Dobson Farm Products began operations in 1983 as a small producer of poultry products including meat and eggs. They began as a family business with an office in a room of their farmhouse. In 1990 the operation had grown to a point where they had to hire a secretary, accountant, sales manager, and seven production workers. The company has grown exponentially and now they find that it is time to automate many of the tasks previously performed by the small staff. They are building a 86,000 square foot facility and are hiring additional staff. They are adding a human resources department, shipping department, receiving department, and processing facility. The company retained Computer Systems Analysts, Inc. To analyze their current information systems and to design a system that would meet both the immediate and future projected needs of the growing company. The following report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the analysis team.
Currently, the company uses little automation. The secretary has her own stand alone personal computer with a standard Windows-based office software package. She uses it to type letters, keep schedule calendars and manager her routine tasks such as machine maintenance and monthly reports. To this point, the secretary has served as personnel manager as well. She has also been handling shipping and receiving books. The accountant also has a stand-alone personal computer loaded with Peachtree Accounting software. He calculates and writes payroll checks by hand. The Sales manager has a stand-alone computer for printing reports, tracking figures, and contract management. He uses an outside printer to print all of his sales materials. The General Manager tracks production and inventory needs using a LOTUS spreadsheet. He receives reports on a monthly basis from the secretary, accountant, and sales manager.
This system has worked well in the small production environment until this point. However, with the planned increases in production, this system simply cannot track the amounts and types of information needed. The current system is labor intensive and will need additional speed. It will also need to be able to be upgraded to meet any future expansions. Currently, the system has no information protocols in place to secure private information, such as personnel information or company sensitive information. There is no integration and unity between the various components. Every one has designed their own system. In the event that an employee leaves, it would be almost like starting over for the new person. They would take some time to figure out the other person's system. The system needs to be standardized, so that it can be easily transferred to new employees.
Current and Future Projected Needs
Computer System design must first identify the types of information being processed in each phase of the operation. It then must determine what is done with that information.. The system designer must establish the flow of information exchange, both interdepartmentally and with other entities outside the corporation. Thirdly, they must determine what level of security is necessary for each type of information. This part of the design process involves interviewing each individual employee or department manager to obtain this information. Only then can a system be designed, which meets the needs of the organization.
The need to upgrade the office procedures and computer systems is obvious. It is impossible for the current system to keep up with the information needs of the new production facility. The information will be divided into the necessary departments: Administration, Human Resources, Accounting, Production, Shipping, Receiving, Marketing, Inventory control, and Management. Each department will have its own system designed to meet its own information needs. Each departmental system needs to be tied together so that they can exchange certain types of information. For example, management needs access to certain information to enable it to make better decisions based on more current information than the present system will allow. The system needs to be able to allow the free exchange of certain information between certain departments.
Certain types of information need to be accessible to only those who are allowed to view that information. Each department needs to have an isolated system set up which has security protocols in place to allow only authorized personnel to view sensitive information. For instance, personnel information must kept secure in order to protect the privacy of the employees. This is not only recommended, but is mandated by the Federal Privacy Act.
The current hardware and software is all five years old or older. All current hardware will need to be replaced with newer equipment that has the capabilities to work within an infrastructure. Both system wide and departmental security protocols will be set up. The system needs to be stable. The system chosen will take into consideration the level of security needed, isolation and integration of information exchange interdepartmentally, system stability, and the ability to be easily upgraded with out the need to replace the entire system at some time in the future. The system must be easily able to be expanded to include more departments and personal computers as the needs arise.
This is the first major expansion at Dobson Farms of this proportion. The farm has plans to continue expansions in the future. It is considering the purchase of more land, so further expansions forecasted. Computer system design should occur simultaneously with corporate structure and systems (Zich, 1995).
Types of Information by Department one size fits all system seldom works in today's complex environment. The information should not be designed around the computer system, but rather the specific need of each department identified and a system designed to meet their needs (Wilson, 1995). The types of data and security level of the data needs to be analyzed prior to system design.
The administration department will be answering phone calls, typing reports and correspondence and in some cases, reports. They will need to track office equipment maintenance schedules and maintain a list of contacts. They need a software system, which is heavily weighted in the word-processing area, including scheduling software and a spreadsheet program. Windows Office 2000 is the recommended software package for this purpose.
Human Resources needs to track personal information and maintain that this information cannot be accessed by those other than authorized to view it. They also will need software heavily weighted in word processing and spreadsheet areas. They will need the ability to ensure that private information is not released to other than the intended party. This is one of the most security intensive areas of the computer system.
The accounting department will be responsible for maintaining financial records of each department and the overall company as well. They need the ability to quickly analyze large amounts of information and generate reports, which present the information in a clear and understandable fashion.
The current accountant is familiar with the Peachtree Accounting software package. This package is designed for home users and very small businesses. It is inadequate in a large production setting. In addition, it does not integrate well into a Windows network environment. The accountant needs to feel competent with the new software. Further consulting with him will be needed to choose a system that is more geared for the large corporate environment and that he feels will meet his needs. This software selection will meet the needs of the accountant, and must also be able to interface with other departments as well. For example, he needs to be able to pull information from Inventory Control and integrate it with information from Shipping and Receiving to present to upper management. This is also a highly security intensive department.
The Production Department will be mainly concerned with production charts, graphs and generating production reports and schedules. A database oriented software package would best suit their needs. The package need not be fancy, a simple utilitarian database will suffice such as Microsoft Access, Professional Version. Shipping, Receiving and Inventory Control will also be generating the same type of information and could use the same type of software package. There is a benefit in keeping all system in the same operating environment: intercommunication ease and capabilities.
The marketing department needs the most comprehensive software package. They need to generate sales reports and graphs, write correspondence, and generate advertising materials. For the sales reports and correspondence Windows Office 2000 is the chosen package. The standard Excel spreadsheet has a charting and graphing capability that is easily integrated into Microsoft Word Documents. Graphics are easily edited using this software combination. Power Point would allow them to produce professional looking documents. A more professional graphics program would save money in the long run as they would produce, change and edit their own marketing materials at a much lower cost than out-sourcing them. Marketing needs to be able to secure portions of their data, such as sales figures and information, as well al future advertising and marketing strategies.
Management needs to have a secure system for company sensitive information. Management needs to be able to…