Every organization needs to improve its market competitiveness in the 21st Century. It needs to embrace flexibility and improve its responsiveness to the ever-changing market demands. Flexibility and responsiveness are closely linked to information technology.
Al Tayer is a company that operates in twelve countries within the Middle East and also in other parts of the globe. It has approximately 8150 employees all from different countries. Its headquarters are in Dubai.
The Al layer group is a service providing an organization that deals with businesses focused on automobile, sales and services, and cosmetic distribution. Al layer is, therefore, a service industry that deals with the sales of different brands across the globe.
The group has outlets in approximately 180 places in the Middle East. Application of the information system in this kind of a business organization leads to cost reduction and the improvement of customers’ response in the supply chain.
The management of the information system in a supply chain (SCM IS) is used in the coordination of information from different sources involved in the supply chain.
Step 1: Identifying challenges
One of the greatest challenges that the Al layer group is faced with, is the management of change. Change is a constant factor in our daily lives and certain cases; it also affects our day to day business activities (Willis, Mastrofski &Weisburd, 2003).
The ability of this organization to serve a large market base is both advantageous and challenging to the firm. This fact is because of the frequent changes in the market and hence the need for change in the management of information systems used by the organization.
For the organization to deal with this challenge, there is a need for future planning. This aspect involves identifying what kinds of changes are expected as well as when the changes are expected.
Any organization needs to know the compatibility of both the new and the old system and how the transition from the old to the new management system can take place in the process of changing the management system.
During this transition process, time management should be greatly considered. Investing in information technology is challenging especially the installation of software. Information technology also involves workforce and capital investment.
Change in any organization may lead to resistance from the employees to adapt to the new management information system. This fact may be necessitated by the fact that employees may not be well acquainted with the change of the information system in the workplace.
The adaptation of new management information systems requires that certain employees within the organization acquire new skills for the transition process to flow without any difficulty.
The complexity that involves the management of supply systems about buyer-seller interaction may also cause the employees to become reluctant in embracing the system. This resistance by the employees may lead to slow implementation of the information systems.
Another challenge that is rather crucial in the SCM IS involves the implementation of the system in the organization. Lack of appropriate planning and management of the information systems can greatly affect the implementation of the technology.
Another factor that may affect and pose a challenge to the implementation of an SCM information system is the cost and expenses to be incurred in the planning and implementation of this technology.
The company may have to incur additional expenses as a result of training the already existing staff, employing new staff, acquiring the necessary software and hardware as well as internet connectivity (Turban & Volonino, 2011).
Step 2: Set goals
- The first goal bases its focus on controlling the quality of products. Newly created and old products are incorporated into the existing supply network and other organizational activities.This aspect may help to manage the constantly changing trends in the Middle East as well as in the world. Management of the life cycle can also involve improving customer relationship by identifying the different customer levels, offering a method in which customers can be categorized, and also by creating customer teams that aim at improving customer services.
- This goal aims at using information systems to provide durable decisions like the productive performance of information technology to attain an efficient and well-established supply chain. This fact would promote effective co-operation and absolute enterprise incorporation.
- To determine the cause of long delivery time, high shipping costs and the accumulation of inventories.
- To determine the approach and degree in which the customers’ orders and specifications are transformed into relevant information during the supply process.
- To determine the adequacy of the information system in enhancing flexibility as well as efficiency.
- To establish trust between partners in a supply chain.
- To promote operational efficiency.
- Creating models that can apply the SCM IS method.
- Making long term decisions.
- Reducing the total expenditures.
- Improving service delivery.
Measures of assessing progress
Most business organizations usually face a hard task when it comes to measuring and evaluating the progress of their customers as well as suppliers. However, benchmark tools have now been made available and hence enabling sustainable measures to be adopted and put into action.
For the organization to assess the management of the lifecycle of products, for instance, in an outlet that deals with the sales of clothes, one must keep in mind the trends and the change in seasons.
In this scenario, measures like sales targets can be put in place so that at the end of a given period, the sales can be evaluated. This fact can enable the organization to identify the products that are on demand during that period.
To equip the employees with adequate training that can instill in them the required skills necessary to operate the information system put in place.
Putting in place appropriate gadgets like re-engineering equipment, frequently checking the equipment and carrying out regular maintenance services. Therefore, controlling certain if not all the steps are important in achieving enhanced performance in a supply chain.
The time taken during delivery can be analyzed and activities that do not add value and are time wasting can be eliminated.
Without a satisfied customer, the supply chain approach can be considered ineffective.
For an organization to be able to adequately transform the customers’ specifications into their desired order, the organization must incorporate flexibility, respond effectively to a customer’s requests and also improve its sales services by providing quality customer services.
Certain organizations have put in place the idea of managing supply chains to cut costs by getting rid of activities that do not add any value to the organization and the supply process itself.
