout the university. Ubuntu reminded me about the services provided by Google Docs. Ubuntu, as well as Google Docs, is initially, a free service. Google Docs does start to charge for more Gigabits of memory if needed, and Ubuntu charges for Ubuntu Advantage, which provides efficient systems administration, fast problem resolution and access to Ubuntu and OpenStacks experts as and when needed. Depending on the network and number of nodes, these services can run up to $350,000.

Aside from saving Montclair State University a significant amount of money, Ubuntu seems very easy to navigate and operate. Similar to Mac's operating system, Ubuntu looks and feels very much like same, which will make the learning curve for Mac users not as severe as it would be for Window users, and since more and more of Montclair State University's students are conducting their schoolwork on Macs, Ubuntu would be easy for those students to transition over to.

The only thing that concerns me is the use of Ubuntu in the "real world". After all, college is supposed to prep students for working in the "real world" and most companies work in the Windows operating system. I think it is important for students to be able to navigate and operate and many operating systems as possible in order to make them more marketable to future employers. I recommend that Montclair keep Windows as their main operating system while offering Mac computers and other computers that run Ubuntu as well. This way, students can get the best of all worlds without MSU investing millions of dollars into transitioning to completely different operating systems.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Puerto Rico Education Project Case Preparation

Issue Statement
The Puerto Rico Education Project (PREP) was a contract funded by the US government for the Puerto Rico Department of Education. This contract specified the installment of a large mainframe computer and associated hardware for a system to assist the Department in evaluating the results of education programs funded by the Federal government, and development of a large database containing data about all the students, teachers, and schools throughout the island. The cost of hardware was about $5 million and system design and development would cost another $10 million, consisting of primarily or personnel costs over the course of three years.

USCO determined that in order for this large project to be executed properly and on-time, they would have to move a total of about 30 employees out to Puerto Rico for the three years to work. Project personnel and their spouses and/or children would also bee moving from the Washington D.C. area, to Puerto Rico with them. These moves were quite expensive for the company, which is why it was prudent to hire the right people. In addition to moving, there was a language and cultural barrier associated to moving to the island of Puerto Rico from the U.S. and it was USCO's responsibility to ease these barriers for the families by providing housing, schooling for the project personnels children and enough money to cover the  increase in living costs.

Situation Assessment
Contrary to "working and living in paradise", in became evident that the living conditions were considerably different that had been expected. Living costs were about 15% higher than in the US, especially at supermarkets because Puerto Rico imports many products in from the US and other countries. Another problem that surfaced immediately was schooling. In total, there were about 15 children among the families in the project, and the school system in Puerto Rico was mediocre with very old and poor facilities. Private school was the next best option, however this ran up to $2500 per semester per child, which USCO was resistant to paying for and resulted in an increase in salary for the employees just to cover tuition.

In addition to the resistance for compensation for increased living expenses, USCO seemed blind to the level of poverty, and with such poverty, comes high crime rates. Also, the company provided each family with only one car, leaving the spouse and children stranded at home with neighbors who speak little to no English. Another problem was the lack of telephone service. Most families did not obtain a phone for the first year of the project.

Aside from the problems associated with the families settling down, the PREP Project proved to be troublesome as well. The system to be developed was not well defined and the 800,000 pupil files seemed to be more than what was manageable.  There were also problems with mainframe computer not being delivered on time as well as data collection. These many setback resulted in a low morale amongst employees and this adversely impacted productivity.

Evaluation of Alternatives
About two thirds of personnel and their families wanted to return back to the U.S. but Tom Ballard knew that it would not be a good idea to allow those who wanted to move back. The expense of sending them back was also considerable especially since the investment had not been recouped. There also wasn't a promise of much work back in the U.S. because business had been slow.

I would recommend that USCO increase the compensation for project personnel and improve both living and schooling environments. This includes, providing families with two vehicles, paying for better private schools, and offering language and cultural classes designed for the many levels or knowledge each family may have. If it costs too much money to send them back to the U.S. prematurely, USCO must provide some incentive to the project personnel and their families to convince them to stay in Puerto Rico, as well as truly enjoy their time there. USCO must realize that they made the families of their project's personnel pick everything up and leave, and they must be accommodating to their needs, within reason. Which means providing them with the essentials.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Accenture Reflection

After ConsultCube's informative presentation on Tuesday evening, I think we can make a knowledgable decision as to what would be best for our IT infrastructure. Because we make our decisions are based on ROI and what works best for the company as a whole, the current system presents a clear ROI analysis and annual audit for three years. Accenture's current system has been tailored to our needs, as well as the needs of our clients and this advantage has increased efficiency and it is also vey user friendly. The current system also works efficiently and there are no additional costs. However, COBIT will cost over 310 million dollars to implement and we will potentially not see a return on investment for a few years. In addition, employees will have to be trained every three years which implies additional costs that we wouldn't otherwise incur if we stayed with the current system. Our current business model as well as our IT standards already work hand in hand very well and will continue to bring us a positive ROI. Therefore, I recommend that we stick with the current IT governance Accenture has in place. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Accenture Preparation

Accenture is facing the problem of building a new IT infrastructure to support a global organization that consults on leading-edge technology.

Problem: With rights to Andersen's technology for only one year, Accenture is under a strict time constraint to create an IT infrastructure of its own. There are many problems with the current system. Knowledge must be able to flow freely across country lines and industry practices, and timely accurate financial information required to meet the more stringent demands made on a publicly traded company. The current system is a patch work of legacy applications that do not interconnect readily with each other and due to the obsolete software platforms on which we run, key systems and databases could not be accessed remotely through the internet. Large expensive private networks are required for this task, and financial information often has to be manually compiled to aggregate results from different offices. Also, we have adopted our own individual accounting and human resource software systems, making it very complex to get an up-to-date snapshot of the whole organization's status at any one time. In addition, consultants need to remain connected while being highly mobile.

