Feasibility of an Enterprise Systems Solution for Bandon Group

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Bandon Group is a family-owned United States distributor of copiers, faxes, and electronic printers in addition to other office equipment. Bud Bandon started the company in 1966 and currently Ed and Steve Bandon, his sons, are the co-owners after he passed away in 1997. The company has been faced with numerous issues, and as a result, the two brothers decided to bring an external consulting firm to analyse the organisation’s information systems environment, determine the problems, and propose suitable changes to the system. The report provides the feasibility of implementing enterprise systems solutions including electronic-business and customer relationship management (CRM). Additionally, an executive recommendation that addresses whether the company should or should not adopt an enterprise systems solution is provided. The report also determines enterprise system design issues and evaluates alternative commercial enterprise solutions while making a recommendation of an option that meets the need of the company. Finally, the report shows a detailed 3-5 year implementation plan for the company’s information system.

Purpose and Scope

Today, information systems have become popular as organisations are using them to perform their operations reliably and effectively and at the same time have available and up-to-date information. The design of these systems varies in that others only cover small fractions of the company’s data. Thus, they lack proper integration and require substantive manual work to achieve success. However, advancement of technology has led to the development of standard packages in large-scale, often being a replacement for the specialised and smaller solutions. Gulla 2004, (p. 1) defines an enterprise system as a packaged application responsible for automation and offering support to business processes while also managing a firm’s data. According to Engelstätter, (2009, p. 1) companies adopt enterprise systems to be replacements of the legacy software which is often poorly connected as the management seeks to reduce the costs incurred in infrastructure support. Importantly, enterprise software achieves operation integration affecting the entire firm providing an opportunity to increase the performance. CRM systems simplify how the organisation manages customer relationship, ERP systems are beneficial in automation of transactions, while SCM systems enable planning capabilities that are sophisticated (Paliwoda-Pękosz, and Soja 2015, p. 1). Nevertheless, Williams and Schubert (2010, p. 1) argues that identification of the benefits that arise from the implementation of various enterprise systems and having an understanding of the value they contribute to a business is challenging for many practitioners. Consequently, there is need to determine the feasibility of enterprise systems solution for Bandon Group. Below, the report provides feasibility for ERP, CRM, and SCM.

Report 1: Determine Feasibility of an ERP System

One of the objectives of Bandon Group is becoming competitive within the office equipment industry. For the company to achieve competitive advantage there will be need to reengineer the internal processes of the business. The needs of each division and the corporate will require a review in addition to having an understanding of the business process flow in terms of how the firm does operations. The benefit of undertaking a review for Bandon Group is showing significant improvements in the systems that can and should be made to efficiently contribute towards organisational goals without incurring unnecessary costs.

As an example, using various tools for sales prospecting by divisions cannot be considered a feasible practice. In such a scenario, each division would require having a software expert for adequate support to the installed software. As a result, Bandon will incur increased costs. As an alternative, the company can search for a software solution that has features meeting the needs of all the divisions for purposes of forecasting. The management of the software would be by a single practitioner at a centralised point. Implementation of such application would reduce redundancies and costs that the company currently incurs. Centralised management of the software application by IT practitioners can offer better support and easier identification of problems compared to the current decentralised approach adopted by the firm.

The needs of the corporate include having a meter-based billing application which can be accessible on the web, information services from the web, accuracy in managing reports, universal system for prospecting sales and an appropriate management information system that can allow for strategic planning. All components that the company describes are strong characteristics of an established ERP system. An ERP system has the capability of incorporating all these requirements into a single application which is easy to implement and use (Azevedo, Romão, and Rebelo 2012, p. 265). Additionally, there is an advantage of having to link the accounting data retrieved from the meter-based billing software application an aspect that would see all customers’ record for invoicing via the finance module of the ERP. Often, the invoicing is associated with accounts receivables. Apart from these benefits, the company would benefit from additional associations in the system such as a marketing module that would serve the division needs and at the same time be a customer relationships management foundation. All divisions have categorically stated the need to have an effective CRM system.

