Kool Kutz is a hairdressing company which has twenty five branches across the country. The main branch in the city has its administrative office on first floor and beauty salon on the ground floor. Most of the salons have six hair and beauty specialists and two full time receptionists. Management of customer appointment, staffing requirements and staff bonuses is carried out at local branches and summarized report is sending to the administrative office on weekly basis. The owner of Kool Kutz wants to expand the company nationwide and want to develop a band image by having centralized services that will manage customer appointments, staff contracts and their bonuses. This will help to maintain consistency in customer service and thus in developing the brand image.
Transaction Processing Methodology
The present information system setup has hardware and software systems that support data-intensive applications. For most of the businesses, there are various requirements for information. Senior manager needs information systems for business planning. Middle level managers need them to get more detailed picture of the business activities ad can control them. Operational staffs need information system to carry out their daily activities. So as a result there are different information systems according to the need of the business activities. So the main kinds of business information systems are:
- Executive Support Systems
- Management Information Systems
- Decision Support Systems
- Knowledge Management Systems
- Office Automation Systems
- Transaction Processing Systems
So for the given case study, the information system which suited this case is Transaction processing system. (www.bestpricecomputers.co.uk) As the name suggests, transaction processing systems are designed to collect, stores, retrieves and modifies the data transactions of the organization. Its main purpose is to process routine transactions efficiently and accurately. Its tasks mainly consists of billing systems send invoices to the customers, to calculate the weekly and monthly payrolls & tax payments, to calculate production and purchasing systems for raw materials, stock control systems from staring point -in and to the last point- out. It keeps out the voluminous amounts of paper work which will help in smooth running of the company. This system works very accurately and effectively in most cases.
There are some management issues involves in it like of uptime which refers to the acceptable time lag that how long can the system be down before significant costs are incurred? Disaster recovery- how much time is required to regain the lost data? What plans are in place to resume business processing in case of disaster? Audit- can company verify the integrity of the system? How will Kool Kutz knows if transactions are not processed or are processed incorrectly?
Transaction Processing System is also defined as per functions:
- Order Processing- Order capturing the variety of means and orders. Prioritizing the orders, select shipment location and allocate the inventory to orders are primary function to shipment planning and inventory allocation. Similarly to those picking orders from dockyards, packing material, invoicing them and reporting to the party.
- Procurement & Inventory Control- This will help in controlling the inventory of raw material, work in progress and finished goods. It also helps in purchase order processing by generating, transmitting and maintaining purchase orders. It also maintains the accounts payable.
- Accounting- In accounting it looks after the accounts payable, accounts receivable and budget of the company allotted to certain projects. It also maintains the payroll of the employees and general ledger of the balance sheet.
Transaction processing systems are usually judged correctly by the users when they are executed correctly that has to be done within given time limit. This system of today consists of ticket booking systems, product ordering systems or payroll checking systems which are real time systems. Real time system means that correct functioning of the system is determined by the correct execution of the transaction.Transaction response time is an important performance metric that is to be considered as a technical constraint. This metric is so important because it is user perceived metric the maximum acceptable delay in this case is 30seconds otherwise it would fail. There is one another technical constraint about this system is to handle high volumes of transactions. Transaction processing system is considered as a system to manage terminal disks and does not give a database management system when handling high power transactions. The work to manage files and resources is in charge of the application programmers. Hence this is not able to manage the high volumes of transactions (www.hausarbeiten.de). There is also a problem of temporal integrity problems which is caused by different times at which processing occurs. There is an issue of lack of information accessing in its coherency with the available data.
There are some non-technical constraints also which the information system would be facing. First of all there would be a problem of performance metric so proper delay time should be given to the system, otherwise it will dilute the brand image of the salon and administrative work becomes cumbersome. There is also a major problem arises with the change in legacy technology is attitude of the employees and customers towards it. The employees would be main affected of the two. Since they have to learn new technology and they have to make customer aware about this. Other problem is how to make customer aware about this new technology as lots of facilities are given to customers.
