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.