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Information system capability and firm performance: contradictory findings and their possible causes Essay

Athal

1.0 Executive summary

In broad spectrum, Athal is a service offering company that was established in 1980. Essentially, it offers inspection, testing, consulting as well quality control services. The company offers services to different companies in different industries through its 15 branches in Australia. The company used to offer these services in the past using manual quality assurance system but due to competition and emergence of new technologies in the industry, the company found it necessary to implement a new automated quality assurance system by integrating it with information systems. This would enable it to offer quality services that meet national and international standards in addition to ensuring that its clients operates within local and international standards (Ahuja &Khamba,2008, p. 720). The implementation of the new quality assurance system was faced with challenges from financial constraints to employees’ resistance.
The company’s 110 employees were issued with questionnaires and five management staffs from the five departments were interviewed revealing the following: The employees were resistant on the new implementation was because of fear of losing their jobs and their relevance when the new quality assurance system would be adapted in the company. Hence, the implementation process heavily relied on the employees in the company. The company sensitization and trainings employees on the new quality assurance system saw the implementation process become smooth (Berry & Parasuraman, 2004, p.102) The company also faced challenge on the cost of the new quality assurance system in terms of infrastructures such as software, computers, and training employees and technical staff on running and marinating the process. However, the implementation of the new quality assurance system improved the services offered and increased its competitive advantage in the market. Through analysis, it was realised that, the company use of new quality assurance system has limited clients’ bargaining power thus retraining and attracting more companies and businesses from unique quality services offered.
The new quality assurance system cause increase in initial capital and profits margins for new companies that would like to venture to the industry and as a result few companies would invest in the industry. According to Ford & D’Amelio (2008), high initial cost of capital serves as a barrier for new entrants in the industry making the market less competitive. The new automated quality assurance system was found to be fast and giving effective services that attracted various client companies, which helped Athal Company to retain and attract new employees in the company thus helping it to regain its competitive position in the market (Chen, 2008, p. 53). Moreover, the ability of quality assurance that is integrated to information system to be monitored by different people results in services that are accurate and free from errors thus giving consumers’ confidence. The process is also cost effective in long term due to reduced time and human capital that can be utilized in other constructive duties that would improve the productivity of the company. The system was recommended for both internal quality control for the company and external quality control for Athal company clients and other services offered.

2.0 Introduction

Athal is a company was established in 1980 in Australia. Its main work is provision of services that vary from inspection, testing, consulting and quality control. They offer these services to different organizations (clients) to ensure that they offer quality services and that they are able to operate within local and international standards. The company offers these services in more than 15 branches in Australia. For the company to be efficient, it has linked all the 15 offices through information systems integrated quality assurance system. The company also manages to offer these services by employing 110 workers that are of various professional backgrounds.The workers are delegated duties based on five different departments that include public relations, finance department, technical, marketing and quality control. The finance department ensures that all the financial services are met for the company and that of the clients looking for consultancy services in the organization.

2.1 Research aim and objectives

The overall aim of the study was to investigate the new quality assurance system that was implemented by Athal Company could be upgraded unlike the manual quality assurance system through update of information system software. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of transformation from using quality assurance on manual system to automated system; to find out the difficulty of implementing quality assurance (QA) manually; the effects of transformation from using quality assurance on manual system to automated system; the company need to implement the quality assurance system internally as well externally for their daily business work; the effect of automated system compared to the manual system; important of implementing quality system for both the external and internal environment.

2.2 Research questions

 What is the difficulty of implementing quality assurance (QA) manually?
 What is the difficulty of implementing quality assurance (QA) manually?
 What are the effects of transformation from using quality assurance on manual system to automated system?
 Why the company need to implement the quality assurance system internally as well externally for their daily business work?
 What are the effects of automated system compared to the manual system?
 What is important of implementing quality system for both the external and internal environment?

