Perisher Blue Pty. Limited was formed in 1995. The company constitutes the facilities and resources of the Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Mount Blue Cow, Guthega, the station and Skitupe Alpine railway. Perisher Blue’s vision of being the pre-eminent four-season destination mountain resort in Australia, providing international class facilities, based on ecologically sustainable principles, has necessitated a total reengineering of business processes. The foundation of this reengineering process is the Information Systems strategy. This document facilitates easier realignment of the information technologies to the business objectives and the management plan.
Information system strategic plan not only deals with the technological issues but also management of the Information resources of Perisher Blue. Managing the implementation of the information systems strategy requires networking between service departments and the IT department. This relationship has been defined in the strategy to ensure project ownership is clearly defined.
Information systems strategic planning is a crucial aspect of 21st century organizations. Business strategic plans can always lack technical capabilities to actualize into tangible competitiveness necessary in today’s cut-throat competition in global market. Information technology also does evolve at tremendous speeds and hence requiring that organizations are abreast with it or be behind and close down. Without a merger between business requirements and the available information communication technologies through an IT strategic plan and vice versa, organizations will be exposing themselves to the risks of being irrelevant in the global market. In the recent times, Information technology strategies had been viewed as enabler of change but this has changed and now IT strategy is a driver of change. This calls for IT strategies that not only assist in attaining business objectives but also revolutionize and reengineer business processes. In a nutshell, organizations are currently looking for proactive and reactive information systems thereby making IT strategy development a continuous process that involves environmental analysis, strategy development, and strategy implementation, evaluation and strategic adjustment (Bischoff-Turner, 2008).
Strategy development methodology
Perisher Blue as an organization requires an Information systems strategic plan that will facilitate the achievement of its business objectives of being a market leader, customer satisfaction and providing quality services to its clients. This strategic plan will therefore address the building of technological infrastructure and applications that will ensure Perisher Blue will attain its business goals. The strategy shall be reviewed on yearly basis to keep it relevant to the growth of Perisher Blue. This strategy has been developed through a merger of service driven and technology driven methodologies.
The IT strategy has been developed after a review of current system, business requirements, government regulations and environment. The recommended technologies are relevant but necessary customization to fully fit Perisher Blue will be necessary. There cannot be a final IT system or solution to a business process, consequently Perisher Blue must always perform its yearly review of its IT infrastructure to ensure that they are still meeting its needs and providing the necessary competitive advantage leverage. Routine maintenance of hardware also assists ensuring their operations efficiency.
Purpose for IS strategy
Information technology is an indispensable business tool penetrating almost all functional processes of a business. Information systems strategy for Perisher Blue resort is a document that outlines the technological solutions necessary for achievement of the strategic goals as outlined in the master plan. Information systems strategy has its goals being aligned to the business goals of Perisher Blue therefore; it is a business goals driven document. The IS strategy is aimed at facilitating the technological interventions necessary for the achievement of Perisher Blue’s vision of being a pre-eminent four-season destination mountain resort in Australia, providing international class facilities, based on ecologically sustainable principles. IS strategy and business strategy are interdependent but further tactical and departmental strategies have been incorporated since IS strategy is a catalyst for change and innovation (Ingman, 2002). The strategy not only focused in provision of cutting-edge technologies but also ensuring that the provided technology has inbuilt resilience capabilities. In summary the purpose of Perisher Blue’s IS strategy is a follows;
- Enable ease of access to lifts and Perisher Blue resort facilities.
- Develop a robust, secure and sustainable IT technology infrastructure that will support all relevant systems to Perisher Blue.
- Ensure business operations and process continues to achieve effective and competitive level of operations.
Summary of business strategy
Perisher Blue’s business strategy has been defined in its management master plan. It aspires to be the market leader in the resort and skiing business. The business strategy focuses mainly on the provision of facilities and services in alpine skiing. It also aims at ensuring compliance to environmental and international standards. From the planned objectives, Perisher Blue’s intends to be in business where customer services are available in the desired quality and at the same time being an eco-friendly company. Perisher Blue therefore is having a customer focused business strategy backed up by objectives of providing high quality services and offering world-class facilities.
