Table of Contents
- Price for a
- Analysis of the Situation
- Issue Matrix: Key Issues and Challenges
- Best Practices Report
- Technology Management Practices
- Human Resource Management Skills
- Ethical Requirements in an Organization
- Operational Improvement Report
- Managing the Call Center
- Best Practices and Alternative Solutions to Key Challenges
- Relevant Operational Improvements and Recommendations
- Best Practice Using ITIL
- Ethical Behavior at Rustic Americana
- Effective Practices to Manage Operations
- Findings and Recommendations
- Related Free Management Essays
Technology management is a complex realm of management. Corporate IT departments and managed service providers (MSPs) face unique challenges, thus there is a need to implement IT management tools, processes, and practices for cost management and profit maximization (EMA 2007). Rustic Americana is a subsidiary of Largo Corporation that deals with arts and craft products from the U.S. history, cultural heritage, folklore, and geography. The company uses call centers for the direct sales and marketing of its products; the sales are through a brick and mortar store, a direct mail catalogue, and a web store. The unique product line and eye-catching direct mail are important for the success of company. However, currently, the business is facing a predicament of declined annual sales that is mainly a result of internal issues. The former CIO was recently terminated due to the underperformance of the call center. Many of these issues facing Rustic Americana can be remedied through the introduction of best practices at the business. IT management requires a comprehensive framework of best practices to lead businesses to success.
Analysis of the Situation
The business model at Rustic Americana is the direct sales model. This type of model entails selling and marketing company products to customers directly, however, not at a fixed retail location. Individual contact with customers at their homes and offices is vital for the success of business through the direct mail catalogue. Such type of model suggests that the problems at the call center could result in the decrease in sales for the entire organization; a decline in sales is a serious predicament for the organization as this is their main business.
The business has different strengths and weaknesses which contribute to its current financial position. One of the main strengths of the business is the marketing expertise through an eye-catching direct mail catalogue. In addition, the business uses broadband cable services for online communication, which sometimes results in downtime and poor service quality for customers. The business processes, such as warehousing, corporate management, and the call center, are housed under one roof which also improves efficiency and reduces lead time. It also helps to detect system faults such as a CIO running a side business during office hours. The weaknesses of the business technology include low customer service reliability. There is a disparity between the volume of calls and the number of available agents on the lines to take the calls. Consequently, it presents a challenge to the business as it may lose customers due to poor service. The Cisco Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system improves efficiency of calls and the toll free number also encourages customers to interact with the business but the inadequate number of agents cannot allow receiving high volume of calls. Therefore, another weakness of the organization is the lack of sales staff.
A sustainability policy states a business’s commitment and strategy to meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The sustainability policy at Rustic Americana is to avoid wastefulness this is evidenced by the call center manager’s decision to keep “on-call” CSRs rather than have them travel unnecessarily to the location.
The level of contract at Rustic Americana is break-fix – no contract. This means that despite the company’s dependence on IT, it has put an IT agreement in place. Contracts are evaluated for their full value to the efficiency of the corporation through ease of response from the support company, the number and severity of IT problems, and downtime. The constant incidence of downtime at the business evidences the lack of a support contract.
The call center works 24/7 except for the major holidays. The staffing capacity of the business is inefficient as the work performed does not occupy the expertise. Employees check personal emails as well as manage their accounts on social media during the work hours. The constant complaints of agents’ inability to perform their expected duties proves inefficiency in the computer systems. There is lack of technology infrastructure for mobile computing; it affects company staff who use tablets and more importantly bar code scanners in the warehouse which requires a wireless interface. There is limited technological innovation in the company especially with regard to customers. Case in point, the company’s leadership holds stereotypical as well as non-strategic perspectives of customers and thus is disinclined to make investments in hardware and software of customer-based systems such as the Customer Resource Management (CRM). The problem solving techniques at the organization are ineffective and slowly implemented as observed in numerous instances. The former CIO used to allow employees to stream movies at work as a way to boost their morale. The employees who left unflattering comments about the company on social media were severely reprimanded. Problems, such as the use of broadband that causes downtime and possibly even the sales decline in the business, are not handled properly by the leadership.