3.0 Literature review

With the development and the industrialization of the world, quality assurance system has become inevitable to business industries (Lanz, 2013, p. 6). Many businesses industries adapt technologies to increase efficiency and quality of services they offer. The quality services and efficiency serves as a strategy to compete in the market. Information system is one of the technologies that have been adapted by many companies and bushiness to improve on their performance (Ho-Chang, Chang, & Prybutok, 2014, p. 316). The information systems have been used in various areas of specialization for company such as records department, financial, marketing and quality control. The technologies are linked to the business strategies such that they fit the competitive strategies making the company to fit in a dynamic market and environment (Wang et al, 2012, p. 346). The information systems help to integrate business entities making it more manageable and efficient in delivery of its services ( Drnevich, & Croson, 2013, p. 488-489). Hence, the quality system that would incorporate information system will enhance the integration of the five departments and the external environment making the company more manageable and improve service delivery. Consequently, the business would be able to compete and improve its performance.
The implementation of the new quality assurance system in Athal Company involved an organization change. Hence the company needed to prepare the employees for a new change because people tend to resist to changes and particularly to those that tend to affect their freedom (Ford, Ford, & D’Amelio, 2008, p. 370). The managers have the responsibility to initiate new changes and influence employees to develop positive attitude on the technologies for smooth adoption of new quality assurance system (Lilly, & Durr, 2012, p. 199). To avoid resistance managers and executive must provide employees with trainings and other support skills that will help them to adapt to new technologies (Kumpikaitė ,& Čiarnienė, 2008, p. 93-94.).
The case study involved the transformation of Athal Company from the manual quality systems to new automated quality systems that would be implemented using information systems. To implement the new quality assurance system using information system, the company needed to purchase new computers, information systems software to link various departments and branches (Porter, 2008, p.359). For testing, inspecting, and quality control consultant companies, it takes a lot of time o collect data manually for various tests and inspections. This results in decreased performance from reduced numbers of clients that can be served in a given day. In order to increase speed, efficiency, accuracy, and simplify data collection, analysis and collation, information system is important as part of quality assurance. Information system helps to automate the quality assurance system.
In automation process, a microprocessor can be adapted for data collection, analysis, and collation for small companies like Athal. The process is cost effective and is able to handle varied number of data sets. However, a real-time microcomputer is more relevant and reliable for the company since it handle a varied number of companies and collects a wide range of tests and inspection data. In addition, statistical quality assurance would ensure that a continuous improvement is carried out on the whole process. Larger companies with large numbers of employees may require a complex information system for quality assurance such as agile system that would be able to handle complex testing and inspection processes and delivering high quality results. However, the system is expensive, require highly trained manpower and thus unsuitable for small companies such as Athal. The microprocessor and real-time microcomputer are suitable for Athal Company due to its small size that is evidenced by few employees and services turnover. The program required skilled labour that was costly and extra training for the employees so that they could be able to adapt to the new quality assurance system freely. In addition, the new quality assurance system needed change of organization behaviour from a manual system to an automated system, which many of the employees were not conversant. Therefore, the company had to change the behaviour of employees from manual to automated systems, which risked objection and resistant. Hence, the management had to use their leadership skills and organization development to implement the new change successfully (Mullins, 2013 p. 8).
The new quality assurance system meant that the employees freedom, poor performance and missing of duties would end. Consequently, their level of services would be monitored and thus giving quality services. The implementation process involved installation of inspection, testing, and quality control infrastructures that were linked using information system software and hardware that would be used to disseminate information. Quality assurance can be automated through integration with information systems such as microcomputer and microprocessors with simple software or complex software such as agile systems. Some of the examples of automated quality assurance that was a possible choice for Athal Company include lint, find bugs, check-styles, fx-Cop, and coverity (Sroufe & Curkovic, 2008, p. 357). These systems can be used for multiple projects and can even detect defects that technical team may not be skilled in the language of detection either through testing or inspection. These systems are programmed software and coded in reference to various local and international standards. These programs are installed in microprocessor, microcomputers or computers in order to enhance the quality assurance process. The processes become fast, accurate and less laborious (Sroufe, & Curkovic, 2008, p.519). .
Programs such as lint are installed in order to help in detecting errors that may occur in the course of analysis test and inspection data that is collected from various client companies. The check style helps in writing the java code that is required during automation process. Due to a wide range of configurations of the tools, it can be configured to various standards thus becoming an important program in quality assurance companies as they deal with varied tests with different standards. This is done through coding different standards using various classes of checks such as JavaDoc, Coding, and whitespace (Wang et al, 2012, p. 330).
