Information Systems Management — Tutorial 2
Strategic Information Systems
The setting for this case involves the failure of a computer system provided to the Midsouth Chamber of Commerce (MSCC). The marketing department had trouble accessing their old systems and the new computer system. The department’s vice president, Leon Lassiter, had observed that the challenge was caused by ineffective system conversion (Brown et al. 11). Initially, the marketing department operated workstations with limited functionalities.
The key players in the case were the board of directors, MSCC President (Jack Wallingford), Lassiter, Hedges, and Unitrak. President Wallingford’s leadership was instrumental in improving the aggressiveness of the organization, drawing in new members, increasing the reserve account, and upgrading their computer workstations. The goal of the Board of Directors was to support decisions on the organization’s growth strategies and the adoption of computers systems. Lassiter’s goal was to reorganize the sales and marketing department by improving the processes and operating procedures. He played an instrumental role in requesting a new information system (IS) to support marketing activities, procedures and programs such as a membership database (Brown et al. 11). The roles of Hedges and Wilson should have been modified because the former had no knowledge of ISs and the value of information in sales and marketing activities. Hedges also seemed less concerned with the purchase of the new system (Brown et al. 15).
Unitrak was recruited to develop management software for the organization (Brown et al. 13). The company’s role was to develop an IS that enabled staff to input member information, supported telemarketing processes, used statistical inquiries, and supported the functions of territory managers. Unitrak did not act responsibly in the conversion process. The firm did not own the conversion and maintenance processes but chose to provide remote assistance. It protected its business interests but did not seek to protect the data interests of MSCC.
Major problems for MSCC were lack of coordination, managerial support and lack of documentation. Hedges did not participate in the project but delegated the project manager’s role to Lassiter. The most significant problems for information systems (IS) managers as seen in the case were lack of management support and inadequate documentation. Lack of managerial support is a key challenge facing IS managers (Stair and Reynolds 139). In the case, lack of support from senior management affected the adoption of ISs at MSCC. Kovecki played an instrumental role in upgrading the hardware and software used by the organization. He did not receive adequate management support on the integration of organizational systems (Brown et al. 13). This is because the Board of Directors and other decision makers did not appreciate the importance of information and the value of ISs in collecting, analyzing and applying information for legislative purposes (Brown et al. 11). This is because decision makers such as Hedges lacked knowledge or capacity to understand the information processing needs of the marketing department. This affected their support for the organization’s IS. Lack of documentation is another challenge for IS managers. In the case, Simon Kovecki found it difficult to understand the old computer system at MSCC. Kovecki spent long hours trying to understand the existing software without adequate documentation or support from Vassici who was the previous IS consultant. He did not have documentation about the Unitrak software to educate the staff of the system change (Brown et al. 16). These challenges were most important because they hinder IS managers from
The lesson for IS managers is to use a parallel conversion plan (Glass 280). Parallel conversion would have avoided the problems at MSCC because the IS staff would have had more time to understand the new system, identify software bugs and ensure that the changeover was successful. The only drawback with parallel changeover is that it is expensive and requires staff to use both the old and new ISs for a certain period.
Brown, CV, DeHayes, DC, Hoffer, M., EW, JA & WC Perkins. Managing information technology, 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2012.
Glass, RL. “Through a glass, darkly: Wot in the hell?”. Information Systems Management 28.3 (2011): 280-281.
Stair, Ralph and George Reynolds. Principles of information systems. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2012.