Office Solutions, Essay Example

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Essay

Communication

Office Solutions seems to have top-down communication network. The management rarely communicates with the employee and management even realizes it has different and separate culture than the employees. When face-to-face communication does happen, it is often to solve conflicts. The lack of communication flow both ways has numerous disadvantages for the company. First of all, it hampers the flow of ideas and suggestions between the management and the employees. This also decreases the management’s ability to effectively monitor and control company’s operations. The management does not become aware of the problems on the work floor quickly and in addition the employees also do not feel motivated to offer ideas for improvements or communicate what they learn through interactions with the customers.

IT Strategy

The Managing Director was surprised that the computer system named Sapphire was purchased without assessing alternative products but this was only a single mistake among many missteps taken by the company in implementing its IT strategy. Before implementing an IT strategy, the organization should undertake certain tasks to increase the probability of IT system effectively addressing current problems as well as increasing operating efficiency.

First of all, Office Solutions should have investigated why it needs an IT system; is it to address a certain problem/s or to improve efficiency in certain areas. Knowing the purpose of IT system would have helped the company assess available solutions more effectively. Office Solutions should also have researched whether it has the capabilities to support the IT system once it has been implemented. For e.g. are their employees with adequate skills to manage the new IT system and whether the staff has the skills to use the system for their information needs. If not, what capabilities the company may need to acquire to take maximum advantage of the new IT system. Office Solutions should also have ensured that feedback is sought from both the management and the employees because unless employees show commitment or are willing to embrace the new system, the IT system will fail to fulfill its purpose (Deloitte). The employees might also have given good ideas as to what features the new IT system should have to improve the operations (Lovelace). Once Office Solutions had figured out what it is exactly looking for in an IT system and which capabilities exist within the organization or may need to be acquired, it would have made a better choice among the available solutions.

The company should not have bought Sapphire just because it is used by other industry players because an IT system is not an end but a mean to an end. Sapphire also failed because it was bought without feedback from most of the employees, thus, the employees showed little enthusiasm. In addition, Office Solutions didn’t have the capabilities to manage the new system or customize it to meet the company’s unique needs. Another mistake the company made was to outsource the responsibility for the system. Outsiders do not understand the company as well as insiders, thus, they cannot customize it as well to meet the organization’s operational needs.

The issues in information management are arising because the company didn’t try to understand its operations as well as the relationship among the departments before implementing the IT system. The company had no plan how certain aspects of the operations such as information recording and storage may be automated through the IT system and how the information from the older information system may be seamlessly transferred to the new system.

Because information is now being created manually, there is a higher probability for errors. Similarly, the transfer of information from the older system to Sapphire is also taking place manually, further complicating the issue. The company also made the mistake that it didn’t communicate its needs to Warner Computing prior to purchasing the system, thus, Warner could not determine which of its product would have been best suited to Office Solutions’ needs. The Sapphire ‘crash’ revealed at least two things about Office Solutions. First of all, Office Solutions had no plan to deal with a possible failure of the system that could have material impact on its operations. Second, Office Solutions didn’t have the capability to manage Saphhire nor did it bother to acquire a full-time expert to manage Sapphire.

Organizational Structure and Culture

Office Solutions has an incomplete organizational structure which leaves many questions unanswered. It doesn’t make clear the relationships between some departments or how horizontal communication takes place across a given level in the organizational hierarchy (Oregon State University). For example, it is unclear how Sales and Distribution department reaches IT Support if it may need to communicate something or requires support. From the organizational chart, it seems that the Sales and Distribution department has to go through the Finance department to reach IT Support. If true, this only results in slow communication process and if not, then it reveals the failure of the chart to serve its purpose. Organization chart helps employees see the relationship between departments as well as between employees (Edraw). It may also help them understand how the communication flows within the organizations and if we look at Office Solutions’ organizational chart, sometimes the relationship between departments is not very clear.

Some of the issues in Office Solutions’ organization structure are also due to the fact that a poor job has been done in delegating authority. Financial Controller is also responsible for IT even though the two departments are quite different in their functions as well as required expertise. Office Solutions lacks a single organizational culture which may provide guidance to both the management and the employees regarding the norms, beliefs, and desirable behavior. The lack of a single organizational culture is also preventing development of good working relationship between the management and the employees as well as employees’ loyalty to the organizational goals.