Issue Matrix: Key Issues and Challenges
|Decline in Sales||Ease to Solve||Effect on Other Systems||Speed to Solve|
|Unreliable broadband services||High – interferes with communication and service quality.||High – involves CIO and CEO.||High – affects staff and computer systems leading to downtime.||High – change their cable company.|
|Lack of effective leadership||High – slow to problem identification that affects sales.||High – involves CEO, CFO, and other managers.||High – influences employees negatively.||Medium – competent leaders are not easy to find.|
|Low investment in technology infrastructure||High – decreased communication with customers.||High – involves CEO and CIO.||High – affects interaction with customers.||Medium – limited resources and expertise and new technology are expensive and complex.|
|Insufficient staff at the call center||Medium – customers have to wait.||Medium – involves call center manager.||Medium – customer feels unattended and staff is overloaded.||Low – lack of stations with computer access limits staff additions.|
|Outdated inventory management systems||Medium – miscommunication with customers regarding inventory.||Medium – involves CIO and call center manager.||Medium – might result in extra costs to the business.||Low – new inventory management systems are needed.|
Best Practices Report
Technology Management Practices
Best practices in technology management involve first identifying and documenting certain processes in order to guide different stakeholders in an organization and to avoid conflicts. Organizations should document their IT process of strategic planning by defining accountability and responsibility for IT resources across the business (GAO Report, 2014). It would help the business resolve situations, such as the dispute of responsibility, to upgrade the old UNIX system between the CIO and the call center manager. Agencies should also document their integration processes of IT management decisions and operations with elements of management such as organizational planning, human resource management, and financial management. Agencies should establish the process through which IT-related costs can be accounted for. Documenting processes of how to develop IT goals in line with organizational objectives, how to measure the progress of achieving these goals, and assigning responsibilities and roles in order to achieve the goals are also the best practices suited for Rustic Americana. Another best practice is benchmarking which can be done for IT management processes. By comparing these processes with those of other organizations in the sector in terms of productivity, quality, speed, and costs, an organization can identify ways to resolve its management concerns (GAO Report, 2014). Investment in IT projects should be implemented in the following five-step process: creating awareness, setting the foundation for the success of the project, making a complete and comprehensive investment portfolio, continuously improving the process, and using IT to reach strategic outcomes.
Human Resource Management Skills
The best practice in managing staff is to engage individuals as well as align their needs with those of the organization. Managing human resource is vital for the success of an organization; thus, it is essential for managers to learn how to hire professional employees as well as to match their skills with responsibilities. Another best practice is to enhance the communication between different stakeholders in an organization. It can be among managers or between managers and employees. Staff members depend on management for direction through meaningful and timely feedback and generally through effective communication (Lipman, 2014). Managers should be problem solvers as it is an effective practice that is essential for conflict resolution in any organization (Lipman, 2014). Staff usually require some guidance and in many instances imitate the actions of management as they presume it to be the correct course of action. Improving communication between management and staff leads to better relations and increases the motivation and consequently the productivity of employees.
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Ethical Requirements in an Organization
Individuals in an organization should behave in an ethical manner since ethical actions support business through boosting the morale and improving relations between the members of organization (Berzal, 2012). Ethical wrongdoings, such as through computerized indiscretions, demoralize others and result in conflict for instance the case of the former CIO of Rustic Americana who was running a side business. Organizations should develop moral codes to promote ethical behavior in the company. It is because general laws and rules might not always be sufficient or correct. According to the teleological approach of ethical theory, the actions of individuals should result in higher level of happiness among people (Berzal, 2012). Introducing professional ethics in an organization is important due to the complex nature of relationships involving different rights and duties of employees. Professional ethics and morality prescribe to mindfulness in terms of professional responsibility, competence, human welfare, and integrity (Berzal, 2012).
Operational Improvement Report
Managing the Call Center
In order to manage the call center effectively there are several solutions that would be best suited to solve the main issue of business which is the decline in sales. First, the business should consider conducting training sessions and encouraging call center management as well as the employees to participate in seminars where they can acquire different skills such as troubleshooting and effective communication (EMA, 2007). Technical support division of the call center should be on call in order to solve any issues with the computer systems promptly to avoid delays. The number of customer service representatives (CSR) should be sufficient to increase the response rate and provide services to higher number of customers. In managing the call center, it is important to ensure ease of communication between the CSR, the processing clerk and the warehouse crew.
Best Practices and Alternative Solutions to Key Challenges
The best practice for remedying the lack of effective leadership would be to benchmark the IT management processes. The leadership team at Rustic Americana would benefit from observing how other organization managers in similar positions handle the problems of technological management. Describing the progress of using IT to enhance effectiveness of organizational operations and service delivery would help the business assess the true value of certain technologies such as the unreliable broadband services. The organization should also consider establishing IT goals and performance measures for existing and new technologies in order to address the issues of productivity and efficiency. In addition, the business should introduce an efficient and effective IT investment management system to determine the purpose and urgency for new IT investments (GAO Report, 2014). For instance, management of inventory is the major concern for the business as it is using an outdated UNIX system. An effective IT investment management system would be essential in dealing with the low investment rate in technical infrastructure observed in Rustic Americana. The call center is an integral part of the business for sales and marketing. Therefore, it should be adequately staffed with qualified personnel and equipped with appropriate computer systems. To achieve this, the organization should develop a comprehensive investment portfolio and leverage IT for outcomes.
