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Any prosperous small commercial start-up ultimately faces the challenge of dealing with business expansion. The increasingly competitive business arena requires companies to continuously change strategies to remain competitive. During the last three decades, organizations have realized the importance of integrating business models with technology. Considering that all organizations are aware of this fact, every business endeavors to utilize new and emerging technologies to stay ahead of competition (Broadbent & Weill, 2009). The current study examines the Shore and More Bicycles situation in seeking to establish a technology infrastructure to support the expansion strategy of the company.
Aspects to support the growth strategy of Shores and More Bicycles
IT infrastructure is a core organizational competency that is essential for organizations to continue and flourish in the increasingly dynamic and competitive commercial environments. Organizations grow domestically and globally to gain access to strategic markets, assets or advance new capabilities. It is imperative for the strategists to evaluate whether or not the new technologies will actually present inclusive improvement of the organization’s competencies and competitive edge.
In order to develop an IT infrastructure, there must be human effort to execute the different roles involved from the development of the technology itself, implementation, evaluation, and finally use the technology to achieve the goals of the organization. IT personnel possess expertise essential in developing the necessary technology to meet the objectives of the organization. These experts work collaboratively in cross-functional groups using diverse technologies to attain a common goal.
Subsequently, they expedite peripheral bridging and assist the company to respond to alterations in its environment. Additionally, the experts afford the required linkage of the entire organization irrespective of the size. The personnel further possess the capacity to rapidly develop or alter commercial applications to meet the requirements that allow for the swift structural reaction to changes. They may also possess membership to tactical teams whose task is to articulate IT tactics in accordance with the structural approach.
The fact that Shores and More bicycles have competent IT personnel does not dismiss the idea that experts experienced in the proposed system are critical to the successful implementation of the technology. TAAS is a relatively complex system for IT experts considering the time it took to develop and the components that comprise it.
IT infrastructural development requires an organization to invest in research and development, software, hardware and labor. In introducing technologies to an organization, labor consumes most of the financial resources dedicated to the initiative. An organization requires being financially endowed to ensure the success of an IT infrastructure initiative. Software, hardware and labor costs are among the aspects that a company requires to ensure that they are adequately catered for prior to initiating a project.
Shores and More Bicycles Company is financially endowed to meet the financial commitments of implementing the proposed technology. It is imperative for the company to invest in research and development (R&D) in future to ensure it keeps pace with the rapidly changing technological advances. The move requires the slotting of R&D funding into the company’s budget. The move will allow the R&D IT department to develop its software tailored to meet its organizational requirements.
Any type of technology encompasses hardware as the container of the technology. In IT, the physical components of computers and related equipment are the hardware and communication systems. Other IT hardware includes telephones, routers, servers and backups. The hardware installed by the company requires having specifications that will accommodate the proposed technology. The selection of the hardware is important, as it will determine the efficiency of the software. The hardware will be large enough to accommodate the increasing labor details and information in the long-term.
These are the nontangible parts of information technology. The main characteristic of software is that they can be stored electronically. They are programs used to control computers and allied devices. Examples of software include operating systems, utilities, applications and programs. The company requires purchasing and installing programs that are compatible with TAAS. The Windows© variety of offerings is appropriate for using with TAAS because they accommodate a wide array of applications.
The aspect is concerned with the capacity to share whichever kind of information across technology modules all over the enterprise. It makes data readily available to users without experiencing difficulties due to differences in the type of data or information. It facilitates the spanning of corporate boundaries, empowers the users and readily avails knowledge within the business.
The purchase and installation of hardware and software is only among the initial stages of having an IT infrastructure. Small enterprises may not require complex networks to meet the needs of the organization. However, large enterprises such as Shores and More Bicycles require an elaborate network that will increase the sharing of data and information internally (Local Area Network – LAN) with other plants (Wide Area Network – WAN), Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN), Storage Area Networks (SAN) and Content Networks (CNs including intranet, extranet the internet and the VPN).
Connectivity regards the capacity of an equipment module to link with other modules inside and outside the enterprise environment (Duncan, 2012). Connectivity will allow for the smooth and transparent businesses that are autonomous in terms of time and space. Besides, the connectivity makes the sharing of IT resources at the policy level.
Modularity regards the capacity to effortlessly reconstitute the technological modules. These activities include adding, modifying or removing some components. Modularity facilitates the setting of the desired organizational processes for sharing and usability. These include the tailored programming and module-based software architecting. Additionally, it is a range that describes the level at which a system’s modules can be disconnected and rearranged.
The aspect is critical for businesses that desire to communicate internally with customers and other branches virtually. Upon training on the utilization of TAAS, the IT personnel will play a fundamental role in enhancing company productivity through the reconstitution of some elements to accommodate other components of the existing systems.
