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Finaldraft- team project

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Finaldraft- team project

  1. 1. Runninghead:INFORMATION REQUIREDDETERMINATION STRATEGY 1 Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited Information Required Determination Strategy Date: November 19th, 2013 James (Andy) Bohl, Brooke Johnson, Molly Loden, and Yang Wang
  2. 2. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 2 Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited Information Required Determination Strategy Introduction Our consulting company has been contracted by Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited (MCMDU) to support the analysis, design, and implementation for an information support system for the company. We believe that a three part strategy that combines artifact analysis, observation, and interviewing, is the best approach to establishing the optimal information requirement determination of a new system for MCMDU. This is based on information provided to us by the company’s owner, Diane Draper. We will use analysis of artifacts to look at past procedures and analyze how things have gone in the past. We will then use observation to examine how the company is currently run and how employees within the company perform current tasks and procedures. Lastly, we will use the interview process to examine different branches of the company to establish what employees, as well as retailers, think needs to be corrected, expanded, or added when implementing a new system. Analyzing Artifacts We believe that part one of our three-part strategy should be analyzing MCMDU’s artifacts. Artifacts are recorded documents that pertain to or are used by companies or organizations. As stated in Modern Systems Analysis and Design (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, 2014), “organizational mission statements, business plans, organization charts, business policy manuals, job descriptions, internal and external correspondence, and reports from prior organizational studies can all provide valuable insight” when trying to determine system requirements (p.161).
  3. 3. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 3 Analysis of documentation can tell a manager a lot about the performance of the currently implemented system, as well as what information should be considered in the new system. The textbook, Modern Systems Analysis and Design, provides the following uses of analysis of documentation:  Provides problems with an existing system  Provides organizational direction that can help guide newly created information systems requirements  Provides value for the organizations or individuals that helped determine those priorities for various capabilities desired by users  Provides opportunities to meet newly created goals for the system  Provides new rules for processing data and the principles by which the organization will be expected to operate within the parameters of the newly created information system (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, 2014, p.161). While reviewing phase 1 of the business case of MCMDU, the document states that Ms. Draper has identified the need for a new information system to handle the current inventory management system “… more efficiently in order to deal with the overall maintenance of information access for both support of ongoing company operations in decision-making” (Business Case on Mid-Century Modern Décor Unlimited, n.p.). It is important to note that MCMDU has undergone radical changes in its sales channels. Those channels have changed from a focus on selling to brick-and-mortar retailers and wholesalers to now focusing on generating sales primarily from e-commerce retailers. Over 80% of its sales volume is now generated by e-commerce.
  4. 4. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 4 We will analyze MCMDU’s nine Microsoft excel workbooks that provide inventory information, as well as the proprietary templates of the individual e-commerce retailers to gain an understanding of what needs to be provided to e-commerce retailers by MCMDU in order to have a more universally appealing template for all e-commerce retailers. The goal of this step will be to determine what information is required to simplify the process of inventory management and sales fulfillment for MCMDU. Our suggestion to analyze artifacts is not a one- stop-shop solution for a decision strategy; rather the use of analysis will complement the use of interviews and observations. Observation The second part of our three-part strategy is observation. By this, we mean directly observing system users. Individuals are not always considered to be reliable informants, even though they think they are reliable and what they are saying is the truth. People, in many instances, do not seem to have an accurate and complete appreciation for what they do for a living or how they do it. Infrequent events, past issues that have developed, and areas of considerable passion are all areas that individuals seem to struggle with most. Since individuals cannot be fully trusted in many instances to relay a reliable interpretation of their own actions, analysts (or observers) are hired to listen to what people say and how they perform whatever it is they do in order to determine how individuals operate in daily situations. A downfall for observers though, is that if they are not careful they can cause people to change their normal behavior thus, often making the information obtained biased (Zhu). Observation can be defined as “the process of recognizing and noticing people, objects and occurrences to obtain information” (Thakur, n.p.). This approach is used most appropriately when an analyst needs to find out how documents are handled, process are performed, and