Soft Systems Methodology
Soft Systems Methodology was first developed by Peter Checkland in the late 60’s as a modeling tool. But over the years it emerged as a learning and meaning development tool. Soft Systems Methodology led emphasis on human activity systems which means humans involved in the business activities within an organization. This methodology involves the complexity of human interaction which can be investigated, described and fully understood. Once an understanding of the situation is achieved, the methodology makes identification of change that is systematically (reduce some of the problems and issues) desirable and culturally (in that process itself and people involved in it) feasible. In SSM, the model begins with a real world situation. It studies the situation in a very fairly unstructured way. Following this, it develops some models of that situation. The main advantage of SSM is that it can be used to untangle the evaluative lessons from programs with multiple goals and multiple perspectives on these goals. It can be done by developing some views on the program; extensively construct some models based on the initial views gathered and then compares these with real life. It has seven stages which address the real world problem and conceptual world problems (Bob Williams, 2005).They are:
- Identify the initial situation due to which problem arises.
- Relevant to situation, make some purposeful models; each model reflect as an intellectual device, being built on the basis of a particular worldview.
- Question the real situation using the models. It is also known as root identification stage. In this stage understand the different perspectives that can describe real world situation. That is why SSM is fundamentally evaluative. Each perspective provides a separate base to evaluate the situation.
- Develop the model to improve the situation. This stage answer the minimum critical components needed to bring about the desired impact for each relevant perspective.
- Now compare the real world situation with the model and gain insights from the difference occurred.
- At this stage methodology stops from being sequential and starts turning back and forth through all seven stages of the methodology in order to gain maximum insights. On the basis of this possible interventions are explored.
- Lastly the new cycle begins and action to improve the situation is taken.
Now considering these stages as the building blocks of the project plan, the project plan can be explained by exploring and defining the problem in an unstructured way.
Explore and define the problem- Kool Kutz is a chain of salon which has 25 branches across the nation. It wants to connect its all the branches with the administrative office in respect of managing customer appointments, staff contracts and bonuses for staffs by using proper information system. Now defining the problem in an unstructured way, we consider that it can expand its branches to more and more cities in order to increase its customer base. In this stage problem is not constraint to any organizational boundaries. We collect data from the customers, staffs by qualitatively, quantitatively or by survey methods. This will help to bring the down the problem into much specific form. It will take around one month to perform this type of activity across all the branches. For this survey activity, Kool Kutz has to hire some research agency or analyses itself through qualitative methods. One month is sufficient as it brings consistency in the study. (Chris Atkinson)
Defining key issues
The problem in the case of Kool Kutz is that they want to centralize their all the branches spread across the nation. There are 25 branches across the nation and their administrative office is in the one of the salon of the city. They want to connect this administrative office with their all the other salons across the nation in respect of managing customer management, staff contracts and staff bonuses. So the main problem lays here that which information system should be used and how it should be employed in the organization to have organized environment in the salons. Sometimes there are problem regarding the appointments of the customers like customer is going to some other city and there is a branch of the Kool Kutz over there. So she wants to take an appointment in that city’s salon without going over there and this can be done by connecting all the salons of the Kool Kutz by information systems. Sometimes there is a problem of coordinating and managing the staff contracts across various salons. There is also a problem of reissuing the contracts of the staff or transferring the staff to other locations. So proper coordination should be made with the other salon that this person is coming to their salon. Similar problem occurs during giving bonuses to staffs. One more problem is inconsistency across all the branches. There is no brand image of the Kool Kutz as such among the customers and they also need to address issues like customer complaints about the mismanagement of the appointments. These are the basic problems that are faced by the Kool Kutz. Definition of the problem can be done by a study conducted by salon itself or using an external agency. Both these activities take around one month. Now applying CATWOE principle for this situation:
- C- Customers- salon customers, staff & management of the Kool Kutz
- A-Actors- salon customers, salon staff, IT vendors, administrative staff
- T-Transformation- Consistency in appointments of customer, renewing of the contracts and providing bonuses to staff.
