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Example research essay topic: Project Management For Information Systems - 1,921 words

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... As an example of BPR, IBM Credit Corporation re-engineered the process for approving customer credit. Originally, when a request was called in, the first of five steps began with a member of the receiving group in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, who wrote the information down on a piece of paper. It was then passed from department to department for up to two weeks while the sales rep tried not to lose the sale. While the entire process actually took only 90 minutes of work, the application spent the remainder of the time in someone's basket. Re-engineering in this situation meant replacing several specialists such as credit checkers with a single generalist who processed the entire application via information network, usually in less than four hours (Hammer and Champy, 1993) Re-engineering business processes has become an essential element for many companies who attempt to improve their competitive position in the marketplace.

The power of information technology must be utilized radically to redesign business to achieve major improvements in performance (Hall et. al, 1993). BPR attempts to break away from the old assumptions about how we organize and conduct business. As in many cases of re-engineering, the old way was based on assumptions that may have been valid once but had become impractical in the age of the information technology and intense competition. Re-engineering also implies that the information technology cannot run without the necessary networking infrastructure in place (Hall et. al, 1993).

According to Hall et. al, (1993), recent research into re-engineering projects in more than 100 US companies has revealed five key factors to successful re-engineering efforts; set an aggressive re-engineering performance target, commit 20 per cent to 50 per cent of the chief executive's time to the project, conduct a comprehensive review of customer needs and leverage points, assign an additional senior executive to be responsible for implementation and conduct a comprehensive pilot of the new design. Perhaps the greatest difficulty in BPR is getting and keeping management commitment. Since business processes involve various parts of the organization, a process re-engineering effort driven by a single business function or unit will probably encounter resistance from other parts of the organization. Both high-level and broad support for change is necessary (Hall et. al, 1993).

Managing Organizational Change Change management is important for project managers and business leaders, starting at the project phase and continuing throughout the entire life cycle. Enterprise wide culture and structure change should be managed (Falkowski et al. , 1998), which include people, organization and culture change. A culture with shared values and common aims is conducive to success. Organizations should have a strong corporate identity that is open to change. An emphasis on quality, a strong computing ability, and a strong willingness to accept new technology would aid in implementation efforts. Management should also have a strong commitment to use the system for achieving business aims (Roberts and Barrar, 1992).

Users must be trained, and concerns must be addressed through regular communication, working with change agents, leveraging corporate culture and identifying job aids for different users. As part of the change management efforts, users should be involved in design and implementation of business processes and the proposed system, and formal education and training should be provided to help them do so (Bingi et al. , 1999; Holland et al. , 1999). Education should be a priority from the beginning of the project, and money and time should be spent on various forms of education and training (Roberts and Barrar, 1992). Training, reselling and professional development of the IT workforce is critical. User training should be emphasized, with heavy investment in training and reselling of developers in software design and methodology (Sumner, 1999). Employees need training to understand how the system will change business processes.

There should be extra training and on-site support for staff as well as managers during implementation. A support organization such as a help desk is also critical to meet users' needs after installation (Wee, 2000). Software & Hardware Issues Project managers need to plan for the development, testing and troubleshooting of system software and view them as essential elements, especially at beginning in the project phase. The overall system architecture should be established before deployment, taking into account the most important requirements of the implementation. This prevents reconfiguration at every stage of implementation (Wee, 2000). There is a choice to be made on the level of functionality and approach to link the system to existing legacy systems.

In addition to meet business needs, companies may integrate other specialized software products with the system. Interfaces for commercial software applications or legacy systems may need to be developed in-house if they are not available from market vendors (Bingi et al. , 1999). Troubleshooting errors is critical (Holland et al. , 1999). The organization implementing a system should work with software vendors and consultants to resolve software problems. Quick response, patience, perseverance and problem solving capabilities are important. Vigorous and sophisticated software testing eases implementation (Rosario, 2000).

Scheer and Habermann (2000) indicate that modeling methods, architecture and tools are critical. Requirements definition can be created and system requirements definition can be documented. There should be a plan for migrating and cleaning up data (Rosario, 2000). Proper tools and techniques and skill to use those tools will aid in ERP success (Rosario, 2000).

According to David et al. (2002), information system software upgrades often require the need to run more powerful hardware. Factors such as project size and complexity can adversely affect the requirements of suitable hardware. Project managers need to account for the possible system upgrades of non compliant systems which may include servers such as mainframes and LAN servers and client resources such as user workstations and laptops. The high financial costs of these upgrades need to be carefully analyzed so that the total cost of ownership can be factored into operations costs and those associated with the installation and or upgrade of IT infrastructure. Information Systems Model Figure 1 MOT MODEL The above model in Figure 1 is a theoretical model which depicts information systems as being influenced and shaped by management, organizational and technology factors.

