write 1 page single spaced briefing about the case
write 1 page single spaced briefing about the casesee attachment for more details
SMB Case – Rock Solid Industrial Parts, Inc.
(The Case Detail for: Case Analysis, Presentation and Briefing)
You work for a family owned industrial parts distribution business (Rock Solid Industrial Parts, Inc.) located in San Jose, California. Your uncle, David Simpson, got you a summer job last year working at RSIP as an IT Support Tech. They liked you enough to hire you right after graduation. The hours are good and the pay is outstanding allowing you to pay off your student loan quicker than most of your friends. You are currently the only IT person at the company.
Your background and education (MIS from SJSU) have made you the go-to-person for all technology related issues in the company. As the only individual in the company with some technical background, the Owner/CEO of the company, Philip Hurd, has come to you for advice on what IT/IS systems the company should be thinking about implementing to enable continued profitable revenue growth by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the business overall. He understands it will be difficult to scale the business without implementing some process changes supported by technology. You know the company is in the process of hiring a Senior Director of IT, Janice Drake, who is a relative newcomer to the industry and may not be onboard before the business analysis is due.
The Executives have agreed on a 3-year strategic plan to grow the business by expanding into other territories covering the entire west coast and mountain states. Current sales of $33 Million/year are expected to more than double to $72 Million in that timeframe. Currently at about 36 employees, they expect to increase their staff to over 70 employees to support sales growth. This is your big opportunity to show what you can do to help drive the strategic growth plan as well as ensure the solutions you pick today will continue to scale with the business over the next decade. A successful implementation might get you a raise and will definitely look good on your resume.
In the late 1930’s Philip Hurd’s grandfather, Hugh Hurd, started an industrial parts distribution company in Sunnyvale California close to the Joshua Hendy Iron Works. Upon returning from the Pacific after WWII, Hugh’s son Jack took over the business and moved it to its current location in South San Jose. Throughout their high school years his sons Philip and Tim worked in various roles within the company gaining extensive working knowledge of the industry. In 1970 Jack retired leaving the business to Philip and Tim.
Today, Philip (61 years old) and his brother Tim (59 years old), CEO and COO respectively, run the company. Their high school buddy Don McCloud (60 years old) is the CFO. David Simpson has been with the company for over 25 years moving up the ranks to VP of Sales. The four C-level executives are steadfast golf buddies, playing almost every Sunday at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club. Tom Smith, Regional Sales Manager for the Pacific states is married to Tim’s daughter Becky. When David retires, he will most likely become the VP of Sales. Philip’s son, Phil Jr, is planning on leaving his finance job at Northrup Grumman to join the business as CFO when Don McCloud retires in 5 years.
Having worked outside the family business for many years, Phil Jr. sees the potential for growth and is the main strategic architect for growing the business. He has counseled his father on what technologies might be needed to expand the business. Being in finance at Grumman, driving profitable revenue growth is his primary objective. The operation is heavily supported by IT/IS so he knows the potential benefits of technology use in a business. When his father retires in 7 years, he will likely become CEO.
The strategic plan is to grow the company from current sales of $33 Million/year to $72 Million in three years by aggressively expanding into southern California and the Mountain states. Jim Donner, a 27-year veteran employee and rising sales star, has been chosen to lead the effort in the Mountain States. A mixed model of direct and independent sales representatives supported by inside sales has worked well for the company over many years, so the intent is to continue the model. The Field Sales Reps generally work from home or an office of their own choosing. Southern California will have a small satellite office in LA or San Diego and the new Mountain States Region will have a regional office in Denver.
|Current Staffing||3 Year Expansion Plan|
LA or San Diego
|C- Level Executives||4||0||0|
|Finance & Accounting||4||1 (Doubles as Office Manager)||1 (Doubles as Office Manager)|
|Sales||Field Sales 10 + 1 RSM
Inside Sales 4
Apps Engineers 2
|Field Sales 10
Inside Sales 4
Apps Engineers 2
|Field Sales 10 + 1 RSM
Inside Sales 4
Apps Engineers 2
|IT||1 Technician (addition of 1 senior manager and 2 staff planned)||0||0|
In this type of business, long term personal relationships are very important. Sales reps tend to bring their best customers with them as they move from distributor to distributor. Rock Solid is intending to leverage this fact to grow very quickly by sticking to an experienced independent sales representative model with only a few direct salespeople for large critical key accounts.
|Sales Staffing Table||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Revenue||$40 Million||$55 Million||$72 million|
The company plans to use technology to minimize operating overhead as they grow and to keep the organization as flat as possible by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.