Internal/External Analysis of Business Objectives
Internal assessment of business objectives ensures that they are achievable with the available resources or identifies ways of overcoming challenges if any. This analysis will recommend necessary technologies and infrastructure required to achieve a given goal. It also determines necessary management and financial interventions required. Internal business objectives include the following;
- Increased snow making to provide year round skiing.
- Establish a customer relationship management.
- Enhanced information sharing systems.
- Increased customer numbers through global advertising strategy.
- Enabling easy access to the resort services through availability of modernized lifts and lift control system.
This analysis relates to the outside perspective of Perisher Blue’s objectives. These factors are critical since it defines the relationships of Perisher Blue with customers, government, civil society and environmentalists. Constraints as a result of external analysis include;
- Environmental compliance regarding facilities development.
- Visitor’s safety and ambience harmonization.
- World-class services and facilities.
|Internal||Strengths ||Weaknesses |
|External||Opportunities ||Threats |
The strengths exhibited by Perisher Blue in the SWOT analysis show that the Perisher Blue resort is relatively large covering about 12 Km2 with several activities. The supportive infrastructure which includes power, hydraulics services and communication are imperative in supporting the Perisher Blue resort clientele. Availability of good technology infrastructure, ski facilities such as a ski school, competition facilities and restaurants are positive factors which give Perisher Blue an advantage over its peers and competitors and as a result they are categorized as strengths which the company could tap to improve its position in the market. Another strength factor that could be used by Perisher Blue includes the fact that their good customer service helps them in building a brand which is easily recognizable by customers.
The SWOT analysis revealed that Perisher Blue suffered weaknesses such as high operational costs and technological problems. The visitors of the Perisher Blue resort fumble with gloves, zippers and jacket to get their identification cards ready for the scanning process that occurs at the lift. This shows that the IT infrastructure in place is not efficient enough to handle these problems. The other weakness of high operational costs affects Perisher Blue in that financial resources are spent on servicing and maintaining technology which has an overall effect on the performance of Perisher Blue. Skier management and resort facilities are not properly managed to enhance the company’s efficiency; the company should outsource some of its activities since the movement of visitors in the resort is poorly managed by use of technology.
Opportunities that Perisher Blue could tap into include the growth in the Ski Resort market by between 2- 4.6% at a constant rate for 25 years. The IT department of the Perisher Blue resort is expandable and thus encourages more efficient systems that manage the business to be set in place. The resort can maximize its potentials by outsourcing some section of IT to improve on the management of the entire resort without inconveniencing the visitors as evident in the case of lift’s identification process and their movement within the resort. All these opportunities coupled with a strategic IT vision implementation process that can enhance the performance of the business if the implementation process is carried out effectively; could be harnessed by Perisher Blue as part of its business goals.
Threats that can cause problems to Perisher Blue in its operations include competition, environment and other unforeseen external factors. Due to global warming and increased temperatures, snow production is expected to reduce affecting the operations of Perisher Blue since snow is their main resource. Increased competition could pose threats to Perisher Blue in that there is a chance for the resort competitors to take advantage of the inconveniences caused by technological loopholes like the lift inconvenience and reduce the resorts’ clientele. There is no structure laid in place to check on the systems performance and evaluation to enhance the company’s competitive advantage (Lowson, 2002). Some of the unforeseen factors that pose threats to Perisher Blue include the increased preference for tourists to tour less costly destinations and the increased costs of winter tourism. These threats coupled with the fact that statistics show of increased accidents in skiing and winter sports are some of the factors that were analyzed in the SWOT analysis as potential threats.
Critical Success Factors
Without benchmarks, no comparisons can be done consequently for information systems strategy, success needs to be measured (Leavy, 2003). Information systems strategy usually has tangible benefits and assigning value to it is usually hectic but delivery of the actual proposed systems working to the expectations is a one of the success indicators. Perisher Blue has the following success indicators;
- Highly satisfied global clientele.
- Well secure and integrated business applications.
- Scalable, robust and secured Information Technology infrastructure that inbuilt resilience.
- World-class skier management systems and facilities.
Business Process and Information Requirements
Current systems assessment (findings)
Communications network consists of networks equipment supporting voice and data transmission. The network infrastructure is also supporting wired and wireless communication. There are no recorded disaster recovery and systems continuity plans in place.