Data refers to information that has been decoded into a system that is more suitable to transfer process or share. Data is typically presented in symbols where operations can be executed by a computer and transmitted in electrical signals. The data that will be collected by the proposed system will be essential in analyzing the company performance and identify areas that require improvements. The sharing of the data will facilitate the development of strategies by different departments in pursuit of organizational objectives.
Gap analysis of the current technology and future needs for the IT infrastructure
Currently available hardware
Shores and More Bicycles Company has the basic hardware that increases the organizational operations. These include computers, servers, landline telephones and switchboards. The hardware currently available conveniently caters for the needs of the company. However, some of the company’s branches experience shortage of the crucial hardware such as power backups and data backups. The servers available in some locations require an overhaul and upgrading to increase their efficiency.
The company requires purchasing modern hardware that will allow the effective installation of the TAAS. Most of the computers were meant for outdated programs considering their specifications. Computers with larger capacity will allow the company to maintain data for the increasing workforce.
Currently available software
Despite the company having several branches and plants in different states and countries, the only recognizable 3D software in Rome (Italy) is a standalone machine. Therefore, there is need for sharing the software on a platform that will allow other users to view the images directly and make changes if necessary. However, these changes should be reflected so that the research and design department can approve or ignore the proposed changes. The nature of the challenge requires that the company creates a portal to allow real-time communication between engineers in different regions.
Currently, the company has only one application that is accessible to all members. However, the accessibility of the system can only cater for the current company size. The software utilized by the company is decentralized for every department. The incorporation of the data is a challenge as individual departments require sending copies to the IT department for incorporation. In some circumstances, the personnel fail to integrate the reports resulting in the misleading reporting of the actual company performance status.
In addition to software that will facilitate employee data collection, analysis appraisals, the company require to install software that will facilitate easier sharing of information devoid of risk of interference. There should also be standard software across the company that will allow product developers to produce bicycle parts and apparel upon crosschecking from a main source.
Upgrading and reorganizing the IT infrastructure
The IT infrastructure aptitudes allow the numerous kinds of IT applications prerequisite to back the present and future organizational goals and facilitate the economical positioning of commercial advantages. The company should purchase modern computers with the following minimum specifications for users in different locations:
Hard disk: 1 Terabyte
Pentium 4 CPU: Above 3. GHz
RAM: Above 2 GB
However, the company should ensure that it acquires a main frame computer for each of its branches. The approach will ensure sufficient data storage space and efficiency. The main frame will function as the server and a backup. It will be easier to share data and information across the company (Byrd & Turner, 2011).
The IT status of the company requires that the company adopt the ‘Time and Attendance System’ (TAAS). Considering the wide ranging organizational activities of the company, the ALTO PLUS is an appropriate system that will solve most of the problems that the company faces. The technology only requires the HR department to feed new employee’s information into a computer including a photo. The information is relayed to the ALTO PLUS.
When the employee reports to work, they swipe their cards on any terminal within the company. The system immediately sends the information to the respective departments, the local HR and the headquarters while the data is stored in a server. After the shift, the employee swipes the card again. The standard hours worked and the overtime hours are calculated immediately. At the end of the month, it calculates the salary for every employee. The data stored in the system can also be exported for use in 3rd party systems.
Company’s need for system support
The company currently experiences multiple challenges that curtail its growth and expansion. The company requires an asset management system. The system will enable the accounts department to track the company assets globally. Additionally, the department will easily issue financial statements about liabilities and capital among other critical entries that reflect on the company performance. The proposed system caters for these concerns.
Provided the company has sufficient data storage space, all the company details can be entered into the system including starting capital, assets acquired and liabilities. The system generates financial statements when processing the payroll.
The human resource function responsible for the recruitment and selection of the workforce will require an integrated system that will automatically update new employees to all the relevant departments including the finance and IT departments. Such technology includes the TAAS system utilized by emerging and innovative companies. When an individual has not reported to work for two consecutive days or miss any three days in a week, the HR receives a notification through email.
The same is sent to the headquarters. The advantage of the system is that the company only requires one set of equipment for each plant. These systems are then linked through a server and all the data is collected at the headquarters thus ensuring that the company operations are standardized globally (Longbottom, 2014).
The plan will be possible once the IT department applications are upgraded from the current standalone applications. A portal will be developed where customers can place their orders online. Within the same platform, suppliers will have their section where they can communicate with the relevant departments. The move will facilitate the streamlining of the supply chain.
There is dire need for integrated systems considering the applications and services layer the company will have upon expansion. The application accessible by all members of the company will render the payroll system dysfunctional upon the increase of the company personnel which is imminent. The ALTO PLUS will place the company in a competitive position considering that the portal developed will integrate the successful online sales of the company products with the projected sales.
