Using IS for Competitive Advantage
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1. Why is business process management important to organizations? Explain why the fact that nothing stays the same gives rise to the need for business process management.
Business process management can help an organization to solve some of the toughest business challenges and make it more profitable. For instance, it can help the organization to quickly get new productions and services to the market. It can also decrease the operation cost while together helping the organization improve and optimize business processes. Similarly, BPM can be used in streaming human workflow; integrating back end applications; and automating manual decisions or document-intensive processes (SmartSOA, 2010). For instance key subject matter experts from a multinational financing company collaborated to streamline and consolidate business processes across multiple business units in a few weeks using business process modeling and analysis tools. The company was able to save an additional five million dollars due to the fact that it used the business process management from IBM. It was able to consolidate credit checking and information gathering web services across multiple business applications. This consolidation helped the company to provide better services to its customers and increased customer retention.
Business process management also helps in continuous process improvement and for identifying ongoing cost saving procedures. For instance, a large specialty retailer struggled to stock the right products at the point of purchase (SmartSOA, 2010). With BPM, it streamlined its fulfillment process through automation to effectively source inventory to execute sales at the lowest possible cost. The company also monitored the end to end transaction process in new real time to identify issues and take actions quickly. As a result, the retailer increased sales by 30% reduced cost and generated ROI in less than six months.
Another example is that of a mobile communication service provider in Asia which needed more agility in its business and operations support systems to roll out new services and campaigns faster. By implementing dynamic BPM, it automated campaign executions and billing processes. As a result, it reduced the time for new service introduction and billing from 6 weeks down to 1 to gain competitive advantage.
BPM can be used in various industry frameworks including aerospace and defense, banking, electronics and healthcare among others. An organization that wants to transform from small to big needs that competitive edge. One way of gaining this edge is by using BPM. Similarly, when an organization grows, its services expand and become more complex. It is therefore important that BPM is introduced to keep up with the growth. The world is also becoming a global village thanks to advancement in information technolgy. Any company that wishes to keep track with the dynamics of the industry should incorporate information technology.
2. What role do information systems play in business processes?
Information systems can play a key role in e-commerce and e-business operations, strategic success of business, and enterprise collaboration and management (Kroenke, 2011). As a result, they support various business operations. For instance, database systems can be very useful in the implementation of activities that link various activities in the organization. This creates a database of applications that can be used to track location, equipment and status of a certain project. Information systems can also help in adding an activity through the process equipment database and inform the employees on what has been done and what is yet to be done. The linkages of various activities help the organization to design or redesign some of its activities. The prebuilt solution accelerators ensures a faster ROI, greater consistency and extensibility across any organization
Information systems also support the organization in making strategic decisions that could help it to gain competitive advantage. For instance, it can provide relevant information on what product should be launched in what region by analyzing all the data collected from various regions. The organization will therefore have the advantage of a better understanding of the market in various regions. Information systems can also enable an organization to plan for the future by examining the trends in the industry.
3. What are the functions and characteristics of customer relationship management (CRM) information systems?
CRM is a core business application that most organizations need to track their customers with since they are one of their most valuable assets. It is a set of processes for managing, selling, attracting and supporting customers. It can centralize, customize, optimize and streamline all the information out to all the franchisee and workers in the organization. It can also integrate features that an organization tries to incorporate in their system like time to time work system. For instance, it gave the Trash-It Company the ability to track all their tracks in the country. With CRM live, the process becomes faster because an organization can begin its operations immediately. It differs from traditional functional applications in the sense that CRM addresses every activity involving customers and provides a database for all activities about customer interactions ( Kroenke, 2011).
There are three main components of CRM: lead tracking, solicitation and relationship maanagement. Its main characteristic is that it works on an integrated customer database. It is also faster and reliable because it operates 24 hours a day. The organization can tract its operations and customers day and night. It allows an organization to store a work history of any customer who calls and gives the organization a more personal approach with the customers.
Generally it promotes collaboration and promotes quality control. It allows an organization to automate all its features and quality checks. A quality checks representative can therefore go through all the checks before closing an operation. Another function of CRM is that it maintains a work flow (MicrosoftSBC, 2008). This is a way to automate repetitive tasks in the organization. When a process is completed an employee can go to the CRM system and complete the project and anyone who looks at the system will understand that the project was completed. Additionally, it creates other follow up tasks like making phone calls and therefore guides the employee on the next step to take.
4. Choose one of the following basic business processes: inventory management, operations, manufacturing, HR management, or accounting/financial management. Use the internet to identify one vendor that license a product to support that process. Give a brief explanation of the product and then specify the characteristics of a company for which that vendor’s offerings would be ideal.
The operations process is one of the business processes that would benefit from information systems. Cisco is one of the vendors of a product that support the operations process in organizations. It has the Cisco Integrated Service Routers (ISRs) that is very useful in this process. This product has features that enable an organization to centralize its business functions and transform customer experience. It keeps all the records about customer transactions thus helping in time management and keeping track of the operation. It obtains customer data, record customer purchases, track orders, verify customer credit and inform the customers of the status of their orders. This product is secure because it has intrusion preventions, firewalls, VPN capacities and intrusion detectors.
The product is ideal for non-manufacturers like wholesalers, retailers and distributors with a chain of outlets. This is because the ISRs allow every group to manage its operations independently. Chain stores normally have a lot of functions going on at the same time from every store. As a result, there is bound to be traffic of information from various stores. Such an organization therefore needs an information system with a higher bandwidth in order to decrypt the traffic and ensure that all members’ data can be safely accessed. This will give the chain store a competitive advantage over its rivals because customers will be attended to in time and improve customer loyalty.