Desktops and Server Infrastructure
Perisher Blue has several servers running on Microsoft Windows 2003. These servers support e-mail communication systems in place and application software’s. All desktops in the company are connected to the servers via network infrastructure. There are mobile computing devices in use in Perisher Blue yet they have a wireless network.
Perisher blue has not leveraged much on software application in facilitating efficiency in business processes. Most operational and business processes are manual, bureaucratic and paper based. Microsoft office suite supports the clerical and administrative chores.
Perisher Blue’s portfolio of business applications is limited to MYOP with a very low flexibility accounting and finance system. MYOP functionality is only focused on improving accounting function which in most organizations is not strategic functions. Furthermore this system lacks integration capabilities with other finance related systems consequently leading to redundancies and duplication of data.
Perisher Blue’s website is very plain giving only static information and no applications are running on it. Without an interactive internet presence a competitive organization like Perisher Blue should have a dynamic website running e-commerce applications and providing up to date information to various users. The website should also be supporting other applications like customer relationship management and the online payment portal.
Perisher Blue has no customer management systems in place. This is a very important leverage that every competitive organization should have. Perisher Blue has Microsoft office suite to support basic office functions as one of its software applications.
Perisher Blue has SQL database management systems in place which is very rigid and supports limited data capacity. Information securities systems in place are not very reliable since there is no anti-virus program installed.
Information technology assets are very critical and therefore should be taken care of by every progressive organization. Without a clear IT assets management system in place and a customer support handling system, an organization is bound to lose direction even on the basic IT operational plan (Griggs, 2002). Perisher Blue lacks an IT helpdesk and IT assets management applications.
Perisher Blue currently does not have a documented and operational information systems disaster preparedness and recovery plan. This puts the company at the mercies of the destructive forces of nature and man. Every IT infrastructure must have an inbuilt and disaster recovery plan.
Business process redesign assessment
Perisher Blue’s vision of being a pre eminent four-season destination mountain resort in Australia, providing international class facilities, based on ecologically sustainable principles, requires that all business processes are realigned. Without process realignment, achievement of this vision will not be possible because the current systems are redundant. The change in business processes should be necessary and relevant to the achievement of goals (Lowson, 2002). The following processes need realignment
Visitors’ security management
This requires restructuring so that the customer inconvenience of searching for their identification cards is eliminated. Security management systems that will eliminate this inconvenience and maintain high security at the same time ensure customers ambience is not interfered with is required.
With the expansion programme of Perisher Blue, data storage and manipulations by several processes and applications require that the current SQL database management system be replaced with a robust BDMS with large storage capabilities and enhanced data security.
Perisher Blue’s recreation is mainly skiing and this sport needs further enhancement through facilities improvement and the skier management system. This will be a source attraction especially to recreation based clients of which constitutes some Perisher Blue’s clientele.
Eco friendly facilities
Perisher Blue has one of its strength is the natural features, therefore environmentally friendly facilities construction is necessary. Being eco friendly Perisher Blue will be able to maintain it customer attraction activities. This also will make the company not liable to litigations associated to environmental degradation which can be a source of reputation risks not favorable for doing business.
Customer Management System
Customer satisfaction is the key to any successful business venture. Without customers gaining quality products and services, the business will always be edging towards closure. It is therefore imperative that customer relationship processes of Perisher Blue are redesigned. All facilities should be done to the world standards and customer service improved via use of customer relationship management systems. This system is interactive as it will be able to collect customer feedback necessary for growth and quality improvement.
Argument for new IS/IT opportunities
Integration and business process reengineering results in lean organizations. Since integration leads to less manpower employed, savings will be found in personnel cost. With the proactive systems approach, new information technologies will be able to merge different functional departments through the process of reengineering (Boyle, 2001). This usually reduces personnel cost and also through service provision efficiency, the company can earn more income. Other costs savings associated with the information technologies are due to reengineering increased sales due to the focus on global market.
Functional units of organizations are being marched consequently leading to a more flattened organizational chart. Integrated applications have been known to reduce the organization manpower drastically since almost all functional processes are incorporated into one system. This reduces data duplication and redundancy.
High staff productivity
Staff concentration shall be on production since the facilitation of information technologies in the data manipulation is faster. This will lead to high productivity and employee effectiveness. Information technologies facilitate the staff efficiency and effectiveness since decision maker will be focused on decision making and not data processing.
Accuracy and speed
IT processing speeds are extremely fast. This data processing speed is prerequisite of effective decision support system.
Software applications are usually the most critical area in IT strategy since it captures the anticipated processes and actions. Software applications cover every aspect of business strategy from business processes, administration, security and even facilities management. Perisher Blue requires the following software application;
Integrated Business applications
This will ensure functional processes integration using one system. Business functions computerization and integration is a necessity with a support of a robust database. An integrated business application creates an organization wide system that will cause mergers of functional units and creation of new strategic units. This will also remove the redundancies related to standalone applications and will constitute the following functionalities;
- Accounting and financial management
- Payroll processing
- Management information system
- Marketing and customer relationship management
Perisher Blue requires a system that facilitates online transactions and marketing. The e-commerce application will be able to reach to a wide range of customers at their convenience. Customer service will therefore not only be improved but also the organizations business hours will be 24 hours with short queues at the cashiers office since most payment are made online. Perisher Blue’s website should therefore be enhanced with the following functionalities;
- online order processing
- payment processing
These are applications to facilitate the clerical work in the office and general administration and logistical management. These are also important applications since they have a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Security system for example should not cause inconvenience to customers but rather enhance their safety. The following functionalities will be incorporated;
- Admission and checking out of visitors
- Billing of visitors
- Security management system
Resort specific Applications
These are applications which have their usage only in resort business like Perisher Blue. The support the following are the functionalities;
- Skiing Sport management
- Lift control systems
- Resort management system
Data and information are drivers of any business consequently Perisher Blue require systems that will ensure data sharing, manipulations and communication. When all the manipulations on data are done, their integrity should not be compromised. This calls for the following applications to be recommended for use in Perisher Blue;
- A robust database management system
- Data security and user access management system
Technology infrastructure is the backbone of the IT strategic plan. It encompasses both the software and hardware foundations that are essential in the execution of the IT Strategic Plan. Perisher Blue before any technology requisition should always ensure that it has gathered enough information on the available solutions in the market with their functionalities. Also frequent hardware and software audit should be done to assess the availability, location and status of various IT assets. Physical security is also another necessary routine for the protection of the technology assets. Various technologies that require changes are;
- Servers and server designs
Servers are the most critical points of integration and information storage. Server design therefore should be able to support other computer hardware and software; it should also have the features of inbuilt resilience and fault tolerance (Gordon, 2005). Servers should be procured based on the needs of an organization needs regarding the operating systems, server functionality and harmony with the existing system. During system change over, proper deployment planning should be done to ensure safety of information and non interruption of critical processes.
Computing hardware devices for Perisher Blue should be enhanced to offer quality services and ensure employee mobility. Computer hardware requisitions should have a clear procedure that will match Perisher Blue’s needs to the right hardware. The hardware should support mobile computing, portability and high end computing capabilities.
Perisher Blue’s network is already laid down but necessary disaster recovery capabilities should be inbuilt so that major breakdowns due to network downtimes are avoided.
Perisher Blue should also acquire CISCO hardware to provide for security, authentication and data protection. Network Access Control (NAC) and Cisco Security Agent (CSA) do provide server security by preventing uncontrolled access to servers.
IT management process
IT management process is a wide area covering the Perisher Blue’s staff competence, training needs and IT service and Helpdesk management. Perisher Blue should recruit competent staff and train the existing staff to ensure that they have the necessary skills to discharge their responsibilities. IT strategic plan will successfully be implemented if all staff of Perisher Blue shall be competent in foundational computer literacy applications and operating systems.
IT assets do need protection from vandalism and other security risk. This calls for IT hardware and software management systems that will ensure that at all time logs of existing assets and their locations shall be maintained. Other necessary applications which are critical are IT service administration and helpdesk management. This application ensures tracking of the support issues. It also ensures that performance of the IT staff are tracked and organized so that each individual is assigned responsibility. IT department appraisal is usually done through use of IT service management application logs where service level agreements are compared with the actual service offered.
