The Compuprod Case Study could be used as a case study in an information systems course and something similar of my invention was used in a DSCG course in 2012 © Mark Lewis
Compuprod, a computer hardware production company, becomes a designer and distributor.
The company context
The company is a large Japanese computer producer with an independent European direct sales force. It has production and distribution facilities in France, Scotland and Malaysia. The European production facility is in difficulty having invested in antiquated green-screen systems. They intend to replace these multiple systems with one global ERP that allows real time exchange of information between sales, production, marketing, purchasing and procurement. It also allows the relocation and outsourcing of production to China.
However, the path to this new system is tortuous and budget-consuming, notably due to the lack of operational documentation, the need for in-depth analyses, the lack of a framework for the new IS and a significant need for resources.
The company has a very hierarchical structure with poor communication. Managers are unmotivated and have a very directive style. Internal communication is very unsatisfactory: most communication is vertical, either upwards. Little confidence in management and the numbers down. The quality of information is poor.
Interpersonal relations are biased, information is distorted. Personal interests take precedence, islands of information are treasured by individuals.
Objective for students
The objective for students is to determine the main functions within a company, the interfaces between functions and people and the requirements for communication.
Each group played a department within the company. The UML diagrams below result from the exercise and the class’s thinking.
- What are the risks for the company to circulate unreliable information ?
- Cite the context to give the extent of the possible damage.
- What are the solutions ?
- Automate everything or control change?
- Risks of misinformation :
- Strategic position: externally or internally based
- Valued company data!
- Poor decision making leads to inaccurate positioning perhaps because sales figures are inaccurate.
The exercise was intended to demonstrate the necessity for communication, and for coherent systems to support it. Each actor requires and supplies a set of information to complete their job.
This interdependence reinforces the need to apply methods to ensure that the quality of data remains high to maintain efficiency within the organisation.
- Need for strong management support of projects.
- There may be strong resistance to change.
- Information is power.
- Senior management must own transversal functions to ensure that specifications include company-wide requirements.
- ERP development aims to standardise flows and speed up processing times between actors with specific information needs.
- A written functional model provides a common understanding of system function.
Process across the supply chain
The sequence diagram below illustrates communication between people in different departments.
The information system can change habits and improve communication, even out of obligation.