- W-Worldwide- To provide centralized services to customers by connecting all the salons & bring consistency in the brand.
- O- Owner- Staff, Management of Kool Kutz
- E-Environment-Customers, IT vendors
Developing the model
Now we will start with developing the model of the information system which synchronizes the business activities considered earlier. We will receive a call for the appointment of the customer/checking or renewing of the staff contract/providing bonuses to staff. Review the time slot for customer in the preferred city/management wants to renew the contract or terminate the contract or when contract period is expiring/ whom to give bonuses. After reviewing this assesses the customer according to time slot available/ upto what time the contract should be extended/when to give bonuses to eligible employee. Now allocate the available time slot to the customers/ renew the contract/ provide bonuses to eligible employee. After this notify the customer about the appointments/ about the bonuses given to employees. Daily weekly report has to be submitted by each salon to the administrative office so proper consistency should be maintained.
Comparison between real world situation and model developed- Check the feasibility of this model developed with real world situation. This model developed can give optimum results as required by the company. The main problem arises to identify this system’s performance and how to measure it? To make ensure this information system work properly, initially daily or weekly report generated from the system should be reviewed.
Implementation of the whole activity will take around 2-3 months and it requires a ample support from the customers and staff persons also. As they are not habitual to new system and new changes will bring disturbance in their daily work routine so it should be properly adjusted and maintained. Similar problem will occur with the customers also. They should be properly made aware about the new changes and better customer services across all the branches.
Potential constraints and leadership issues
There is a technical constraint about transaction processing system is to handle high volumes of transactions. It is considered as a system to manage terminal disks and does not give a database management system when handling high power transactions. The work to manage files and resources is in charge of the application programmers. Hence this is not able to manage the high volumes of transactions. Transaction processing systems are usually judged correctly by the users when they are executed correctly that has to be done within given time limit. This system of today consists of ticket booking systems, product ordering systems or payroll checking systems which are real time systems. Real time system means that correct functioning of the system is determined by the correct execution of the transaction.Transaction response time is an important performance metric that is to be considered as a technical constraint. This metric is so important because it is user perceived metric the maximum acceptable delay in this case is 30seconds otherwise it would fail. (Varsha Mainkar) The other technical issue is change in legacy technology. Employees should be properly made aware of that technology so that they can easily accommodate with that technology. This technology makes lots of work easier but should be collaborated with the older technology.
As already discussed in the technical problems about the change in legacy technology, employees should be properly made aware of that technology so that they can easily accommodate with that technology. If the technology is not properly adopted by the company, there is a possibility of brand dilution among the customers. Since due to customer complaints about the mismanagement in the appointments and no consistency across all the stores, this system is introduced. With the brand dilution, the decrease in customer base also increases. One more non-technical issue occurs would be that resistant behavior of the employees towards the new technology. As the employees are more comfortable with the older technology, they don’t want change themselves according to new technology. Query handling would be increased as more and more customers comes to know about this technology, the innovator or early adopter customers want to know more and more about the new services salons are providing.
Leadership is the hardcore nucleus of all managerial and administrative activities. Usually in an organization, leadership is considered as a management. But it is not true. Peter & Warren differentiated “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” (www.buzzle.com). So leadership is not all about management. It includes managerial responsibilities like to envision and direct the organization towards its vision, strengthen its goal and missions, to set absolute standards of behavior, attitude and performance. It is all about opening up of hearts. It is not a formula; it’s a human experience not any process. Leaders are expert in their own fields and leave no gap in their capacities.
Effective leadership helps manage many of these issues without allowing them to blow up in serious problems.
