Part I. Assume you have taken over responsibility to play the lead Information Technology (IT) management role in Magnum Enterprises. Your boss, Rachel Heigl, is Magnum’s CIO. The IT management group is comprised of six people who you will be supervising. Ms. Heigl is an enlightened manager, and she believes that if you are to carry out your responsibilities effectively, you need to work with her in defining your IT management role. As a first step, she invites you to write a short statement where you describe what you see to be your role as head of the IT management effort at Magnum. Proper IT Management requires researching and discerning information technology as a company resource guiding both operational and crucial company capabilities. Using information technology to maximize satisfaction of the customer alongside productivity and profitability will ensure that our competiveness with other business stays at a maximum.
In turn IT can make business processes more effective and efficient to provide said resources to customers. The lead IT shall ensure performance of the company through managing technology while encompassing priorities of the business into the role. Striving to be a partner with great initiative this business will discover its leader will have accomplished and achieved what they desired. My first role of business would be to establish the parameters and to understand the IT knowledge areas. These are made up of development processes; management challenges information technologies, business applications and foundation concepts. Concepts of the foundation are making sure the role of information systems paired with business and technical concepts are a familiarity with the end user. Familiarity of concepts in entry level information systems bind with a competitive strategy can lead to an overwhelming strategic advantage.
Educating Magnum’s team upon the significance of information technology with the three roles that the business world performs in order to combine business management, software, and hardware capabilities. At the Management level, decision making would lead to significant improvements for IT utilization. Business operations see information systems as a huge support to review and collect data from financial operations, managing manufacturing processes that are very sophisticated, tracking company inventory, and productivity. The use of metrics paired with identifying trends to assist the company in making informed decisions faster to provide information about our competitors. IT is used quite often to provide a strategic support advantage for the company. Automated inventory and ordering systems an assist with the savings costs. With this information we would need to review our mission statement that identifies the company’s functions, provides oversight on the overall goal, a sense of direction, and guides decision making.
Investigating and development towards understanding how we generate money and ensuring a customer base for our company. Envisioning the business plan, mission, with current IT structure and the ability to communicate with senior leadership will guide me with necessary tools to assist the Chief Information Officer (CIO). To ensure a strategic IT plan is created in which will be shared and implemented with my team. Planning to have Magnum’s team familiar with data resource management capabilities, hardware, networks, telecommunications, and software within the company is the second area of information systems known as information technologies. In today’s society PDA’s (personal digital assistants; IE. Blackberry’s ETC.) Personal computers and network servers are integral computer hardware and are crucial in our business environment. Being extremely knowledgeable is vital to our team troubleshooting and resolving hardware issues instead of having to call another company for maintenance.
We have the ability to break down our company’s software into two categories, application software and system software. Both types normally off the consumer shelf as commercial software instead of having an employee on the team write the software codes for these programs. I plan to ensure my teams are extremely familiar with all software programs and have a firm foundation when troubleshooting and resolving technical issues. Additionally, if not already formed, I will institute a configuration control board and implement test scenarios to ensure future hardware and software being purchased will not have compatibility issues. Also a part of information technologies is data resource management. This is essential in sustaining and maintaining our company. We will require a database management system of good quality that is capable of data consolidating into a database in turn can be accessed my several program applications.
Within the past fifteen to twenty years networks and telecommunications software have played a vital role. To ensure the expansion and growth for Magnum Enterprises, we will need out network to be consistent, reliable, monetary sufficient. I would prepare the team to either install or review and change as needed our network management system that assists with traffic management, capacity planning, network monitoring, and security in essence that our system will grow and change with modern day business culture and practices as the company expands. In order to have the most dependable and proven with the cost of it a ring network should be put into place. The next area, development processes, deals with designing, planning, identifying ideas, and implementing information systems to meet potential business opportunities. It is critical that we ensure our business management capabilities alongside our hardware and software are integrated successfully within our company. Basis within the development process and depending upon the circumstance, there are a couple of processes we want our team to employ as resolving problems com along with our business systems. Those processes are considered or known as the prototyping approach and he systems development life-cycle.
The synopsis of prototyping involves quickly developing or constructing test modules of a desired system in which we will engage when we cannot determine or classify the end user requirements. These systems would be used to assist our personnel with the capabilities to design or create an information system that will be intuitive and easy to navigate for consumers. Prototyping involves four steps with the first being investigation and analysis step. This step, requirements grouped and defined. Second, is the analysis and design step in which a model is developed and constructed to meet consumer business requirements. Next, in the design and implementation, this finalizes the model that was tested and begins the initial installation. The last step to this four step process is implementation and maintenance, which would consist of the business system being accepted, used, and maintained. Prototyping advantages are: decrease in the development time, development costs and requires user involvement. This generates higher satisfaction results. I plan to employ this type of approach to small initiatives.
