Chapter 11, pg. 427: Denver Goes Alfresco
- What type of problems was the consolidated city-county government of Denver, Colorado, experiencing with documented management before instating the Alfresco ECM system?
Before the introduction of the Alfresco ECM system, the consolidated city-county government of Denver, Colorado experienced many problems with the documented management system. Before introducing the Alfresco ECM system, more than 70 of the consolidated city-county government used 14 different documented management systems, none of which could communicate or interact with each other (Laudon & Laudon, 2012).
The information Technology department had to manually supervise many stand-alone autonomous IT units with their own systems and standards. Using a decentralized system created problems, including document sharing, document security, and the ability to audit record keeping functions, especially financial records and scanned contracts. This greatly affected the productivity of employees due to time wastage in locating documents from other agencies, duplication of IT functions, and cumbersome document scanning applications. Installing the Alfresco ECM system enabled the agency to integrate and streamline all the IT functions.
- How did the Alfresco ECM system provide a solution to these problems?
Introduction of the Alfresco system provided a solution to these problems by creating a centralized strategy to unify and streamline IT functions of the agency. The Alfresco ECM system provided the organization the ability to capture and manage electronic files and automate document-centric business process. The new system enabled the organization to scrap the 14 document management system resulting to efficiency and cost-saving. The enterprise content management (ECM) system enabled the revamped the city’s contract record system so that it no longer needed to regularly reboot the systems, met security standards, and easy access to employee information across agencies (Laudon & Laudon, 2012).
The previous system had a poor search capability and a slow performance. The Alfresco ECM system enabled the organization to conduct its functions in and efficient and fast manner. The new system’s capabilities include document, record, and image management, multi-language support, support for multiple operating systems, and Web content management.
- What management, organization, and technology issues had to be addressed in selecting and implementing Denver’s new content management system?
The technological issues that had to be addressed in selecting and implementing Denver’s new content management system was a system that could revamp the city’s contract record system so that it no longer had to nightly reboot, meet security standards, and allow easy search of employees across agencies (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). The new contract system also had to improve the search capabilities and improve speed of performance.
The organization also had to look for a system that could provide cost-effective solution that does not interrupt service delivery. In order to reduce cost, the organization settled on a open source ECM system that was not only affordable but would help Denver save cost by approximately $1.5 million (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Compared to proprietary system, open source model offered many advantages including saving cost on recurring licenses, deployment, and maintenance.
Technological consideration include ability of the system to document, record, and manage images, document versioning, multi-language support, support for multiple client operating systems, and web content management.
- How did the new content management system change governmental processes for Denver? How did it benefit citizens?
The new content management system enabled Denver to integrate with the current PeopleSoft Financial Management software to enable employees view contracts and associated content within the familiar interface (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Complete automation of the contract requisition, authorization and writing process resulted in accelerated contract approval time and enhanced contract and financial document audit. The government process became more efficient and cost-effective enabling Denver to serve the needs of its citizens more efficiently.
The new content management system would provide citizens with online access to documents at a reduced cost, instead of the need to obtain the documents from government offices. Another initiative that benefited customers was the upgrade of the 311 service that could connect citizens to a Citizen Service Center (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). This could allow citizens to report community concerns such as barking dogs, potholes, and other noise disturbances, graffiti, and dysfunctional street and traffic lights.
Chapter 11, pg. 432: Firewire Surfboards Light Up with CAD
- Analyze Firewire using the value chain and competitive forces models
The case study of the Australian surfboard company, FireWire draws on the ability of the firm to compete with the assistance of technology. In the contemporary business world, successful firms use management information system to assist in achieving competitive advantage in many ways such as enhancing product quality and efficiency as well as customer service. Nev Hyman had been manufacturing surfboards in Australia for the last 35 years before teaming up with Mark Price and a group of long time surfing friends in Carlsbad, California, to form Firewire Surfboards (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Concerning competitive forces, Firewire had to adopt a different business model to remain competitive. The company uses product differentiation to remain competitive in the market. Rather than polyurethane resin and polyurethane foam, Firewire made boards composed of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and epoxy resins. The company owners believe that this composition for the surfboard core, along with aerospace composites for the deck skin and balsa wood rails create a more flexible and maneuverable product that would attract more surfers as well as set Firewire apart from its competitors.
Additionally, to stay ahead of competition, Firewire started making custom surfboards instead using the usual off-the-rack sizes (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). The key selling point for everyday surfer is the durability and flexibility of materials used by Firewire. The firm uses computer aided designs (CAD) in the manufacturing process to eliminate some time-consuming and labor-intensive steps in the surfboard manufacturing process. The company is also able to produce customized surfboards to both elite and regular surfers.
- What strategies is Firewire using to differentiate its products, reach its customers, and persuade them to buy its products?
Firewire is competing in a crowded field that includes Surftech, Surfboards, Aviso Surf, Channel Island, Board works Surf, and Lost Enterprises. In order to differentiate its products, Firework is the only company that has reintroduced balsa wood to the board rails to ensure added flex response time and ability to maintain speed during precarious maneuvers (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Additionally, Fireworks has differentiated its product by using environmentally friendly materials. Material used by Firewire only emit 2 percent of the harmful compounds of traditional boards and recycling excess expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which has earned the firm international award and acclaim (Laudon & Laudon, 2012).
Unlike its competitors, Firewire uses computer-aided design (CAD) that completes 85 to 90 percent of the process, leaving the artisan to complete the customization and the lamination process.
