The Orlando Design Firm is familiar with current technology and uses various levels of it in their day-to-day operations. However, the firm does not apply the available technology in the analysis of data obtained from the daily operations. There is also a lack of any connected systems in the company. Thus, the employees are unable to share important information between one another. The lack of business analytic tools in the firm is a drawback to the competitive ability of the company. Furthermore, the company is unable to make critical decisions that can give the company a competitive edge over others in the market. The company also wishes to add a second location in a different part of the state in an attempt to expand the organization. The expansion is a great idea because it will increase the company’s production capacity and consequently realize more profits from their sales. The lack of interconnected systems and business analytics will be a huge hindrance to the expansion of the entity.
Business Analytics Implementation Plans
Business Analytics refers to the analysis of data through operational and statistical tools, the creation of predictive models, utilization of optimization techniques, and the communication of such results to management, shareholders, employees, customers, the government, and the general public (Bartlett, 2013).
Beller & Barnett (2009) describe business analytics as the technologies, skills, and practices to explore and investigate previous business performance to glean an insight of future performance and allow the company to plan for the business. To make it simpler for companies to understand, the use of analytics can be equated to the ability to predict that an event or occurrence might happen in the future.
Different issues encumber the implementation of business analytics for the design firm. The issues include data understanding, planning, mapping the analytic resources to the strategic goals of the company, and aligning the budget with the analytic resources (Roldan, 2010). Because this is an unchartered territory, such issues may act as a chokehold to the implementation plans for the design firm.
Cornerstones of Successful Implementation
The implementation of a business analytics plan will require that the company change its organizational structure. The right organizational structure will ensure that the company gleans the right insights from the information that has been analyzed. New processes and structures are needed to ensure the data is of the highest quality. The information technology department in the company will need to shift from serving as the enforcer of the systems to being the information provider.
Mapping the Business Objectives
The business objectives need to be mapped according to the question or the need the company is attempting to solve. The company needs to first identify and define the problems that it is seeking solutions to. Most companies make the mistake of wanting to know how to use predictive analytics instead of understanding the issues they want to solve. It is imperative to remember that a project of this magnitude should only be measured in business terms. The members of the implementation team should always be questioning the cost savings or the revenue accrued from the implementation.
Thus, the first step in the implementation of business analytics is to develop a clear understanding of the business side of the issue. The leader of the team should be in charge of the mapping process in order to provide guidance to the rest of the personnel. The manager is in charge of developing a metric for measuring the success of the project. In other worlds, the metric will be used to evaluate the progress and impact of the project on different segments of the company.
The quality and the availability of the data are imperative components of the successful implementation of the plan. To deal with any quality issues, the company needs to understand the data available and the limitations that the project might face from the onset. The managers need to also be aware of the various statistical methods that can be used to refine the data and minimize most of the data quality issues that the company is experiencing. Statistical segmentation is exceptionally useful when there is a high probability of quality issues occurring. The technique divides the results of the data into expected results and un-expected results for the evaluation process to be smoother.
1. Development of a Plan
Implementing business analytics solutions will include planning, discovering, acting, and embedding. First, the company needs to create a detailed project plan for the implementation of the solution. Effective communication tools need to be put in place as well as the sponsorship for the project.
A tentative plan will require the gathering of the necessary inputs and resources that will be used in the implementation process. The development of the plan will also require the critical inputs of the members of the IT and business teams. The core people in the implementation of business analytics is the developer, a statistical technician/modeler, and an analyst. For the team to be completely functional there needs to be business analysts, testers, evaluators, project leaders and managers. Thus, the two teams (business and IT teams) will need to be assembled at the very beginning of the process.
Different companies use different approaches when it comes to the implementation of the business analytics. Some companies choose to outsource the analytics perhaps because they are not familiar with the field of implementation. Outsourcing is a cost-effective measure only if the company that has been awarded the contract has commendable experience in statistical modeling and thorough knowledge in industry-specific issues.
A company needs to be modeled in a certain way in order for the outsourcing approach to be successful. It is advisable for the design firm to begin with a proof of concept and then proceed to other larger projects. The company should then focus on developing a rapport with the outsourced company with the aim of bringing the business analytics project under the full control of the company. Finally, the company should develop a revenue-sharing model with the outsourced company and fully outsource the project for the long-term.