Emerging technology for later implementation into the proposed system
The ALTO PLUS is currently gaining popularity across many manufacturing industries. However, the idea that an employee can swipe the card on behalf of another has got developers thinking. There is a viable solution that future systems will include cameras that will identify the employee using rays. The employee will only require standing in front of the swiping machine with the eyes open and swipe the card. The machine will detect the individual holder of the card. When the information does not tally, the card number will be sent to the relevant department for action to be taken (Hinchcliffe, 2011).
Report for the management: Three year plan
Businesses globally are discovering that the capability to successfully control human resources is becoming a chief indicator of managerial and corporate growth. Organizations that stand out in using Information Technology human resource management systems to organize and manage workforce capital are making considerable benefits in the marketplace. However, those that disregard the importance of sophisticated HR technologies are dragging behind the competition.
The Human Resource Information System (HRIS) is a tool that caters for many areas of organizational management. These areas include data entry, data tracking, and data information needs of the Human Resources. Others are payroll, management, and accounting functions in organizations. Typically designed as a data base, thousands of organizations trade some form of HRIS. Each of these HRIS possesses different competences. It is hence imperative to pick the HRIS cautiously founded on the competences required by the organization. The type of HRIS selected determines the implementation period considering the relevant short-term and long-term benefits of the system.
The implementation of the proposed IT system is projected to begin in January 2015. The projection of the start date is due to consideration of the infrastructure that requires being put in place prior to the implementation of the actual system. The first six months will be consumed in upgrading the current computers. Modern servers and computers will be purchased and installed. Part of the IT personnel experienced in hardware configuration will be deployed to assist the supplier to ensure that they are conversant with the hardware once the supplier hands-over the project to the company.
Serviceable old computers will be upgraded and issued to departments that do not maintain high volumes of data. The overhauling of the company LAN will be done at this stage. The cables will be replaced to introduce the optic fiber cables. The configuration of the servers, routers and computers will be conducted simultaneously. The ALTO PLUS system will be installed. The software supports the use of a platform that accommodates Smartphones.
Consequently, it will allow executives of the company to communicate globally. The strategy to use the software will increase communication with suppliers, which will enhance the company’s supply chain. The system is crucial in ensuring that hearing-impaired suppliers and customers can access the products of the company.
The next six months will involve a pilot department to assess the effectiveness of the new system. In this case, TAAS will be utilized. TAAS will collect data and use the information to analyze the successful sales. The success of the pilot project will mean that the entire system can be rolled-out. During the second year, the system will be upgraded to include the digital camera version for optical identification of the employees.
The data collected will be analyzed using the TAAS system to reflect on the individual performance of the employees as well as the general performance of the company. A web portal will also be developed during this period. It will allow suppliers, customers and employees to interact freely.
During the third year, the entire system will be merged globally to streamline the supply chain. The efficiency of the network equipment will be observed over a period of two weeks during which bottlenecks will be fixed.
Justification for implementing the system
The selecting of human resource technology in leading businesses requires addressing an array of considerations. These include labor management functions such as numerous must-have features. Some of these features include Management Tools, Employee Tracking and Compliance & Policy Tracking. Principal human resource solutions progress organizational output through provision of influential management aspects and elements to human resource managers and leaders.
Typically, leaders ought to possess the vision for performing appraisal information, guidance and certifications. There is other vital information that requires handling by the company for effective management of the human capital. The system must also provide the managers the capacity to execute point-control budgeting, and institutional processes.
Hiring at the company is decentralized; there is no preset, corporate hiring figure and the operating groups, which form the company, are responsible for their own strategic decisions. In spite of being linked by the common denominator of ‘electricity’, their businesses are very diverse and range from bicycles and apparel.
Therefore, even a job vacancy labeled ‘mechanical engineer for sales’ can mean something as diverse as selling apparel to fashionable customers in Brazil or desalination plants to experts at utilities in the Middle East. As a well-known employer of choice for engineers, the company receives numerous unsolicited job applications via its Internet site where open positions will be listed. In addition, it is possible to draw on the talent pool of thousands of highly qualified students that serve their internships at the company every year.
When special skills or professional experience are required, the company will use the standard approach (advertisements, career fairs and direct contacts). The proposed technology will allow those in the HR departments to have good contacts with the universities in the respective countries and know which graduate profiles best serve their requirements.
Human resource needs for the recommended IT system
Currently, Shores and More Bicycles lack an appraisal system critical in assessing the performance of individual employees and consequently the company. The HR department requires having the updated attendance information for every employee to assess their performance. The proposed system will further ensure that all the company information is readily available.
