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system, if the hardware vendor decides to upgrade machines, the new machines may no longer be compatible with the outdated DOS system that Zara is currently running on.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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio is an amazing program that helps users create professional diagrams to simplify complex information with shapes and stencils. Although I have never worked in Visio for anything related to work, I can imagine all of the possibilities and efficiencies it can add to the workplace. In my former role at Medco, I remember that Visio was used for our organizational chart. After playing around in the program, I was able to see that it can be used for more than just organizational charts but flowcharts. It can be used as a highly effective way to graphically show the flow of processes, information and more. When faced with a problem, it usually helps to write things down, or draw them out. In terms of organizing and reorganizing, Visio can be extremely helpful to make sure that everyone is on the same page and is all seeing the same thing. I know that if possible, I will try to incorporate this program in the workplace and share the benefits it provides with my colleagues. Not only does it make things easier for departments internally, but it can also be useful for clients to see and understand. Companies can also cut costs by using Visio. Because the program allows such information to be seen so visually, companies can determine where processes need improving as opposed to hiring a third party to figure out more efficient ways to run.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Junk-Van Preparation

Problem/Issue Statement: Junk-Van is losing business due to pervasive errors with administration tasks. Junk-Van needs an affordable IT system that meets operational requirements and allows growth. Customers are not satisfied with the services being provided, and growth has slowed down. There are errors with customer contact information, forgotten/lost emails, manual calculations and billing mistakes and issues concerning the data clerk.

Situation Assessment: Junk-Van needs an IT system to meet the following needs:
  • Centralized Database - where information can be accessed remotely and internal information can be accessed without the need to email everything
  • Automated e-mails to customers to avoid mistakes with appointments and such.
  • Because employees are not very tech savvy, the new IT system must be user friendly and easy to implement
  • The system must be flexible for growth, and robust enough to handle significant changes in the industry or business
  • Vendor support. It is essential for Junk-Van to have someone to help support their company with their questions, concerns and comments about the system
  • Affordability. The system had to be within budget. 
Alternative Courses of Action

1. Upgrading from MS Works, to Access
    • Pros: Upgrading from Works to Access could be done on a budget and in a short time frame.  Access could be installed on individual machines or remotely through the internet and accessed through a secure virtual private network. Licenses were $179 each and Kingo felt that he could use his personal time on nights and weekends to install the needed software on individual machines.   
    • Cons: While Microsoft Access would seem easy to implement, has vendor support and could be implemented in 2 weeks, in order for the system to be a central database on a remote server would require Kingo to most likely hire some additional IT support which could be costly and time consuming.  MS Access also does not e-mail directly through the system.
2. Customized Application
    • Pros: Kingo could have someone completely customize an application for his business.  It could be web-based, which would be a central database and provide remote access. The development could take approximately 4 weeks which may be longer than Kingo would like, but still a relatively short time period.
    • Cons: While this seems like a good alternative, this could be very costly.  King received an initial estimate of $2,000, however this did not include data migration which would be an added cost.  Maintenance would also be an additional $60 per hour per developer and there is no way to estimate how much maintenance would be required. Another risk with a custom application – there is no way to preview it.  You simply explain to the developer what you want and get an end result; there is no way of knowing if his needs are actually being met.  Also, “vendor support” is billed by the hour post-implementation.  This could easily add up, again with no way to estimate how much.
3. Google Docs
    • Pros:  Google Docs offered online applications to easily create text documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations and forms.  Forms would be particularly useful to Kingo as they could be easily created and shared with employees. Employees could work collaboratively on the same file and e-mail distribution was supported.  The cost was relatively low as well.  For Kingo it would be approximately $50 per user per year.  Google Docs could also be implemented in a matter of a few weeks.
    • Cons:  Kingo knew of some friends who were afraid of using cloud computing, storing sensitive company data on tools and resources that were not completely in Kingo’s control.  Also, data would have to be in one large spreadsheet, forcing everyone to see every field.  Google Docs did not support the idea of a relational database where tables can reference certain information or fields in different tables.
4. Platform as a Service (Paas)
    • Pros:  PaaS was defined as the provision for computational resources, namely storage, hardware, network capacity and some basic software functionality.   With PaaS, users could use common applications, as well as build their own unique applications using a shared computing platform.  After a trial by a PaaS provider, Kingo felt he would be able to build forms and connect tables himself.  The system was fairly robust and easy to use. Also, implementation, including data migration would take only 3 days. This could be a system that could grow with the Company, and there was no long term contract required, Kingo could increase or decrease his service as needed, even having the ability to cancel with one month’s notice. 
    • Cons:  Similar to Google Docs, PaaS is on a cloud computing infrastructure bringing about the same concern of sensitive client information being stored in the “cloud”.  Service packages for PaaS ranged anywhere from $300 to $600 per month, depending on how much storage space, the number of user licenses and the number of applications needed.  Also, if customization was required, there would be an additional charge billed at the rate of $180 per hour. 
5. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
    • Pros:  ERP systems were built around a central database, they are designed to be accessible remotely and claimed to integrate business processes by covering all aspects of a business.
    •  Cons:  An ERP system would be something for a larger organization; even small business quotes were for 20 to 25 users and were typically $2,500 per user per year with additional upfront costs close to the same amount.  Kingo read online that a starting package for a business with 4 user licenses was actually $12,000.  While it was nice to have a system that would encompass a whole business, ERP systems seemed mainly focused on production and finance modules which were not top priorities for Kingo.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reflection on P&G Case

