OIM Final Assessment: Craven Books Report

Assignment Brief

Case Study: Craven Books

Craven Books (CB) is a comic magazine seller in Utah City, USA, with a 40-years life spam competing with mega sellers such as Dreamland Comics, Forbidden Planet, and Metropolis Comics. The company extended their market along North America and Mexico and plans to build-up a digital presence to approach the European market through multi-interface e-commerce and social media groups in order to promote their products to the new markets.  

This growth strategy has led to an accelerating volume of sales. Accordingly, the company had to process customer orders in batches and recruit qualified store manager and IT specialist to develop a digital strategy consistent with their business strategy.

Once he was appointed, the IT manager outsourced the digital strategy to an independent IT consultant who decided to set-up two technological tools for the internal and external processes. Internally, a weighing machine was brought to the store to help checking the right order through weight check. An electronic mapping machine was also attached to this weighing machine in the store area to link the customers’ order from the digital interface with the store management and help locate the relevant items. Externally, the IT consultant has developed a CRM[1] cloud-based interface to help both customer and employees conduct transactions and electronic payment online.

Within a year of outsourcing the digital strategy, CB has failed and lost 90% of their customers in addition to making 60% of their staff redundant. Clearly, there was a misalignment between the business strategy and the IT strategy.

Peter Craven, the owner of this company, needs your help as a professional information management consultant. He wants to define the areas of misalignments and explore different possibilities of developing a more relevant IT portfolio. These possibilities might include CRM, ERP, and Open Source Software to save the business and fix the fragmentation in his business processes. Therefore, you are required to submit a professional report that can be read and understood by Peter Craven and his fellow team.

Your Task

You are an OIM consultant who has been employed to advise Craven Books on the effective implementation of these strategic changes. You are required to produce the following:

Part A:            Analysis – Business Process Models and strategy analysis

In this section you should develop

  1. A series of Business Process Models, which capture the existing and proposed business processes. The models should follow the BPMN notation shown in the lecture slides. You can use Microsoft Visio to create the models although you may if you prefer use Word, PowerPoint or appropriate alternatives.
  2. Strategic analysis for Craven Books: You should use a recognised analysis technique such as SWOT, PESTLE etc

Part B:            Open Source Software Comparison Table

In this section you should conduct research into a suitable software solution for Craven Books. You should decide on the set of characteristics which you will use to evaluate the software and your research should consider 4-5 alternatives in detail. This section should be presented as a table.

Part C:            Report

In this section you should write a report which provides an overview of the current situation together with a roadmap outlining how the proposed changes to the business can be achieved to the benefit of the business. This should draw on your analysis in Part A, include your recommendation for software, and provide recommendations for ensuring that the strategy is effectively implemented, including consideration of the challenges ahead.

This section should follow standard report structure:

Title Page – Contents – Introduction – Main Section – Conclusions and Recommendations – References.

Part D:            Reflection on your contribution to the online discussion and wiki

In this section you should submit a 250 word reflective summary, accompanied by your own self-assessment of your contribution to the online elements throughout the module, using the table labelled Reflection Self Assessment Proforma in Appendix A (copy and paste it into your assignment document). The reflective report should include your detailed reflection, supported with evidence from the online discussion

Part A: Analysis – Business Process Models and strategy analysis

Business Process Models

Business Process Models facilitate the understanding and analysis of the firm processes to facilitate strategic improvements. The use of diagrams offers the visual presentation that is essential to allow all stakeholders to participate in the process. The diagrammatic representation is known as notation, and the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) has presented a standard Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) (White, n.d., p. 1). According to the author, the BPMN 1.0 specification has been in use since May 2004. In this light, the BPMN will be employed in this paper to develop a Business Process Diagram (BPD) for the Craven Books Company. The flowchart will present the existing and proposed business processes. The BPMN will focus on aligning the activities in the firm and facilitating online market to ensure that the company can venture into new markets. The process will start when the sales representative receives the purchase order from the customer. Subsequently, they check the stock level to ensure the availability of the product. If there is enough stock, the feedback is offered to pack and ship the products along with the invoice. When the stock is not sufficient, the customer is required to amend the order.

The business process model proposed shows that the organization will be able to integrate the existing, planned, and information system in the business. Fundamentally, it is critical in addressing the flow of information in the organization. The use of this model will increase customer involvement in the existing organizational process. It will be achieved by applying information systems that ensure data-driven decisions. In this light, the company will always know the customer needs. At the same time, the company will manage the stock to ensure that the customer needs are met. Suggestively, the business process model will be key in meeting consumer satisfaction.