Human Resources Management

Employees at Office Solutions lack loyalty to the organization and their morale is down. This should not come as a surprise because the company has failed to invest in its human capital and doesn’t realize the importance of a loyal and satisfied workforce to the achievement of organizational objectives. The company outsources most of the tasks usually performed by a human resource department while some of the functions have been delegated to other departments who do not have the expertise to carry them out properly. The Financial Controller is responsible for paying salaries and also representing the company in matters related to Health and Safety. The company makes extensive use of temporary workers and has high turnover rate.

Office Solutions’ current approach to human resource management has numerous drawbacks. First of all, it results in lack of dedication from the employees to the organization’s goals. High rates of turnover also means the company incurs huge costs in training new employees and even if it doesn’t have to train new employees, the new employees need time to adjust before they can perform at optimal levels. In addition, Financial Controller is not an expert of labor safety and health issues and if problems arise, he will be inadequately prepared to deal with the crisis. The lack of investment in a Human Resource department is especially puzzling because the company has grown to a reasonable size and its operations require hundreds of employees if not in thousands. Outsiders can perform basic human resource tasks but they cannot identify and solve more complex human resource issues as well as insiders. The company has been focusing too much on immediate costs and not the long term costs. Temporary workers may be cheaper to hire but the actual costs are much higher such as lower productivity, high training costs, and lack of dedication by the employees.

Lack of a Human Resource department also means the company has no way of assessing the training needs of its employees in order to stay ahead of the competition. The failure of new IT system has also been due to lack of employees’ familiarity with the Sapphire system. Not surprisingly, Sapphire has not been fully embraced by everyone because many do not know how to use it or use the system to improve their productivity,

 Information Management

Office Solutions also didn’t investigate whether the new IT system will be compatible with other existing computing systems and whether it will allow for easy recording and storage of information as well as technological integration between different departments. The company doesn’t seem to have any information management structure in place that may record data on various stakeholders such as suppliers and customers as well as operating activities including production and sales. Similarly, the company also doesn’t have any strategy in place to store the expertise and ideas of the company’s management and employees.

Information and data are collected manually which is not only slow and inefficient but also results in errors and double entries. Moreover, there is no way for everyone in the organization to access the information due to lack of central information system. The management also doesn’t have access to real-time data which could help it improve control and monitoring of the operations. The lack of proper informational management structure also means that the company’s long-term future may be threatened due to lost sales, errors in order fulfillments, failure to fulfill certain orders, and inability to collect important information on the customers such as major customer accounts, customer preferences, and top selling products etc. Because information is manually created and manually accessed by the relevant employees, the company takes longer than the competitors to fulfill orders and even then it is more prone to making a mistake. It is not uncommon for the information to be inaccurate as the Telesales staff has discovered.

The Business Development manager rarely interacts with those inside the company, thus, employees have little idea of how the competition is performing and what changes are occurring that should be dealt with on urgent basis. The employees may also feel that the management is not serious about the competition and may become relaxed themselves. The Business Development Manager may understand customers but he is failing to understand the importance of action. Knowledge with actions is worthless and he has not communicated the importance of having an online catalog with a sense of urgency which may be why no one has been taking the competitive threats from the competition seriously.

Office Solutions should take immediate steps to develop an online catalogue. The company should also redesign its IT system to enable automatic capture of information and data as they are created and make their real-time access possible to all the relevant management officials and employees.

References

Deloitte. (n.d.). IT Strategy and Effectiveness. Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Services/consulting/technology-consulting/28a4f9323359e210VgnVCM2000001b56f00aRCRD.htm

Edraw. (n.d.). What’s organizational chart. Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://www.edrawsoft.com/understand-org-charts.php

Lovelace, H. (n.d.). Secret CIO: Five Rules For An Effective IT Strategy. Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://www.informationweek.com/news/52601281

Oregon State University. (n.d.). Organizational Culture. Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/comm321/gwalker/orgcomm.htm

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