Process: Many a times the employee follows the process because their boss has told them to follow. They even do not what the process is all about and how it is going to help us? This type of unknown knowledge leads to dissatisfaction among the employees and they will not able to work on the lines of the mission of the company. So each employee should be properly made aware about the new technology going to be implemented. This can be proper communication across all the salons and with effective leadership skills exhibited by the salon head at branch level. The process should be presented in a structured manner by the project leaders across all the salons.
Knowledge management: A good leader always ensures that there is a proper flow of knowledge and information. He/she also encourages employees for trainings to carry out required job efficiently. Knowledge is spread by giving. This will help to provide better customer services to the customers. (Sandeep Mehta, 2005)
Risk assertion: Risk associate with this project should be taken care of. Risk must be taken care of the loss of customers, the operating cost of the project and various other risks involved in it. It has to be handled right from the beginning of the project. If it is not taken care of in the starting then organization has to deal it in much bigger way.
Planning: In any project, planning and execution are two different aspects. A well defined plan with facts and figures is a main aspect to its success. While planning, the MD of Kool Kutz should properly concern with the people who are the main parts of this project like staff members, technical team and customers. It also considers the availability of good resources along with the commitments to organizations and customers. The commitment towards customers should not be broken. As it happens, it becomes one of the reasons of the brand dilution of the salon. The cost factors should be properly considered while planning for the project. So the effective leadership helps in the better planning as well as execution of the project in the Kool Kutz.
Consistent message set by management: The best example of effective leadership can be set by the management by implementing the new technology and its values from itself. This will help to set an example in front of its employees and they get highly motivated to adopt this new technology.
Tracking people’s satisfaction: A good employee is an asset to the project and for the organization also. The leader should keep an eye on satisfaction of employees, in order to know the feasibility and success of the project. Since dissatisfaction among employees will lead to layoffs in the organization. So it is the responsibility of the effective leader to keep an eye on each and every employee of its team.
Regular feedback by the leaders: There should be proper evaluation of the employee while using the new technology weekly or fortnightly. Regular feedback provided by the leaders will help them to improve their mistakes. In this way leaders can motivate their employees and encourages them to overcome their weakness.
Communication is the basic process of transmitting information from one individual (or group) to another either verbally or non-verbally. It is a very complex process with many sources of potential error. In some communication at least some of the meaning lost in the transmission of a message from the sender to receiver. In many cases a lot of true meaning of the message is lost and message that is heard is far different from the main message. This situation arises mostly in cross cultural talks. So effective communication is the main source of transmitting correct information from sender to receiver. Effective communication helps group members to learn, build respect and accomplish goals effectively. Oral, written and body language are the important tools for conveying your ideas to other person effectively. Effective communication helps diverse people group to understand the issues, viewpoints better and make strategic changes according to that.
These are the some key principles of the effective communications:
- Better listener – Listening is most important part of the effective communication. It is more important than speaking or any other type of expression. To improve communication one should understand the importance of it. Active listening has many benefits like it helps to listen speaker clearly and carefully. It also make speaker feel heard. It reduces emotions that block clear thinking. It helps in saving time as you cut through people’s defenses and without repeating the same you get more information. The key to active listening is that relaxed attention and use whole body by using verbal and non verbal skills like facing person and keeping eye to eye contact. (Louise Franck Lyr).
- Body Language – We mostly communicates through the body language as compared to words spoken. It includes facial expressions, eye contact and the movement of arms, hands and legs. Examples of body language which support effective communication is an open body stance, crossing your arms across the chest, shaking legs and much more.
- Assertive expression – While speaking effectively, speaker should not confused about the things. This sometimes makes speaker hesitant and he will not be able to communicate ideas properly. So direct or assertive expression must be there for effective communication.
- Proper Knowledge about the subject- For effective communication, the speaker should be proper aware of the subject on which he is going to speak. The proper knowledge of the subject brings confidence in the speaker and it helps to transmit the expression and words speaker wants to speak.