Despite the potential benefits of the business process, there is a need for the company to ensure strategic implementation of the process, including focusing on the future of the company. Suggestively, the implementation should address issues such as expansion and differentiation of the business. The fact that the business process model is based on an e-commerce approach, it offers an element of sustainability. Additionally, the online platforms can be easily expanded to meet the organizational needs. Notably, Craven Books had identified the significance of information systems to the success of the business. The failure of the first system should be used in shaping the success of the new system. In this light, the business process facilitates the collection of data that includes stocks, invoices, customers, as well as the required workforce at each stage of the business. With such data, the business can increase its efficiency to meet the customer demands and remain competitive. Additionally, challenges emerging in the human resource management can be easily managed because the BPMN provides insights into the number of the required personnel.

The use of the business process model will be instrumental if the company understands its strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities and threats. Such an analysis will be the basis that the management will use to straighten the challenges faced but the organization. Additionally, the changes proposed to bring the company back to efficiency and facilitate ventures into new markets will require a strategic approach. In this sense, the change should be gradual and involve all stakeholders. The company should consider eliminating all detrimental aspects of the business to prevent further loss and start gradual improvements.           

SWOT Analysis of Craven Books

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Strengths

One of the key strengths presented by Craven Books is its unique products that have a large customer base in North America and Mexico. The competitiveness of the products shows that the company offers quality products at competitive prices. The company has a 40-year lifespan, which is imperative in building a reputation and credibility in the industry. The company has a good supply chain that enables it to deliver products appropriately in North America and Mexico. The company has a strong brand name that can facilitate engagement in new markets such as Europe.

Weaknesses

The company operates in a geographically fragmented market but lacks an appropriate internationalization strategy that can be replicated in new markets. Craven Books utilizes outdated technology and lack the capacity to innovate in the sector leading to outsourcing of the services. The company faces a challenge in employee efficiency. For instance, the IT manager lacks insights that are fundamental in the adoption of new technology. Also, the human resources lack strategizing on labor, leaving the 60% of the workers redundant. The inadequate application of new technology leads to high staff turnover, which also contributes to increased costs of production. The failure of the new technology results in a tarnished reputation, which affects the firm’s position and competitiveness in the industry.

The company has a weakness in the identification of suitable software as well as lack efficient preparations for the implementation of the new systems. There is little accountability in the organization which makes it difficult to blame a particular person. Notably, such significant changes in the organization are expected to be implemented with consensus from all key stakeholders.

Opportunities

Craven Books has the opportunity to venture into e-commerce, which will facilitate its internationalization strategy and increase competitiveness by having a large customer base.

The failure of the proposed technology offers a chance to explore and ensure effective implementation of a better system that will meet the organizational and customer interests.

The company can target emerging markets by engaging in increased research and marketing activities. Also, regaining its reputation and customer loyalty will be critical in expanding to other markets.

Threats

Craven books face significant competition from other companies in the sector, including Dreamland Comics, Forbidden Planet, and Metropolis Comics. These companies can be detrimental to the sustainability of the company considering the compromised reputation and ineffectiveness in human resource management. The company is at risk of volatile revenue because of the costs incurred in the procurement of new technology, reduced sales, and redundancy of 60% of the workforce.

Part B: Open Source Software Comparison Table

Basahel and Irani (2009, p. 1) allude that organizations often seek maximum benefits from the resources they have to reduce risks and increase performance. Efficient use of resources leads to competitiveness. Technological solutions such the use of IS has become an imperative resource that facilitates organizational performance. Nevertheless, in the case of Craven Books, technology is a resource that is not effectively used. Instead of contributing to the growth of the business, it leads to its downfall. In this light, the selection of the right technology and its effective use is imperative for the success of the company. Sentiments expressed by Howcroft and Light (2010, p. 128) show that the lack of satisfaction with custom-developed systems has lead organizations to embrace the best technology solutions. In this light, many organizations are using open source software (OSS) differently based on their business needs when organizations obtain the OSS for free or by purchasing; they have the option of customizing everything for it to meet the organizational needs. Howcroft and Light (2010, p. 130) review that the selection of an open source application can be made regardless of whether the firm conducts a formal evaluation or not. Furthermore, there are many OSS being used across different industries and their effectiveness in well known. Resultantly, people have developed trust towards the providers of such technologies. Additionally, when the selection criteria do not favor a particular OSS, this can lead to time wastage in gathering and evaluating other products. In this light, consultation and availability of in-house IT professionals can be imperative in deciding which is the most appropriate software. Despite, this various reviews show that it is imperative to evaluate the effectiveness of the software in the business processes. The approach is essential in mitigating risk and managing the organizational change process. The following table presents a comparison of some OSS that have been suggested as solutions to the technological crisis faced by Craven Books. The comparison is based on the evaluation standards offered by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrical Technical Commission (IEC) in the ISO/IEC 9126 (Yilmaz, 2011, p. 16). The comparison is based on reviews by users.