The change to new quality assurance system for Athal Company meant that it would increase its market share due to improved quality of services that it would offer. Its clients would receive quality inspection and testing that would guarantee the quality control. The new information system would be able to monitor external companies that serve as its client at constant rates thus enhancing efficiency of Athal Company. Moreover, the automated system has low errors as compared to the manual system thus, the right services will be offered. This will guarantee the company efficient services that meet the national and international levels.
The new changes to the automated quality assurance system will enable the management in the Athal Company to be able to define their objectives and delegate to specific employees, which could not be possible with the manual system. Defined objectives and delegation of duties in the company will mean that the tasks would be accomplished in time. Moreover, less time is wasted using the automated quality systems thus the employees become more productive in spite of quality services that they offer. The result is the overall productivity of the company and better services to their clients compared to when they were using the manual system.
The company decision to implement the new quality assurance system was because of increased competition and the deteriorating performance on its inspection, testing, and quality control services. The few companies in the industry had improved their performance, they had started to command the market, and therefore, the company had to look for means by which it could be able to compete with the other companies. The adoption of the new automated quality assurance system was seen as the only way that the company would be able to compete successfully in the market and thus a decision was finally reached to implement the new system. However, the decision was subject to employees support as they would be the one s that would use the quality assurance system for the benefit of the company. The decision process involved all the employees in the company where opinions were included in the new projects. Due to fear of most of the employees on their relevance when the new quality assurance system would be implemented, training of existing and recruiting of new employees was included as part of the implementation of the new system. When all the employees were comfortable with the new quality assurance system and sensitized on the need to shift to the new quality assurance system, the management went ahead to implement the new automated quality system in the company. Since the employees are growth oriented, they were able to adapt to the new system.
The finance department must ensure that financial services given to consulting clients are accurate and up-to-date. This will ensure that no overcharging or errors that may affect clients’ access to services from Athal Company. Therefore, internal quality assurance system will be important in the finance department vis-à-vis other departments to ensure harmony and quality services. The public relation department ensures that interpersonal relationship for all the clients and workers is maintained at high level thereby improving the performance of the employees, retain, and attract more clients. This will result in productivity of the company due good customer relation and high quality services that the company offers. Technical department ensures all the other department and technical services management meet the goal and mission of the company to offer quality services (Chen, 2008, p. 242).
The quality control department ensures that all the services that are offered by the company and its internal managements are in line with the international and local standards (Hoyle, 2009, p. 244). Athal company manual quality control system was tedious since employees had to carry out inspection and testing services physically resulting to delayed and poor services. In addition, physical method is prone to error from workers due to fatigue and this may affect the services delivered to the clients negatively. The qualities of services that companies give help them to retain and attract more customers, making it more competitive by commanding a wider share of the market (Berry, & Parasuraman, 2004 p. 134).Therefore, for the company to improve its services and improves its market share, a competitive and efficient quality control systems had to be put in place. Despite the high cost of implementation, the service would ensure that quality services are dispensed through efficient monitoring services and this.
The company adopted and automated a quality control system developed through information system to link all the five departments and the employees. Consequently, the company linked all the 15 branches such that all the services offered meet the customers need. The interlinked company departments and branches would ensure that inspection and testing process were efficient. The information systems ensure that quality assurance system updated on regular intervals thus allowing continuous improvement of the process. The technical department monitored and maintained all the systems. The marketing department created awareness of the services offered by Athal Company and disseminated information about the quality and the quality assurance system that they employ to give the clients confidence and increase clients influx in the company. Consequently, public relation department would ensure that a good relationship among all the stakeholders of the company by disseminating relevant information and keeping the customers updated throughout.