The headquarters can easily assess the performance of individual plant’s viability and determining the efficiency of the specific plant management. The company requires hiring more IT experts to assist the existing pool of experts. The IT department will appoint among them a systems administrator who will be answerable to the CEO as opposed to the current situation where blames are shifted among the IT assistants when something goes wrong.
The approval of the HR manager will be required prior to presenting the administrator to the management. If none of the IT personnel meets the threshold of an administrator, the HR function will exercise due diligence in recruiting externally. The Hr department will, therefore play a central role in ensuring that the appropriate personnel is available for the success of the proposed technological adjustment.
How the IT system will help support the company’s globalization
The ALTO PLUS has the potential to expose the weaknesses of individual plant management in a timely manner. TAAS has sufficient specifications to locate the position of the end user through a GPRS locater. The ALTO PLUS when configured through the TAAS system has the potential to identify employees, managers and suppliers through the identification of ZIP codes and IP addresses.
The headquarters can hence compare the performance in different global locations and determine the places where it should establish its plants as well as the mobilization of its workforce. The portal will enable customers in different markets to determine the nearest stores where they can purchase the products. The company will be able to keep in touch with the suppliers globally. Additionally, the company will be able to track the production rates of the suppliers in real-time.
The move will help avoid delivery delays and consequent loss of business. The company will further stand the opportunity to accurately track the movement of goods ordered by customers to ensure timely delivery. This will assist in developing an efficient supply chain. The suppliers will have a schedule on their Smartphones that will prompt when delivery is due. Orders placed by different customers will be available on a common platform that allows communication with different suppliers to avoid issues of delayed orders.
For successful globalization of the company’s business, it is critical for ALTO PLUS and TAAS to be included. The two systems will be essential in ensuring that the headquarters, the employees, the suppliers and the shareholders are engaged when making essential decisions. Moreover, it is worth noting that the company management shall make the final decision.
How a specific emerging technology will facilitate growth
The availability of the internet will be augmented by the availability of smartphones. The company customers will be able to access the company through these gadgets via the internet. This has the potential to increase the customer base considering that the dedicated personnel will be responding to individual enquiries by customers.
Customers will be able to order products through their smartphones. In addition, they will be able to make payments online. The data collected from the customers will assist the company in identifying potential markets where outlets can be opened to exploit emerging and existing markets.
Smartphones enable users to receive news at the touch of a button. In recent years, configurations are available to allow users to install applications (Apps) in various gadgets. These include various applications that allow customers to order the variety of bicycle products and apparel. Most Smartphone companies are developing phones that include Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Shore and More Bicycles Company require consulting with mobile phone providers so that the Smartphones the company will be using are configured to allow a shared platform. The strategy will allow the management, the suppliers, the customers and the shareholders to engage in a meaningful way. The Smartphones will allow suppliers to store data in the form of reminders that will allow alert them when necessary. In addition, employees will interact with suppliers and customers even when in transit.
The communication will be facilitated by the conversion of languages that enables individuals from diverse language backgrounds to communicate easily. The management will benefit through the wide range of applications such as search and arithmetical optimization.
Technology plays a central role considering that it is a stage that is compounded by chances and risks. Conversely, organizational expansion often brings with it the conforming increase in financial prosperities for the shareholders and workers alike. Organizational growth is viewed as a confirmation of the founder’s primary commercial start-up idea and the ensuing determinations to make the vision a reality. The growth comes with many corporate commitments that require the organization to keep pace with technology.
It is hence imperative for expanding businesses to establish technological systems to help in monitoring cash flow, increase innovation, track inventories, manage finances, and trace human capital information. Introducing new and emerging technologies require organizations to invest in more advanced information technology and communication systems to provide sufficient backing to the variety of organizational operations. The human resource function responsible for the recruitment and selection of the workforce will require an integrated system that will automatically update new employees to all the relevant departments including the finance and IT departments.
Broadbent, M., & Weill, P. (2009). Management by maxim: How business and IT managers can create IT infrastructures. Sloan Management Review, 38(3), 77-92.
Byrd, A., & Turner, D. (2011). An exploratory analysis of the value of the skills of IT personnel: Their relationship to IS infrastructure and competitive advantage. Decision Sciences, 32(1), 21-54.
Duncan, B. (2012). Capturing flexibility of information technology infrastructure: A study of resource characteristics and their measure. Journal of Management Information Systems, 12(2), 37‑57.
Hinchcliffe, D. (2011). The “big five” IT trends of the next half decade: Mobile, social, cloud, consumerization, and big data. Web.
Longbottom, C. (2014). A data center infrastructure strategy fit to support business growth. Web.
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