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Firm Technology Design, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1165

Research Paper

Facilitating change in an organization can be a daunting task.  The goal of developing an information technology solution to facilitate that change can be a fine balance between technology and business process changes.  At General Electric the goal was to simplify processes and streamline processes.  The goal of the GE is to fully understand their goals and objectives and what they want to achieve by implementing a new IT solution.  The goals of the GE are to align their organizational structure into a flat structure that allows centralized command and decentralized execution allowing decisions and solutions to be made at the lowest possible level.  This allows a reduction in bureaucracy and drives ownership of solutions to those that are heavily engaged and closest to the issues.  Other variables that must be addressed include understanding the key stakeholders in driving the change and understanding their needs to conduct business in a more effective manner.  The key stakeholders in this GE include the purchasing agents within the business and the suppliers that provide goods and materials to the business.  In order to provide the sourcing agents the tools they need to do their job and increase communication and information between themselves and their suppliers they need a tool that consolidates key information and provides a medium for information exchange.

A solution that would address implementation of a new IT solution to increase information availability, facilitate communication, drive decision making at the lowest level and become the change agent for the GE while also remaining flexible and scalable includes the implementation of an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) program.  Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an approach to alleviate unnecessary business processes by reducing the amount of GE hierarchy and legacy systems into a consolidated wing-to-wing sourcing and procurement model which allows multi-directional data and information flow.  This allows more opportunities for data availability and helps the decision makers make the most informed business decisions. One major benefits of the ERP program is bringing all of the different functions ranging from finance/accounting, manufacturing, sales, service, customer relationship management, supplier management, and human resources into one system with integrated data.  Implementation of the ERP program includes not only a change in IT systems but also adaptation, integration and modification of current business processes.

Efficiency goes hand in hand with the ability to have and retrieve usable information from a single source.  The benefits of ERP include real-time data transfer from one source of data.  This eliminates the potential for information including noise or other factors that may disrupt the initial intention or validity as it passes from one individual or business group to another.  All internal users of the ERP program receive one source of the information.  The ERP program works by eliminating legacy and antiquated systems that are disparate from the collaborative efforts the ERP program strives for (Prencipe, Davies, and Hobday 2007).

This implementation will provide not only the medium to facilitate change but also the opportunity to make the appropriate business process changes to eliminate the unnecessary and redundant processes that add to a less than optimal GE design.  Driving change can occur in multiple phases for implementation.  The organization can redesign their business processes based upon their different product lines.  By delineating between product lines incremental changes can occur in the organization to achieve the goals of removing organization hierarchy, increase flexibility in product delivery, promote responsiveness, and provide more opportunities for communication.  These incremental changes can be scaled in such a way that the business does not take on too much change all at once and the success of the implementation increases with the businesses buy in.

The ERP program provides multiple opportunities to increase the automation of processes both internally between departments but also externally with suppliers (Magal and Word 2011).  One area of automation includes the business change notification process.  This process is based on designs by the internal engineers processing through to the sourcing agents to negotiate prices and delivery with the suppliers.  This also includes providing updates to the supplier once redesigns occur and updates need to be communicated.  Through automating the process for design approval and sourcing signoff the communication of the new drawings and changes are automatically communicated internally between all the key parties which reduces time for approvals and allows the updates to the supplier in a timely manner to ensure the right designs are being provided for the manufacturing of the products.

This could also provide a competitive advantage by using the IT system to streamline the business change notification process.  This drives to the core strategic intent of the business and that is to bring the product to market before the competition.  This type of solution hits all of the key points the business is trying to drive with the IT solution.  The business is eliminating bureaucratic approvals, increases communication internally and externally and changes business process changes.  The quicker the design changes can make their way from the design engineer to the sourcing agent and ultimately to the suppliers the quicker the product can be manufactured and implemented in the market.  The web based supplier portal will allow access to the supplier information twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  This access to information not only allows suppliers to have information whenever they need but also virtually eliminates the issues associated with time zone differences and allows a closer interaction between suppliers and the business.

Massive changes within the organization require a change in mentality and a redesign of business processes and information technology solutions.  As discussed before the design of the organization would need to be realigned to support the strategic organizational structure the IT solution is being implemented to achieve.  In this instance aligning the iterative rollout with each manufacturing plant allows the segmentation of each subset of suppliers and sourcing agents to fully adopt and adapt the new business processes.  The firm should structure their rollout by plant but also develop a matrixed implementation team that would temporarily form to lead the change in each plant (Monk and Wagner 2009).

The main task of designing a technology to drive organizational change can be accomplished by garnering buy in from the key stakeholders in the organization and by involving these stakeholders in the implementation process.  The ERP program increases communication and data transfer by integrating multiple functions into the same system.  Providing sourcing data to the sourcing agents when they need promotes effective communication horizontally throughout the organization and provides the right people the right data to negotiate and source the right parts at the right time.  The ERP program’s design enables the organization to change their structure and align their business processes toward a more effective and efficient way of conducting business.

References

Magal, S. R., & Word, J. (2011). Integrated business processes with erp systems. RRD/Jefferson City: Wiley

Monk, E., & Wagner, B. (2009). Concepts in enterprise resource planning. (3 ed.). Boston, MA: Course Technology Cengage Learning

Prencipe, A., Davies, A., &Hobday, M. (2007). The business of systems integration. OxfordUniversityPress, USA

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