OSSFunctionalityReliabilityUsabilityEfficiencyMaintainabilityPortability
ONLYOFFICEWebbasedDepends on the strength and availability of the internetIt can be used in different operating systems, including iOS, Windows and Android It can be used on different platforms that include computers and smartphionesThere is online and phone support including tutorials for how to use it. Nevertheless, it lacks a knowledge baseThe software is portable and can be used in a range of devices facilitating effective management and flexibility in the workforce.
Bpm OnlineWeb-basedDepends on the internet availability and strengthCan be used in with Android, Linux, Mac, Windows, Web-based, Windows Phone, Mobile Web AppIt offers trial version to determine its efficiency in the organizational needsThe software has the following features that support its use: FAQs, Forum, Knowledge Base, Online Support, Phone Support, Video TutorialsIt is available on many devices, making it appropriate for portability.
SellyIt is a web based applicationIt depends on the internet connectionsIt can be used with devices that have Linux, Mac, Windows, Web-based, Windows Phone, Mobile Web AppIt has a trial version and can be customized for various operations.It can be maintained through the FAQs, online Support, and Phone SupportThe application is web based making it portable.
Idoo InventroyIt is a web-based softwareIt is reliant on systems being usedIt is available in devices that include Linux, Windows, Web-basedFacilitates the management of warehouse and inventory with increased efficiencyIt has support services that include FAQs, Forum, and Online SupportThe application is portable because it is web-based.

Part C: Report

Introduction

The advancements made in the technology sector have revolutionized how organizations and individuals engage in business. The use of Information Systems has made it easy for businesses to manage sales, logistics, invoices, communication, and other business activities. The emergence and proliferation of social media have also promoted business activities including marketing and communication (SITEL, n.d., p. 3). According to Lucas and Goh (2008, p. 47), the management propensities can affect the ability of a firm to control its dynamic capabilities for change, and this might be detrimental to the core aspects of the organization. In this light, the strategies managers employ in the implementation, and use of information technology system can influence the business positively or negatively. Although firms have used IS to improve business, this has not been the case in some organizations like Craven Books.

Craven Books is a comic magazine seller owned by Peter Carven and based in Utah City, USA. The company’s business had been successes full with market presence in North America and Mexico. The strategy to expand saw the company raise interest in integrated information systems that would foster its engagement in the European Market. Subsequently, the IT manager outsourced services from an IT consultant. Nevertheless, after the implementation, the company failed to meet its objectives in the use of the technology. Moreover, various challenges emerged upon execution of the new systems, including high employee redundancy, reduced market share, loss of competitive advantage, as well as losses in the procurement of the technology and compensation labor. Saving the company requires identification of the issues that made it challenged the success of the implemented information technology system. From the case study, there are several aspects that influenced the success of the initiative. Insights that can resolve these issues will be imperative in implementing effective systems and reclaiming the company’s reputation in the market.

Challenges facing IT system implementation at Craven Books

Lack of Insights to Determine the Appropriate IT System

The company lacks an in-house IT department, and the appointment of the IT manager came with the strategic business decision of using the technology to venture into the European market. Suggestively, the workforce in the company lack the fundamental skills that critical in using such technology. The over-ambitious management of the firm lacked to strategize on the best way for implementation, which left the decision in the hands of the provider. Consequently, the system offered was not appropriate for the company. Notably, the management thought that the use of the technology would result in immediate competitiveness. The firm did not test the program to determine its feasibility in the business. Additionally, the end users, including the workers and the consumers were not engaged in the change process.

Poor Outsourcing 

The company is highly reliant on the software consultants to deliver the best system. Consequently, the IT manager and other concerned parties did not review or assess the system before installation to determine if it was effective for use in the business. In this light, the system provider could have been driven by profits at the expense of Craven Books. The consultant did not go over appropriate guidance to the company on the selection of the best technology, and at the same time, there were no people who had insights about the system within the company. The prompt implementation and execution of the system show that the contractor did not offer training to the workers on the use of the new technology. Consequently, the adoption might have been faced with resistance to change and lack of reduced employee productivity and organizational performance.