The Headquarters’ organizational structure and operational functions are very typical of an old-line industrial distributor. (Blue = Existing Organization Green = New Positions being added)
Advised by Phil Jr., Philip Sr. is driving the change. Having read about the benefits of CRM automation, David, acknowledges the need for better technology as the sales force grows in number and territory reach. Don McCloud, CFO, has serious reservations about changing anything. His tight control of the financials has kept the company very profitable even during the “great recession” of 2007/2009. Everyone in the company is making good money. His view: “Why change what isn’t broke?” Don is not technical (he is an Apple user and gets his technical information from the Geek Squad). He doesn’t appreciate the importance of technology’s role in helping companies scale. Tim Hurd, COO, is on the sidelines with a wait and see attitude. As an executive team, they have all agreed to give the Strategic Growth Plan a shot and on the advice of Phil Jr. they have hired Janice Drake as Senior Director of IT from a small technology company in San Jose to manage the new IT/IS implementation. You will report to her with a promotion if things go well. They are even thinking about remodeling the office space to make it look more modern and inviting.
The company is not very technologically oriented. Today, most everything is being done with older desktop computers, paper forms, Excel and Quicken. The company has only a rudimentary online presence and an antiquated Plain Old Telephone System (POTS). Most of the workers are conservative, older (average age 55) and have been with the company for more than 25 years. They are comfortable with computers but do not generally Facebook or TXT. Many do not even have smartphones. In short – they are not very technically savvy and will likely be very resistant to change.
The current field sales operation is very local. Even though the salespeople are on the road most of the time, they generally work from home when needed. They come into the office every Monday morning for a weekly sales update meeting (issues, resolutions, sales forecasting) that sometimes includes training by key product vendors. During a brief conversation with David (VP of Sales and Marketing) you discovered vendors often require both a white board on which to draw diagrams and a projector for PowerPoint slides during training meetings. Provisions must be made to continue these meetings to include salespeople who are in remote locations or working from home.
The Warehouse Operations is automated to the degree that they use barcode scanners, however, there is no automated inventory control and no LAN in the building except in the front office. Everything is handled with Excel spreadsheets that are PDF’d and emailed weekly to the sales reps. Inventory management is becoming an issue. Today there are 100K SKUs in inventory and growing as they expand into new maintenance and repair operation (MRO) service areas.
The comm utility point of presence is in a small room toward the front right of the building. AT&T consumer DSL plus consumer grade switches are currently supporting the company’s connection to the internet A high-speed commercial grade fiber internet termination is available but un-used. There is no cable connection. An old PC is being used as both an FTP and a print server. The desktop PCs are old and running Windows 7 – some still use CRT monitors. The PCs are running various older versions of MS Office and QuickBooks is being used for the accounting software. HR is completely paper based with payroll outsourced to ADP.
Your task is to understand the issues involved and to apply new/modern IT/IS solutions to marketing, sales (independent mobile workers supported by an inside sales desk), inventory & warehouse management and accounting to support the Strategic Growth plan. To keep overhead expense growth to a minimum the entire business must become more effective and efficient as it expands. Your budget is $250K to $750K. What do you recommend doing? How are you going to implement the chosen technologies considering that the workforce is old and not tech savvy? Knowing up to 80% of all IT/IS initiatives fail, what are you going to do to make sure you are the 20% that succeed?
OMG – This isn’t Business Process Redesign or a Digital Transformation – This is a Digital Revolution!
Within about a month you must analyze the situation and develop solution recommendations in a written format. After a review by the executives, you and your team will be expected to make a presentation to the staff and answer tough questions about your recommendations. As is often common, you can also expect there will be follow-up briefings with various executives on key points.
There are several questions that you must consider in your analysis. Note: At some point early in your analysis, you should consider which digital transformation design choice the company should use: automate, informate, transform (re-engineer) or paradigm shift? Look for best-in-class examples to inform and support your choice.
In your analysis, please answer the following questions in the order given based upon your digital transformation design choice. Avoid questions – restate the questions as a 4 to 5-word header as a statement (not a question):
*Note: Please use as the section main head “Areas to Consider” and use “Process”, “Structure”, etc. as sub headers. Do the same for the Technology subcategories.
Over the past decade, the small business market has become a popular and increasingly contested market for technology companies. While there are many definitions of what constitutes an SMB, the most common are based on the number of employees. Generally, businesses with fewer than 100 employees are classified as small and those with between 100 and 250 are classified as medium. The opportunity in the SMB market is significant; however, the large number of small businesses and the low IT spend per business makes it a difficult market to penetrate. For example, according to Compass research, there are 2.4 million businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees in the US and 2.3 million of those have fewer than 100 employees.