Some companies choose to go with the staff augmentation model in the implementation of business analytics. The method will involve increasing the number of staff members to include individuals who have specific training in the field of business analytics. However, implementation through this process will need a well-organized structure that already has a stable footing in the analytics sector. The design company is not ready to use the staff augmentation model because it does not have the necessary experience and history in dealing with business analytics.
2. Designing the Environment
The next step after the creation of the plan is to design the analytic development framework. The environment will enable the development, testing, and refinement of the first set of analytics that the company settles on. The initial results of the test conducted in the environment will assess the immediate business impact of the analytics on a small scale. Recommendations are made based on the results. Furthermore, if this stage is successful then sponsorship will remain strong throughout the process. The potential buy-ins will increase due to formidable initial results.
3. Execution and Embedment
Following the discovery plan, the company will go into the execution stage. The plan will be executed using the technology with the aim of utilizing the insights from the big data accumulated by the company. The final stage is the embedment of the analytics capability into the firm. The embedment process will include extensive changes to processes, the organization, employees, technology, data, and applications.
The budgeting for the entire implementation process is another challenge that the design firm will need to contend with. The issue lies with the high demand for business analytics experts. The high demand translates to a lower supply of the experts and the skyrocketing of the prices. The company will thus have to pay a high stipend to gain the much-needed services of the experts. To justify the high expenditure, the company will need to determine the return on investment. Determining the return on investment is difficult when a company does not have any historical results to rely on. This is why the company needs to start with a small project and utilize the results to determine the ROI. For best results, it is advisable that the company outsources the proof of concept.
Rationale in Support of Implementation
Companies are constantly surrounded by vast amounts of data for inevitably long periods. Such data is referred to as ‘big data’ and may have a huge impact on the performance and competitiveness of the company. Market and competitive pressures have turned this information into a competitive opportunity.
The rationale for implementing business analytics is to reduce cost and increase revenues for the company willing to adopt the techniques. Furthermore, the trends and the insights hidden in the vast amounts of data give the company a chance to draw distinctions between itself and its competitors. These distinctions ensure that the company has a favorable positioning and consequently, a competitive advantage over the other companies in the market.
It is important for the company to know that analytics is more than just an app. It goes beyond the routine improvements made to IT. The benefits of having so much data is realized only when the company is able to generate new ideas from the vast amount of information and how to implement business decisions based on the insight gleaned.
Furthermore, the investment in business analytics will definitely grow in utility and value. Researchers estimate that by 2020, the digital information would have increased to 35 zettabytes. This is a 44% increase from 2009 when the available digital data was estimated to be around 800,000 petabytes (Davenport & Harris, 2007). Thus, the opportunities of reaping the advantages of business analytics are innumerable and the benefits will not end soon.
Importance of Management Information Systems to Data-Driven Decisions
Business analytics makes extreme use of operational and statistical analysis to generate predictive results as well as fact-based oversight to drive decision-making. It is clear from the explanation given that business analytics and management science and the use of management information systems (Roldan, 2010).
According to Karim (2011), a management information system is the best way to facilitate and maintain effective and efficient decision making in the organization. The MIS is used to enhance the strategic planning of the organization and to give it a competitive advantage in the design market.
Baskerville and Myers (2002) define MIS as the evolution, integration, utilization, and the application of specific information systems by individuals or organizations. The management information system can also refer to the study of information with emphasis on its business importance and its management. The management information system usually consists of a network of communication channels within an organization and the entire society.
The importance of the management information system is because of how essential information is in this age of interconnectivity. If the pertinent information needed in a decision-making process is unavailable at the exact time, then the result will be poor decisions, poor prioritization of needs, defective scheduling of activities, poor organization planning, and poor programming. It is important to understand that information is critical to the endurance of the company in the domestic market at both locations. Thus, it is critical for the company to have a management information system that can control and analyze the information and avail it immediately it is needed by the company.
The competitive pressure and the nature of globalization insist on the importance of improving a company’s capability through the development and enhancement of a management information system. The system will increase the company’s capacities by providing the top and lower level management with accurate and up to date information from different sources. The information provided will enable the decision makers to make informed and timely choices that ensure that the company can achieve its goals. Effective decisions also ensure that all the stakeholder requirements are fulfilled.
Baskerville & Myers (2002) argue that the management information system is user oriented and integrated allowing the information to pass through different levels of the organization flawlessly. The MIS will most likely enhance the strategic plan of the organization and have the least effect on the tactical planning process of the corporate entity. However, for the MIS to be completely effective, the company needs to develop a stable and executable database that will enable the communication of decisions across the entire organization.