The next area is business application for information systems. This will consist of being familiar with commerce and business applications for our employees and which are used within the company to make strategic leadership and management decisions. A few of the most used business applications within a majority of companies are accounting, human resource management, enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management, financial management, and supply chain management. An Architectural picture of or IT business applications will ensure that I will have familiarity with all applications that we use. This approach will identify the current interrelationships, interfaces with customer, employees, business applications, and stake holders. We will then need to review the chart and see if there are any potential process improvements that we can make to integrate those systems cross functionally and keep operational costs to a minimum. The systems development lifecycle employs the systems approach to create IT solutions.
This lifecycle is often utilized for large applications and it is composed of five processes that I expect my team to know and become familiar when employing the systems development lifecycle: systems investigation, systems analysis, systems design, systems implementation and systems maintenance. The first process, systems investigation, involves project brainstorming, planning and performing a feasibility study. During the brainstorming and planning initiative, a project management implementation plan is created identifying the detailed steps that will be accomplished during the creation and development of the system. The feasibility study is critically important as this outlines all requirements for the system. It also explores four major areas, organizational, economic, technical, and operational feasibility, which determines if it’s worthwhile to invest in potential business ventures.
In reviewing the organization’s feasibility, we need to determine if the system is in line with and supports our company’s strategic objectives. The economic feasibility identifies and evaluates the project’s tangible and intangible cost and benefits. Technical feasibility is assessed by confirming if the necessary hardware and software will be available or can be developed and tested before implementation. Operational feasibility is determined by the motivation, desire, willingness, and competence of the stakeholders (management, employees, customers and suppliers) to use and operate the proposed system. Systems Analysis consists of consolidating requirements and includes a detailed breakdown of the business needs and requirements of the organization. This starts with an organizational analysis from one of the business end users. This individual must be keenly aware of the organizational management structure, business requirements, and current IT systems operations and its proposed relationship with the newly created system.
Some of the outputs generated from the systems analysis include system flowcharts, data flow diagrams, and connectivity diagrams which aid in the development of the analysis report The next process, systems design, focuses on the design, process diagrams, business rules, and developing specifications for the hardware, software, data resources that will meet the proposed requirements for new business system. The three major outputs produced from the systems design phase are user data, interface, and process design. The fourth process of the systems development lifecycle is system implementation. This encompasses either acquiring the hardware or software or developing it from company resources and then testing the products in a test environment to see how well they operate and integrate with your existing IT architecture. If testing goes well, an implementation plan including training end users and developing system documentation will be accomplished prior to incorporating and executing this system within our IT architecture.
The final process, systems maintenance consists of consistently monitoring and evaluating the newly implemented system. This also includes correcting errors and discrepancies not identified during the testing phase and continuously making system improvements, advancements and upgrades. The final area of information systems is management challenges. There are numerous challenges that our IT team may be faced with at Magnum Enterprises. One challenge is addressing our security concerns which involve several areas. For instance, our IT team needs be constantly vigilant and on the alert for potential competitors trying to or actually hacking into our systems to steal or damage our data. Additionally, we may also be challenged with setting up restrictions and locking down the network for personnel to only use the network and its software applications for official business. Ensuring that our software is controlled and that employees are not illegally making copies of software for personal use is another area of concern.
Preventing virus attacks to our network and installing anti-virus software to diagnose and remove computer viruses is of utmost concern. Failure to maintain a secure network can potentially halt our business from being productive and resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Additional challenges the IT team may be faced with may involve expanding our infrastructure and network to address our growing business. Ensuring our network provides our employees accessibility to the data they need, wherever they require it, regardless of their location will test our innovativeness. The company may not have a backup plan to allow it to operate effectively and efficiently in the event of a forced relocation. If that is the case, I will recommend to our management staff that we establish a continuity of operations plan enabling us to relocate with minimum impact to our business operations like a hot site for temporary functionality.
In the dynamic world of IT we will always be faced with challenges, however, utilizing IT and being on the leading edge of new IT systems provides our business with many benefits and makes our organization more effective and efficient. For example, IT can be used to improve and promote new business processes such as creating an automated inventory system which will save money in additional labor costs. Another use of IT in making it more efficient and effective is that using certain software programs enables us to identify and target our top customers in terms of profitability to our business. In summary, IT enables our company to successfully plan, integrate, manage, and carry out strategies which lead to profit.