Small businesses constitute the majority of businesses worldwide and they are growing at a faster rate than large enterprises. According to IDC, worldwide SMB IT spending grew beyond the half-trillion-dollar threshold at roughly 2 percentage points over the rate of GDP. SMB IT spending approached $700 billion in 2019. In a recent market research study conducted by Compass, small business owners identified their most important IT needs as: attracting new customers, serving existing customers better, increasing employee productivity, lowering operating expenses, and improving collaboration among workers. Now, more than ever, hardware and software technology companies are focusing on providing SMBs the products they need to meet these challenges.
All businesses, regardless of size, are organized into functional structures. In smaller businesses, individuals may take on multiple roles. For example, in a start-up, the CEO, CTO and Director of HR may be the same person, or a CFO may also do all the accounting as well mange the financials. Functional groups may report to different C-Level Executives depending on a wide variety of factors. For example, IT/IS may report to the CEO, CFO or COO. If the IT/IS department is big enough, it may be headed up by a CIO. In large enterprises, the roles and titles are generally very well defined. Regardless, the various business tasks must be accomplished, and, in a modern digitally savvy business, IT/IS generally supports these tasks.
Headquarters (commonly referred to as HQ) is the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated such as corporate management (C-level executives), strategic planning, corporate communications, tax, legal, business development and M&A, marketing, sales, engineering, research and development, finance, human resources, information technology, corporate security, logistics and procurement.
A warehouse is a building for storing goods. They are usually large plain spaces with metal racks or shelving to organize the goods for easy inventory storage and picking for shipment. The warehouse often has loading docks to load and unload goods from trucks. Larger operations may have cranes and forklifts for moving goods, which are usually placed on pallet racks. In very large operations, very sophisticated robotics may be used (think Amazon). To improve efficiency, most modern warehouses will have inventory management system (IMS) automation software with barcode scanners or RFID for tracking goods through receiving, storing and shipping. These automated systems are often tied directly to accounting and CRM systems to allow to further automation of supporting processes as well as to allow salespeople better access to sailable inventory.
B2B salespeople sell products and services to other businesses (not consumers as in B2C). B2B salespeople often sell to professional buyers who are trained to get the best possible deal, they also often sell to teams of decision makers, all of whom must be convinced that this product is the best solution for their needs. Today, successful salespeople are experts in their customers’ businesses and function more as consultants – strong personal relationships are very important.
B2B sales come in two general types. The first type is selling products that meet a business’s needs, like office supplies or computer equipment. The second type of B2B sales is selling components that the business will then use to manufacture its own products. Sales operations can be very complex and organized in several ways.
Salespeople can be:
The tools salespeople use today are more complex including CRM systems for tracking opportunities as well as websites and social media for generating leads and communicating information to potential buyers and specifiers. As a result, salespeople need a variety of supporting hardware (some combination of Laptops, tablets, smart phones, even smart watches) and software (the most common being MS Office, email, TXT messaging, pdf readers, video conferencing, CRM, and Malware protection) as well as supporting technology infrastructure (WiFI, Cellular data and VPN connections) to do their jobs effectively. Salespeople are often mobile (traveling by car, rail, plane) to visit customers requiring consistent, always available, secure communications capability.
A Distributor is an independent company that act as supply chain intermediary. They buy products in bulk from various manufacturers, stock (warehouse) them and then sell/supply them to businesses that then use the products in manufacturing, maintenance/repair operations or retail operations. Distributors may have direct and/or representative salespeople.
Technology infrastructure generally refers to the enterprise’s entire collection of hardware, software, networks, data centers, facilities and related equipment used to develop, test, operate, monitor, manage and/or support information technology services. Infrastructure does not refer to the hardware (e.g. Laptops, tablets, smartphones….) and software (e.g. MS Office, Adobe, Skype, Google….) employed by individual users to perform tasks using electronic technology.
Note: As the complexity of the infrastructure requirement grows so does the complexity of its design and implementation. Most SMBs do not have the required knowledge or skills so they generally use Value-Added Resellers (VAR) to help. A VAR takes software, hardware and/or infrastructure technology and implements it for a customer. The VAR is not the manufacturer of the equipment, but is expected to have a thorough knowledge of the products to properly customize, install, test, and sometimes maintain them for the customer.
