(Process Manager: Not Formalized)

Managing the complex network that LSB has built with its commercial partners largely deals with the management of information flows (besides the interpersonal relationships). This process has a fundamental importance for LSB, both from the administrative and the operational point of view. In fact, the timing acquisition of ordered products represents an essential input for the effective planning of the production resources. On the other hand, descriptive data from the shops regarding the items sold (such as quantities, models and size) provide the role in charge of the commercial network with the information needed to determine the models to be delivered.

Each commercial agent has a laptop computer with a software application for the input of collected buying orders. This program, developed by the CIO using the BASIC programming language, creates a sequential file containing the rows of the orders. Everyday, the CIO has the duty to download such file by remotely accessing the agents' laptops.

The procedure of data acquisition from the shops used by LSB is quite similar. Each shop is equipped with a BASIC application (running on a MS-DOS environment) that at the end of the day creates a file containing information regarding the shoes sold. During the night, a software application installed on a LSB computer downloads the file through a modem connection based on the ZMODEM protocol, which requires an international phone call. Considering that LSB owns 30 shops all over the world, four of which are located in the U.S., it is not surprising that the monthly overall cost of this procedure is incredibly high with respect to the ease of the task.

However, being very expensive is not the only (and maybe not even the major) deficiency of this method that also lacks on feasibility. As an example, the German agent once accidentally stumbled into the AC power cable of his notebook computer just during the transmission of the file containing the orders. As a consequence, the file went damaged and the agent had to re-type all the data in order to create again the file to be downloaded by the CIO. The procedure of data transmission from the shops occurs into the same risks, but, even worse, whenever the transfer happens to be interrupted, the procedure repeatedly performs download attempts until it succeeds. For example, once the shop in New York had to be called from Italy 15 times in one night (international rate applying) just to transfer an 80 Kbytes file.

The CIO is obviously aware that simple technologies such as e-mail could make this process both safe and inexpensive. Nevertheless, he believes that the replacement of hardware and software tools needed to carry out this process would be a failure because of the scarce technical competence of end-users and, most of all, because of the owners' mistrust regarding ICT.

Annals of Cases on Information Technology
SQL Tips & Techniques (Miscellaneous)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 367 © 2008-2017.
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