Part II. Six months after you take over the lead IT management role at Magnum, the CIO, Ms. Rachel Heigl, is pleased with your work. She has just attended a meeting of Magnum’s executive committee (the committee comprised of the most senior managers of Magnum), where the CEO and Vice President of marketing have indicated that Magnum’s mediocre e-business capabilities must be strengthened. As CIO, Ms. Heigl is given primary responsibility in improving Magnum’s e-business performance. She in turn puts you in charge of a small task force comprised of representatives from the marketing, operations, finance, and legal departments. In order to advance and improve Magnum’s e-business performance operations, it’s vital I establish a cohesive team with representatives from the marketing, operations, finance, and legal departments. Their input and perspective is necessary and essential in developing a way ahead and strategic plan for the future of our e-business department. Developing success with our e-business begins with marketing the company.
Marketing is concerned with developing and creating an innovative plan so that the product or service can be promoted and sold. Promoting our products and services are key and critical in attracting new customers as well as maintaining our current customer base. It is important that I develop an understanding of the marketing role and how it can benefit by using Information Technology systems. Marketing information systems support well established and e-commerce processes that sustain major elements within the marketing function and is described as a continuing and interacting structure of people, equipment and procedures to gather, sort, analyze, evaluate, and distribute pertinent, timely and accurate information for use by marketing decision makers to improve their marketing planning, implementation, and control.
The major components of marketing information systems include interactive marketing, sales force automation, customer relationship management, sales management, product management, targeted marketing, and market research. Two of the seven components I will be discussing are interactive marketing and customer relationship management. In our environment today, marketing information systems aid marketing personnel in a variety of tasks associated with branding products and customer service initiatives. For instance, interactive marketing is largely dependent on utilizing the internet, which permits the business and its customers and potential customers to become partners in developing, socializing, acquiring and advancing products and services. With the IT department enabling this type of communication, the company benefits from generating new ideas for other products and services as well as establishing strong customer loyalty. Another area within the marketing information systems is Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
This incorporates and automates many customer service processes. It consists of utilizing an IT framework to construct, automate, and integrate marketing processes with the company’s business operations. CRM is usually comprised of a software suite that allows a business to provide efficient, effective and reliable service to its customers. Additionally, CRM permits a company to identify and target their most important customers as well as facilitate real-time customization of products and services based on the customer’s wants and desires. Understanding the marketing department’s views and concerns enables the IT department to implement and install an IT infrastructure that will be capable of supporting various information technologies. Some of the benefits that can be obtained from the marketing department are: an opportunity to increase sales and revenue, a chance to touch new market areas, 24/7 accessibility for the customer, and more flexibility and convenience for the customers.
The production and operations function is supported by manufacturing information systems. Manufacturing information systems are designed to be used specifically in an operations and production environment. Different types of manufacturing information systems consist of computer integrated manufacturing (CIM), process control, machine control and robotics. CIM involves using computers to control the total manufacturing process, from design to distribution, to produce produces products of the highest caliber. Process control involves utilizing computers to oversee and control continuing physical processes. Machine control consists of using a computer based system to direct the actions of a machine. Robotics involves designing, constructing, and building machines that have the intelligence of a computer and human like physical capabilities. It’s key I understand how the operations representative depends on these information systems to operate effectively as well as their expectations for these systems. Working together as a team will enable the IT and operations department to develop better ideas to increase the manufacturing and production process.
Developing an understanding of all the accounting and financial based systems within our business and discussing these systems with the finance representative enables our IT and finance departments to plan effectively when troubleshooting and performing upgrades. These systems include but are not limited to order processing, inventory control, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, general ledger, cash management, investment management, capital budgeting and financial planning. The success of these systems is integrally connected with its information technology and services. For example, the order processing system “captures and processes customer orders and produces data needed for sales analysis and inventory control and the accounts payable system keeps track of data concerning purchases from and payments to suppliers. Communicating with the finance representative is essential in setting up or modifying these systems to meet the needs of our business. Any interruption or degradation in service can lead to severe damage to the business and financial services that Magnum Enterprises relies on to function and operate.
