A real example of a sponsor identifying an opportunity to initiate a project and recruiting a project manager follows. In this example, the project manager acts as the sponsor's agent in developing information to clarify an opportunity and focus on one particular way to take advantage of it. The project manager helps the sponsor to understand the benefits of taking advantage of the opportunity. He or she suggests a feasibility study to be the first project in a series of projects, and determines reasonable time and resource requirements for the feasibility study.
Details of the example follow: Executives from other insurance companies told the vice president for operations at Macro Insurance Company that better utilization of computers has improved their efficiency and reduced costs. Macro Insurance has a Management Information Systems (MIS) department and significant mainframe and PC capacity, used primarily by human resources, payroll in particular, and analysts. Vice President Bill wants to explore other possibilities, and he believes that purchasing manager Nancy is the right person to lead a project to reduce costs through more effective computer utilization.
Bill tells Nancy his thoughts. Nancy has heard about electronic forms and thinks that the company spends too much money on paper forms for printing and processing. She shares these thoughts with Bill.
Bill likes Nancy's ideas and asks her to "look into this." Nancy tells Bill she will call some people in other companies and talk to Macro's MIS manager and some of his staff. Bill and Nancy agree that Macro can save money and improve operations by making greater use of computers; however, Bill is conservative and wants to proceed in small steps. They agree that Nancy should prepare a definition of terms and descriptions of relevant processes and then report back.
Nancy asks Bill what size project he has in mind, and they agree that the first effort should be something doable in at least three to four months, using some of Nancy's staff and some people from MIS, working part-time.
Nancy then refines the project's scope in the following memo:
To: Senior Management Team
From: Purchasing Manager
Subject: Electronic Forms Systems: Definitions and Processes
Electronic Forms are computer-generated formats, usually incorporating a series of organizational graphic elements (for example, lines, boxes, captions on computer screen they resemble the paper forms we use to collect data) used for recording, collecting, and transmitting variable data.
Electronic Forms Design is the use of computer software to create the static structure of a form that will organize and guide the entry of variable data. Forms creation is achieved by using forms design software. (One such package is WYSIWYG.)
Electronic Forms are passed electronically from the creation/integration workstation to the mainframe for storage. Output of the forms can be from a mainframe laser printer or a mainframe-controlled remote printer.
Electronic Forms Print on Demand refers to a current revision of a form that is electronically printed when needed, in the quantity needed for a short or reasonably short time.
Electronic Development Publishing is a mainframe process, outputting multi-page or multi-copy documents at a high-speed, large-volume mode.
Electronic Forms Print on Demand produces blank forms on demand from centralized or remote laser printers.
Advantages of print on demand:
Eliminates printing by an outside source
Eliminates storage charges
Decreases turnaround time
Avoids obsolescence and waste
As the next step, Electronic forms may be used:
To replace preprinted paper forms
As a template for entering the appropriate variable data on the computer screen by the information processing person (which may or may not ever be printed on paper)
As a vehicle for transmitting partially completed documents to other computer network stations for data addition and/or approval
As the static structure for organizing and displaying the collected variable data as a computer-printed form
As the next step, electronic forms can be used as a basis for business analysis.
Relational Database refers to a software system that will accept a number of different files for data in such a way that relationships of one category in one file can be compared to a different category in a different file in many ways.
Electronic File Data Entry enables an operator to pull up an electronic form on a PC, enter data in the fields of the form, and then cause the form's data to be stored in a relational database. This allows for both paperless filing of data and for many options of summarizing and analyzing different categories of form data.
Setting up a paperless form filing system and a relational database provides for a very fast retrieval of file information and processing of clients claims. It also provides for analyzing client data and claims data categories, which is almost impossible with only paper files. However, a relational database will be expensive to set up and requires the development of new complex systems, which will take time.
We recommend that we first explore and consider developing an Electronic Forms Print on Demand System before we proceed with more sophisticated elements of electronic data processing.
The executives, in discussion with the purchasing manager and the members of Nancy's staff who helped put together the memo, decide to pursue Nancy's recommendations. They direct her to prepare the following working paper to be used to help finalize project objectives.
To: Senior Management Team
From: Purchasing Manager
Subject: Key considerations for the implementation of an Electronic Forms Print on Demand System
We recommend starting the analysis in the Classic Care Underwriting and Customer Service area. We believe that each form should be examined to see whether it is a form candidate based on a cost/benefit analysis.
Reduce cost and time needed for designing forms
Reduce time and cost needed to print forms
Reduce cost and time needed to distribute forms
Eliminate storage of forms and cost of storage
Reduce waste due to forms revision
Guidelines and standards will need to be established to determine:
When a form is printed by an outside vendor versus an internal print shop
When a form is printed on the 9700 laser printer versus a 5090 copier
When a form is to be printed by a local laser printer versus a 9700 laser printer
The project staff will have to review current information flow via forms as well as other methods of information flow that could be handled by forms. Project staff members will need to be relieved on a part-time basis from other duties over a period of one to two months.
The forms design staff, who are members of the project team, will have to analyze forms to determine what can be converted.
The systems people, who are members of the project team, will have to examine the printing schedules for the feasibility of printing on demand with the present equipment.
A schedule will have to be determined with person power requirements for redesigning forms for the electronic form system.
Project Objective Statement:
Prepare a feasibility study based on the cost/benefit analysis for the development of an Electronics Forms Print on Demand System for forms used in the Classic Care Underwriting and Customer Service Area. Forms to be considered are those that are used at least 50 times a week. The system will be judged feasible if the cost of developing it can be recovered by benefits within one year.