Furthermore, the HR module inbuilt within an ERP system would be advantageous for the management of Bandon through the provision of a single access point for employee data including the government requirements, compensation plans for the sales personnel, skills set, and personal information. Creating and implementing a system that provides accurate data on all aspects surrounding the business will increasingly contribute to cost savings in terms of reduced effort duplication, truthful information, informed decision-making, and superior strategic planning. Adopting an ERP solution ensures that organisations achieve full business process automation and streamlining of the daily tasks. Additionally, an ERP system increases integration and better coordination which frees up resources ensuring that activities that limit the potential of the company increasing market share are given more attention (Maditinos, Chatzoudes, and Tsairidis 2011, p. 61). Importantly, the system can boost worker output and productivity while drastically reducing overhead and operating expenses.

Nonetheless, Azevedo et al., (2012, p. 265) argues that despite the continued acceptance and recognition of ERP systems in companies criticism has been directed towards these particular forms of systems. One of the factors limiting the usage of ERP system is the inflexibility. However, the rigidity is typical in organisations that choose to adopt cheap ERP system solution which has a smaller period of implementation. For Bandon, before the system, the business processes should be created in a standardised manner that meets the requirement of the specific ERP system. Another challenging aspect of ERP is the period of implementation which is regarded to take longer, often three to five years. Considering the business environment is ever-changing, the implementation period for these systems accused by critics to be too long (Azevedo et al., 2012, p. 265). Previously also, ERP systems have been criticised for using outdated technology where for instance some are unable to make modern and graphic interfaces, features liked by many users. Nevertheless, there have been recent efforts to incorporate advanced technology such as SAP and SaaS systems. Finally, ERP systems have been criticised for having a centralised management and control, and hierarchical rigidity. The assumption of ERP systems is that information and data should be managed from a central location. In relation to Brandon Group, the specific centralised feature is beneficial considering the need to reduce needless operation costs incurred by multiple divisions.

Based on the above feasibility of the ERP system and its suitability to the functions of Bandon Group, the management of the company should consider implementing it. An ERP solution can be beneficial to solving the current problems that the directors have identified. The system can help in streamlining the firm’s resources for maximum utilisation. Moreover, an ERP system can increase coordination and integration of all the various divisions of the company to work towards achieving the corporate goal and mission. The system would bring on board the company’s suppliers and ensure that unnecessary spending is limited. By adopting an ERP system, the management can monitor and control the workflow in a manner that reflects the aspirations of the firm in the competitive industry. Thus, pursuing an ERP solution should be a top priority for Bandon Group.

Determine Feasibility of a CRM System

For the growth of the business, Bandon is dependent on sales and marketing of the office equipment. The company requires customers to consumer inventory of copiers including other equipment for the office in addition to growing the company’s network solution business. Selling the particular service and equipment requires investment with adequate resources and time. Often, potential customers are unable to make instant decisions on purchasing a service or equipment to equip their offices. The sales representatives of the company have a duty of ensuring that they establish a relationship with the said potential customer. After that, when the potential consumer makes a purchase, the relationship that was initially created makes them regular and at the same time make referrals to their family and friends. Nevertheless, failure to have established a rapport with the customer would lead to an adversarial relationship where a single purchase is made without seeking the company’s services and products in the future. Among the strategies that critical to establishing a relationship with customers is offering after sales services and ensuring products sold are quality, and they serve the needs of the consumer.

One of the traditional ways that organisations can implement these features in their operations is through having an appropriate CRM system. A CRM module will be significant to all the staff and managers in all the divisions. CRM systems are built to enable firms to build a long-lasting relationship with customers through efficient utilisation of the available information and link to the needs of the consumer (Mishra, and Mishra 2009, p. 83). Through these systems, Bandon can add new products or services that are popular with the customers. Consequently, the organisation is required to continually invest in innovations that will provide consumers with high-tech equipment that mostly reduces the cost of operations. Through the CRM systems, the company can be able to anticipate customer needs, aid in providing better customer service, lower duplication of order entries and eventually lead to improved customer satisfaction.

