Some organizations are involved in the development of computer software and they naturally end up having experts in the art of developing software, but others who are in some other business should concentrate on their own business and not involve themselves in the business of software. We have to understand that developing software is not a maintenance business where it is essential for the organization dealing with the plant and machinery concerned to develop a certain level of competence in keeping the plant and machinery in running condition. For example, any refinery must be able to carry out routine services for various machinery running within the refinery, yet when a development comes for the refinery in terms of increasing their capacity or changing some operating methods, they call in the experts for help. Changes in software are not like routine servicing to existing equipment, but are more like changing processes to make the operations more efficient.
Importance of various jobs within an organization keep changing and depends fundamentally on the relative contribution that the change makes to the profitability and operating efficiency of the organization.
At the outset one has to understand the different requirements that have to be met through the intranet of an organization. This depends primarily on the nature of the organization and the objective of the intranet. Let us take a few examples to understand what this means.
This was facing difficulties in communication within the organization and a study was conducted to find out the problems. The difficulties found were that information was difficult to find, there was no formal methods of distribution of news and the council was very dependant on long serving staff. The first was seen from the fact that there were more than half a million files on the corporate fileserver, yet items like council policies, strategic plans and organization charts could not be located. The second came through as the staffs were depending on word of mouth to get information about the decisions of the council. This was continued in the third point where the experience of long serving staff were found to be the sole source of information on how to get jobs done. Due to the above problems it was clear that the main source of information was word of mouth and this had to be changed if any systematic method had to be established. Due to the difficulties faced, and intranet had been developed by the customer services staff, but this did not meet the total requirements of the organization. (Robertson, 2005)
The second advantage of the intranet was found to be the establishment of set procedures as the processes become unmanageable over a period of time if the action is not taken when required. The third advantage of the intranet was that it provided news within the organization and this gave accurate information to all within the organization. The fourth advantage was that an intranet enabled information to reach outside the main office building quickly. This meant the depots, libraries and common service units of the council. This was a direct help to the field staff as they were not otherwise able to get information from the head office. (Robertson, 2005) Thus it is important to find out the reasons for which intranet is to be established.
Here an intranet and many other systems existed, but there were no methods for determining the efficiency of the operations of creating the required software. At most stages there were many projects that were going on at the same time and most of the projects were to be used all over the organization. At one stage there were developments of an extranet system for the dealers of the organization, PeopleSoft ERP rollout and four new systems coming out for "order management, parts forecasting, advanced warranty and financial document management." (Wailgum, 2005) The concerned group did not even tell the other managers within the organization about the difficulties that they were having and thus try to get a solution for their difficulties.
The solution to this problem was found through the setting up of the Toyota Value Action Program and this was to set up action points for the department. This led to further studies and the action deciding team of eight individuals found out the solutions to be enhancing employee training and progress, making cost savings, enabling process improvements and putting into action, a metrics program. (Wailgum, 2005) Thus even when the organization has a large internal team for software development, problems come up due to misunderstanding of the requirements for the organization.
Evaluating Intranet problems:
For this aspect let us take the example of the Disney group. They had always had a decentralized model for their IT development. The group consists of more than two dozen units and these include theme parks, consumer merchandize, film studios, cable TV networks and broadcast TV networks. The total number of projects within the group is more than 1,000 and it has to look after more than 4,000 systems and this involves using products from more than 1,300 vendors. The present method of controlling the entire organizational IT is through an operating council of eight CIO within the group called the CIO Board. They have to meet every six weeks and the purpose of the group is to discuss the ongoing and proposed projects within the area of information technology. The members also have quarterly meetings with two day workshops and this is a part of a 30 member IT Executive Management Council. This group has the responsibility of approving every IT program in the company and also checking that all the decisions of the committee are implemented. (Tasooji, 2005)
This is a case different from the previous one where there are a large number of internal experts in information technology who create the programs for the company. In this company, there are only outsiders who are in the job of creating the solutions, but even there the material that is created has to be clearly evaluated. Since both the companies are large, this requires a lot of efforts and directed action by the individuals involved with IT within the company or the group so that best results are obtained.
Extension of Intranet and results:
It is often thought that intranet is only the communication within the business unit, but that need not be. There was once a remark made by Sam Walton of Wal-Mart to Proctor & Gamble saying "The way we do things is way too complicated. You should automatically send me Pampers, and I should send you a check once a month. We ought to get rid of all this negotiation and invoicing." (Koch, 2002) This has led to a collaborative process through which P& G. sends off the requirements of grocers for the item without having to receive any orders from the grocers. This came from the original designs developed for P& G. By IBM and the decision had been taken by P& G. To see whether they could use it as a tool for keeping their customers happy. This software was developed by P& G. internally, and made suitable for use by its own IT and then sold to Wal-Mart in 1988. Now this software has become the standard for the industry. The aim of this software is to remove the inefficiencies in the supply chain due to high levels of inventory, costs of transportation and changes in shipments. The group itself always talks of being able to provide the best support to the customer and that is the reason why they decided to buy the software and develop it. The original software bought from IBM was called Inform and then the developed software was sold back to IBM as Collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment -- CPFR. (Koch, 2002)
Thus even when software is bought from other companies within the company, it still leaves scope for development for the use by the buyer. On the other hand, when we get into the process of developing software internally, we are not aware of the requirements for the function. Thus even after development it may be needed to continuously improve on the software continuously. The other aspect is that we are never sure of the difficulties that are built within the software, so a certain amount of development is always required. On the other hand, a lot of this development has already been done by the seller of the software and the likelihood of the software giving trouble is much lower. The example that has been taken is strictly speaking not about an intranet but a system that operates almost like an intranet. (Koch, 2002)
The recommended intranet:
In this particular case let us look at the requirements that the system must have for that will determine the desired system. The advantages of this system can be mentioned as being fast and easy to install so that the system can be…