Identify the possible eBusiness systems requirements for xtra. Provide a short discussion on the constraints within which requirements will be specified (for example: time, money, priorities) your answer needs to address technical and non technical issues.
The Internet is creating a new economy where business must be won on price and service at every interaction. To compete effectively on the Web, each business must determine for itself how it will be an "Internet company" - how it will leverage its unique practices, processes, and expertise to add new value through digital commerce. Successful eBusiness also requires a new kind of commerce system that adapts to changing business conditions between one transaction and the next. The available information must be reinvented at each encounter, uniquely suited to the needs of the customer and the business situation.
Thanks to technology, today's marketplace is increasingly crowded. New production methods and technologies are eroding product differences and shortening product lifecycles, which, in turn, shortens the competitive life of each product. In the past, companies have competed on price, while maintaining profits through process automation. But now most companies have realized the benefits of simple process automation, and the Internet and the ease of on-line comparison shopping are undermining customer loyalty and increasing market pressures even further for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business commerce.
Xtra is a medium-sized company selling Hollywood memorabilia. Even though we have seen the company making a very satisfy profits in th 90's the company also seen a significant drop in sales. Reason of drop in sales is that business in this world competitive global market they are not using their resource sufficiently for instance, that the founder found that most of the business would be conducted via the post from the central offices. Whereas if they could have use email how much time would they save.
With an aim to solve the above stated problems, the company has decide to develop internet web pages to offer and sell their products. Additionally this ebusiness system will help the company to collect marketing data and provide a more personal customer service. Which create customer relationship.
The eBusiness system requirements for xtra are
Hardware - e.g. a computer, a server, data warehouse. for the company to able to make a data available to all the staff and customer.
Software - e.g. User Interface The user interface must support a variety of interface mechanisms, including Web browsers for users, business managers, designers and desktop applications for developers. That is easy enough for all the staff with the lack of IT skills to use the system. With today technology all software that use to create this is just off the shelf product that easy to use and customizable.
Content - The content includes company databases, document stores, product database, customer database.
These 3 things that are needed are scalable and flexible company can just simply bolt a Web browser interface onto the database. The separate presentation and business logic layers enable real-time communication. Execution of business logic can be divided between the client and the more powerful server platform to enhance performance.
Some technical issues
Different kinds of users have different knowledge and skill toward computer and the eBusiness system must be able to manage these differing business relationships.
Security could be another issue because everyone could access company database. Many of today's Web sites are protected through manual security mechanisms which cannot scale to support a growing user base and the growing number of applications that participate in new eBusiness processes.. As usage grows, the rate of changes to applications and user profiles becomes unmanageable. eBusiness systems must allow growth with maintainable security mechanisms.
Non technical issue
The very important issue here is the staff lacking of the knowledge of IT they might have no idea what they are trying to do. This can be easily overcome by teaching and training all the staff. Or this could be easily overcome by the implement of better and easier user interface and with today IT this can be easily done.
c) Provide a short discussion on the importance of resource allocation. Identify the resources required for your project
Definitions of Resource allocation from the Web:
* In computing, resource allocation is necessary for any application to be run on the system. When the user opens any program this will be counted as a process, and therefore requires the computer to allocate certain resources for it to be able to run. Such resources could be access to a section of the computer's memory, data in a device interface buffer, one or more files, or the required amount of processing power.
A computer with a single processor can only perform one process at a time, regardless of the amount of programs loaded by the user (or initiated on start-up). Computers using single processors appear to be running multiple programs at once because the processor quickly alternates between programs, processing what is needed in very small amounts of time. This process is known as multitasking or time slicing. The time allocation is automatic, however higher or lower priority may be given to certain processes, essentially giving high priority programs more/bigger slices of the processor's time.
On a computer with multiple processors different processes can be allocated to different processors so that the computer can truly multitask. Some programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and YafRay, which can require intense processing power, have been coded so that they are able to run on more than one processor at once, thus running more quickly and efficiently.
* Resource allocation is used to assign the available resources in an economic way. It is part of resource management.
In strategic planning, resource allocation is a plan for using available resources, for example human resources, especially in the near term, to achieve goals for the future. It is the process of allocating resources among the various projects or business units.
The plan has two parts: Firstly, there is the basic allocation decision and secondly there are contingency mechanisms. The basic allocation decision is the choice of which items to fund in the plan, and what level of funding it should receive, and which to leave unfunded: the resources are allocated to some items, not to others.
There are two contingency mechanisms. There is a priority ranking of items excluded from the plan, showing which items to fund if more resources should become available; and there is a priority ranking of some items included in the plan, showing which items should be sacrificed if total funding must be reduced.
After all, the importance of resource allocation it's main objective is to smooth resources requirements by shifting slack jobs beyond periods of peak requirements. Some of the methods essentially replicate what a human scheduler would do if he had enough time; others make use of unusual devices or procedures designed especially for the computer. They of course depend for their success on the speed and capabilities of electronic computers.