The questions categorized for questionnaires and interviews. The employees’ questions related to the effectiveness of the new process, their attitude on the change, and the transformation to the new system. Moreover, it also focused on employees’ involvement in the new process, and how monitoring changed comparing the manual quality assurance system. Concerning this question, some employees said that the new quality assurance system was more effective while few of them did not distinguish between the performance of the manual quality assurance system and the new quality assurance system that is integrated with the information system, saying that they viewed both systems as the same. On the issue of cost and monitoring, most of them said that the new quality assurance system on quality assurance was more costly and offered close monitoring of employees and projects on the course thus maintain a high performance rate in the company. On the issue of the attitude of the employees, some employees had a negative attitude on the new quality assurance system as they said that the new quality assurance system would limit their freedom and might result to losing their jobs. Those with positive attitude argued that the new automated system would make work easier and improve the performance of the company. Few were confused on the though seemed interested with the implementation of the new quality assurance system. The implementation process was expensive from the response of the majority of the participants while few did not care about the cost and they said that it was cheap for the company since it had enough resources to implement the new system. According to the participant in this case study that were working for Athal company for the time of the research, the transformation process was faced with resistant as some employees feared losing jobs due to inadequate skills. According to GE Inspection Technologies, new quality assurance system would result to working overtime because some machines would require monitoring and thus resisted the change and made the transformation process difficult for the management. A number of the employees said that transformation was smooth as they cited that the management was able to deal with employees and assured them that nothing would change on the management of employees and their jobs were safe (Ho-Chang et al., 2014, p. 35). They also indicated that the management assured them that the transformation to automate quality assurance system would include training of employees in order to adapt to the new quality assurance system. The employees argue that method would be applicable to both internal and external monitoring, as the company required the monitoring of the quality of other companies that it offered services. To them, this was the best means by which the company would improve its services to its clients (Kumpikaitė & Čiarnienė, 2008, p.93).
On the part of the management interview, it emphasized on the performance of the new quality assurance system, employees and clients response, and the cost of the implementation. The interview involved five management employees under the five departments. The management unanimously answered that the performance of the new quality assurance system showed improvement. They cited that the system could process large information fast, accurately, and effective as compared to the old system. The management argued that the employees had a mixed reaction on the implementation while the clients were happy and welcomed the new system, as they believed that it could improve their services ((Ho-Chang et al., 2014, p. 306). The implementation process was costly according to the management but they did it as a way of improving their qualities.
The organization experienced problems and poor performance in the marketing department thus caused reduced customers in the company. Similarly, poor performance of public relations department resulted to conflicts and poor employees’ performance that affected the efficiency and productivity of the company in delivering its services. In every company or business, good employees’ relationship is important since it minimizes conflicts and improves their working conditions and as a result, employees become very productive, which is the aim of every business. Consequently, employees are able to offer quality services to their clients thus retaining more clients for Athal Company despite high prices that may be attributed by increased cost of automated quality assurance system. Similarly, the slow monitoring and poor services in the finance department caused company poor performances and financial mismanagements. All the problems happened to Athal Company despite it having a manual quality assurance system that was mandated monitoring and ensuring that the company was able to operate within the local and international business environment (Kumpikaitė & Čiarnienė, 2008, p.93). The manual system required employees to record and enter data manually in addition to physical monitoring and auditing thus spending a lot time and resulting in slowed processes thus caused Athal Company to perform poorly. The problems reflected that the manual system was ineffective. Therefore, the company needed to change its method of quality assurance so that it could ensure that customers received quality services. Finance department also needed good management as it ensured that the company operated with the international and national standards. The approach would not only improve the company’s quality systems but also improve its productivity and its competitiveness due to high quality services and standards that it would uphold.
The target market for Athal Company is organizations and businesses that are in need of consultancy, inspection and testing services. The companies or businesses may be diverse and offering various services in the market but for them to provide quality services to their customers, they strengthen their managements through Athal consultation services (Wigand, 2003, p. 33). Therefore, Athal Company needs to provide high quality services and set international standards to its clients. Hence, it was important for it to adapt new quality assurance system in quality assurance services that would allow it give quality inspection, testing, and quality control services. Thus, adapting an automated information system would ensure that it would be able to carry out internal and external quality control.
Athal Company offered effective services in the industry, which has maintained its productivity in the market in spite of its manual system. The company has also high skilled employees although the achievement of the company’s goals has been achieved through extra management and monitoring. In addition, the company operates in an industry where competition is not very much stiff. However, the emergence of the new quality assurance system that few companies are adapting, competition is becoming a business issue that management has to deal with. Moreover, the companies marketing strategies and new quality assurance system adaptation has been poor until the recent past when the company adapted the new quality assurance system on quality assurance. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the implementation process of the new quality assurance system and how best is suited in the company’s strategies to improve its productivity and growth in the industry.

3.1 Advantage of Athal Company on implementation of the new quality assurance system

The implementation of the new quality assurance system by Athal Company will accrue various advantages over the old manual system. The advantages will be in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, cost, involvement, and result oriented. The automated system will be advantageous in that inspection and tests will be run fast and effectively thus saving time that can be used to do other constructive duties in the company. Automated system will mean that the same type of the information will be fed to the system for various clients at a very short time and giving results instantly (Mak, &Peng, 2008, p. 366). One can only repeat similar information for the automated system. However, on the manual system one would be forced to record similar information for various entry and different clients thus taking a lot of time for a given task and giving out delayed results. This can be distractive to clients making them to shift their services to other companies that can offer fast and effective services. Hence, the automated quality assurance system will not only give effective services at a very short time, but also retain the customer making the company more competitive in the market as opposed to the manual system (GE inspections, n.d p. 1).
Although the automated system installation and training of employees on the new quality assurance system is costly in the short term, in long term, the system will be cheap as there will be saving of time and decreased human involvement thus saving the cost of labour for the company. The time saved could be used to do other constructive and productive services for the company, which would in turn give returns that subsidise the cost incurred by the company. Since the new quality assurance system utilises decreased human labour, the company can opt reducing its labour, which may as well reduce its cost of operation and thus increase its profits margin (GE inspections, n.d, p.18). However, the manual quality assurance system required a lot of time to fill out the forms and extra human labour to attend different labour thus the process becoming expensive in the long term and but cheap in the short term since there are is no cost of installation. Hence, the automated system is less expensive in the long term and thus more advantageous to the company compared to the manual system. Another advantage is that the choice of quality assurance system depends on the financial and services offered by a company. Information system would allow integration of inspection and testing services making the process less involving and saving time for employees.
The automated system is results oriented and the results can be assessed by different employees since they will be available from the system thus minimizing errors being transferred to clients. Moreover, different employees can monitor the results in their various destinations so that a perfect final product is achieved. Hence, the system forms the best collaborative monitoring system (Wang, 2012, p.325). This is in contrast to the manual where results are only processed by an individual subjecting them to errors that may be transferred to clients and may affect the customer relation with the company and affect its performance and provision of services. Therefore, Athal implementation of the new quality system through information system presents it with advantage on accurate and quality services for the customer thus maintain customer relations and maintaining its market performance at improved level. However, the new automated system will be a challenge to the company as the information system tool is expensive on purchase and replacement in cases of breakdown. Moreover, the process of maintenance and training of employees can be very expensive for the company thus accruing unplanned cost, which may make its services more expensive thus making it less competitive in the market. Customers are attracted by low prices in the market. Although the automated system performs various tests for the information fed for the machine, the system has limitations and some of the tests such as images, and colour are only tested using manual system. Hence, the system cannot operate fully independently. Thus the cost of operation is increased by additional services for manual system.

3.2 Conceptual framework

4.0 Methodology
4.1 Research (Case study) philosophy

The case study used questionnaires to obtain information from the employees about the manual quality system and the newly implemented quality systems in the company (Appendix 4). All the 110 employees were administered questionnaires to feel that contained both the questions about the old and the new information systems. In addition, interviews were conducted with five members from the top management team to understand the monitoring of the two systems (Wigand, 2003, p. 45)
The questionnaires were preferred for the employees because they were a large group in the company and other methods would take a lot of time. Moreover, it was possible to administer all the questionnaires at the same time thus saving time and getting the required information. However, the tool is not appropriate for getting details if a good guidance is not accorded to participants. Respondents may answer questions shallowly and avoid some questions that may be sensitive to company operating policies. Interviews were preferred for the management team because they were few and it could be managed with a short time. Interview also helps in getting details about the implementation process. However, it is time consuming. The interview involved the seven questions attached in the appendix for the management.
Athal Company was chosen in this case study since it was one of the companies that had implemented a new automated quality system using information system in the recent past. This meant that employees could be able to provide the required information as opposed to those that implemented it long time ago. In addition, there was high likely hood that most of the employees working in the company were present during the implementation process thus accurate information. Moreover, the implementation of the new quality assurance system was faced with many challenges from employees’ resistance to financial support. In addition, the company size was manageable for this study since it had few employees, few departments and only five departments. Hence, finding information from the company would be easier compared to large complicated company, as well this company at the time of the research study of this thesis it was the only company that allowed the researcher to do this case study on their company.
The region of study was chosen to be Australia because the location has been advanced in automated quality assurance system and so there was high likelihood of finding a company that had implemented a quality system using information system as the study had targeted. The studies show that the Australia has a number of companies operating in quality assurance industry, which made the study more appropriate within the country (Sroufe, & Curkovic, 2008, p. 517).
4.2.1 Data Analysis Presentation and Interpretation of Findings
The data was coded and analysed using the software package for social sciences {SPSS} and MS Excel package as well. The data was then scored by calculating the percentages and means. The information collected from the respondents was interpreted. Information was compiled once the questionnaires were completed and collected. The information was analysed and presented using statistical methods that is, pie charts and bar graphs.The data on the case study was obtained through questionnaires and interviews and 110 questionnaires were distributed to the different employees. The findings were as follows. From the 100 questionnaires that were complete, 90% discredited the manual system saying it was faulty as it offered minimum monitoring.
As a matter of fact, 70% of the employees had a positive attitude about the manual system, as it was not effective when monitoring employees. 30% had negative attitude on the system as they felt the system caused personal conflicts between them and the people in charge of quality control. 100% of the participants agreed that the automated system was more effective compared to the manual system since all the employees had to log in to automated biometric system. In addition, 43% of the employees were resistant to the process and felt that the manual system would continue while 57% of the employees felt that transformation to the automated quality system was necessary. 95% of the employees felt that it was important to implement the quality system for both the external and internal environment of the business to ensure that the overall performance of the company was monitored. Inherently, 5% of the participants were not sure if the quality system was supposed to be installed both internally and externally.