Information technology helps to develop accurate information flow and implement decisions made to sustain the business and meet the ever-changing market demands.
Delivery of services to the customer is what links the supply chain directly affecting the customer. It is the main factor in determining customer approval; therefore improving on service delivery is paramount.
SCM IS which focuses on efficacy has not been as flexible as required, for instance, the EDI systems can greatly reduce the cost, and however, other internet technologies like XLM have indicated the ability to enhance efficacy as well as flexibility.
Recent studies indicate that non-financial measures of assessing performance are more relevant as compared to financial measures.
Commitment to a time scale
The organization needs to commit itself to a time scale. It has to create a schedule and ensure that everything goes according to the timelines. When schedules are set, time wasting is minimized.
This fact is because employees tend to be more organized and in a case where the organization is large, disorganization can result in time wastage and consequent huge losses. The management of timelines enables monitoring and accurate determination of other processes (John, 2010).
The time taken to deliver the acquired goods to the customer should always be according to schedule. An organization that operates without a clearly defined plan risks delaying deliveries to the customers. An organization should prioritize the use of accurate time schedules.
The total time cycle between the time the order is made and the delivery of the goods to the customer should be effectively executed.
The ability to reduce the time taken to respond in a supply chain is vital in determining the performance and is a method that can be implemented to gain an advantage in the competitive market.
Ensuring that goods are delivered in time is a major factor in evaluating whether or not the delivery is successful and whether it can be used as a measure of the quality of customer service. The factors that influence the time of delivery of goods include speed, location, and frequency of delivery.
The ability of an organization to make realistic time estimates can help in avoiding situations of delay in shipment of goods especially when one is running a large organization.
The use of SCM IS has enabled more effective and timely coordination of information which minimizes the costs incurred during inventory, administration and has led to an increase in customers’ responsiveness.
A system in which time and sequence are displayed should be set up to enable the chronological flow of activities.
Step 3: Factors that influence the defined goals
Flexibility is a crucial factor which enables a supply chain to compete effectively in a competitive market. The aspect of flexibility in this context refers to the ability to produce products or services that satisfy the customers’ needs.
A flexible supply chain can detect problems in the supply chain rapidly and hence enable appropriate responses by the clients.
This aspect can only be successful through the use of a system that can modularize, reconfigure business procedures and provide an easier method in which information can be shared within the supply chain framework.
In addition to that, SCM IS can enhance the ability of an organization to source for products and also manage a well-planned source and supply chain. The ability of an organization to meet a particular customer’s delivery needs is highly dependent on its flexibility.
A customer is highly likely to order goods and services from a distributor who can meet the delivery requirements. This factor can be used as a strategy to attract more customers as well as retain the already existing one’s.
Availability of a market is the major motivating factor for any form of change in an organization.
The application of information systems that enhance efficiency in an organization leads to high costs in terms of expenditure as a result of the training of the employees and the acquisition of new equipment.
All these aspects consequently increase the quality of products of the company or organization. The most challenging logistic is efficiency and cost-cutting in a distribution system.
The need to understand the total cost of distribution so that the required trade-offs can be put in place for the planning and re-organization to enhance distribution is important.
The cost of distribution of goods accounts for up to half the logistic costs. Cost variables should be accurately determined by the company to avoid losses.
Extra effort should be made by the organization especially concerning its marketing strategies for it to survive in a competitive market, Improving customer services through the provision of competitive services that make the customer happy can ensure customers’ responsiveness.
Facilitation of easy access to the required information by the clients is one of the major aspects of attaining customers’ response.
Integration of system and information
Supply chains involve the participation of different companies that are located in different geographical areas. The ability to connect and integrate information may allow the organization to share required information like the sales of its products and the available stock.
The integration of the system allows the ability to access and hence bring together “scattered” information of the company.
The ability of a system to integrate other external systems and its information can make the system quite useful and advantageous. Therefore, functionalities are a crucial factor in the choice of system and its successful implementation.
Planning in the sector of information technology helps in the proper management of the supply chain which aims at establishing long term choices and establishing a useful and a sufficient supply chain. Long term choices encourage useful co-operation and extended business integration.
Planning is another relevant factor that should be put into place when it comes to time management. A well-planned information system can reduce cases of time wastage.
Most SCM IS have enhanced planning and therefore improved the aspect of competitiveness in the business sector. It should be noted that the better the information system, the more competitive an organization is. This fact assumes that all other standards remain constant.
SCM IS does not show support for long term planning but acts as a means of storing information without putting it into practical use.
It is hard to make out the difference between the response towards short –term planning and that of internal analysis. The importance of short – term planning and internal relevance appear similar.
Skills and resources required
The success of an information system and an effective and efficient supply chain depends on accurate management of time and the availability of a well-equipped team of managers and employees with the required know-how in information technology.