Negative Impacts of The New Technology

After the implementation of the new technology, the company faced a series of challenges that can be attributed to ineffective management decisions and lack of strategic organizational change. The key issues facing the company was the loss of 90% of the customers and redundancy of 60% of the workers. Notably, these challenges lead to others, such increased expenses, ruined a corporate reputation, loss, and loss of market share. The inefficiency of the weight devices contributed to the loss of competitive advantage as well as dissatisfied customers and workers.

Lack of Accountability

The lack of strategizing on the implementation of the new system made it difficult for the organization to lay blame on a particular person. The project lacked leaders who could ensure effective procurement of the technology and foster its utilization to meet the organizational goals. The case also shows there were weaknesses in the company’s management team.

 Conclusion

The issues emerging from this case show that salvaging the company requires canceling the project and prioritizing on another strategic approach. The company should begin by discontinuing a deal with the consultant and organizing the management team to identify the people who will be linked to procurement, implementation, and execution of a better system. The challenges faced by the firm can be attributed to the overambitious interests of the management to enter a new market without a strategic approach to the internationalization process. In this light, the business strategy was not effectively aligned with the organizational change strategy. Consequently, the workers, customers, and other stakeholders were caught off-guard. The prompt changes coupled with the inefficiency of the new system can be attributed to the loss of ninety percent of the customers. The consequences of this mistake made by Craven Books was not only financial losses but also ruined its competitive advantage and lost loyalty among the consumers. From this perspective, the implementation of a new system should include efforts to regain reputation and competitiveness in the industry.

Recommendations

The company should establish a project steering team that includes people with experience and technical knowledge to aid in the software section. The team should engage in research that addresses the pros and cons of different software to identify the best one. The new investment should be accompanied by a contingency plan that can be implemented if the system fails. Furthermore, the implementation should be gradual, involving all stakeholders and ensuring that it is effective for the intended purpose. Thorough testing should be done to encourage user participation. Subsequently, the issues identified during testing can be rectified before the full release of the system. The implementation of a new system should follow a realistic project scope. In this sense, the over-ambitious perspective evident in the use of weight devices can be eliminated through the use of strategic goals for the project. The company should ensure that there is end user support to ensure that workers are productive when using the system and consumers are satisfied with the company products and services. After implementation, the company should conduct reviews to determine the quality of the system and its contribution to the company. Such initiatives can be achieved through measures that compare the systems results with the expected results and those that have been achieved by the business before implementation. The challenges faced in the use of technology can be managed by employing new staff to handle the specific IT responsibilities. The strategic business approach of developing an online based business to expand into the European market shows that the company can invest in in-house IT labor. The experts can reduce or even eliminate the need for outsourcing. Subsequently, the organization can achieve efficiency in the business. The failure of the company can be attributed to the lack of cooperation and lack of insights on the use of the new technology among the workers. In this light, the implementation of change within the organization should be accompanied by intensive communication among the workers. Craven Books need to reconsider how information flows within the organization to ensure that important decisions are not reserved for the people who make them. An inclusive approach is essential to ensure that the decisions made take into the account of the opinions and suggestions made by all stakeholders. Furthermore, employees who engage directly with the consumers and the systems have the information that can be used to improve the business operations.

Reference List

Basahel, A. & Irani, Z., 2009. Evaluation Of Strategic Information Systems Planning (Sisp) Techniques: Driver PerspectivE. s.l., Crowne Plaza Hotel, Izmir.

Howcroft, D. & Light, B., 2010. The Social Shaping of Packaged Software. Journal of the Assoiciation for Information Systems, 11(13), pp. 122-148.

Lucas , H. C. & Goh, J. M., 2008. Disruptive technology: How Kodak missed the digital photography revolution. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Volume 18, p. 46–55.

SITEL, n.d. Social Media Customer Engagement: Strategic Planning Considerations For Contact Centre Organisations, Hertfordshire: SITEL.

White, S. A., n.d. Introduction to BPMN, s.l.: IBM Corporation.

Yilmaz, E., 2011. Comparison Of Open Source Customer Relationship Management Software For Small And Medium Enterprises, S.L.: Kadir Has University.


[1] CRM: Customer Relationship Management

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