- Weak Emotions – Weak emotions are key points to effective communication skills. As it helps to remove anger, anxiety, frustration and guilt, which are main barriers to effective communication. It makes communication balanced and hassle free. So effective speaker should be aware of where to use what types of emotions? Where to stop and where to begin?
- Command over the language – It is a very essential part of the effective communication. Good speaker should have excellent command over the language. It is not necessary that you know all the languages of the world but it is essential that language, in which you are speaking, has good command over it.
- Self Confidence – Last but not the least self confidence is the key to everything. Good knowledge about the subject, command over language need to be combined with self confidence to communicate properly.
Good communication skills allow expressing their feelings in such a way as to achieve their goals while maintaining the dignity of the other person.
It helps to say ‘No’ when ever required and to express appropriate feelings at the right time. These types of skills are very helpful in dealing with interpersonal conflict. Certain things may obstruct effective communications like strong emotions, negative thoughts and environment.
While discussing the communication issues which can occur during implementation of this project and how effective communication helps to reduce them:
- Lack of proper information – Lack of proper information among the employees and customers can bring improper synchronization between the company’s plan and technology. Employees as well as customers are not ready to certain changes in the organization system. They are habitual to legacy systems which are used by the company. There should be proper information of new technology to the employees and customers before implementing it. This problem can be solved by the using effective communication properly. Proper communication strategies should be used to communicate with the employees as well as with the customers like each head beauticians in the salons should effectively communicate the implementation of new information system and how it will going to help them in future. Each customer should be made aware by head beautician or beauticians itself by communicating the benefits of the systems they are going to avail. In this way proper and effective communications will help to reduce the unsatisfactory conditions going to occur in the organization.
- Strong Emotions – Emotions like anger, anxiety, frustration and guilt feeling always led to ineffective and rude communication. These are basic negative points of ineffective communication which should be taken care of. To deal with these strong emotions, one should be a better listener. Better listening power comes from the relaxed attention you give to the speaker. One should be patient listener and try to control his/her feeling while expressing their views.
- Lack of skill – Usually people learn social behaviors by watching someone or do by themselves, practicing them and improve upon until they can be used to obtain good results. Similarly for better speaker, people should learn the methods of effective communication. He/she should be good listener, has proper knowledge of the subject, adequate body language, command over the language, weak emotions and lastly but not least self confidence.
- Clear Boundaries – There are sometimes that problem arises due to miscommunication occurred between employees. This type of miscommunication should be cleared immediately with the effective communication skills. Otherwise it will lead to unsatisfactory environment in the organization.
- Indecision – Indecision about the things which speaker is going to speak or ambivalence of ideas which will hamper communication badly should be properly taken care of. So speaker should be direct with its ideas and feelings. This will help in interpersonal interactions. Proper knowledge of subject and self confidence will help in communicating the ideas effectively.
- Environment – Environment plays an important in barrier to effective communication. If environment is not conducive for a communication, then ideas or viewpoints are not going to communicate even in the presence of good communicator. These type of aspects involves significant levels of stress or obvious aggression. In this case, good listening power and self confidence helps lot to have proper communication. (Mental Fellowship Program of Australia,2005)
Difference between monitoring and coaching
Coaching basically stands for the developing the organizational capacity of the salons with related to activities involved (such as increasing leadership activities for instructional reform). It includes helping management and staff to reallocate their resources and improve their customer services. Mentoring on the other side occurred on a formal, organized basis and on an informal need basis. The mentor is a person focused and gives advice to the management but the management is free to pick and choose what they do.
Difference between mentoring and coaching
Roles & responsibilities – Mentoring is a two way mutually beneficial relationship and its power free. These are facilitators and teachers allowing the student to learn and discover their own direction. They let the student to explore their own directions, know their strengths and weaknesses. They just show the direction to the student on which they have to walk. While coach has a fixed set of rules to reinforce or change skills or behavior of the students. Coach is more objective oriented rather than the mentor. They not only show the direction but also help them in learning and coaching them at each and every step.