The company also has personalized CAD to the average consumer, unlike in the past when customized boards could only be produced to elite customers. In the past, customers had to order boards by filling out a piece of paper with various dimensions for the requested changed (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Additional, there was no visual presentation of these adjustments or assess their impact on the board’s volume, which directly affects paddling ability, buoyancy, and performance. In response, Firewire stated working with ShapeLogic NX software, which allows customers to easily manipulate board dimensions of established models within design parameters (Laudon & Laudon, 2012).
The technology used by Firewire results into a board that is 97 percent complete, which reduces the manufacturing time, finishing process, and thus, costs to the customer. Additionally, Firewire has an online design system through social media that allows customers to share their unique designs. This allows customers to share with their fellow surfers their designs and ask for recommendations making the final order.
- What is the role of CAD in Firewire’s business model?
CAD has a significant role in Firewire’s business model as it helps in the manufacturing process. Traditionally, shapers designed and built surfboards by hand, but Firewire started doing some of the production process using CAD. The computed-aided manufacturing process of the company returned to the shaper a board that was 85 to 90 percent complete, leaving the artisan to complete the customization and the lamination process (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). It is evident from this that CAD reduces the time taken to produce a board and well as reduce the labor-intensive steps in the surfboard manufacturing process.
Full automation of the computer-aided design allowed the firm to offer personalized boards to both elite and average customers. Firewire is currently able to allow its customers to experiment with established designs, feed the CAD process, and integrate it with its computer numerical control manufacturing process (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). The computed-aided design has enabled Firewire to efficiently serve its customers as well as save cost in the production process. The new tool enables customers to easily order for surfboards without having to fill various dimensions on a piece of paper for the requested changes.
- How did the integration of online custom board design software (CBD), CAD, and computer numerical control (CNC) improve Firewire’s operation?
The integration of online custom board design software (CBD), CAD, and computer numerical control (CNC) improved the operation of Firewire in a number of ways. To start with, integration of these technologies resulted in a board that is 97 percent complete minimizing manufacturing time, finishing process, and thus, cost to the consumer (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). The new process allowed the firm to remake the surfboards according to the exact specification of the customer repeatedly. It also allowed Firewire to make an exact replica of the surfboards with increased degree of precision.
In addition, Firewire’s online design system that integrated social networking strengthened by the ability of customers to share their unique design files (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Customers are able to share their designs and modifications to fellow surfers before placing an order and ask for opinions and advice. The social networking among customers and the company also enable them to make recommendation to other customers and advice the company. The company benefits from this interactive communication, which drives customers to the Firewire’s website as well creating a marketing buzz that boosts sales.
Chapter 12, pg. 476: Colgate-Palmolive Keeps Managers Smiling with Executive Dashboards.
- Describe the different types of business intelligence users at Colgate-Palmolive
There are different users of business intelligence information at Colgate-Palmolive. The company has a single global data repository using SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. One of the users of business intelligence at Colgate include the senior managers who receive daily HTML table showing a series of financial and operational metrics for the day compared to the previous month and quarter (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). The executives receive the same data as what their peers in all Colgate regions and business units see. Despite the availability of the data, employees were not making good use of the information to enhance the benefits to the business. However, Colgate’s power users were satisfied with the matrix reports and used them to the benefit of the organization.
The senior managers and other casual users found the data too complicated to use them in a constructive way (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). This was because they lack adequate time and expertise to synthesize the standardized reports because they lacked navigation and drill down capacities. The tables lacked color-coding so users were only able to interpret the data by scrutinize the numbers on the table. Other business intelligence users at Colgate-Palmolive included junior employees.
- Describe the “people” issues that were affecting Colgate’s ability to use business intelligence
Despite availing business intelligence, employees were not using the data in their decision making to have an impact on business benefits. Colgate’s senior managers and other casual users did not feel comfortable running ad hoc reports to attend to the questions that the data brought into light. They did not have time to develop reports and lacked the knowledge to analyze the information coming from the warehouse (Laudon & Laudon, 2012).
Another “people” factor that was affecting the ability of Colgate to use business intelligence was the lack of training to interpret the data to ensure business success. Only power users were able to use business intelligence in constructively (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Another issue is that people are used to stuffed numbers and find it hard to use the information provided by Colgate’s business intelligence. In addition, executives formally relied on the help of other people and may find it hard to use the reports and data on their own.
- What management, organization, and technology factors had to be addressed in providing business intelligence capabilities for each type of user?
For the senior managers, Colgate had to ensure that the information availed to them come in numbers to enable them makes faster decisions. Presenting the information on dashboards could help managers who formerly relied on other people to obtain their custom reports and data access the information on their own. The company had to conduct employee training to ensure the success of dashboards. This required offering customized courses for Colgate’s 65 business intelligence experts as well ran the class training (Laudon & Laudon, 2012).
Additionally, power users also required the same training to provide business intelligence capabilities for each type of user. Senior managers and other casual users had to be given deeper access to the warehouse data in a more timely and user-friendly format to reduce dependence on other people. Senior managers requested for customizable, real-time dashboards that they could use more easily in driving performance.
- What kind of decisions does Colgate’s new business intelligence capability support? Give three examples. What is their potential business impact?
Colgate’s new business intelligence capacity support the ability to offer data that is standardized and formatted for enterprise-wide reporting and analysis. This helps in eliminating differences in data across the enterprise. For example, the daily HTML table enables senior managers to view daily financial and operational metrics compared to previous month and quarter. The tables did not feature color coding allowing users to interpret the data by analyzing the numbers on the table (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). The new business intelligence capability supports the ability of business analysts and non-technical business professionals to ask spontaneous questions about their data. The potential business impact is improved decision-making among the management as well as enhance business performance.
Kenneth C. Laudon, & Jane P. Laudon. Management Information Systems 13th Edition. Pearson Education Limited, 2013.