4.2.2 The Distribution of position in company of Respondents

According to table 4.4 and figure 4.4 Majority of the respondents were managers as shown by 25% of the respondents, 20% of them were line managers, 5% of them worked in the human resource department, 20% of the respondents indicated that they worked in the engineering department, another 10% of them came from the marketing department, 10% of them were finance managers while 10% of the respondents were managers from customer care department.
Table 4.4 Position in company of Respondents
Frequency Percentage
IT Manager 5 25.0
Line manager 4 20.0
Human resource manager 1 5.0
Engineer 4 20.0
Marketing 2 10.0
Customer care dept. 2 10.0
Finance manager 2 10.0
Total 20 100.0

Figure 4.4 Positions in company of Respondents

4.2.3 To determine the application of quality assurance systems using Information Systems within the Athal

In order for the study to achieve its main objective the first specific objective of the study was to determine the implementation application of quality assurance systems using Information Systems. In this regard the respondents were required to indicate the extent to which implement the application of quality assurance systems using Information Systems within the Athal). The respondents were also supposed to strongly negative, negative, positive or strongly positive on variables of quality assurance systems using Information Systems and their effect on manual system.

4.2.4 Extent effect of manual system

From the study, 70% of the employees had a positive attitude about the manual system, as it was not effective when monitoring employees while 30% had negative attitude on the system as they felt the system caused personal conflicts between them and the people in charge of quality control largely as indicated by table 4.6 and figure 4.6 below. The findings indicate that manual system has a very great influence on monitoring employees.
Table 4.6 positive attitude about the manual system
Distribution Frequency Percentage
Agree 90 70.0
Disagree 20 30.0
Total 110 100.0
Figure 4.6 positive attitude about the manual system

4.2.5 Effect of effect of manual system on employees monitoring
According to table 4.7 and figure 4.7 below 90% discredited the manual system saying it was faulty as it offered minimum monitoring while 20% strongly agreed. From the study therefore it is clear that manual system offered minimum monitoring.
Table 4.7 Effect of effect of manual system on employees monitoring
Distribution Frequency Percentage
Disagree 100 90.0
Agree 10 10.0

Total 110 100.0

Figure 4.7 effect of manual system on employees monitoring

The effect of automated system compared to the manual system
The findings on the effect of automated system compared to the manual system in table 4.8 and figure 4.8 below reveal that 70% of the employees had a positive attitude about the manual system, as it was not effective when monitoring employees while 30% had negative attitude on the system as they felt the system caused personal conflicts between them and the people in charge of quality control.
Table 4.8 effect of automated system compared to the manual system
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Disagree 20 30.0 30.0 30.0
Agree 90 70.0 70.0 80.0
Total 110 110.0 100.0
Figure 4.8 effect of automated system compared to the manual system

Effect of automated system compared to the manual system
According to table 4.9 and figure 4.9 below 100% of the participants agreed that the automated system was more effective compared to the manual system since all the employees had to log in to automated biometric system.. From the study therefore it is clear that effective compared to the manual system.
Table 4.9 effect of automated system compared to the manual system
Frequency Percentage
Agree 110 100.0
Total 110 100.0
Figure 4.9 effect of automated system compared to the manual system

4.2.6 The difficulty of implementing quality assurance (QA) manually
According to table 4.10 and figure 4.10 below 43% of the employees were resistant to the process and felt that the manual system would continue while 57% of the employees felt that transformation to the automated quality system was necessary. From the study therefore it is clear that employees felt that transformation to the automated quality system was necessary.
Table 4.10 difficulty of implementing quality assurance (QA) manually
Total no Percentage
Disagree 40 36.0
Agree 70 64.0
Total 110 100.0

Figure 4.10 difficulty of implementing quality assurance (QA) manually
4.2.7 Important of implementing quality system for both the external and internal environment
The findings according to table 4.11 and figure 4.11 below indicate that 95% of the employees felt that it was important to implement the quality system for both the external and internal environment of the business to ensure that the overall performance of the company was monitored. 5% of the participants were not sure if the quality system was supposed to be installed both internally and externally. From the study therefore it is clear that quality system was supposed to be installed both internally and externally.
Table 4.11 important of implementing quality system for both the external and internal environment
Frequency Percentage
Disagree 10 5.0
Agree 100 95.0
Total 110 100.0
Figure 4.11 Important of implementing quality system for both the external and internal environment