A properly constituted execution plan is needed for the application of information technology in the development of a valuable supply chain.
Furthermore, involvement and support by the top management staff are critical in the implementation of information technology in the integration of supply chains.
Necessary changes may be required in a business organization regarding the incorporation of IT systems. The IT system should be evaluated regularly to determine the cohesiveness between the business model and the IT system before its implementation.
Several tools and techniques such as QFD and CE should be used to ensure the successful management for the implementation of the IT in a flexible supply chain.
The execution of the IT system should be monitored over some time by putting into place measures that assess its performance. This fact may also include planning, pilot period and the final stage.
The need for the involvement of re-engineering experts who can deal with the removal of procedures that do not add any value to the process is crucial.
New management and tasks should be created to overcome the disadvantages that are associated with the implementation of the information system (Ivancevich & Matteson, 2003). In addition to that, training is one of the major requirements that can bring about change within an organization.
It is required that all employees should co-operate effectively for the changing process to be successful. To implement and later put to good use IT or IS, the personnel needs to be encouraged to be transparent in their work.
Workers with the required skills are vital in the technology-based business venture. The quality of skill available within an organization can greatly determine the successful application of IT in a supply chain.
An IS team is also important. This team can be useful in the adoption of technological methods to develop and carry out management training.
Finally, for an effective information system to be implemented, there is a need for certain infrastructure that may include software, databases, internet connectivity and also the hardware to enable the implementation process to run smoothly.
Availability of predefined software is important in the implementation of an information system.
The use of the information systems in the management of an organization cannot be used as a method of changing the structure of the organization or even the management duties that are needed to achieve a decentralized plan.
Integration of the working plan during the implementation and planning process contributes towards enhancing specific channels of interaction with the customers.
Which factors can lead to the achievement of these goals?
Establishing the time boundaries by the creation of flexible time schedules will enable the employees to attain time deadlines and avoid delays. Setting high and realistic targets can be used as a measure of ensuring that deadlines are met.
In situations where the delays are unavoidable, making realistic time estimations can enable the employees to work in a flexible and nonstrenuous environment.
The application of the SCM IS technology provides timely, precise and also provides relevant information for better integration of current supply chains.
Trends and seasons
An organization needs to maintain a culture of competitiveness especially if it deals with clothes, shoes, and accessories. The organization needs to keep up with the ever-changing trends and styles. The internet can keep one updated with the change in trends.
The application of information technology that allows the websites to be automatically updated with the newly arrived stock can give the customers the ability to shop at the comfort of their homes, a factor that can be well supported by the implementation of the SCM IS which can also allow for the personnel to identify any order made and respond accordingly.
This fact can be implemented as a means by which the company can outsource the customers who want to shop but do not feel the desire to go out of their homes or clients who may be busy working to find time to shop, and at the same time retain the existing customers.
In all scenarios, employees respond positively to any incentives offered to them by their organizations. Incentives are used as motivational factors that encourage the employees to work towards getting rewards, but in the real sense, the employees work hard towards the attainment of the organizational objectives.
Incentives may be presented in different ways, for instance, monthly bonuses for the employees with the highest sales, shopping vouchers for employees who have implemented the information systems accordingly and even promotion for the best performers.
Employees should be provided with the required training and education to work in an organization that has adopted the information system. This fact can enable easy and fast implementation of the information system.
Training equips both the personnel and the managers with the necessary know how to operate the introduced software. A well-informed management team is usually more concerned with identifying and running the organizations’ logical assets to attain the organizations’ set goals.
The implementation of a new system requires the restructuring of both the internal and external environment. This aspect can be improved by setting up knowledgeable networks that facilitate enhanced communication of information as well as knowledge.
Many factors that influence the need and drive to apply information systems in organizations exist. The ability of the Al Tayer group to interact with the customers will improve greatly with the application of the information systems.
Information can be integrated into different branches all across the world enabling efficient management of the supply chain. Information technology is a major component of the improvement and survival of organizations in a competitive business world.
To improve the performance of organizations in a competitive market and utilize the supply chain to an optimum level, there is a need for the improvement of the performance metrics and the studies carried out on the supply chain.
A lot of research should be carried out to establish and identify other practices that can improve the performance of the SCM IS.
The curriculum in learning institutions should integrate the learning of information technology as a mandatory measure to enhance the acceptance of new information systems in organizations.
Adequate resources should be used in training employees on the use of new applications that may enhance their productivity.
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Turban, E. & Volonino, L. (2011) Information technology for management (8th Ed.). Hoboken, USA: John Wiley & Sons.
Willis, J. J., Mastrofski, S. D., & Weisburd, D. (2003). Compstat in practice: An in-depth analysis of three cities. Police Foundation. Connecticut, USA: Cengage Learning.