According to Mishra, and Mishra (2009, p. 83) having a good relationship with the customer is significant to competitive advantage. CRM systems are increasingly becoming critical to achieving improvement in the lifetime value of the consumers. By these systems providing information on the consumer’s history, data, and profiles, they support core processes of the firm such as service, sales, and marketing. Effective CRM systems are about maximising the profitability of the company and keeping customers under control. Additionally, effective CRM systems should offer insight into the preferences and behaviour of the customers while the ERP analytics as mentioned above focus on the demand and supply of the critical materials and resources. In different industries, organisations are approaching the use of CRM systems dissimilarly. While some firm view CRM as a vital part of the business, others consider the system to be a technology tool. Mishra and Mishra (2009, p. 83) observe that analysts state that approximately two-thirds of all CRM projects fail. Specifically, the primary causes of CRM implementation failures include organisational change, lack of CRM understanding, the policies of the company, and inappropriate CRM sills (Mishra, and Mishra 2009, p. 85).

Rababah, Mohd, and Ibrahim, (2011) state that familiarising with customers enables the firm to put in place mechanisms that serve them better hence, earning their loyalty. For Bandon, acquiring CRM system is not an option. Through these systems, the company will have an infrastructure that guides the various divisions on how to establish a relationship with different consumers. The firm will also have a centralised database of customer data which will be a replacement for the systems that sales personnel in each division maintained. Forecasting will be made easier for each division. Importantly, through an effective CRM system can make informed decisions on the future of the business. CRM system implementation offers an opportunity to training staff members in all divisions on offering customer service. For Bandon, benefits will be accrued from three areas of CRM system including, operational, analytical, and collaborative. Operational CRM offers support to the processes in the office such as call centre. Secondly, analytical CRM establishes data on the customer segmentation, value, and behaviour through statistical tools helping the organisation in structuring or designing marketing campaigns. Finally, collaborative CRM focuses on integrating the customers (King, and Burgess 2008, p. 421).

Based on the findings of the above feasibility study of a CRM system, Bandon Group should explore adopting a CRM solution. Currently, various divisions have already explored CRM applications and the initial response has been positive. The organisation requires acquiring a centralised CRM system that integrates all data from the various divisions. A CRM solution should be implemented separately from the ERP solution considering that they offer solutions to dissimilar problems. Customers are paramount to the success of any business. As a result, investing in a strong CRM system that helps in establishing lasting relationship with customers in today’s globalised market is a necessity. Survival in the market largely depends on the ability to manage customers in a unique and personalised manner.

Determine Feasibility of a SCM System

In the past decade, supply chain management (SCM) has become a concern in many industries as organisations realise the importance of establishing a relationship that is integrated with the customers and the suppliers. SCM is managing how goods and services flow, storage and movement of raw materials in addition to finished products to the point of consumption from origin. SCM involves designing, planning, executing, controlling, and monitoring of the activities in the supply chain with an aim to create a competitive edge, net value, and synchronising demand with supply. Misra, Khan, and Singh (2010, p. 102) defines SCM as the process of integrating business processes via original suppliers who provide services and products which add value to the customers. For Bandon Group, having SCM systems is vital towards achieving efficiency in the organisational operations. To achieve flexibility and have responsive and agile divisions, Bandon will need to adopt appropriate SCM systems. Currently, the organisation uses traditional sales projection method which can lead to inaccurate demand. However, adopting SCM systems can substantially achieve improved productivity, increased accuracy in forecasting, and high rates of accuracy.