5.0 Research (Case study) findings and conclusion

From the data obtained and the results from the questionnaire, the company wanted to implement new quality assurance system as a sign of its improvement from the manual to the automated system. The automated system would allow the company to improve its services and the ability to upgrade and update the systems software will give the company ability to adapt to continued improvement of its services. Therefore, the new quality assurance system will be advantageous to the manual quality system that limited continued improvement throughout the operations.
The case study can be analyzed using various porters’ five forces to determine its applicability of the new quality assurance system in Athal Company and the external business environment. The porters’ five forces help to analyze the business in terms of competition, threat of new entry, power of clients seeking inspection, suppliers of quality assurance software and other employees qualified to work on the new quality assurance system, and substitute’s services offered by other companies using manual system.
Consulting industry in Australia is very competitive and thus companies in the industry must devise strategies that will make them more competitive and make them the leading companies in the market. Therefore, for Athal Company to remain relevant in the market, it must adopt the best technologies that will enable it to provide the best quality assurance services in the industry. In the industry, company adapt to manual systems due to their low operation cost (Ahuja, & Khamba, 2008, p. 745). Hence, Athal company shift to new quality assurance system gives it competitive advantages over the other companies in the industry. According to the research carried out on the company, 90% of the employees credited the automated system saying that it was effective compared to the manual system. Thus, the system would be able to deliver quality effective services to its target market. Quality services help a company to retain its customers and place it in a more competitive position in the market as customer or buyers tend to be attracted by quality and not the prices (Porter, 2008 p. 33). Therefore, the company’s choice on the automated system would be advantageous in the market despite the cost that is associated with it. The implementation of the new automated quality assurance system led to the improvement of the company’s performance and increase in customers seeking services from the company and thus improved incomes as shown in figure 1 below (Appendix 1). According to the interview carried out on the company’s income performance, the income is expected to rise to $ 900 million with the new automated system.
The industry suffers from the presence of companies that are still using manual systems as a means of quality assurance system. The manual system forms the substitute services offered in the industry. These companies charge their inspection services at lower prices that threaten Athal automated services. Hence, Athal Company must offer good services beyond their clients’ expectations so that they will be able to shift from the manual to the automated. The company also needs to put in place marketing strategies that will advertise the new quality assurance system emphasizing on the quality of services that it will offer as opposed to their previous method of quality assurance. Moreover, the company needs to offer quality services that will meet the needs of the clients. Hence, the company needs to improve its management and staff training so that it will be able to cope up with the substitute services from the company. Quality assurance ensures that quality services that meet the need of the consumers and international standards are offered (Wigand, 2003, p. 115). For this reason, employees are required to be trained in accordance with the quality assurance system in order to deliver the required services. For smooth learning of quality assurance in the Athal Company, the management should be conversant with the complete quality assurance system. Therefore, individuals, organizations, and groups are part of quality assurance system.
In every market, companies maintain the large share of the market through limiting the bargaining power of the consumers. Initially, the company was offering manual services that were offered by other companies in the market. This gave consumers more bargaining power as they had a wide choice of obtaining services from various companies. However, the shift of Athal company from manual system to the new system that was adapted by few companies make consumers to have limited choices of seeking services from the automated companies. The presence of few companies with the automated quality control system makes it possible for Athal Company to limit the bargaining power of consumers. When the bargaining power of consumers in the market is limited, they will tend to buy or obtain services from a single business (Chen, 2008, p. 241). Therefore, Athal Company will limit the customers and thus they will tend to seek the new services from the company thus improving its productivity and making it more competitive in the market.
Athal Company shifting to the new system meant that it would also shift its suppliers from those that provided the manual facilities to those that would suppliers it with facilities and infrastructures for the new system . Since many companies in the industry have not adapted the new quality assurance system, it means that the suppliers are few in the industry. Few suppliers mean that the suppliers provide their services with strict conditions and high prices due to lack of competition. Moreover, the suppliers have high bargaining power in the market. This led to high installation cost for the automated quality system and the maintenance cost. The high prices offered by suppliers in the market reduce the profits margins for the companies operating in the industry (Chen, 2008, p. 241). Therefore, the new quality assurance system was costly to the company and the consecutive maintenance costs remain high thus reducing the profits margin for the company. Hence, limited suppliers in the industry threaten Athal Company adaptation to the new quality assurance system for quality system.
The decreased number of suppliers and the reduced profits margin in the industry discourage new entrants in the industry. The decreased new entrants in the industry result in decreased competition in the market and threats for the existing companies. Therefore, Athal Company is free from threats of new entry due to high cost of adapting new quality assurance system. The reduced competition creates favourable environment for the existing company to operate and improve their services in order to achieve their desired profit margin and growth in the market. According to the management, the initial cost of the new automated quality assurance system 40% more than the previous manual system. Hence, few companies in the industry can adapt it and especially those that are profit oriented making the industry less competitive. However, it requires low maintenance cost that can be compensated by the anticipated increase in clients’ influx due to high quality services and additional benefits of continuous quality assurance that will be offered by the quality assurance system implemented externally. According to Berry & Parasuraman, (2004), customers are attracted by quality services than low prices of the offered services. Thus, market share for Athal Company will tend to increase despite the increase in price of their services.
The purpose of this research was to investigate the implementing application of quality assurance systems using Information Systems with a special focus on Athal Limited. Having identified the problem of study reviewed existing literature and shown gaps of knowledge in and explained the methods that the study used to collect data. This section presents analysis and findings of the study as set out in the research methodology. The results are presented on the implementing application of quality assurance systems using Information Systems and Athal Limited in particular. The data was gathered exclusively from questionnaire as the research instrument. The questionnaire was designed in line with the objectives of the study.