An excellent management information system will provide a comprehensive framework for the company to evaluate itself relative to four dimensions, namely, infrastructure, people, culture, and process. By improving its alignment across these dimensions, the company will be able to intensify the impact and value of information as an asset in order to gain a competitive edge over others in the market.
The management information system also allows for the control of the creation and growth of information records. Years of storing information even in non-paper format, has resulted in the escalation of paper records in the company’s offices. The integration of a management information system will help control the creation and record retention in the company. Controlling the creation translates to limiting the number of records that will not be required by the company. The control of the retention process translates to a system being in charge of destroying records that were no longer in use in the company. The process will effectively stabilize the growth of the records in the company.
The MIS will also improve the productivity and efficiency of the company. Information retrieval is improved through the new system because time spent searching for misfiled records are reduced significantly. There are also improvements in the office productivity and efficiency after the implementation of the management information system. A well-operated information database will ensure quick retrieval and deliverance of information to the users as quickly as soon as they need it.
The management information system will also ensure that the company minimizes its exposure to litigation risks. For instance, liabilities associated with the disposal of documents can be minimized by having a system that handles the routine disposal of records during the normal course of business. Possession of certain records after their use in the business can bring the company litigation problems.
Techniques and Tools Utilized
1. Transaction Processing Systems
The transaction processing system is the most rudimentary management information system. The system allows the company to record all of its regular and routine transactions. The routine transactions for the design firm include the order of raw materials, sales, customer transactions, and the maintenance of inventories.
From the records, the company will be able to observe any trends in the information. For instance, the company can observe the months when customer demand is higher and the months when demand declines. The company will thus be able to take steps that will ensure that it can be able to handle demand during such months by employing more workers and resources. During the low months, the company will be able to determine which expenses to bring down in order to cope with the decline in demand.
2. Operation Information Systems
The operation information systems are MIS tools that are used to schedule and plan the assembly and production functions. The manager of the design firm will be able to determine the right amount of raw materials and inventory to hold for the successful balance of the company’s sales and inventories. The manager will also be able to determine the correct sequence of the production functions. The head of the operations team will also use the operation information system to deploy the necessary manpower and other resources for the purpose of production. The tool guarantees that the company never runs out of stock, an event that would hamper the company’s business operations.
3. Decision Support Systems
The decision support system is the most common MIS tool used by top-level management to make crucial company decisions. The tool makes extensive use of scientific models, statistical models, mathematical analysis, and computing tools for the analyses of processes. With this tool, the company is able to critically evaluate all the methods at its disposal for use in different departments in the institution. With such a powerful tool, the company is able to choose the method that saves the company the most money, time, and effort while ensuring the maximum efforts are reaped in both the short and long run.
Added Value to Organization
Data can add value to different levels of the organization in various ways. Big data can be used to trace patterns in transactions and operations. The hidden patterns could point to opportunities that the company needs to take or identify some of the constraints that are holding the company back. Taking advantage of these opportunities and eradicating the constraints will guarantee the company a strong competitive advantage.
Several companies are embracing business analytics and entrenching the process in their daily activities. Business analytics has become part of the corporate culture with the technique becoming integrated in nearly every organization in every industry on the face of the planet. The design firm should ensure that it has a limited scope, a project plan, and a formidable budget. In business analytics, it is advisable to start with a small and measurable project and extrapolating the results onto bigger projects. The company will need to include best practices in the industry in the implementation process, utilization of proper and experienced resources, and identifying potential issues early in the development phase.
Bartlett, R. (2013). A Practitioner’s Guide to Business Analytics: Using Data Analysis to Improve Your Organization’s Decision Making and Strategy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Baskerville, R.L., & Myers, M.D. (2002). Information systems as a reference discipline. MIS Quarterly, 26 (1):1-14.
Davenport, T.H., & Harris, J.G. (2007). Competing on analytics: the new science. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Karim, A.J. (2011). The significance of management information systems for enhancing strategic and tactical planning. Journal of Information Systems and Technology Management, 8 (2).
Roldan, A. (2010, May 5). Implementing Business Analytics. Retrieved on 20/4/2016 from http://atomai.blogspot.co.ke/2010/05/implementing-business-analytics.html