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Relevant Operational Improvements and Recommendations
There are different courses of actions that can lead to the improved performance of call center as well as minimization of costs. The first is making changes in the management processes of the call center (EMA, 2007). In order to manage the call center properly troubleshooting and communication skills are required. The call center manager Prisha Khan should thus learn these skills in order to carry out her responsibilities more effectively, thus promoting the effectiveness of the call center. For instance, she should make more accurate estimations for the necessary number of staff in order to avoid understaffing. Secondly, increasing self-service at the call center would lead to a reduction in call volumes. Rustic Americana faces resource problems during the high volume periods and it can be improved by making the agents at the call center more self-sufficient in their jobs.
Best Practice Using ITIL
Currently, ITIL, CobiT, and Six Sigma are popular practices approaches in IT. The Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (CobiT) is a control framework used for the demonstration and implementation of effective IT governance (EMA, 2007). Six Sigma is a quality management framework applicable to the framework of IT management and is based on principles like continuous improvement. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) helps in improving business performance. The framework provided by ITIL allows businesses to align their IT services with their business needs (itSMF, 2007). In order to implement the ITIL framework effectively, it is advisable to implement continuous intermediate goals rather than a single final objective. Rustic Americana should consider using ITIL to afford customer-centric IT services. ITIL leads to the increased customer satisfaction and experience for the IT staff. In addition, it provides a set framework and predictable processes which makes it easier to meet consumer expectations while at the same time checking and measuring the incidents (itSMF, 2007). ITIL suggests that interactions between the IT departments and the business should be at the service rather than technology level.
Ethical Behavior at Rustic Americana
Business morality and ethics are an integral component of professionalism in any organization. Rustic Americana ought to take measures to implement the comprehensive moral code to guide the stakeholders in the organization (Berzal, 2012). The former CIO’s actions were ethically wrong and affected the success of an organization as he did not focus his efforts on improving the work but was occupied with his own business. The organization should also take measures to deal with the question of employees using company time and resources for their personal purpose. By standardizing behavioral expectations for both employees and management Rustic Americana might improve its efficiency and sales. Business ethics may lead to time saving which in turn results in greater value and revenue for the business.
Effective Practices to Manage Operations
The management challenge is that the successful operation of a call center requires a set of skills including patience, negotiating and troubleshooting as well as communication and computer technology skills. The call center is a customer-centered business, and therefore, the concern for customer-centric operations is also an important element of management. However, the main goals of a call center should be to improve sales, revenue and service as well as reduce the costs. The workforce management system (WFM) is an effective tool for the call center managers. It entails a number of practices and processes that would enable the effective management of call center operations. The workforce management system should provide certain functionalities to promote a customer-focused business; adherence, what-if scenarios, multimedia support, reporting and forecasting, web-driven tools as well as interfaces and scheduling (Aksi, Armony, & Mehrotra, 2010). To solve customer-service problems, managers must resort to effective scheduling techniques. In a multimedia environment, such as the call center, there is a need to have CSRS who possess multiple skills of media-handling in order to provide product knowledge and increase sales. Reporting and forecasting refers to the managing practice of observing current trends and operations and estimating future trends in order to plan effectively. What-scenarios entail the practice of considering the effects of unplanned events on the service levels. It helps a manager to plan counter actions for such events. Multimedia support is the practice of competently managing a call center during high call volume periods. It is for the reason that multimedia transactions are different from telephone calls, thus, they should be handled differently.
Findings and Recommendations
Rustic Americana is a business that requires effective technological management to operate successfully. It is due to the numerous computer systems that are used by different stakeholders in the business. The main problems that could have led to the decline of sales include ineffective leadership skills, low investments in technology, unreliable Internet service, insufficient staffing – both human resource and computer systems and outdated inventory management systems. Introducing a comprehensive framework of best practices could be indispensable in remedying the situation in the organization.
Rustic Americana should use ITIL as the best practice to improve service to its customers. According to EMA (2007), 61% of companies use ITIL in comparison to 26% that employ COBIT or Six Sigma. The benefits of using ITIL include a comprehensive IT service coverage in terms of support and delivery, proven effectiveness, and it is widely understandable. Adopting the ITIL framework would help the business deal with the numerous concerns of technology management.
Call centers are human resource intensive business units, and therefore, it is essential to assess the contribution of the human element in the business. In order to maximize this resource there are several management practices that would help improve the motivation and productivity of the staff. These include hiring skilled and competent CSRs, continuously measuring the performance of CSRS, and helping the CSRs to maintain the skills through relevant training (Aksi, Armony, & Mehrotra, 2010).
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