  5. 5. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 5 whether or not the specific steps that are supposed to be being followed are actually being followed (Thakur). The method of observation also provides the analyst the opportunity to know and understand the individual by understanding why they do what they do. At times, the scenario is completely different once the individual has been understood rather than going off a presumed judgment or prior information that could be biased (Thakur). Based on the information provided in Phase 1 on MCMDU, we believe the observation method would be extremely useful in determining and solving MCMDU’s issues. First, we would begin by traveling to some of the company’s locations and observing how they are currently performing their inventory management process. We would also observe some of the employees as well as the business to determine what would be most efficient for the business. We would also have to take into account that the implementation changes would have to allow the project to still be finished by May 1, 2014 as the method of observation would. Ms. Diana Draper (owner of MCMDU) complains that the system they are currently using is slow and tedious and requests something much faster and less time-consuming (Business Case on Mid- Century Modern De'cor Unlimited). We would use observation since the company performs many different functions. The company also associates with many different employees and outside sources, and, therefore, it is important to know how the current processes take place so that they can be improved. We would also want to determine what documentation is needed for the business to determine how to make the documents and or process more useful and efficient for the business. Ms. Draper has so many responsibilities that she may be missing something suspicious taking place within the business. Observation would be useful in that it would allow an analyst to observe something
  6. 6. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 6 taking place that others may not recognize (Business Case on Mid-Century Modern De'cor Unlimited). Observation when managed and performed correctly can be very beneficial. It allows the observer to see the body language and communication of the subject. It shows the daily occurrences and actions performed on an unbiased basis for the most part. The subject is involved at all times whether he or she realizes it. Observation (or interviews) can be performed in public or in private depending on the need. The subject may or may not know that he or she is being observed which can allow the subject to reveal some valuable information. The individual observing also has the advantage over the subject in that the subject has to go and be placed into any surrounding or scenario the individual observing wants. Therefore, the subject can be easily manipulated, want to confess, or want to tell all he or she knows in those type scenarios. Thus, observation is key in almost every scenario (Business Case on Mid-Century Modern De'cor Unlimited). The table below (TABLE 6-4) provides some information on observation: Characteristic Observation Information Richness High (many channels) Time Required Can be extensive Expense Can be high Chance for : Follow-Up and Probing Good: probing and clarification questions can be asked during or after observation Confidentiality Observer is known to interviewer; observee may change behavior when observed Involvement of Subject Interviewees may or may not be involved and committed depending on whether they know if they are being observed
  7. 7. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 7 Potential Audience Limited numbers and limited time (snapshot) of each *Table obtained from source: (Hoffer, George, & Valacich, 2014, p.164) Interviews The third part of our three-part strategy is interviews. Along with observation and the analysis of company artifacts, we believe that the use of interviews would also beneficial. According to the textbook Modern Systems Analysis and Design (2014), “interviewing is one of the primary ways analysts gather information about an information systems project” (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, p.154). The book goes on to state that “early in a project, an analyst may spend a large amount of time interviewing people about their work, the information they use to do it, and the types of information processing that might supplement their work” (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, p.154). Stakeholders are also interviewed to understand different aspects of the organization such as policies expectations and direction of the organization. The interview approach will be particularly important for the process of determining system requirements for MCMDU. During interviews we will gather pertinent information, presented by Modern Systems Analysis and Design (2014) as “facts, opinions, and speculation” as well as observe “body language, emotions, and other signs of what people want and how they assess current systems” (Hoffer, George, &Valacich, p.155). Interviews will provide us with knowledge and understanding of the company that can only be gathered by talking to the employees directly, which is important to truly understanding the needs of the company. It is important that we approach the interview process appropriately. We must phrase questions correctly, listen carefully, and seek diverse perspectives from those we interview. With that being said it is important to have a thorough understanding of MCMDU. With the