As a business’s networking needs expand, the need for managed switches increases. A switch works in the data link layer, connects nodes of the same subnet together and forwards packets to the correct port by analyzing the MAC address. Managed switches are essential for larger networks and those with voice or video traffic (video conferencing) which needs to be prioritized above data traffic to ensure high quality feeds. Another important feature on managed switches is Power over Ethernet (PoE) used to supply power to devices such as wireless access points or IP phones so that these devices can be installed in locations that lack easy access to a power outlet. Power over Ethernet is injected onto the cable at typically 48 volts DC. This voltage allows efficient power transfer along the cable, while still being low enough to be regarded as safe. One of the additional benefits of PoE is that it does not require a certified electrician to install unlike a 110V power outlet thus potentially reducing instillation costs. The furthest distance a PoE switch can transmit simple data over Ethernet is 100 meters (the Ethernet standard). A PoE Ethernet Extender, however, can lengthen that span up to 4000 feet.
Routers work in the network layer are used to connect to the internet and to send traffic between Local Area Networks (LANs). A router analyses the IP addresses and routes a packet to the correct destination through the proper gateway. Hence, routers are used for interconnecting networks rather than connecting nodes in a subnet like a switch. Routers connect physically separate networks into one seamless network to the end users. Routers also provide additional security and protect against denial of service attacks and other security threats.
Wireless – Wireless networks consist of Wireless LAN controllers and access points (APs). Wireless products range in complexity from simple standalone access points that are easily installed and require little or no setup to more complex networks consisting of multiple APs integrated into a seamless managed network.
In an industrial setting, AP specifications, placement and antenna design become more critical to maintain speed and connectivity than in a consumer application, particularly in buildings with metallic structure interference/multipath reflections. Warehouse and manufacturing spaces can be even more problematic because of both signal blocking structures and electrical interference issues. A standard consumer AP will not perform well in these types of environments. To help solve this problem, APs with MIMO and beam forming technologies use multipath reflections to gain significant signal strength, avoid dead spots and improve reliability. Improved reliability translates to a greater coverage area for a given data rate.
More advanced infrastructure technologies include security, Unified Communications, and wireless technologies:
Security – Most vendors today build security features into every product it sells. In addition, many vendors also sell other security products such as spam blockers, firewalls, and identity management software. With the growing prevalence of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) systems to address threats that lie within the perimeter of the firewall are required.
Unified Communications – Unified Communications, or UC, is a broad category that refers to applications that combine voice, data, and video over the same network. Combining voice and data networks generally saves businesses money because they only must maintain one network and allow for new productivity features such as accessing voice mail on the desktop.
Historically, PBX (public branch exchanges) were used as the network to carry voice traffic. However, with UC, voice traffic can be converted into packets and passed over an IP network and reassembled on the other end. The most popular UC products for SMBs are IP telephony solutions, such as Cisco’s Smart Business Communication System that combines a network foundation with security, wireless, and voice applications all in one system. Cisco is the worldwide leader in Unified Communications followed closely by Microsoft.
Installing UC begins with a network assessment and often requires an upgrade to the existing network infrastructure to ensure that the network can support high quality voice traffic. Nearly all SMBs work with a VAR to conduct the network assessment and deploy the UC solution. One of the barriers to adoption of UC has been the upfront capital cost, which many SMBs are not willing to undertake even though UC will save money over time through lower telecom and network maintenance costs.
Briefing Prepared for: Janice Drake(Senior Director of IT)
Executive Summary: Since Rock Solid has decided to use Salesforce as the CRM software for the company it is time to figure out what solution system will support this CRM and what hardware will be used to support this software. Salesforce can work with both Apples and Windows so this is convenient but what the focus will be on is which hardware will best suit Rock Solid’s process and software.
Should we go with Apple, Windows or Android based solutions?
|Windows Pros(This is recommended):
● Windows gives you a lot more leeway in configuring a system with the components you want, and more flexibility to upgrade later.
● Programs like Word, Excel, Access, and so forth are all optimized to work with Windows 10. These programs are so synonymous with how we do business that it’s tough to even consider how macOS can approximate them. One of the biggest problems that Mac users complain about is its lack of compatibility with older versions of MS Office.
● All Mac products are expensive. Part of that comes from the luxury design and high-status perception. Apple doesn’t make a budget option. If you are not interested in paying a minimum of $999 per laptop, a MacBook is not for you.
● When you shop for a MacBook or an Apple desktop, your design and configuration options are limited. Likewise, if a power cord breaks, you’ll have to either shell out top dollar for an Apple replacement or take your chances with a third-party cord.