Project managers need to have a thorough understanding of each element to ensure that the information system created addresses the needs of management, is accepted and used by users and has the necessary IT infrastructure to operate effectively. Management factors are those which relate to the overall planning of the proposed system to identify what the key issues and business requirements are. There is a need to perform analysis and to design the system with the involvement of both managers and end users. Organizational factors are concerned with gaining acceptance of the new system or changes to established practices or everyday business functions in order to ensure that the new requirements are achieved.

Overcoming resistance and getting support from senior management are crucial for the successful implementation and use of a new system. Ongoing training and support for end users is also important to gain their acceptance. Technology factors relate to the system software, support for legacy systems and the IT infrastructure on which the system will be put on. Information systems are powered by information technologies which need to last throughout the system development life cycle. Conclusions The project management of information systems projects is increasingly important to successful design and implementation.

Large scale deployment of enterprise wide systems require managers to formally analyze business requirements, get interaction from users and show early signs of success. A project manager may decide to purchase and customize an off the shelf system if there is a lack of technical in house experience or may choose to adopt and follow a design methodology. Issues can arise when choosing a methodology because some may be either too expensive, complex, or too old and fail to address the changing needs of todays dynamic marketplace. In some instances a new system may require an organizational wide change in business processes. This can be achieved through business process reengineering. Any system implementation or change to business process may require organizational and or cultural change in order to be successful.

It is only through effective support from upper level management and training for end users can this be achieved. A new system also has both software and hardware issues which are often directly related. The more complex a system, the more hardware resources are necessary to effectively deliver the outputs of the new system. Upgrades or purchases of new hardware need to be factored into the costing of a new system. Information systems are influenced and shaped by three internal factors; management, organization and technology (MOT). Each identifies different needs and issues which are addressed during the systems development life cycle.

Reference list - Bailey, A. , 1998, "Uh-Oh. It's a computer systems project... ", IEEE Engineering Management Review, 21 - 5. - Bingi, P, Sharma, M. K, God, J, 1999, "Critical issues affecting an ERP implementation", Information Systems Management, 7 - 14. - Charles, L. , 1995, "Six and two threes: business process re-engineering: a historical perspective", Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference of the United Kingdom Systems Society (UKSS), on Critical Issues in Systems Theory and Practice, Hull. - David, J. S. , Stuff, D. , St Louis, R. , 2002, "Managing your IT total cost of ownership", Communications of the ACM, 45, 1, 101 - 6. - Earl, M. J. , 1989, Management Strategies for Information Systems, Prentice-Hall. - Falkowski, G, Pedigo, P, Smith, B, Swanson, D, 1998, "A recipe for ERP success", Beyond Computing, 44 - 5. - Hall, G. , Rosenthal, J. , Wade, J. , "How to Make Re-engineering Really Work", Harvard Business Review, 71, 6, 1993, 119 - 31. - Hammer, M. , Champy, J. , Re-engineering the Corporation, Harper Business, New York, NY, 1993. - Holland, P, Light, B, Gibson, N, 1999, "A critical success factors model for enterprise resource planning implementation'", Proceedings of the 7 th European Conference on Information Systems, 1, 273 - 97. - Knight, A.

V. , Silk, D. J. , 1990, Managing Information Systems, McGraw Hill. - Pant, S. , Ravichandran, T. , 2001, "A framework for information systems planning for e-business", Logistics Information Management, 14, 1 / 2, 85 - 98. - Porter, M. E. , 1984, Competitive Advantage, Free Press, New York, NY. - Porter, M. E, Millar, V. E, 1985, "How information gives you competitive advantage", Harvard Business Review. - Raghunathan, M, Made, R. M, 1999, "A firm-level framework for planning electronic commerce information systems infrastructure", International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 4, 1, 121. - Roberts, H.

J, Barrar, P. R. N, 1992, "MRPII implementation: key factors for success", Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems, 5, 1, 31 - 8. - Rocket, J. F. , 1979, "Chief executives define their own data needs", Harvard Business Review, 57, 2, 81 - 93. - Rosario, J. G, 2000, "On the leading edge: critical success factors in ERP implementation projects", Business World, Philippines. - Scheer, A, Habermann, F, 2000, "Making ERP a success", Communications of the ACM, 43, 3, 57 - 61. - Sumner, M, 1999, "Critical success factors in enterprise wide information management systems projects", Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS), 232 - 4. - Wee, S, 2000, "Juggling toward ERP success: keep key success factors high", ERP News, web - Williams, L. T, 1997, Planning and managing the information system - a manager's guide, Industrial Management & Data Systems Volume 97 Number 5 1997 pp. 187 - 191


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