As with any business, competitors are always looking for an advantage to get them ahead in their particular discipline or industry. Unfortunately, being extremely aggressive and ambitious can sometimes cloud your decision making capabilities to the point that you may be committing breaking privacy laws and monitoring and copyright violations. As the IT lead manager for Magnum Enterprises, I’m charged with ensuring our network infrastructure and IT systems are operating proficiently. However, when it comes to addressing privacy issues from an IT perspective, opinions and viewpoints from a legal expert are necessary. In regards to privacy, several websites accumulate usernames and passwords and personal information such as home addresses and phone numbers without authorization from users.
Applying internet monitoring technology within the workplace raises concerns about where the boundaries lie between personal use and public resource use. Copyright concerns and violations has become an issue with the development of the Internet and upgrades to technology. Discussing these concerns with a legal expert and implementing and adhering to strict guidelines will help prevent our company from committing these violations. In addition to the goals of strengthening the capabilities of the e-business, attention must be paid to some key technical challenges. Overseeing secure information throughout our business is extremely difficult to implement and maintain successfully. Key technical issues that may be encountered when re-engineering our e-business include privacy and confidentiality, authenticity, data integrity, access control, availability and infrastructure. Privacy and confidentiality involves businesses protecting and securing personal information while being stored or transmitted through email. This can be accomplished by utilizing encryption devices or firewalls.
Authentication is used to confirm an individual’s identity and during e-business transactions, the purchaser and buyer wants assurance that proper identity is established. A secure way to assist with confirming identity to both individuals is to utilize a virtual private network. Data integrity means the data is correct and has not been altered while being stored or transmitted. The use of firewalls assists in preventing unauthorized users and safeguarding data. Another way to ensure data integrity is through the use of antivirus software which also aids in keeping your data free from viruses. Access control exists when you’re authorizing certain individual’s permission to restricted systems or data. Several measures that can help with access control include firewalls, access privileges, passwords, digital certificates and virtual private networks.
Availability is an issue when customers and employers need information without any disruptions. Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) systems, data backups and the use of anti-virus software assist with ensuring data is always available. Our e-business infrastructure constantly needs to be monitored to ensure its meeting the needs of our business. An infrastructure that is unable to consistently support the network traffic load can potentially cost our company thousands of dollars in lost sales. If the network is continually slow, increasing the speed of the network backbone will assist in providing faster and reliable support for our customers. In addition to increasing the speed of the network backbone, implementing cross-functional enterprise systems will assist in improving critical business processes throughout Magnum enterprises. A final technical challenge is ensuring all of our systems are compatible and can operate on several different hardware platforms. By having this capability, our operating costs from a technical refresh perspective will decrease. While strengthening capabilities and addressing technical issues, there are management challenges within the e-business that must be addressed.
As discussed earlier, our team must be vigilant in addressing security challenges such as hacking into our systems, software theft, and protecting our software applications. In addition to security issues, there are ethical concerns that must be addressed. Privacy has always been a serious and contentious issue amongst employers and employees. For instance, computer monitoring is considered by many personnel to be an infringement on the employee’s privacy and shouldn’t be allowed. However, employers argue that since the computer is a company owned resource, they should be allowed to monitor the work of their employer. In reality, many employers are concerned as to whether or not the employee is actually working and producing or just goofing off and surfing the internet. Utilizing IT equipment at work has been mentioned to cause a variety of health issues which management must address.
For example, if your job consists of being in front of a computer all day, some of the health problems you may experience damage to the neck and arm muscles, eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, job stress, poor posture and poor circulation. Resolutions to some of these health concerns can be through the science of ergonomics. The objective of ergonomics is to devise and create safe health work conditions with the goal of decreasing health issues and increasing employee morale and work productivity. If Magnum Enterprises has customers internationally, they also may be faced with political, geo-economic and cultural challenges. From a political concern, there are countries that have restrictions regulating or denying the transfer of data across their borders which can potentially result in customers or businesses from having to pay import or export fees.
Geo-economic concerns involve issues such as identifying and locating personnel with IT skills to work at remote sites and communicating with personnel across all 24 time zones. Cultural challenges “include differences in languages, cultural interests, religions, customs, social attitudes, and political philosophies”. For example, if Magnum Enterprises was conducting a business transaction via a Video Teleconference it would be disrespectful to look them in the eye when introducing yourself. Before meeting an international customer, it would prudent to review their customs and courtesies to ensure a smooth business relationship. Improving Magnum’s e-business performance faces several challenges. Consulting with key department personnel from operations, marketing, finance and legal as well as addressing technical and management obstacles will assist me in charting a plan to put our e-business on the right track towards success.