SCM software applications enable the organisation to achieve real-time analytical data which aid in managing how the products and services flow through the chain network. SCM systems are designed to provide enhancements to the firms operations including production planning, supplier sourcing, transportation planning, inventory and demand planning. While ERP systems aid in gaining competitive advantage through resource optimisation and integration of business processes SCM systems enables the management to make informed decisions governing the whole supply chain. The supply chain of the company should be planned and optimised as a seamless and continuous activity. In today’s competitive market, almost all companies are grabbling with a dynamic operating environment characterised by demand uncertainty, globalisation, higher competition intensity, short life cycles in products, and significant seasonality.

Due to the dynamic nature of the current market place, firms such as Bandon require adopting SCM systems that are characterised by integration, e-commerce, collaborative optimisation and scheduling, performance measurement, and customer centric. Bandon deals with bulk goods and there is need to have efficiency in managing the company logistics using the most advanced system applications. Effectiveness of the supply chain reduces costs and speeds up the delivery period for the customer orders. Bandon seeks to expand the businesses and investing in an appropriate SCM that supports e-commerce will largely contribute to achieving globalisation and remaining competitive. Importantly, SCM systems will aid in solving customer challenges through collection and analysis of data and knowledge and allocating personnel to work on functions that meet the immediate needs of the consumers.

Currently, a SCM solution is not vital to address the current problems that Bandon is facing. Implementation of the ERP and CRM solutions will be critical in meeting the needs of the company and those of the employees. However, in future, adopting a SCM solution will be a requirement in particular when the firm grows to set divisions outside the United States.

The Order to Implement ERP / CRM

The needs and requirements for Bandon Group are unique to the company. Nonetheless, finding the same challenges affecting other organizations in particular, the enterprise system solutions to adopt is common. The preferred method for implementing an appropriate ERP system is using a best practices approach. The approach is considered superior alternative as the outcomes are finer compared to others in terms of quality and meeting the ethical or legal requirements. Implementation of the ERP requires an organisation to follow specific steps. One of the critical stages involved and often overlooked is having a detailed planned that seeks to understand the processes of the businesses, the elements of data, data gathering, forms of management reports utilised in running the business as well as the external systems that require integration.

The implementation process of ERP involves three major phases including planning for the activities, selection and justification activities, and installation activities. Planning activities entails taking into consideration the views of the top management and the strategic objectives, needs analysis for the enterprise system and ERP profiling of various firms (Muscatello, Small, and Chen 2003, p. 855). The planning stage is where the project team is created and the roles of each individual during the course of implementation documented. A project plan is also developed, a critical document that guides everyone during the entire period of the project.

The problems that Bandon is facing are defined, a feasibility study of enterprise system solutions has been conducted and an analysis of the system has been done. The next step is the systems design stage of implementing the ERP.

The phase entails selection and justification activities in terms of meeting strategic and economic goals (Muscatello, et al., 2003, p. 861). The particular phase sees the implementation and project teamwork together towards formulation of objectives and aims of the new ERP system while ensuring there is reengineering of the businesses processes. Eventually, there will be a complete disclosure of the system’s specifications and the detailed final design after taking into consideration all core functions of the organisation. Of importance to note is that the specifications or requirements should take into consideration the aspect of CRM needs.

Finally, the last phase entails installation or implementation activities. The final step includes training and education requirements, project report and monitoring, and the entire performance by the project. Therefore, the ERP software is adopted to provide simple ERP functions. Specific staff members undergo a training program on how to use the system. Ideally, implementation of the ERP system should be a process and not a single event. In other words, implementation should be done using phases where a division is accommodated at a single time until all are incorporated into the new system. The importance of first implementing the system in the corporate and one division is to allow east monitoring and control of the process performance and note possible challenges for an immediate solution. The experience of the first phase of implementation should guide the next stages in the remaining divisions.

After implementing the ERP system in all the divisions and no major challenges can be identified, the organisation can start preparation of rolling out the CRM system. Consequently, all the customers’ data should be available and accessible via the ERP system. Consequently, deployment of CRM should be done in each division to ensure that the behaviours and preferences of the various consumers can be tracked with haste. The corporate IT staff should put in place programs of training division staff on how to maintain the systems.

