Competitive Advantage Essay Sample

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I. Project Description:
A. Introduction
1. Strategy for Competitive Advantage: Incorporating a business computer network
2. Business Process to Improve: Customer interaction
B. Proposed solution and IT components needed to implement the project.

1. Selected system
a) In order to meet our objective of process improvement, we will use the software and services provided from a company called AppointmentPlus. b) AppointmentPlus is a fast growing company in this industry with over 1 million current customers. The Application Program Interface (API) integration systems they use are state of the art and they provide all needed support and management of the entire IT infrastructure, which includes our company website and Point of Sale (POS) system. 2. Major hardware needed – In order to meet hardwire requirements for the system that AppointmentPlus will implement, we will need to purchase a server capable of handling 3 to 5 desktop computer and monitor POS systems.

This will include all necessary switches, modems and routers to provide both wired and wireless access. 3. Facility requirements – The desktop POS systems will be placed at various workstations throughout the facility. The server should be placed in a locked compartment with access limited to management and those who have specific access requirements. This area should be easily accessible and well ventilated. This will prevent overheating and provide easy access for maintenance. 4. Telecommunication needs – We will use AT&T business service for our telecommunication needs. This will include a dedicated high-speed internet connection for all company needs and a second WIFI internet hotspot for customer use. Additionally, they will provide company cellular devices to allow management to remain connected to the business 24 hours a day.

C. Business resources needed to complete the project.
1. IT Skills & Services – Installation for this project will be completed by both AT&T and AppointmentPlus. AppointmentPlus will also provide detailed training for management on any supervisor functions that can be performed on the POS system and network. Also, operator training will be provided to all employees. Any maintenance that is outside the scope of training will be completed by AppointmentPlus, free of charge, during the warranty period and for a charge after the warranty period. A web designer will be contracted to implement and manage the company website. 2. Cost of proposed solution – The initial costs for this project will be fairly high, but this project is an investment into the future of the company. The accuracy and dependability of the appointment scheduling program alone will drastically decrease scheduling conflicts, which result in thousands of dollars in lost revenue every month. Maintenance on the system is minimal and does not include a cost until after the warranty period. The telecommunication capabilities will allow management to handle problems quickly and efficiently, which will greatly increase return customers. Overall, the future gain highly outweighs the costs.

II. Project Management:
A. Triple constraints – In order for the project to be successful, it must be completed in a way that does not interfere with current day-to-day operations of the business. The intent is for a seamless transition with little to no unnecessary business closings. Cost must be closely controlled and managed. This can be done by maintaining constant communication with the installation team about your wants and concerns. This will help prevent re-work and extra unnecessary costs. Also, only those services and pieces of equipment necessary to meet the goal should be purchased. Additional, unnecessary services or capabilities will only increase costs with no future potential of gain.

B. Human resource management – Implementation of the system will include all management and supervisory personnel. Tracking system implementation progress will become an additional duty for those personnel. Once system installation is complete, all employees will be involved in training.

C. Risk management – There are always risks involved with change or creating an IT infrastructure. Up front funding risks can be minimized by having a detailed plan and knowing what you want. Training is another common risk for implementing an IT infrastructure. Many of the functions may be new to the employees, which presents a steep learning curve. This risk can be managed by ensuring that all employees are fully engaged in training and that training is something that is continuous to ensure level of knowledge is maintained. Finally, security is a risk that will not only be on the mind if the business, but the customers as well. Compromising sensitive information can not only hurt business, but result in legal action. This risk will be minimized by ensuring that security measures are put in place by the installation team. This will include both hardware and software. Also, a security disclaimer will be placed on both company documents and the website to let the customers know that their information is safe and will not be used for any illegal activity.

III. System Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
A. System Investigation – This portion of the SDLC was completed as part of the research process to determine ways to improve interactions with customers. B. System Analysis – This portion of the SDLC included specific research and analysis of the systems and processes provided by AppointmentPlus and how the company would benefit from implementation of these systems and processes. C. System Design – Although the systems have been design and configured by AppointmentPlus, this portion of the SDLC include any decisions made on specific features that were beneficial for the company. D. Programming or System Configuration – This portion of the SDLC was completed by the installation team and monitored by management personnel. E. Testing – This portion of the SDLC was completed by the installation team, with a brief of specific results provided to the management team.

F. Implementation – This is the most important portion of the SDLC. To be successful with implementing the program, management must ensure that all employees are fully trained and proficient with system operations. Also, management must be proficient on solving any minor issues that may arise with the system. Once these things are met, the new system and procedures will be implemented. G. Operations and Maintenance – Operations will take place on a day-to-day basis with employee and management interaction. Minor preventive maintenance will be tracked and scheduled by management to ensure the system is maintained and the warranty is not voided. Any maintenance that will require outside assistance will be scheduled outside of normal business hours as much as possible not to interfere with day-to-day business and prevent long downtimes.

IV. Business Process Changes – Once the system is implemented, electronic scheduling will be the primary process for all scheduling. Paper scheduling will only be used in an emergency situation. All employees will now be required to login using their individual USERID and PASSWORD, and working hours will also be tracked on this system. Also, employees will promote the capabilities of the company website, which will provide added convenience to the customer.

V. Employee Training – Training will be conducted in 4 phases. First, training will have been conducted for all employees prior to the beginning of the project. This was done to provide a quick indoctrination to the employees about the upcoming project and its capabilities. The second phase will be conducted during system installation for the management team. This training will cover supervisory function of the system and minor maintenance and tests that can be completed. The third phase will be conducted after installation is complete and will include all employees. This training will cover all operations of the system and will prepare employees and managers for using the system in a day-to-day operation setting. The fourth phase if the continuous training that will be conducted to ensure proficiency with the system. This training will be scheduled and tracked by the management team.

VI. Defining Success – In order to be considered successful, the system needs to have some sort of improvement on the business. The first, and most obvious thing will be an increase in revenue. Any increase in money from prior to system implementation is a sign of success. The second sign would be having little to no business downtime caused by issues relating to the new system, whether it’s hardware, software or employee issues. The third sign of success would be overall customer satisfaction in the company. This can be tracked by providing anonymous surveys both in-store and online.

1. Appointment Scheduling Software | Grow With Smart Online Booking. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from

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