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Identical Information Systems and Business Processes

Introduction

Information systems have gained preeminence in the business fraternity due to the benefits that the systems bring into the business fraternity. Automation of operations within businesses has resulted to various effects in business processes, including an alteration of ways of accomplishing tasks within an organization. The nature of effects caused by introduction of an information system varies from one business to the other. The nature of the information system being implemented determines how the system shall affect the organization. However, recent research findings including Quattrone and Hopper’s, (2005), have established that even identical information systems implemented in different organizations have varying effects to the organizations. The operations of an organization are impacted differently and in some cases the impacts may be divergent in nature. An organization can therefore derive tremendous benefits from an information system while another organization using an identical Information system gets negative results.

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This paper shall examine the possible causes of these divergent outcomes emanating from identical systems. The paper shall base the analysis on two major principles, which are; organization image and organization reengineering. Under organization image, the emphasis shall be based on internal factors contributing to the image and how these factors may influence the nature of results obtained from an information system that has been implemented. Of paramount importance in this analysis shall be organization culture, communication and human capital. Reengineering on the other hand shall focus on how the process of reengineering business process may determine the outcome of an information system. The section on reengineering of business processes shall also identify issues that may cause the reengineering process to have an impact to the effects of an information system within an organization.

Business Image

Businesses operate on social environments that differ from one region to the other. Due to the divergent cultural aspects, operating different business with identical software becomes a complicated affair. This is caused by the fact that each system is tailored to meet the needs of a specific market and thus it can only serve satisfactorily in the target market. Business software is tailor made to meet specific needs of a particular market. Transferring this to a different market make it hard for any meaningful task to be accomplished in the new market. When the new platform is utilized, in most cases, it causes disharmony in the operations of the organization that makes it hard for the organization to serve its clientele satisfactorily.

As noted by Jarvenpea and Stoddard, (2005), every organization has its own approach to business which makes it hard for organizations using the same information system to reap similar benefits. As noted by Riley, and Markus, (2006), it is a common occurrence to find one organization successfully utilizing an information system while another organization has no advantage that it accrues from the system. This is an indication that different organization’s approach to business determines the extent of benefits accrued to the organization from an information system.

Jarvenpea and Stoddard, (2005), assert that the manpower available to an organization may have a huge impact on the benefits that an organization gets from an information system. Information systems are software implemented on a platform of hardware and thus they require an organization ware for them to function effectively. The fact that the human capital is the organization ware has a major impact of the success or otherwise of an information system. Organizations that have greatly invested on human capital may benefit tremendously from an information system while poor human capital investment may make an organization to miss the benefits of automation (Jarvenpea and Stoddard, 2005).

For organizations to reap maximum benefits from an information system, human capital should be thoroughly training to guarantee eventual conceptualization of the system. Besides the training, systems are complex and may often require strategic thinker’s in order to determine the nature of input. Since the system is programmed to accept input, store it, process it, and finally query the processed input and give useful information means that it can only provide tangible results if it was fed with quality input.

Human capital is also essential when undertaking the processing of implementation in an information system. According to Sharma, (2006), the nature of human capital’s input in the querying process determines whether the output is meaningful to the organization or not. For maximum benefit to be realized there is a need for an organizations to ensure that human capital tasked with generation of reports, input of data and any manipulation of data in the system posses high degree of integrity, as well as strategic thinking. The staff should also be analytical and keen to details (Adeyemi and Ayanda, 2008).

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Organization culture has also been cited as one of the causes why an identical system has different effects to organizations. The level of motivation of employees, the systems of rewards and punishment within the organization as well as the internal conceptualization of work within the organization have great effects to the results that emanate from an information system (Jarvenpea and Stoddard, 2005). Organizations with a poorly motivated work force may get very minimal benefits from an information system as the inputs from the system may greatly be jeopardized. This is because the inputs may be poor or wrong and the querying process may be done haphazardly. The end results in such a system are poor thus denying the organization the needed benefits that come with automation of operations.

Adeyemi and Ayanda, (2008), notes that the nature of communication within an organization has a direct effect on the success or otherwise of the outcome of an information system. Communication is an important aspect of organization culture that shapes the image of the organization. An organization with poor internal communication structures is likely to get poor outcome from an information system. This is because workers within the organization may not necessarily be able to learn how to operate the new system which exposes them to many errors hence poor input and finally poor output. The effectiveness or otherwise of communication within an organization is a vital tool that determines the nature of the effects that emanates from an information system. For instance an organization with a well articulated communication system may benefit from an information system more than organizations whose communication structures are broken down. Communication therefore plays an important role in determining the nature of outcome of an information system.

Workers greatly determine the results to be obtained from an information system. Factors that include employee competencies, the nature of work, degree of honesty among other personal attributes affects the quality of outcome of an information system. Since all organizations have their own culture, implementing identical information system does not automatically result into the rise of similar outcomes. In many cases, one organization can greatly benefit from the information system while the others find the system detrimental to its operations. Human capital is therefore a major reason why implementing an identical information system does not necessarily result to identical results to organizations when the final product of the system and the nature of operations after the implementation are contrasted (Adeyemi and Ayanda, 2008).