3-5 Year IT Plan for Bandon Inc.

The following table provides an IT plan for Bandon Inc to be implemented in three to five years.

Activity

Outcome

Timeline

Person responsible

Funding Source

Source for funds for adopting a new system

Enough funds to cater for the budget needed

One year ( to December 2018)

The management and co-owners

N/A

Formulation of project and implementation teams

Competent and trained teams to oversee the project from start to end

Six months (June 2019)

Practitioner teams

N/A

Designing and procuring of the ERP and CRM systems

Up-to-date advanced systems that meet the needs of the organisation

One year (June (2020)

Practitioner teams

Internal Budget

Implementation of the ERP system

Centralised point of managing the functions of the firm

Six months (December 2020)

Practitioner teams

Internal Budget

Implementation of the CRM system

Improved relationship with customers resulting to earning their loyalty

Six months (June 2021)

Practitioner teams

Internal Budget

Monitoring and control of the Systems

Efficiency and effectiveness within the company

Continuous

Practitioner teams

Internal Budget

Table 1 IT Plan for Bandon

Source: Author (2018)

The table one above provides for an IT plan for Bandon to be executed within three to five years. The major activities of the plan include sourcing for funds to include in the budget to cater for the expenses incurred during the entire project process. Other activities include formulating teams to oversee the project, designing and procuring the ERP and CRM systems, implementing the systems, and finally monitoring and controlling the system.

Executive Recommendation

Based on the above evaluation and feasibility study of the ERP and CRM systems, there is need for Bandon to acquire an enterprise system solution to address the challenges the organisation faces currently. Thus, the report concludes that Bandon should pursue an enterprise system solution. The firm stands to gain from such a move, in particular, reducing costs through elimination of redundant processes in the various divisions. Moreover, the company will achieve efficiency and effectiveness in the workflow process. Additionally, the organisation will have an opportunity to determine the needs of their employees upfront and devise strategies that will establish a lasting relationship. Importantly, the staff at Bandon will acquire new skills through training programs aimed at increasing their knowledge on an advanced information system. Eventually, the firm will become better equipped to compete with new and old rivals in the highly competitive office equipment industry. Opportunities to grow and expand in international markets will become a reality as envisioned by the company owners. Considering the traditional systems that the organisation has been using the results of the feasibility study shows the need to have immediate plans for initiating the project. The IT project plan depicted in the table above spells out the necessary activities that the organisation should be engaged in to realise meaningful change within the information system design.

Report 2: Alternative ERP / CRM Software

The second report determines the ERP design issues by making an evaluation of the alternative ERP/ CRM packages for the Bandon Group and detailing a recommendation for a solution that best meets the needs of the firm. Individually, the four vendors reviewed are Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, Oracle, and SAGE. The benefits and shortcomings of each solution and their suitability to solving the challenges that Bandon experiences have been described below.

First, Microsoft Dynamic (2018) ventured into enterprise business after obtaining the Great Plains: purely accounting software, in 2000. The current target of Microsoft Dynamic is a generalised market where the company offers a wide range of products that firms of different sizes can use. Recently, Microsoft passed Oracle to become second in terms of the market share. The products that are related to Bandon and offered by Microsoft include Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Sharepoint, and Microsoft Azure. Nevertheless, the most appropriate product for Bandon is the Microsoft Dynamics 365. One of the advantages of Microsoft is the ability to achieve flexible customisation of the dynamics 365. For instance, Bandon can be able to add more modules as when required; the system has Microsoft developed integrations, customer-developed solutions, and self-serve customisation. Therefore, if Bandon seeks to adopt sales module, there is a possibility of easily extending functionality. Additionally, the firm can leverage from tools such as Microsoft Flow and PowerApps which enables building processes, integrations, and mobile apps for the most appropriate Bandon solution. Through Microsoft, Bandon can develop an integration strategy through the creation of a change management plan, conducting training for new users, in addition to reallocating employees. The Microsoft Dynamics (2018) will also allow fitting with current business processes at Bandon. Thus, the issue of billing, data duplication, and integration will be dealt with. Microsoft Dynamics 365 provide duplicate detection rule using match code that automatically check and detect existing data and new records in real time. Microsoft Dynamics provides accurate service that can make the flow of data between sales, finance, operations, and other products more efficient.