IT action plan
Perisher Blue has the following IT strategic objectives to be fulfilled;
- Enable ease of access to lifts and Perisher Blue resort facilities
- Develop a robust, secure and sustainable IT technology infrastructure that will support all relevant systems to Perisher Blue
- Ensure business operations and process continue to achieve effective and competitive level of operations
IT action plan is a deliberate plan that merges the proposed IT strategy to the objectives of the organization so that competitive advantage is achieved. Tactical plan for Perisher Blue defines the various hardware and software solutions to enable the company meet its IT strategic objectives. This intervention includes hardware and software solutions that have been known to work for organizations with similar needs therefore their functional feasibility has been tested and confirmed.
The plan focus shall be IT specific hardware; application and policies required to achieve the objectives above and has been implemented in areas of application, data, technological infrastructure and IT management.
Enable ease of access to lifts and Perisher Blue resort facilities
While this objective seems reference about physical lifts infrastructure, customer ambience and flexibility do come in as necessary output. For the company to achieve the above objective, the following strategies should be employed
- Web based services through e-commerce portal should be used. This services should include booking and online payment,
- Acquisition of new lift infrastructure and the lift management applications
- Acquisition of customer friendly and efficient security management system.
- Acquisition of Customer Relationship Management
Develop a robust, secure and sustainable IT technology infrastructure that will support all relevant systems to Perisher Blue
This entails all strategies that ensure availability of cutting edge IT technology relevant to the business of Perisher Blue. This objective entails provision of modern network infrastructure, high end servers, software applications that are scalable, secure and providing services that will ensure Perisher Blue’s success The following strategies are required;
- Network infrastructure support and recurrent evaluation. This will include network maintenance and installations of network security hardware like NAC and NSA provided by CISCO. The network infrastructure should have an end to end authentication to ensure no lapses in security are encountered.
- Network Infrastructure physical security is implemented through having controlled access to network devices and cables.
- Developing and implementing disaster recovery and operations continuity plans for Perisher Blue. These plans must be inbuilt into the IT infrastructure and processes to ensure that they are resilient to disasters.
- Current Technology consistency. Perisher Blue should develop a model of ensuring their technology is usually current. This calls for a technology requisition team that will always access the technology needs of the company and retire old hardware as they requisition for new ones.
- IT inventory and Service management. This calls for systems to ensure security of IT assets, helpdesk management and IT services administration. Perisher Blue’s IT department should also develop an in-house service level agreement with various departments to ensure provision of quality service benchmark. Frequent hardware and software audit is also a routine which should be adopted to ensure the security and relevance.
Ensure business operations and process continue to achieve effective and competitive level of operations
This objective has its key performance indicator being continued improvement in business and growth of the company. Strategies applied here are intended to ensure provision of high quality services and products to Perisher Blue’s clientele, Increase market and customer numbers, Low cost production of services and high customer satisfaction.
To achieve this objective the following strategies shall be applied;
- Clear policies on system change and introduction of new applications. This calls for a rigorous systems development process with precise testing and implementation plans.
- System integration. Different applications must be able to relate via interfaces. Different business applications supporting financial management, payroll processing, marketing and customer relationship must be integrated to ease data manipulations.
- Support and training. Training of users of different applications ensures high efficiency and productivity. Availability of support team also ensures that minimum interruption of service is allowed.
- Skier management system and facilities that are internationally accepted.
- Database management system. Database management systems are the backbone of various business applications. It is therefore very imperative that this system is acquired with the relevant specifications to the business and data of Perisher Blue. The DBMS should be robust and with enhanced security features.
- Human resource policies should be made relevant to the strategic plan to ensure that staffs recruited have the compulsory Computer training.
Action plan summary
|To enable greater access to Lifts and resort facilities|| || |
|To ensure that the company’s technology utilization is appropriate and is capable of managing the movement of visitors within the resort|| || |
|To ensure that the business operations continue to achieve an effective and competitive level of operation|| || |
Issues and problems arising from the strategy
Perisher Blue’s core business depends on the environment therefore any facilities development and event IT infrastructure implementations have to be environmentally friendly. This is an additional cost as an environmental impact assessment audit has to be undertaken and some projects may be limited or completely discontinued. It is imperatives that Perisher Blue engages environmentally conscious designers and implementers in its entire facilities project to avoid unnecessary risks to its heritage and litigations by environmental activists and government.