Considering these facts from above, Rock Solid is looking for flexibility since we will grow as a company and may need to make small changes in the future and employees will be using MS Office majority of the time which justifies why Windows will work better.
What form should the solution take-laptops, tablets or smartphones?
|● Employees that are not sales people can have laptops where they can take them to go wherever they need to, whether it be in the office or working from home.
● Laptops can support Salesforce and have webcams included
|● If sales reps are not near their laptop and they are speaking with a client they can easily access salesforce on their smartphone to check inventory or any other sales related activity while with their clients.
● Can easily send/read emails, make quick calls, and access Salesforce
This makes everything in Rock Solid become more efficient and easier way for sales reps to close more deals which means Rock Solid will continue to have more revenue growth.
What are the most important implementation/support issues we might face with each combination
Briefing: Decisions – Decisions
Its 3:00pm Tuesday afternoon and Janice, the new Senior Director of IT walks into your office. Sitting down in the chair next to your desk – you know by the look on her face she is there to ask you a question. She starts the conversation by telling you that the executive staff has been reviewing the presentations from various functional groups on how to improve corporate efficiency and improve revenue by automating the sales process. While the decision has been made to go with SalesForce.com, some additional decisions must be made to support the implementation across a field sales team consisting of a rather mixed group of young (average age 24 all with BA degrees) new hires to older veteran employees (many over 55 often with only a high school education). On average, most of the employees at Rock Solid are not technically savvy.
Besides supporting SalesForce.com, the solution for the sales team (inside sales, outside sales and applications) must also support the display of high resolution graphics and videos, parts and catalogue documentation in PDF format, and information presented using HTML5 on the web as well as email (MS Outlook/IMAP based). The solution must also have the ability to do Microsoft Office spreadsheets and standard sales documents such as quote letters.
She lets you know that she must make a quick presentation to the CFO, Don McCloud tomorrow morning over coffee. Don has attended all of the presentations yet is still skeptical of the need for a CRM system and does not really understand the hardware/software requirements. Don is not very technical – hardware specifications are a complete mystery to him. He is also confused about some of the hardware implementation details for the sales people. Some of the presentations were contradictory and discussions with various employees aren’t helping. Besides, most of his hardware knowledge comes from TV ads and a quick discussion the Best Buy Geek Squad so may be biased or downright inaccurate.
She also tells you that the request for a more detailed financial analysis will follow so do not spend too much time with cost and ROI analysis. That will come later.
She is very knowledgeable and competent, however was not onboard in time to attend the presentations. And, as she has only been at Rock Solid about a week, she has not been able to talk with all of the stakeholders (sales, marketing, operations, finance, accounting…). She has a lot on her agenda that must be accomplished and needs your help.
She ends the conversation by providing you with the questions she needs answered: “Should we go with Apple, Windows or Android based solutions? And, what form should the solution take – laptops, tablets or smartphones? Or maybe any combination of the three? What are the most important implementation/support issues we might face with each combination of choices?”
Knowing you have recently graduated and are fairly tech-savvy, looking at you very directly, she concludes with the all-important question: “Tell me, what do you think?”
Some thoughts that may help you write the Briefing:
This type of situation is common. Just like a Business Case Analysis, a briefing is not an opinion piece. A briefing is a very concise summary of relevant facts It is very easy to make decisions/choices based upon what you think you know or worse, what you think you want because of some personal preference, slick technology or coolness factors then, worse yet, bias your analysis. Remember this is not a report or an essay – she and the CFO need clear, fact-based answers. That said – like a Business Case Analysis – Always avoid personal pronouns and never talk down to your audience.
I would start by making some comparison tables then add discussion points. Using the Modified Leavitt Model you should “determine appropriate Technology for required work Tasks/Process”. You may also need to think about the “People” part as most of the employees are not tech savvy.
You might want to look at some of the models presented in the book and lectures for guidance. You might want to research instances where other companies faced similar problems. Be sure to include references (does not have to be overwhelming – only key points).
The Briefing will be three pages: cover page, briefing content, and end notes. There is an absolute limit of 1 page of written briefing content single spaced, block justified. Go over one page of written briefing content – I will deduct points. Reducing the margins below 1 inch or using less than 12 point Times New Roman font to cram more information into the briefing – I will deduct points.
The briefing is being written for Janice (not Don or me), however, you must assume that she may give Don a copy so be very careful what you write and how you write it.
You must be concise and to the point. The conversation between Janice and Don on this topic probably will not exceed 5 mins as there is other related topics she wants to cover.
Form of the Briefing:
Then (this would never be in a briefing document)….
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