Soft Systems Techniques in the Preparation of essay

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Soft Systems Techniques in the Preparation of Information Technology as a Systems Manager

Company Systems

Consulting process and model

Systems approach, client relationships

Company Culture

Client defenses, attachments to existing systems

Interaction with the company culture in order to facilitate change

System and Culture working together

Dependancy issues

Lewin

Company Systems

Consulting process and model

Systems approach, client relationships

Company Culture

Client defenses, attachments to existing systems

Interaction with the company culture in order to facilitate change

System and Culture working together

Dependency issues

Lewin's model of Unfreeze, Change, and Refreeze

Research Question

Methodology and Procedures

Assumptions, Limitations, and Definitions

Data: Actual findings

Implications for Improvement of Practice

Conclusion

Additional Re-search

References

Appendix:

Charts, Graphs, Data survey instruments.

Abstract

As businesses grow, and technologies change, the global marketplace demands change.

The most difficult aspect of this mandated change is that the company must continue to produce its goods and services, continue to meet customer demands and fulfill their promises while in the midst of change. An age old idiom is Abstract

As businesses grow, and technologies change, the global marketplace demands change.

The most difficult aspect of this mandated change is that the company must continue to produce its goods and services, continue to meet customer demands and fulfill their promises while in the midst of change. An age old idiom is "You never change horses in the middle of the stream." However, when it comes to adding new IT systems to a business environment, the process necessarily involves just that, changing a major control system while the company is in full operation. The process demands not dropping details, disappointing customers, or losing key employees in the process.

This dissertation is the result of my consulting experience with IMS, a world wide supplier of metal stock, and engineered metal products. During my consultancy with IMS, the company began an effort to move from a 20-year-old production control system to a cutting edge, internet-based software application that will fully integrate the multi-national corporations operations across 3 continents, and over 50 production facilities.

Introduction

Nature of the Problem

This section described the nature of the change problem at a multinational corporation, International Metal Service (IMS) and my experience with the company. IMS is a multi-national, multi-product and multi-material corporate group established in 12 European countries and the United States through 18 subsidiaries operating in 51 locations. IMS carries out international technical distribution of its inventory for specializations on specific markets. It is represented in all major industrial centres, with 19 subsidiaries in 12 European countries and one in the United States. The Group sells special metallurgic products for the abrasion-resistant, corrosion-resistant and engineering steel markets. Their products are utilized in the construction of such things as road construction equipment, armor plating for armored transports, etc. The various stock keeping units (SKU

Introduction

Nature of the Problem

This section described the nature of the change problem at a multinational corporation, International Metal Service (IMS) and my experience with the company. IMS is a multi-national, multi-product and multi-material corporate group established in 12 European countries and the United States through 18 subsidiaries operating in 51 locations. IMS carries out international technical distribution of its inventory for specializations on specific markets. It is represented in all major industrial centres, with 19 subsidiaries in 12 European countries and one in the United States. The Group sells special metallurgic products for the abrasion-resistant, corrosion-resistant and engineering steel markets. Their products are utilized in the construction of such things as road construction equipment, armor plating for armored transports, etc. The various stock keeping units (SKU's) are sold and held and stored in distribution and processing centers across the globe. This activity demands the support of an effective logistics organisation and depends upon a professional sales force with a strong technical background. Eighteen IMS companies provide this service. They carry a permanent stock of approximately 40,000 different stocklines. These companies are product specialists in their product market and serve their industrial customers locally from 60 service-centers. (IMS-group.com)

The IMS group has been controlling their stock, production, inventory sales and accounting functions via location by location, information management systems. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, this practice is costly. Services functions are being duplicated by each branch and facility. Overstocks and under production shortages are not able to be easily distributed through the corporate system. Accounting practices are made more complex by each location handling their own complete accounting structures. Also, many of the IMS customers are also competing in the global marketplace. The limitation of the company to distribute orders effectively throughout its branches is another limitation of the aging control system. In their book It's Not the Big That Eat the Small... It's the Fast That Eat the Slow, Jennings and Haughton argue that only the swiftest of corporations will thrive in the 21st century.(Jennings, 2001) They describe a program, based on best practices developed by contemporary business successes that describe a fast business structure which is based on streamlining "commerce, resource deployment, and people." The authors insist that being faster doesn't mean being out of breath, but being smarter b y managing customer relationships closely, and staying close to the market place factors which drive a particular industry.

Kay says "Old rules have changed, and new concept, new paradigms to use the favorite phrase, are required." (Kay, 2000) In this new business model paradigm, in which the Internet can be used to facilitate intra-company communication, this old system has come to the end of its useful life cycle. The company has recognized that by shifting many of their resource management functions to in Internet application basis, the overall corporation can position itself to save money, and respond more quickly to the global marketplace.

The world-wide web already accounts for more Internet network traffic than any other application, including email and simple file transfer. It is also a collaborative technology in a weak sense of the word - it allows people to share information. It is socially unique in that unlike the telephone system it is a broadcast medium, and unlike television and radio the users have (a large element of) control over what is published and what they see. Most groupware systems are developed for particular platforms and are only usable within the particular organisations that use them. In contrast, the web offers a globally accessible, platform independent infrastructure. Not surprisingly, many people are looking towards the web as a potential platform for richer cooperative work.

The most important issue, when discussing the change over of a business information management system (IMS) to the internet is at what point does the business - IMS interface reach Critical mass

Grudin cites various reasons for the failure of Computer Supported Cooperative Network (CSCW) systems (Gruden, p. 87). One of the principal problems is obtaining a critical mass of users. Consider the cost-benefit trade-off for a user of a CSCW system. The costs of use are often constant irrespective of the number of other users. In contrast, the benefit rises with the number of other users. If you are the only user, then you don't expect much benefit from a CSCW application So, if there is a small number of users the cost for each user is likely to exceed the benefit; only when there are a large number of other users does the benefit exceed the cost. The cross-over point is called the critical mass (see figure 1). Below the critical mass of users, the cost exceeds the benefit and so any sensible user will abandon the system, further reducing the number of users. Above the critical mass, benefit exceeds cost and so users will stay with it and others join. The challenge is getting to that critical mass position.

Figure 1: Critical Mass based on cost / benefit relationship

However, there is another function of the critical mass factor which is not based on number of users, or any other objective measurement. When considering the overall transition of a business IMS from one system to another, the organizational quality, and smoothness of the transition process is the largest single determinant of the Figure 1: Critical Mass based on cost / benefit relationship

However, there is another function of the critical mass factor which is not based on number of users, or any other objective measurement. When considering the overall transition of a business IMS from one system to another, the organizational quality, and smoothness of the transition process is the largest single determinant of the "point of Critical Mass."

If the cost of a system is fixed, and the number of users is predetermined to be sufficient to warrant the expense, the company can still fall short of the critical mass. The point at which the benefits of the new system exceed the cost will remain elusive if the transition is not planned, organized, pre-trained, and executed with a smooth and complete methodology.

Using Figure 2 as a graphic example of the change process, during the…[continue]

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