Focus – Mentors usually focused on the person, their career and support for individual growth and maturity. While the coach are more of job concerned and performance oriented. Mentor can only give advice but coach is free to choose and pick what they do. Mentor only supports the student but coach lead the student to the end result. They don’t just left the student in between. Coaches assess student strategically and monitor the progress of the student and give them advice how to move forward effectively and efficiently. Mentor has a personal interest in student like friend who cares about you and your long term development. While coach develops particular skills in students for tasks and challenges which he/she is gong to face. (Matt M. Starcevich, 2007).
Relationship with organization – Usually in formal mentoring programs, the coach and mentor have the choices either to continue for how long, how often or to leave. In informal mentoring, self –selection is the rule where coach initiates and actively maintain the relationship. Mentor gets supposedly picked up by the other coach or mentor while in the case of coach, coaching comes with the job. In some organizations there is defined competency for managers and leaders while selecting the coach.
Source of influence – Effectiveness of influence for coach and mentor is determined by the interpersonal skills. Coach has an implied level of authority given by the organization according to its position while mentor’s influence is a perceived value which can be built upon by building relationship. It is a power free relationship which is earned personally and based on mutual respect and values. While on the other coach is just the label or expectations.
Return – Coach return is based more on the performance of the students and team harmony that they are exhibiting. While the mentoring process is reciprocal, it’s more of learning process on the both the sides. Since students feedbacks and insights help the mentor to learn a lot. Coach return can be calculated on the basis of the productivity while mentor’s return cannot be calculated.
Arena – Mentors are always chosen at the some aspect of life of the students. While the coaching in any arena is task related- improvement of knowledge, skills or abilities to work better and get rewarded. Mentors are generally sought for broader life and career issues. The students always try to keep the relationship productive with mentors in comparison to coaches. In the case of coaches, they create a need for discussion and are responsible for follow ups.
The non technical problems which the company is facing like change in legacy technology, customer accommodation to new technology and change in attitude of the staff towards new technology. Now first of all talking about the change in legacy technology- all the administrative and technical staff which is going to be affected by new technology should be properly trained. A technical mentor would be appointed which will help to show the direction to staff people that how to work and what to work? It will not help to understand the end results which this new technology is going to provide. He/she will acts as a friend cum facilitator to understand the technicalities involved. Now coming to the second problem of customer awareness about the better customer services. A coach (from the beautician’s staff) is appointed who would look after the customer services which has improved by new technology are to be made aware and available on the same time or not. Coach would instruct its team how to make customer aware about the new facilities which they can avail and as well as try to demonstrate those services in front of customers. This will help to improve the brand image of the salon as well as help in increasing customer base. With the satisfied customer services results and increased customers in the salons, coach can be able to identify the performance of the employees put in together. Now talking about the third problem of change in attitude of staff, it is quite obvious. Since old staff has the habit of working with old technologies and adjusted themselves in those conditions. As the new technology is roped in and they are habitual to older one, some resistant from the staff towards new technology would come. This can also affect the customer services which they are giving right now efficiently. So in order to overcome this problem a friend or mentor is needed who help them to understand the technology and tell them about the benefits which will help them in future.
Atkinson, Chris. A Contingency Approach to Integrated Decision Making and Development, Pg no 11-12
Christian Rodiek, 2006, Problems and solutions to transaction processing systems, Web.
Diane Ellis, 2008, Leadership and project management, Web.
Louise Franck Lyr, Effective Communication Bulletin #6103- Pg no 2-3
Matt M. Starcevich, 2007, Is there any difference between Mentoring and Coaching, Web.
Mental Fellowship Program of Australia,2005, Pg no 1-2
Ray C, 2004, Leadership and management, Web.
Sandeep Mehta, 2005- Effective Project Management, Pg 2-3
TPS- Transaction Processing Systems, Web.
Varsha Mainkar, AT&T Labs, Availability Analysis of Transaction Processing Systems based on User-Perceived Performance, Pg no 1-2