  8. 8. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 8 appropriate technique, interviewing will be beneficial in gathering pertinent information. Interviewing should be in depth and ask the right people the correct questions. When concerning MCMDU, many different interviews should be conducted, including interviews with the company’s inventory management staff, the marketing/sales staff, and the manufacturing staff, as well as the e-commerce retailers that MCMDU do business with. Interviewing these groups of people will be necessary to gather sufficient information. The Interview Process The information that follows is the interview guidelines and questions that our team will use when working with MCMDU: The first step in the interview process will be to prepare the interviewee(s). This step will be performed no matter who the interviewee is. In this step we will schedule an appointment time and place for the interview, supply the interviewee with information on point of the interview and provide priming questions for the interviewee. After we have prepared the interviewee(s), we will proceed on to the actual interviews. The interviews will differ based on the interviewee(s). The following information provided is interviews we intend to conduct based on who is being interviewed at the time: MCMDU’s inventory management staff: MCMDU’s inventory management staff will be vital during the interview process. There are many topics that need to be addressed when interview the inventory management staff including their thoughts on a new inventory system, ad-hoc inventory reports, and inventory information for e-commerce retailers. The following questions plan to be addressed:
  9. 9. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 9 1) What would you say is the best thing about the current system that is used by the inventory management staff? 2) How do you think the system could be different to better and make more sufficient the work that is done by the inventory management staff? 3) How does the current process of adding inventory information to current Microsoft Excel 2010 workbooks (by way of the marketing/sales staff and manufacturing staff, as well as Vice President of Operations and the Vice President of Sales) work for your staff? What changes, if any, do you believe need to be made to the process? 4) Explain the process Ad-hoc inventory reports. How does your staff go about completing these reports? What steps are required of you? 5) How does your staff maintain the templates for inventory information from e-commerce retailer customers? Is this management easy or complicated? If complicated, how would you suggest simplifying? MCMDU’s Marketing and Sales Department and Manufacturing staff: We will also interview MCMDU’s marketing and sales department, as well as the manufacturing staff. These two groups will be important to gain information concerning a new inventory system as well as information concerning recurring inventory reports. The following questions will be addressed: 1) What do you like or dislike about the current system being used to transmit basic information on new products to be added to inventory management on paper form that is taken to the inventory management office? 2) What process is used to gather necessary signatures for these forms and how much time does it take to get forms approved?
  10. 10. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 10 3) How do you use the reoccurring inventory report? Does the report contain sufficient information? Is monthly a sufficient recurring date or should reports be done within smaller or larger time frames? E-Commerce Retailers: The last group to be interviewed will be the e-commerce retailers. E-commerce has grown to make us 80% of MCMDU’s business. These retailers are important to the future success of the company and should be considered when developing a new system. The following questions will be asked: 1) How would you describe the overall process of doing business with MCMDU? 2) What changes do you think MCMDU can make in order to more sufficiently do business within the e-commerce sector? 3) What are your company’s inventory information requirements for doing business with MCMDU? a. Follow-up (if necessary) What is necessary to doing business with MCMDU that is not provided by MCMDU? b. Follow-up (if necessary) What is provided in your own proprietary templates to support the provision of information on MCMDU’s items purchased for resale that MCMDU does not provide? How can MCMDU adjust this issue?
  11. 11. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 11 The following is a generic interview outline to be used throughout the interview process: Interview Outline Interviewee: Interviewer: Location/Medium: Appointment Date: Start Time: End Time: Objectives: Reminders: Agenda: Approximate Time: 30- 35 minutes Introduction 1 minute Background on Project 2 minutes Overview of Interview 1 minute Questions 10-15 minutes Summary of major points 3 minutes Questions from Interviewee 5 minutes Closing 1 minute General observations: *outline based on information provided in figure 6-2, Modern Systems Analysis and Design (2014) (p. 156)
  12. 12. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 12 Final Considerations Our consulting firm believes that a three-part strategy is best when determining the required information needed to create an information support system for the company Mid- Century Modern Décor Unlimited. Based on the information provided by the owner, Ms. Draper, we have concluded that approaching the company from three different angles—artifact analysis, observation, and interviews—will be provide significant and pertinent information needed to create the system.
  13. 13. INFORMATION REQUIRED DETERMINATION STRATEGY 13 References: Business Case on Mid-Century Modern De'cor Unlimited. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2013, from https://una.angellearning.com/AngelUploads/Content/14011- 201410/Case%20Files/Business_Case_on_MCMDU_-_Phases_1_and_2.pdf Hoffer, J. A., George, J. F., & Valacich, J. S. (2014). Modern Systems Analysis and Design (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved September 21, 2013 Thakur, D. (n.d.). Different Strategies for the Requirements Determination. Retrieved September 21, 2013, from eComputerNotes: http://ecomputernotes.com/mis/system- analysis/explain-briefly-the-different-strategies-for-the-requirement-determination Zhu, Z. (n.d.). Requirements Determination and Requirements Structuring. Retrieved September 21, 2013, from umsl.edu: http://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/6840_f03_papers/zhu/