In computing the resource allocation seems not to be much of a problem. The power of personal computer today can surpass the simple task of doing the ecommerce website. But if we are to look in to the strategic planning side of resource allocation it seems to be more important. The resource the company have to concentrate on are their staff.
d) Provide a short discussion of the importance of timescales and allocation of time in terms of project planning. For your project allocate timescales for each activity
There are several different techniques or tools available for planning and evaluating projects. One of them involves the concept of payback, referring to the return of investment. In the payback method, you are concerned with the amount of time it takes for you to get back all the money that you initially invest in a project. But if consider timescales to be an important factor in determining the worth of projects, you would most probably not use this method. Another method is to compare the net present values of all projects. For putting this method into use, you need to first equate the lifespans of all the projects, and then calculate their net present values. In this way, you determine the worth of each project, and at the same time, do not forego the importance of time. It is important to have a time series analysis for any project that you carry out. It saves you from wasting time and resources on those elements of the project that do not add to the revenues. In every project, there are some activities that can be delayed without delaying the completion of the overall project. By finding out which activities fall into this category, you can allocate the time to workers performing different activities. For efficient working, it is important to speed up those activities that are critical to the completion of the project.
Provide a short summary of different leadership styles. In relation to your project plan, explain how effective leadership can overcome some of the problems that are likely to occur in implementing your plan.
Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. Kurt Levin (1939) has a group of researchers to identify different styles of leadership and the early study has been very influential and established 3 main kinds of Leadership styles (US Army Handbook, 1973) which are:
- Authoritarian or Autocratic
- Participative or Democratic
- Delegative or Free Reign
This style uses when leaders tell their employees what they want to be done and how they want it to be accomplished, without getting the advice of their followers. It is appropriate to use when you have all the information to solve the problems, short on time, and employees must be well motivated.
Some people tend to think of this style as a vehicle for yelling, using demeaning language, and leading by threats and abusing their power. This is not authoritarian style, rather it is an abusive, unprofessional style called BOSSING PEOPLE AROUND. It has no place in a leader's repertoire. This style should normally only be used on rare occasions.
Many people resent being treated like this. Because of this, autocratic leadership often leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. Also, the team's output does not benefit from the creativity and experience of all team members, so many of the benefits of teamwork are lost. For some routine and unskilled jobs, however, this style can remain effective, where the advantages of control outweigh the disadvantages.
This style is just like "Let's work together to solve the problems or find the solutions". It involves leader including with one or more employees in the decision making process to determining what to do and how to do it. However, the leaders still get the final decision making authority.
As participation takes time, this style can lead to things happening more slowly than an autocratic approach, but often the end result is better. It can be most suitable where team working is essential, and where quality is more important than speed to market or productivity.
Delegative (Free reign)
In this style, the leader allows the employees to make the decisions. However, the leader is still responsible for the decisions that are made.
The effective leader can help the project plan goes smoothly, actively and successfully. If you are choosing the right style of leadership with the right situation, your project plan tends to have high percentage of success. Effective Leadership for the plan has to uses all the three styles above depending on what forces are involved between employees, leader and also flexible to the situation. If you can use the suitable leadership styles with the situation, they would help to solve the problems quicker- jobs go smoother and lastly lead to the quality of job/productions. For example, at the beginning of the new established project when employees are learning with their new jobs/tasks, Leader is competent and a good coach. With the new system the employees have no idea what to do and have to learn with the new computer system so employees is motivated to learn the new tasks/skills and the new environment so the Authoritarian style should use at the first stage of the project and use Participative Style when the employees know and get use to with their jobs. The leader might know the problems that occur but does not have all the information. The employees who know about their jobs and can be participate to help solving the problems. In this stage leader can ask for the ideas, problems and other inputs to solve the problems or creating a new procedure. Whenever the employees get use to with their routine job, you can use Delegative style when employees know more about their job (have a professional with their own jobs) and can help to take ownership of the job.
In summary, a good leader will find him or herself switching instinctively between styles according to the people and work they are dealing with. This is often referred to as "situational leadership".
It has been suggested that many of the problems associated with project management can be overcome by effective means of communication. Identify and explain the types of problems that can occur in implementing your IS development and explain how effective communication can alleviate these problems.
Communication involves at least 2 parties as the speaker and the listener but sometimes there are third parties for example; in between people who carry messages or the media. Communication problems can develop from all sources.