6.0 SUMMARY

This study was descriptive in nature meaning it employed a descriptive survey design and was carried out at Athal Company. Stratified random sampling was used to ensure equitable distribution of managers and employees in the departments within the organization, from which 110 were selected for the study and all of them filled the questionnaires
The data that was obtained from the management was as follows. According to the management, the automated quality system was more effective and efficient in monitoring and delivery of information across the company departments and branches. Moreover, the system was fast as compared to the manual systems. The management agreed that the automated quality system improved the performance of the employees and that of the company thus increasing attracting more customers. According to the company, quality assurance has ensured that all the testing and inspection services meet the requirements of the clients and international standards. In addition, the quality assurance has been ensuring that there is continuous collection of data that can be used in assessing the quality of services. The data collected compared to international standards allow the Athal Company to carry out improvements of the system in order to improve the services they offer. To facilitate this, an action plan that is developed through policies monitoring and evaluation process allow the management and the technical team to carry out continuous improvement of the quality assurance.
According to the management of Athal Company, customers had increased from 300 to 550 per month when the new quality assurance system was implemented as shown in figure 3 below (appendix 3). Similarly, it is expected that the income would increase from $ 450 to $ 900 million by the end of the first year the figure 2 below in appendix 3 analysis the change. The management said that the employees had mixed reactions on the new quality systems, with almost half number of the employees arguing against it. However, concerted trainings and sensitizations led to smooth implementation of the new systems. From the questionnaires, it was found that managers appreciated the new systems and saw it a good system for medium companies. The implementation process was expensive and the maintenance cost is high. The installation and maintenance cost is 60% more for the new quality assurance system than the manual system as shown in the figure below.
7.0 Conclusion
The objectives of this case study were achieved in that the new quality assurance system that was implemented by Athal Company could be upgraded unlike the manual quality assurance system through update of information system software. The process of full implementation, handling, monitoring, operating the system for the Athal Company involved the employees and organization management. Therefore, the process of quality assurance is effective when coupled to individuals, groups and organisations. According to the management, the type of the information system adapted to be used by quality assurance system depend on the size of the organization, services offered, financial ability and availability of resources. Athal Company being a medium company chose the relevant information system that meets their size of the company, financial ability and ability for continuous improvement. The process of quality assurance automation involves installation of testing, inspection and quality control equipment’s that are interlinked with information system software and hand wares such as computers to record information and deliver results. Athal Company followed the protocol and successfully implemented a new quality assurance system using information system.

8.0 Recommendations

The following recommendations would be most appropriate for the company and other that would take the initiative to implement the automated quality assurance system in their premises. The company should prepare its employees in advance through hiring the right employees who have the skills to prevent unnecessary cost from extra trainings. If there has to be a training, only few employees should be trained and not the entire workforce. This would prevent resistant to new quality assurance system and save the company unplanned costs. The company should asses the availability of suppliers of automated quality assurance system that is planning to adopt to prevent exploitation by suppliers as evidenced in this case study. Few suppliers in the market resulted to increased cost, which in turn led to reduced profits from high cost of initial installations.
9.0 Suggestion for Further Research
The study was carried out on Athal organization only; therefore a similar study could be carried out in other firms to ascertain whether similar results are obtainable.

References

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