Friday, May 3, 2013

Junk Van Case Study

Problem/Issue Statement
The problem is that Junk Van needs to find a cost-effective IT system that will minimize information handling errors allowing the company to retain its customers and help row the company.    The new IT system had to fit the business model and be affordable.
Some of the symptoms were the unnecessary length of basic administrative tasks like contacting helpers and money collection, mistakes in customer contact information, forgotten e-mails, manual calculations and billing errors, and incorrect versions of the database sent by the data clerk.
The scope of the problem involves JUNK VAN’s entire operations. Considering his virtual business model that does not allow for any physical office space, a flawed IT support system negatively impacts all processes and employees. 
Situations Assessment
The context of the problem is looking at the inefficiencies that are apparent within JUNK VAN’s current virtual business model. Currently, the business runs in a very structured manner with two call center operators, one data clerk, three drivers, and three helpers. The customer’s requests (jobs) came in via phone and from that point information would be inputted into a custom-built MS-Works database. From there, information would be e-mailed to the morning and evening operators and to the drivers. Mr. Kingo wants to maintain this virtual business and eventually move into franchising and growing. Before that can happen, he would like to have a central database and remove the manual process of e-mailing internal information.
The decision criteria to consider include the cost of the various alternatives to their current business model with MS-Works, ease of use as his staff and himself do not possess a high level of IT know-how, and adaptable to changes within the industry. Two other criteria that were discussed was having vendor support and being able to implement this change as soon as possible.
List Alternatives
o Custom Application
§ Pros:
·  Custom system built for the business including basic functionality
·  Centralized database allows for remote access
§ Cons:
·  Initial build time of 4weeks + cost of $2000, + potential maintenance at $60/hr per developer
·  Potential lack of understanding could lead to higher costs and longer programming times
·  Additional charges for data migration
·  Custom software can’t be tested prior to being developed, so no way to be sure if needs are met
·  Support is “billed by the hour”
o Platform as a Service
§ Pros:
·  Cloud based infrastructure
·  Users can utilize common applications as well as build their own unique applications
·  Third-party hosting of computing platform
·  Easy-to-build forms and connect tables
·  Data migration = 3 days
·  No long term contracts required, ability to scale-up or scale-down anytime (30 days notice)
§ Cons:
·  Kingo doesn’t possess the necessary developer skills to take advantage of PaaS offerings
·  Costs of services package - $500-$600/month
·  Additional customization of system costs $180/hr
·  Ownership and maintenance of development platform
o MS Access
§ Pros:
·  Could be up and running  quickly on small budget, installed locally on multiple computers (no remote access) or on centralized server (allowing remote access)
·  Kingo can manage installations personally and develop new database after work and on weekends
§ Cons:
·  Local installations do not allow for remote access
·  Kingo’s lack of knowledge around shared server implementation would require additional support
·  Multiple user licenses required – unclear how many at this point
·  Costs of hosting shared server, and additional developer support
o Google Docs
§ Pros:
·  Web-based applications that be used to create text docs, spreadsheets, slide presentations and forms
o Quick and easy to create and share with others
·  Users can work on same file simultaneously
·  Possible to set different user profiles for access rights
·  Supports e-mail distribution
·  Free for up to 10 users, low cost for small businesses ($5/user/month, or $50/user/yr)
·  Quick and easy to implement
§ Cons:
·  All data on single spreadsheet cannot be cross-referenced the way it has been in relational databases causing people to see additional information not pertinent to their specific roles
·  No customer support for GoogleDocs
·  Users do not own the tools and resources used to store the companies sensitive client data, what if Google decides to cancel service?
o Enterprise Resource Planning
§ Pros:
·  Built around central database and designed to be remotely accessible
·  Integrate business processes by covering every aspect from purchasing, sales and customer service to finance, HR and e-commerce
·  Designed for small- to mid-sized companies
·  Multiple “out-of-the-box” options available
§ Cons:
·  Very costly solutions and unclear the overall costs 
o Four user licenses = $12K
·  Pre-fabbed Systems Included modules that Kingo is not interested in purchasing
·  Unsure if the ERP system will address specific Kingo’s specific business needs
I would recommend that 1-888-JUNK-VAN upgrade from MS-Works to a Platform as a Service in order to solve its current IT system.  Using a Platform as a Service model would allow the company to meet all of Kingo’s needs.  Though this system would require more IT knowledge, Kingo was confident based on the demonstration that he would be able to perform the setup himself.  This alternative is a bit more expensive but its capability in the long run will save the company money since it is customizable which prevents future updates.  Vendor support for PaaS is much better than other options and as the firm expands to other areas this customer support will be very helpful.  The PaaS should minimize errors, mitigate time delays, and allow for the custom needs that the company’s situation demands. 


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