Speakers often are not clear themselves about what they mean, which almost assures that what they say will be unclear as well. Even when people know what they mean, they often do not say it as clearly as they should. They may hide their true feelings or ideas intentionally or unintentionally. Either way, people often get confused about other people's messages. This is especially common when people from different cultures try to communicate. Even if their languages are the same, culture acts like a lens through which we see and interpret the world. If their cultures are different, it is easy for the same statement to mean one thing to one person and something different to someone else. Thus intercultural communication is especially prone to errors. Listeners also are sources of communication problems. People often fail to listen carefully. They may assume they know what the other person is saying or will say (because they have heard it before, or they assume that one person is "just like" another person from the same group). Also, when people are in conflict, they often concentrate more on what they are going to say in response to their opponent's statement, rather than listening to their opponents' words with full attention. The result, again, is misunderstandings, and often unnecessary escalation of a conflict. Third parties can make communication better, or they can make it worse. Skilled third parties can help speakers clarify what they are saying, and they can help listeners hear what is really meant. They can act as go-betweens, carrying messages between people who cannot or will not meet face-to-face. Unskilled third parties or third parties with a different agenda can make matters worse. The media's goal, for example, is often not helping people understand each other better, but rather, presenting the story to meet the media's own goals which may be to inflame the readers' anger in order to sell more newspapers, or to support the publisher's or government's own interests and views.
Communication is fundamental to all social processes--especially conflict. One of the first steps people can take to make conflicts more constructive is to examine their own communication strategies to determine whether or not they are communicating their interests and needs effectively to the other side, and whether they understand the perspective of the other side accurately. Much can be done to improve interpersonal and/or intergroup understanding simply by improving the nature--and amount--of the communication between the parties. (Thus, if communication is cut off, it usually should be re-started, although sometimes this is best done with third party assistance, rather than alone.) The following lists of techniques are all different ways to remedy communication problems. They can be used singly or in combination, whatever is necessary, to be assured that all sides are being heard and understood accurately.
Effective communication does often make the situation better or more constructive. It would help the project goes fast, successful, effective and overcome the problems.
Mentoring and coaching can be useful tools to overcome potential non-technical problems. Identify the difference between the two and state how they can be used to overcome non-technical problems in your plan
There is a lot of confusion out there about coaching and mentoring, often with the two terms used interchangeably. This is not surprising as both involve an experienced hand helping a learner to become more effective. Coaching is a key skill of a mentor and an effective mentor will have well-developed coaching skills. Coaching is primarily about skill acquisition, as demonstrated from its origins in sport. It is action and performance-oriented. The international coaching accrediting body the International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as, " an ongoing partnership that helps [people] produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives and...deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life".
Coaching's close cousin, mentoring involves skills transfer from a more experienced to a less experienced person. It is a 'strategic approach to developing an employee by pairing that employee with someone who is more experienced who will teach, coach, counsel and encourage the mentee' (Management Mentors, 2002).
Mentoring focuses on the overall development of the person and is often about knowledge transfer. In short - a mentor is someone to learn from and a coach is someone to learn with. A simple example can be found in Olympic swim coach Lawrie Lawrence - a coach of champions, however Lawrie is not be a mentor because he has not competed at elite level, in fact rumour has it that he can't really swim. The following chart will help to clarify the differences.
In modern society, human resources are becoming the most important part of a company's development. Ferdinand F. (1999) stated that humans are an essential part of a company, but they usually fail in what is expected of them. How to avoid the potential problem and maximize employee capacities? These questions have brought an increase of mentoring and coaching's status in organizations. Mentoring and coaching not only benefit employees individually, but also meet the organization's needs for the best human resources.
According to Garvey (2007) he defined mentoring as a tool to support a person's individual development through long term training and learning. In other words, a mentor helps mentees to discover their potential ability and guide them how to best use them.
Coaching has been defined as a support process for individuals to achieve their goal in general, however, Mike Collins has redefined it in a special way: "Coaching is about making change happen, one person at a time" This is the simple way to indicate coaching's key point.
In practice, mentoring and coaching will always be discussed and compared together, because they are two similar concepts meanwhile, there are also some obvious differences between them:
Mentoring could be long term work, because compared to coaching, it is more flexible, all details, such as meeting time, duration and so on, all can be set depending on the mentor and mentee's wills. Generally, coaching has a stable duration for the whole process.
With regards to mentoring, it has a more flexible character, mentoring has a broader view than coaching. Coaching always focuses on a specific goal to achieve, but mentoring does not have such goals.
Mentoring generally concentrates on how to help mentees to develop their personal or career capacity, but coaching focuses on specific issues and problems which appear during works.
General speaking, a mentor should be a senior worker in the organization who can share a mentee some useful experience and knowledge. This requirement dose not exists in coaching; coaches do not need have direct work experience, except for professional or specific area coaching.
In view of the essential function of mentoring, its aim is to guide and support mentees on how to be better in their positions and roles in the organization, but coaching is aimed to help them to reach the goal they set and achieve what they expect to get.
Mentoring is one-to-one training, all details are set by a mentor and mentee, such as, meeting time, meeting place, and mentoring contents, therefore, we can say they could meet anytime they want or need. Coaching has an established conference time and coach contents. Garvey compared that coaching's meeting "schedule on a regular basis".
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