Cost of IT strategy implementation is enormous. This usually defers the overall implementation to a later date. Piece meal implementation is the only way to counter this financing constraint. High priority project will be implemented first then the rest follow. Ranging of projects in the order of priorities will always be a challenge that can be subject to its functional feasibility results and organization priorities. Outsourcing can also be another solution to the financing challenge especially where hardware can be leased (Garner, 2005).
Human resources availability
Project implementation staffs are usually committed staff in other areas of responsibility there necessary. This makes project implementation subject to their availability. It is therefore imperative that there should be at least one dedicated project employee so that project progress can be fast tracked. Most organizations have not been able to have dedicated staff for the IT project implementation sighting costs as the main reason but if this is viewed on the perspective of service delivery and related efficiencies then a better appraisal shall be given.
Employees usually resist change especially for IT strategies because it has been blamed for loss of jobs. This usually occurs where reengineering of business processes has occurred. Proper training of staff and greater user involvement will always eliminate this problem. Tactical teams in the development and implementation of an IT strategy should always be involving users so that resistance can be reduced (Leavy, 2003).
Strategy timing is usually very uncertain since it has a lot of variable and milestones. With limited staffing, uncertainty in application capabilities and other causes of downtimes like financing, it is necessary that project implementation team should try to be on the implementation schedule.
Project implementation Schedule
The implementation schedule gives the timelines for the implantation of various project strategies. It indicates the duration and the responsible officers in the company.
| ||IT manager, Finance manager||2013-2015|
| ||IT manager, Finance manager||2012-2013|
| ||IT manager, Finance manager||2012-2019|
Outsourcing involves subcontracting provision of noncore services to vendors. Organizations like Perisher Blue can opt to outsource some of its services like customer booking, online payment or lift control and management. Perisher Blue can also outsource it computer hardware and software. Outsourcing therefore is an activity that requires management decision making to be implemented. The benefits of outsourcing generally are efficiency in service provision, cost savings, High quality technologies and faster production and service provision. Outsourcing also is prone to challenges including lack of business secrets, high risks of downtimes and transfer of responsibility (Lavia, 2004).
Outsourcing decisions therefore will always be based risks, costs and benefits assessment. If favorable for the organization, the outsourcing is selected otherwise it is disengaged. Most organization will always outsource noncore services but critical functionalities shall always remain in the control of the organization.
Perisher Blue therefore can outsource several specialized services like lift infrastructure and control systems but others can be under the mandate of the management.
IT strategic plan is usually a blue print of technology strategies that needs implementation for an organization to achieve its business objectives and competitive edge. Perisher Blue’s implementation team should therefore ensure that the strategic plan is implemented immediately so that lack of the technological facilitation may not be the cause of inefficiencies. Implementation team should also ensure that necessary the strategy has been implemented in an orderly manner starting with the hardware foundations and policies and later the software applications. The strategy development, implementation, evaluation and realignment cycle is necessary process for ensuring relevance of the strategy to provide competitive edge. Perisher Blue implementation team should recognize their role for continuous review of IT strategy relevance as being very critical.
Bischoff-Turner, S., 2008. From Strategic Planning to Strategic Positioning. Children’s Voice, pp.12-15.
Boyle, P., 2001. From Strategic Planning to Visioning: Tools for Navigating the Future. PM. Public Management, pp. 283.
Garner, R., 2005. “Swot” Tactics: Basics for Strategic Planning. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, pp. 74.
Gordon, G., 2005. From Vision to Implementation and Evaluation: The Changing State of Strategic Planning. Public Management, pp.87.
Griggs, H.E., 2002. Strategic Planning System Characteristics and Organisational Effectiveness in Australian Small-scale Firms. Irish Journal of Management, 23(1), pp. 73-94.
Ingman, D., Kersten, J., & Brymer, T., 2002. Strategic Planning That Uses an Integrated Approach. PM. Public Management, pp. 84.
Lavia, A., 2004. Strategic Planning in Times of Turmoil: If They’re Going to Survive, the Service Providers Must Change Their Approaches to Planning and Organization. Journal of Business Communications Review, 45(3), pp. 34-42.
Lowson, R.H. 2002. Strategic Operations Management: The New Competitive Advantage. Denver, CO: Routledge. PP.23-34.