Needs: IT products and services conceived and driven by the needs of internal customers and stakeholders, rather than by the interpretation of what IT engineers estimate internal users would need in the future. We will also need clear and verifiable services levels for each of the IT products and services offered. the optimal service levels would be determined by what users required. These would also be competitive with those offered by specialized companies in the field and would be constantly bench marked for improvements as learning curves and better technologies enabled efficiencies. Lastly, different levels of service would be offered for a particular technology. A price would price would have to be established for each level of service, with customers choosing what served them best and often paying for support on a transactional basis. 

Alternatives: The alternative course of action for Accenture would be using Microsoft software for end-user desktop tools, messaging, collaboration, and knowledge management assets worldwide. The company also runs its operational systems with SAP on Microsoft technologies.  Microsoft software can evolve adaptive work spaces, increases integration with collaboration practices, and offers quality management of information. Another advantage of using Microsoft software is a single user interface and single data usability along with information coherence.
Another course of action for Accenture could be decentralize its company and empowers its employees. An engaged workforce can lead to increased production, innovation and good word of mouth advertising for the company as an employer. The company can chose to extend ethical human resource management practices by ensuring that they only work with suppliers who value the same human resource ideals.

Recommendation: The logical recommendation that I would offer is that Accenture continue using Microsoft software first because there is a connection between different applications and second because it saves Accenture money compared to the option of buying the newest applications for every and each new customer. The adoption of Microsoft technologies has helped Accenture achieve its goals for IT operations, realize quantifiable benefits and, ultimately, better serve client needs while gets in return profitable ROIs. The new strategy that the company has taken upon is to set up particular ROI and ensures through follow up during the actual work process that number is met.  The organization decided to engage in IT infrastructure outsourcing, use offshore centers for application development and customer service and implement business process outsourcing for critical but routine tasks such as customer billing and invoicing - which has proven to be very successful in controlling finances and bringing more investments for the company and explains the great success of Accenture.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Reflection on Zara Case

After INFO Consulting presented us with their analysis of our company and our discussion that followed, I agree that the current system is definitely something that just works with what we have right now, but in the future, an upgrade could be necessary. As it stands today, there is nothing wrong with the process and it seems to be working because the company continues to grow. However, we may be delaying the inevitable and if we wait until it is absolutely necessary. I do recommend that we try rolling out the upgrade on our smallest market to test and see how things play out. If we get a positive response, I think we can progress from there.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Zara Case Preparation

Zara is faced with the decision of upgrading their old POS system from a system which is no longer supported by Microsoft. Although nothing is wrong with the current system, if the hardware vendor decides to upgrade machines, the new machines may no longer be compatible with the outdated DOS system that Zara is currently running on.

Situation Assessment
Although Zara's current process works flawlessly, it can not keep up with the fast growing  international company. Having a system that has no technical support to assist with the expansion may lead to risks later down the line when Zara opens more stores.

Alternative Courses of Action and Evaluation
Option 1: Keep the current system.
"If if ain't broke, don't fix it." Zara's current system allows them to quickly design, produce and distribute new garments in less than one month. Also, Salgado and his colleagues write their own applications which allows for complete customization. Keeping this process will cost the company nothing, but they do run the risk of not keeping up with technology and having issues later on down the road.

Option 2:
Upgrading to a new operating system
Zara has 3 options of which include Micosoft, Linux and Unix. The main concern with upgrading is cost, time, and running into hiccups that come along with such a drastic change in IT. This new upgrade would provide Zara with new networking capabilities, and the ability to better monitor inventory.

Even though I am a firm believer in not trying to fix something that "ain't broke", making to decision to not upgrade is just postponing the inevitable. Upgrading  would provide Zara with improved communication between headquarters and other Zara stores and their inventories. The stores can run more efficiently, especially for the customers. I don't believe that the DOS will stick around forever, and the current team will eventually retire and/or move on. There needs to be a system that is easily adaptable to the changes that happen within the company as well as the industry. Zara should seriously consider upgrading to a new system based on cost, functionality and flexibility.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Junk Van Case Presentation Reflection

After the thoughtful presentation provided to us by DJM2, I would have to recommend the Platform as a Service (PaaS). Before I explain my recommendation, it is important to make sure we understand the drivers of our decision to upgrade our current IT system. Our upgrade must have a number of features such as having automated email functionality, a central database, remote access, implementation in a short time period and not too costly. The PaaS system will only take 3 days to implement and is estimated to cost about $300-$600 every month. With this system, we can use common applications, as well as build our own specialized applications, all while using this shared computing platform. After the free trial, we all experienced the user-friendly interface, which is a plus for our not-so-techy employees. This option is something that is reliable, safe and comes with IT support if we ever have questions or comments, unlike Access or Google Docs. I think this system is the most effective, and will be the most flexible with growth. 

Although PaaS may be a little costly at this time, we have been saving money with being a virtual business. Investing in an intelligent information system, will in turn, increase revenues because we will be able to run daily activities more efficiently and effectively with a significant decrease in human error. Another pro, is that there is no contract to commit to, if there is a change of heart, we can cancel the service and search for another solution. I believe that we will get what we pay for, and investing in our business and ourselves will only increase revenues in the long run, even though a new system may seem costly right now. Above all, I feel that the PaaS system is something that will be able to adjust with our growth. The driving factor for this upgrade is our unhappy customers because we can no longer keep up with the growth, and this new system can help our business run more smoothly, which will result in less mistakes and happy customers.