As a C-level executive, I understand the importance of keeping up with the ever-changing industry of pharmaceuticals. That being said, in order to keep up with the rapid pace of the healthcare industry, I do believe our company needs to improve processes, information, technology and more. Although the transition will not be easy or completely smooth, it’s going to have to happen, now, before our competition, or later, after our competition has the edge. Although it works, pushing around paper can only be so fast, I would like to eventually eliminate all paper processes because it is very laborious and cumbersome.

The only hesitation I have towards EDC is being the first ones to implement such a drastic change amongst our rivals. If it fails, we can potentially loose millions of dollars, but if it is successful, we will be considered as innovators and our stocks can increase, which will make our stockholders very happy. In terms of “teaching old dogs new tricks”, this is just something that we have to work with. Within the past 10 years, there has been a significant amount of changes in the health, science and technology field, which directly affects our industry. The current process is very burdensome and involves many steps where human error can decrease accuracy, and a decrease in accuracy can be very costly and waste the effort of many employees.

My recommendation is implement EDC one phase at a time, or one step at a time, before a full transition into the new system because this can disturb a number of process that may not have been considered yet and many people who are not fully trained or efficient in the new technologies. However, the goal is to completely transition over to the electronic system after a certain level of comfort and knowledge about the new system is attained. I do like the idea of having a third party/consultant in-house at all times to educate the staff and help them with any questions and concerns they may have. However, before any implementation occurs, I, as well as the staff, would like to see the system and have the opportunity to navigate through the pages in order to fully understand the efficiencies and effectiveness before a definite decision is made.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Business Impacts of Blogs

Blogs have reportedly increased website visitors by 55%. The more visitors a particular website gets, the more possible revenue will be generated. In addition, there is an overwhelming amount of information that is transferred digitally and with just a few clicks on the internet, companies have the potential to reach many consumers across the globe without trying entirely too hard while spending next to nothing. Blogs are also the perfect median to connect to consumers on a more personal level. Many blogs are very casual and informal which can help reach a multitude of different customers.

Also, blogging is great way to regularly communicate with employees, as well. Employees can quickly be updated on company news, while participating in conversation via the comment box. Blogs also allow customers and employees feel as if they know the company, which is great for the morale and reputation of the company. This form of instant publishing can benefit a company in terms of keeping updated on what the competition is doing and how they use blogs to their advantage.