Another factor that determines the image of an organization and has a direct influence on the nature of operations when an information system is installed is the culture of resistance within an organization. Groove and Keitinger, (2005), note that man has an inherent attribute to reject change. In most cases, man shall fight change in order to maintain the status quo. In organizations where resistance to change is paramount, introducing a new way of accomplishing tasks becomes complicated due to the fact that majority of the workers opt to maintain the status quo. Since the culture of resistance varies from one organization to the other, it may have a strong contribution towards why an identical information system may have highly varied results to the nature of operations of an organization.

Reengineering

Davenport, (2004), defines business process reengineering as the systematic change of business operations from one platform to another mainly with the sole aim of improving efficiency of the processes. Reengineering occurs on several circumstances and the main aim why organizations reengineer their processes is to gain the advantages that come with efficient functioning of the organization’s process. With the advent of technology, most business reengineering processes have been based on convention from manual systems to automated systems where new information systems are installed. The way an organization handles the process of reengineering greatly determines the output of the system and hence the ways in which the new system impacts on the operations of the organization.

According to Thomas, (2007), business process reengineering is a complicated process that needs to be handled with utmost care by the concerned stakeholders in the implementation process. This is because vital inputs of each stakeholder are influential in the process of determining the success or otherwise of the new system. The first impression that the system creates in the organizations environment has also been cited as an important determinant of the outcome of a system and how this outcome influences the business processes. A system that appears to threaten the welfare of some of the workers, whether this threat is true or is just perceived by the workers may have tremendous negative effects to the organization’s processes. This is because the system shall be faced with intense resistance as workers shall perceive it as a threat.

Reengineering also may result to a rise of obsoleteness in knowledge that is held by the workers (Adeyemi and Ayanda, 2008). This threatens their welfare within the organization which in turn instigates resistance from the threatened workers. Since each organization has a different pool of human talent, the way an information system threatens this talent varies despite the fact that the system may be identical. This therefore causes an identical system to have varied effects to the operations of the organization.

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Business approaches also are casual factors why an identical system can result to varying effects as far as operations are concerned. As noted by Prakken, (2006), each business has its own unique approaches to business. This uniqueness can even be identified in instances when two different organizations within one industry are evaluated. A good example would be a contrast between the operations of Wal-Mart stores and its competitor Target Inc. While Wal-Mart’s focus is on low cost leadership approach, Target’s approach is to offer ample shopping space to shoppers but at a premium. Installing a system that automates the buying process such that a client does not need to walk through the supermarket floor to shop may have greatly divergent effects for the two traders. For instance, it may lead to increased sales in Wal-Mart as this may even attract the clients who usually find Wal-Mart congested as they shall not need to walk on the supermarket floor. At the same time, sales from Target may drastically reduce leading to many customers opting to shop elsewhere as the comparative advantage they used to derive from the chain (Target) is made obsolete by the new system.

In conclusion, it is evident that the varying results that come with a new information system may be caused by a number of issues. Paramount to this issue is that each organization is unique to itself and thus it possesses unique capacity to handle change. Both internal and external factors also interplay in determining the results that emanates from an information system. The fact that each organization is unique in its own capacity is the causal factor why an identical information system may have varying effects to different businesses.

References

Adeyemi, S. A., & Ayanda M. A., 2008. Impact Assessment of Business Process Reengineering on Organisational Performance. European Journal of Social Sciences, 7(1), pp.115-125.

Davenport T.H., 2004. Reengineering: Business Change of Mythic Proportions. Mis Quarterly, 16(4), pp. 121 – 127.

Groove, V. & Keitinger W. J., 2005. Special Section Towards a theory of Business Process Change Management. Journal of Management Information System 11(2), pp. 171 – 173.

Jarvenpea, S. L., & Stoddard D. B., 2005. Business Process Redesign Tactics for Managing Radical Change. Journal of Management Information System12(1): 161 – 207.

Prakken B., 2006. Information, organization and information systems design: an integrated approach to information problems. Chicago: Springer.

Quattrone C., & Hopper D., 2005. Identical Information Systems. Technology and Culture, 20, (1) p. 25-50

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Riley, P., & Markus, M.L., 2006. Preconditions for BPR success and How to prevent Failure. Information System Management, 11 (2):pp.7– 13.

Rosenberg, N., 1979. Technological Interdependence of the American Economy. Technology and culture, 20(1) pp. 25-50.

Sharma M. 2006. Business Process Reengineering: A Tool to further Bank Strategic Goals. Journal of Management Information Systems. 12(1) p.84- 92.

Thomas, D., 2007, Process Innovation: Reengineering work through information technology. Harvard Business School Press, 4(2), pp. 117– 113

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