The implementation of a Collaborative System was chosen because as a distributed organization with multiple units in different geographical locations, with a semi decentralized decision making structure involving a large degree of autonomy in each organizational unit, collaboration between all these multiple units, collaboration and communication between these multiple units is of utmost importance, according to Munkvold (1998). Also, Stahl (2001) notes that increased collaboration strategies can help increase sales, create opportunities, improve customer service and decrease costs.
According to a white paper by Cisco (Enhancing Business with Smarter More Effective Communications, 2006),
Communication-caused delay or disruptions are major problems faced by most business. A Sage Research report found that in a survey, 36 percent of respondents said they typically were unable to reach remotely located colleagues on the first attempt, with 52 percent saying that they had to use multiple means of contact on a daily basis.
Communications complexity affects long-term productivity, financial performance as well as business processes reform. Poor communications affect strategic initiatives such as lean or just-in-time production, supply chain optimization and customer relationship management.
The inability to access, communicate and collaborate effectively with primary players causes decision support outcomes to suffer. A Forrster Consulting study found that many workers find it difficult to quickly assemble team members in real time to discuss a critical problem.
Complexity of communications causes resources to be underused or misallocated. Under-use and lack of integration of communication tools such as cell phones, pagers, mobile PCs and PDAs cause investment in developing human talent and enabling technologies to be less effective.
A collaboration system, by enabling communication and collaboration between remotely located employees and the company, can addresses and correct these problems. This project will also help Kucera achieve its mission statement of “fostering a positive environment that promotes teamwork and co-operation between employees”, and its goal of improving communications and operations between the central corporate location in Chicago and the other satellite offices and stores throughout the world.
The benefits of a wireless network to connect offices is also to enable and facilitate better communications, however, it is less practical, more costly and less integrated and structured than a collaboration system. Furthermore it cannot be extended to cover all the multiple organizational units and employees located remotely or in different geographical network. Hence a collaboration system is more feasible and beneficial, especially since it can be accessed by any employee or organizational unit no matter their locations.
The implementation of a CRM system to improve service to customers by tracking customer purchases requires a stable, efficient and reliable communication and collaboration platform to be in place before it can collect, store, analyze and utilize customer data effectively, as described previously. Hence it is not a good choice to implement a CRM system right away.
Munkvold, Bjorn Erik, ‘Implementation of information technology for supporting collaboration in distributed organizations’, 1998, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Cisco White Paper, ‘Enhancing Business with Smarter More Effective Communications’, Cisco, 2006
Stahl, Stephanie, ‘Collaboration’s Benefits Outweigh Difficulties’, Information Week, Dec 10 2001
The project of implementing a collaboration system is consistent with Kucera Clothier’s IT strategy as it aids and facilitates Kucera Clothier’s currently existing business operations, as well as its plans for further expansion globally. As Bartel (2002) says, collaborative commerce helps to optimize the web of relationships that an organization participates in, and is focused on building capabilities and improving the interactions that a company is engaged in. A collaboration system enables collaborative commerce for Kucera Clothiers; hence it serves its strategic needs.
This project should be implemented as soon as possible, since the effectiveness of other information technology initiative such as a CRM system, ERP system or E-procurement system all relies heavily on efficient and reliable communication and collaboration. If other projects are developed without first enabling a stable, reliable and efficient method and platform for corporate communication and globalization among remotely located employees, office and geographically dispersed unit, there will be a high chance of project failure or impaired efficiency/implementation of these other projects.
Bartel, Derrick, ‘Collaborative Commerce: A Strategic Perspective’, 2002