My reaction would initially be negative. I would not be happy that no one sought my input as to the viability or impact of implementing a system such as this, as well as which system should be used.
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I also would not be happy that the input of my employees was not sought either. The largest impact would be felt by the employees, and it is difficult to implement a system the will change their work if you do not have employee backing and ownership. The employees of Quality Stuff have shown loyalty to the company in their lengths of service, and this could potentially alienate them.
2. List at least three of the primary challenges you think you will face in trying to implement this new system.
The number one challenge I see will be the morale of the employees. This system could potentially reduce number of Order Fillers required, as well as reduce their positions to data entry clerks and/or stock pickers. The new positions would not require as high a skill set as is currently required for the Order Fillers. Also, as mentioned above, the more loyal employees may not be as open to change. The Customer Service Manager's job will completely change, and if he/she were to leave, it could cause a major disruption in workflow and distribution of assignments.
The next challenge would be resistance from current customers. Removing the human side of ordering by phone could cause customer dissatisfaction. This could result in a loss of orders, which would impact the metrics used to determine the effectiveness of the system. This could also erode employee morale. If the customers are not happy with the system during the implementation, it could make it difficult to maintain the motivation and enthusiasm of the employees.
The third challenge would be training all the employees on the new system. The introduction of the Internet ordering system and the automated phone system will require a new skill set. Employees that have been at the company for quite some time may be resistant to technological changes that drastically impact their jobs.
A fourth challenge would be
3. Develop and describe a step-by-step plan that you would use to implement this new system, specifically addressing the strategies you would use to minimize the challenges identified in #2 above. This plan should include:
How would you inform the employees of the change?
First of all, I would attempt to enlist the Customer Service Manager as a champion of the cause. His/Her cooperation and support would be key to encouraging the Order Fillers.
Then, I would have a Customer Service meeting that is intended to generate excitement for the new system, emphasizing how it will bring us into the 21st century and will change our positions to be more technology focused. I will ask them to create a vision with me, trying to instill ownership in the implementation.
How would you develop a plan/schedule for implementing the new system?
I would plan to implement each piece individually, providing just-in-time training so that employees are not overwhelmed. This would include classroom training as well as individual on-the-job support.
First, I would implement the automated phone system. This would potentially free up some of the Order Fillers time to allow for the learning curve that will be experienced on the other parts of the system. This would also give me the opportunity to gauge the customer reactions early on in the process.
I would then implement the distribution aspect of the system. This would require a new skill set, but would potentially speed up the order fulfillment process, making time for the learning curve for the remaining parts.
Next, I would implement the Mail Order entry workflow. I would include the Order Fillers on the design of the workflow. This would hopefully increase ownership, as they would be determining the flow that works best for them.
Finally, I would implement the Internet ordering system. This part of the system could potentially be the most foreign to the Order Fillers, and would have a great learning curve. Again, I would include them in the process of developing their own workflow.
What specific strategies will you use to reduce employee resistance to the change or increase their willingness to support the change?
As mentioned above, I would show them that I am 100% behind the implementation of the system, show them how it will be good for the company and good for the employees, and share successes with them all along the way.
I also would include them in the workflow development as much as possible. They are the ones that best know what will work and what will not in their jobs. If they are included, it will keep morale up, and allow them to champion the cause and to bring each other along, holding each other accountable.
How you will evaluate the effectiveness of the new system, particularly during the implementation of the new system and also during the time period immediately following the implementation of the change?
I will use quantitative metrics that show:
Total number of orders taken in a specific timeframe. This will vary during the implementation of the system, due to the learning curve, but we should see a gradual increase throughout the implementation.
Time to delivery. This information should readily show the employees how useful the system can be. Faster time to delivery from taking the order means more working capital for the company and potentially more profits.
Time to invoicing. Again, reduction of the time from order to invoicing will provide the company with more working capital.
Customer satisfaction surveys. If the customers are happy, this may help to improve morale with the employees. Pride in ownership and a job well done can increase motivation and productivity.
I will also attempt to keep my finger on the pulse of the employees. Their satisfaction can make or break the project. I will implement a “team” philosophy, showing the employees that their input and expertise matter to me and the company. I will ask for their advice and implement their solutions whenever possible. This will enable me to judge the success of the project by receiving constant input and feedback regarding what is working and what is not working.
4. As managers, we are often in situations where we wish we had more information. Please list additional information for this case that would have helped you make a better change implementation plan.
Does the system come fully loaded with our current inventory and pricing structure?
How much resources can be allocated to bringing the system up in terms of outside help and temporary workers and outside trainers?
How much is corporate willing to provide support during the implementation process? What resources will they provide, in terms of funds, workers, human resources personnel, trainers?
What access do I have to the developer of the software?
How customizable is the software?
Who designs the website?
How does a customer reach a person in the automated system?
Who manages the website updates and how its orders come in?
Does the system affect the production process at all?
How will the employees benefit from the successful implementation of the system? Will there be public recognition? Will there be increased pay or bonuses?
How will the employees benefit from the increased profits and productivity of the company? Do they own stock?
How will the parent company judge success?
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