Microsoft Dynamics can integrate with other Microsoft Office applications and use their data. Finally, the system will improve the meter-reading process, making billing system more efficient. Other advantages of Microsoft Dynamic include having reporting applications such as marketing, sales, service, operation, and finance options. Additionally, the enterprise has been regarded to be user-friendly through features such as multi-platform, international availability, technical documentation, and availability of tutorials.

Nonetheless, the shortcomings of Microsoft Dynamics (2018) include running on top of SharePoint and meter-billing function separately. Additionally, the meter billing is not integrated, and the system has data storage limitations. Moreover, the enterprise has use license minimums and no direct access to the database.

The second enterprise vendor solution to be reviewed is the oracle. Currently, what Bandon requires is achieving a reduction in the costs incurred, offering training to various members of staff, reorganisation of the information system and having an association between different modules and systems. Oracle (2018) could be a reliable vendor solution for the challenges that the company faces currently. Estimates depict that 42,000 customers globally use Oracle and implemented by approximately 97% of 100 Fortune companies (Oracle 2018). One of the reasons why Oracle is a viable solution to the issues at Bandon is because the system offers a wide range of features including applications, middleware, database, operating system, virtual machine, servers, and adequate storage capabilities. Oracle will ensure a smooth transition when deploying the ERP system, facilitate the migration of business data and offer the needed support post implementation and training to the staff located in all divisions. Additionally, the Oracle enterprise will increase efficiency through elimination of the requirement to manually gather business data for the production of performance and financial reports. Another benefit of the Oracle system will be that of controlling and monitoring customer orders via Oracle Order Management by tracking them and issuing ready receipts. Additionally, Oracle (2018) has a feature where reward and gift schemes can be introduced to the customers through discounts. Implementing the feature can improve brand awareness and customer loyalty. Despite these, Oracle has social networking capabilities where sales team can collaborate to attain the best from their efforts. Primarily, the benefits that Bandon could achieve from adopting Oracle include high levels of integration, multiplatform, and increased organisation centralisation.

Nonetheless, the enterprise solution lacks specific features that can handle the challenges Bandon is facing. Specifically, the system lacks the capability to provide a solution for the meter-billing issue. Moreover, while Oracle is affordable for Bandon, the system is costly to purchase and maintain.

The third enterprise solution to be reviewed is Sage. The Sage system application offers an accounting software package that creates different security levels for an organisation’s individuals. One of Bandon’s needs is acquiring a customer support system that collects feedback, records purchase history, contacts the customer automatically and tracks service. SAGE (2018) has an intense reporting function that can produce annual, quarterly, and monthly reports which include purchase history. Bandon will be able to compare their reports and produce custom reports through the Sage information using Crystal reports.

Another advantage of SAGE is providing an enterprise solution that customizes information gathered from employees, customers, and vendors. Bandon requires a customer support system to collect feedback and the function can assist in ensuring that customer information is easily tracked and customized. Unfortunately, the SAGE application is complex for organisations or businesses to apply individually without a SAGE expert in particular, areas that deal with customers, employees, vendors, and reports.

SAGE (2018) provides scaled solutions depending on the size of a business making the system advantageous to small and medium-sized businesses because the system allows for a range of features that can be applied quickly. Bandon can use the cloud option that is mainly aimed at strategic planning and management. One of Bandon’s needs is an efficient telecommunication network that will connect to all departments. SAGE can guarantee the function using the reporting system that allows an organization to customize the information to secure proper planning. Furthermore, the SAGE database is updated regularly ensuring that the information remains up-to-date.

Bandon needs to integrate to a c

January 19, 2024
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