Yachts Australia operates a small fleet of charter yachts in Australia. The business operates in the Great Barrier Reef on the coast of Queensland, with eleven members of staff. It has several sailing boats with varying number of Berths. The business employs temporary employees and backpackers to handle consumer demand during peak seasons and to deal with excess capacity requirements.
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A number of problems with the existing business systems are stifling expansion prospects. In addition to the primary business of charter yachts, the business also refurbishes yachts and sailboats for resale, and issues franchise agreements to people interested in the yacht charter business across Australia’s waters.
This report relates to the exploration of the feasibility of a new system that should handle the challenges of Yacht Australia.
The main challenges that Yachts Australia needs to deal with come from the rapid growth that the company has seen in the last few years. It has been expanding operations without expanding the systems supporting the expansion. These problems include information security, human resource management, managing reservations currently characterised by double booking, and managing the commercial aspects of franchises.
The problem with information security is that the only computers used to store information do not have secure passwords. Both permanent and temporary employees have access to the information stored there. On the human resource side, the main challenge that the business faces is the high number of temporary staff it employs.
They present a huge risk to the business system at several levels. Management of reservations has also been a big issue for the business because of overreliance on manual systems leading to eventualities like double booking.
In addition to these problems, there is no formal information storage and retrieval system, which causes frustration among the staff. At a strategic level, there is no way of telling whether the business is growing at the same rate as the rest of the industry.
The opportunities that exist in the current business include expanding the business by improving the business system. With the desire to expand the business northwards to capture the market there, there is a clear business opportunity. The company can also benefit a lot by implementing IT based systems to enhance its capacity to handle the new opportunities
Minimum System Requirements
The system that yacht Australia needs should meet the following requirements. It must enhance information security while at the same time availing relevant information to the members of staff that need it. The idea here is that the business needs to have a secure and efficient information management system.
Secondly, it should assist the management with staffing decisions. This will address the current dangerous trend of using backpackers by helping to determine the optimum number of permanent employees required to run the business efficiently.
The next requirement is that it should solve the reservation bottlenecks because this has a big impact on service provision, and hence profitability. Double bookings can result in lost business opportunities, or embarrassing lapses in service provision. The fourth element of the system requirements is that it should avail information to help with strategic planning.
The question to answer while dealing with technical feasibility is whether it is possible to develop a system that can meet the design specifications. On the issue of information security, there are simple procedures such as using a system of passwords as opposed to one password.
Other measures that can enhance information security such as multilevel passwords or passwords related to sections of the data. The issue of staffing depends on decisions taken after analysing data relating to the human resource management patterns.
It is possible to collect that information by preparing appropriate data forms each time the company hires new people, especially the backpackers and those on contract. Dealing with the reservation issues can happen if the business uses an electronic reservation system. It can be a simple online electronic diary.
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In the area of strategic planning, it depends on information gleaned from sources, but related business decisions require thought. In this sense, a business system cannot make decisions but can facilitate the decisions.
The economic feasibility of this project aims at establishing whether there will be sufficient economic benefits to justify pursuing the options. Investing in information security will reduce the chances of loosing vital information about business processes, opportunities and contacts because of espionage.
Ease of access to information puts the business at the risk of losing vital business opportunities to competitors. Therefore, it makes economic sense to invest in information security. On the other hand, the information should be available to employees that need it for them to make good business decisions.
On the issue of staffing, removing the existing bottlenecks will make it possible for the business to streamline its staff requirements by retaining the minimum number of employees required for profitable business. Fixing the problems with the reservation system will improve the capacity of the business to meet the financial objectives.
It will be easier to schedule many more bookings compared to the current capacity. This is a desirable economic outcome. Finally, the capacity to make strategic decisions is desirable for any business because it assures long-term success. In an overall sense, these solutions will bring about more economic benefits compared to the costs.
Analysis of organisational feasibility aims at finding out whether the organization has the capacity to implement the proposed solutions. Yacht Australia has only nine employees without an established IT department. This means that the institutional capacity to handle this project is lacking. A situation like this one increases the project risks associated with handling the project internally.
There are two options available to handle this situation. The first one is to develop capacity internally or secondly, to hire external contractors to develop the solutions. Developing capacity internally has better long-term results because it has the potential to keep down system administration costs.
However, the lead-time is normally greater which may delay the project. On the other hand, using contractors increases the cost of the project especially if the contract includes a maintenance component. As the situation stands, the project lacks organizational feasibility. There are ways to deal with that, but it will be at a cost.
Managing a project schedule is one of the most challenging aspects of project management. The main issues to consider when looking at schedule feasibility include the opportunity cost related to a quick or a slow implementation of the solutions identified.
In this case, a long implementation time will increase the likelihood of the business suffering the risks identified. However, a hasty implementation may also lead to the implementation of solutions that are not well developed.
Considering that there are no external parties to this process such as regulators, the business should develop a schedule that addresses the concerns as soon as possible. However, there is no crisis as such since the business has a working system in place.
Depending on severity of the current bottlenecks, the project can work with any schedule that solves its most pressing problems first. The choices in the hands of Yacht Australia depend on the company’s priorities hence the feasibility of a schedule does not arise.
There are two types of systems required to solve the problems at Yacht Australia. There are business process support systems and there are decision support systems. Implementing the decision support systems will require more than just IT applications.
They will require greater resource outlay to handle. On the other hand, business process support systems such as the scheduling solution or data security require fewer resources hence they will need fewer resources. Therefore, they have greater resource feasibility.
Secondly, the business has several income streams and appears to be in good financial standing. It therefore means that the business can access the resources for this project. Considering that the business has only two computers, and four locations, it is necessary for it to invest in more computers to meet its emerging needs.
In addition, the business will need to develop an IT department to cater for its business needs. For a start, a single person can take up IT duties alongside other duties, and later specialize as business expands.
Kerzner, H 2009, Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, 10th edn, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ.