Automation is becoming increasingly popular in many institutions, as it makes it easy to manage data. According to Hesik (2014), having the right information at the right time is critical in ensuring that specific activities are undertaken within a given organization. When one is in a position of leadership, it is crucial to have reliable information flow to help in the decision-making processes. Process automation through system automation is one of the best ways of improving the flow of information in such a setting. The manager will know, in real-time, actions taken by every employee in an organization without having to wait for their direct feedback. It is possible to know when an employee has reported working, activities that he or she is undertaking, the time is taken to complete a given task, and whether the set rules and regulations are observed by everyone.
When managing a driving school, one can take different approaches to ensure that the intended goals are realized. One of the strategies may be to purchase cars and then hire drivers who will be working under strict guidelines set by the institution. One can decide to have third parties who will work on a contractual basis using their own cars. It is also possible to have a blend of the two strategies, where some of the drivers are hired directly by the school while others are contracted when their services are needed. Irrespective of the strategy that a manager embraces, effective management of information is critical. The manager must understand that he or she is responsible for actions taken by all the drivers when working under the name of the company. As such, the firm should know what they are doing at each time (Thomas, Lorange, & Sheth, 2013). Customers of this company should be satisfied with the services offered by the driving school to ensure that the firm can experience market growth. This paper focuses on process optimization for a driving school through the automation of driver and customer coordination.
Statement of the Problem
When operating a driving school, one must ensure that employees observe various rules and regulations because of different reasons. Government has strict policies that a driving school must observe to ensure that it remains in operation. Failure to observe these rules may result in a situation where the work permit is revoked. The firm can also be fined because of such mistakes. Internally, the firm has rules and regulations that every stakeholder should observe (Doughert, 2014). These rules define how drivers should handle learners, the time that should be taken when handling an individual learner, when every employee is expected to report to work, and any other relevant guidelines. These rules are meant to ensure that clients of this firm are always satisfied with the services they get from the firm. The internal policies not only increase the profitability of the firm but also boost its image in the market. It ensures that the firm has an edge over its rivals in the market.
In the case presented, the manager faces a serious problem that may have devastating consequences if they are not addressed appropriately. As a small start-up firm, this driving school has three drivers. One is the manager who is also the owner of the institution. The other is an employee who works under the direct supervision of the manager. The third is a freelancer who is invited by the firm to take on some tasks when the two are overwhelmed. Apparently, there is no proper coordination of the activities of the two employees. Systems and structures are yet to be put in place to ensure that the manager can monitor the activities of the other two employees. It means that the manager has to rely on the information given by the employees about what they have done within a given period. The problem is that it may not be easy to trust some of these employees, especially freelancers.
According to Doughert (2014), an employee may be tempted to take personal jobs instead of concentrating on the assigned tasks because of a lack of close supervision. It means that the firm may be losing money that it deserves to enable it to grow. The more these employees fail to take into consideration the interest of the firm, the more it will be difficult for this driving school to experience growth. A more serious problem may be the exact activities that these employees engage in when operating under the brand name of this driving school. One may be tempted to engage in the transportation of contraband goods because of the belief that police officers often trust driving school cars are rarely inspected. The problem is that when such individuals are arrested, the school will be held fully responsible for the crime. The government may cancel the permit of the school. The manager may go to prison or be forced to pay a considerable amount of money as a fine because of a crime that is committed by any of the employees (Albrecht, Bakker, Gruman, Macey, & Saks, 2015). Such dangers make it critical for the manager to have proper knowledge of the specific activities that each employee does within the firm.
Justification of the Study
The manager of the start-up driving school has a vision of ensuring that the institution becomes a major driving school in the country. However, the current approach of doing business may not only lead to the failure of the institution soon but it is possible that some actions of the drivers will put the manager in a serious legal problem. Increasing the line of visibility is critical in protecting the interest of this new business and the manager. Automation promises to address some of the critical challenges that the manager is facing in controlling the activities of the employees. The strategy requires investment in tools that will make it easy for the manager to see the activities of individual employees at all times without necessarily asking them what they are doing (Doughert, 2014).
The initial cost of investing in these technologies may be high. However, it will have lasting benefits for the firm. First, profits for the firm will increase as the drivers become more responsible and committed to the firm. Having the knowledge that their activities are being monitored will make them more responsible. Secondly, the chances that these drivers will engage in illegal activities will be reduced significantly. They will know that they will be held responsible for every action they take. As such, they will avoid illegal activities such as engaging in the trafficking of contraband goods (Livne & Yonay, 2016). Customer service will also improve. When the firm sets rules that need to be followed by the drivers when handling customers, the employees are likely to follow these rules when they know that their activities are being monitored. The firm will have a pool of loyal clients who enjoy using the services that it offers. Through this study, the manager will understand the benefits of embracing the new automated system as a way of improving the firm’s operations.
Aim and Objectives
The project focuses on a specific institution, a small driving school that seeks to improve its communication and coordination strategies as a way of improving growth. The paper should outline specific activities and steps that the manager should follow to ensure that the vision of the firm is realized. A cost-benefit analysis is needed to help determine if the investment that the firm will be making in the project is worth the benefits that will be reaped from the project. As such, the following are the specific goals that should be realized through this study:
- To identify major weaknesses of the current system of operation at this company.
- To define how this firm can automate driver and customer coordination in its normal operations.
- To determine how process optimization through system automation can help address weaknesses of the firm and improve its profitability.
It is important to develop research questions for this project. According to Dockery and Knudsen (2018), developing research questions helps in defining the path that a researcher should take when collecting and analyzing data. It identifies specific information that would help in realizing the goals and objectives of the study. It also eliminates cases where irrelevant information is gathered because of a lack of proper guidance. In this study, the goal is to develop process optimization through the automation of driver and customer coordination. The following questions will guide the process of data collection:
- What are the main weaknesses of the current system of operation at this company?
- How can this firm automate driver and customer coordination in its normal operations?
- How can process optimization through system automation help address the weaknesses of the firm and improve its profitability?
Structure of the Paper
The paper has five chapters. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the project. The background statement provides an overview of the current situation at this small firm and reasons why it is necessary to introduce automation of systems. Statement of the problem identifies specific issues that the firm is dealing with currently and dangers they pose to the firm and manager if they are not addressed. Justification provides the rationale of conducting the project by outlining the benefits to the manager. The chapter states the objectives that should be realized and questions that will guide the process of data collection. Chapter 2 is a detailed review of the literature. It provides various models for a driving school that this new firm can consider embracing. It defines data automation and issues that a firm can do to ensure that its data management system is automated. The chapter defines information accessibility to the two employees and their line of visibility. It also discusses ways in which the manager can remotely monitor all official activities of the two drivers to ensure that they abide by the rules and regulations set by the institution. Chapter 3 provides the methodology used to collect and analyze data, while chapter 4 provides an analysis of the primary data. The final chapter provides a conclusion and recommendations.
The previous chapter has provided detailed background information about the topic. In this chapter, the researcher will review the literature to determine how the boss can address the problem based on some of the existing models. Before collecting primary data from sampled respondents, it was necessary to review existing literature to understand what other scholars have found in this field. Banfield, Eriksson, and Walkingshaw (2017) argue that reviewing literature makes it possible to identify knowledge gaps in a given field of study. Addressing the knowledge gaps makes it possible to avoid duplicating an already existing piece of information in a given field. The goal will be to address the research problem and answer research questions based on information available in books, journal articles, and other secondary sources. The chapter will look at appropriate models for the driving school, automating data management system, accessibility of information to various stakeholders, and the need for remote monitoring of the official activities of the drivers.
Appropriate Models for the Driving School
When starting a driving school, one of the factors that one should consider is to define the appropriate model of the operation. Choosing the right model makes it easy to understand how to handle clients and employees (Giannantonio & Hurley-Hanson, 2014). It makes the manager to know how to coordinate activities of the firm and to ensure that specific goals are achieved within a given time. Various factors may determine the appropriate model that one should use when starting a driving school. One of the factors is the size of the firm. A relatively small firm is flexible and can adopt different models of operations at different times depending on the prevailing circumstances in the market. A small firm can afford to make small mistakes as it tries to adjust to the most appropriate business model. On the other hand, a large driving school needs to have a specific structure. Another factor is the finances available to implement the chosen model. Some models can be implemented with a limited amount of money while others require a considerable amount of investment. According to Doughert (2014), failing to settle on a given appropriate model may have devastating consequences. The following are some of the common models for a driving school that a firm can consider embracing depending on the prevailing circumstances.
Structured school model
The model may assume different names depending on the region, but it is a popular model that many driving schools always embrace (Livne & Yonay, 2016). In this model, the management must use a hands-on approach when managing activities within the firm. In this model, one needs to register the school and have physical locations where learners will come to take the driving lessons. The school will need to have its cars meant for the training of the learners. In case it uses hired cars, then they have to be made available to the institution at specific times and the manager must determine how they are used. The management takes full responsibility for the official use of these vehicles, and the drivers have no control over the assignment they will be given each day they report to work. When using this model, the manager must ensure that activities of all employees, especially the drivers and tutors who will be offering theoretical classes, are under close coordination at all times. This model has pros and cons which are worth discussing.
One of the benefits of using a structured model for a driving school is that the manager has full control of the activities undertaken in the firm. Managing institutions such as a school can be challenging. Any mistake committed by an employee may have devastating consequences on the image of the firm and on the management. As such, the manager needs to have proper control of what the employees do. As Doughert (2014) puts it, when a manager is to be held responsible for the actions of the employees, it is only fair to ensure that he or she has proper control of all activities of the firm. Using this model, the management can dictate actions that employees take and any mistakes can be traced to a specific worker. Another benefit of using this model is that planning of activities within the firm is easy. Given that the manager has control over actions taken by the employees, it is easy to plan their activities. One can determine what each employee will be doing at a given time. The structured model also creates a platform where the management can define the schedule for the students. Some people prefer going to driving school in the evening after work or attending school. Others would come during the day, especially when they are on holiday. Having a structured model enables the manager to plan on who will take on which responsibilities at various times of the day.
It is important to appreciate that this model has a number of weaknesses that a firm should be ready to deal with in case it is the chosen model (Doughert, 2014). One of the main disadvantages of this model is that it requires substantial investment. Given that the manager is given full control of the activities, the firm should have control over the assets used to undertake various activities. Although the firm may have some of the vehicles under the lease, it is appropriate to purchase as many vehicles as possible to ensure that the firm has proper control over the assets (Livne & Yonay, 2016). For a small start-up company, it may not be easy to accumulate such assets within a short time. Another challenge of using this model is that the manager will have more responsibilities for coordinating activities within the firm. Other than, the administrative work that has to be done the manager will also be responsible for developing a suitable curriculum that meets the standards set by the government. Given that this is a small firm and the manager is working as one of the drivers, having adequate time to engage in so many administrative works is a challenge.
The second approach is to use the unstructured or the freelancing model (Livne & Yonay, 2016). In this model, the manager works with employees who enjoy the independence to some degree. These employees report to work when they do not have other commitments. The manager and the employees develop a working arrangement where the drivers report to work when they are needed. The freelance drivers can use their own cars when reporting to work or use the company’s cars. In this arrangement, the management and the freelancers will agree on a commission that has to be paid on a monthly or weekly basis depending on the amount of work done within that period. The arrangement requires some form of discipline and trust on both sides. The employees must remain committed to the firm and they should report to work when they are needed to do so. On the other hand, the manager should ensure that payments are made to the employees as per the agreement. Mutual trust and commitment will help in ensuring that everything is done in a way that benefits the firm, the manager, employees, and clients of this company. The strategy has advantages and disadvantages which are worth discussing.
The unstructured or freelancing model of the driving school is beneficial in many ways. One of the benefits of this strategy is that it is easy to implement it when a firm has few resources (Livne & Yonay, 2016). The freelancers can come with their cars and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the small company. Instead of investing a lot in buying vehicles for the start-up firm, the management can have all the needed resources through the partnership with the freelancers. The company will not be responsible for the maintenance cost of the company. As long as the agreed commission is paid on time, it will be the responsibility of the freelancers to ensure that their vehicles are maintained. The freelancing approach means that every employee has specific roles, which he or she must undertake, based on the agreement. It means that the manager may have adequate time to work as one of the drivers if it is necessary. When using this model, it is possible to exonerate the firm from criminal offenses that some of the partners will engage in (Doughert, 2014).
One of the greatest challenges that driving schools often face is that sometimes the drivers may be tempted to engage in drug trafficking. The trust that police officers have towards driving schools makes it easy for the drivers to transport contraband products because it is less likely that these vehicles will be subjected to inspection. However, when these drivers are found engaging in such acts, the driving school and the individual drivers would be held accountable. When the firm is using the structured business model, Livne and Yonay (2016) argue that it is not possible to exonerate its management from such a crime because of the full control of the activities of the employees. However, the same is not the case when there is a freelancing relationship between the employer and such an unscrupulous employee. If there is a written agreement that defines terms of engagement, the firm can explain that it has no full control of the activities of the freelancer outside the assigned duties. As such, the driver will be solely responsible for their unlawful acts, especially when they are committed when they are not on official duty.
The model has a number of benefits, but it also has its weaknesses, which a firm should know about before considering it as the appropriate approach of operation. Lack of full control of employees’ activities is one of the greatest challenges of this model. The freedom that these employees enjoy can be abused. As explained above, some of the employees may be tempted to engage in criminal activities such as drug or human trafficking (Dockery & Knudsen, 2018). It is possible that the firm would not be held responsible for such criminal acts if it can be proven that at the time of committing the crime the driver was not working for the firm. However, sometimes the freelancer may implicate the company to escape the punishment. Even if the company and the management were exonerated from the crime, the image of the company may be damaged beyond repair. If it established that, its freelancers are engaged in criminal activities such as human trafficking, people would fear using its service.
The trust and loyalty that it has with clients will be lost within a short time. The firm may be forced out of the market for a mistake committed by one rogue business partner. Having control of the activities of the drivers would help in eliminating such malpractices (Livne & Yonay, 2016). The management will know the specific location of the drivers, what they are doing, and if the car is engaging in unauthorized activities. Using the model may be inappropriate when the firm has a high number of clients to attend to within a given period. The fact that the management relies on the goodwill and discipline of the freelancers may be inappropriate for a busy firm. The driver may give the excuse for not reporting to work at a time when the services are needed the most. It means that clients will not be served, as they would prefer because of such weaknesses in the management system.
Automating the Data Management System
Automating the data management system is one of the ways of overcoming some of the challenges when it comes to coordinating customers and employees of a given firm. A small start-up company may not find it meaningful to automate its system (Dockery & Knudsen, 2018). It is easy to believe that when a firm has less than ten employees, the manager or business owner can easily monitor and control the activities of everyone. However, Doughert (2014) warns sometimes it may not be the case, specifically when dealing with people who are not working in a given geographic location. Some employees may not provide accurate information about what they are doing when they know that they are not being monitored. As such, automation of the data management system is a critical step in enhancing the ability of the manager to control activities conducted within the firm.
Importance of automating the system
It is necessary to determine the importance of automating the system before looking at the costs involved. Automating a data management system will give the manager greater control of the activities within the firm irrespective of the business model that is embraced (Hesik, 2014). The manager will not need to rely on the information given by the driver to know what they are doing. Instead, he or she will be able to monitor their location, and whether they are working as per the guidelines provided to them. When the data management system is automated, the manager will know the specific number of clients the firm has, the growth trajectory, and if new measures are needed to ensure that, the firm’s performance is improved (Livne & Yonay, 2016). When the system is automated, it becomes easy to determine the information that should be made available to different employees based on its sensitivity and relevance.
Resources needed to automate the system
When automating the data management system, the firm should be prepared to make necessary investments into structures and systems of communication. Instead of using paper files, the firm will need to invest in modern online databases (Dockery & Knudsen, 2018). The firm may need to purchase computers necessary to automate the system of communication. Internet connectivity may also be needed to ensure that information can be shared by relevant stakeholders when it is necessary. When managing a small entity, the manager can act as the administrator of the automated system. However, large institutions require a group of experts who will be involved in collecting, processing, storing, and sharing information with relevant stakeholders within the company (Doughert, 2014). The amount of investment needed to automate the data management system depends on the size of the company. A small institution may require a simple computer system with a relatively small database. On the other hand, a large firm may need to invest in an advanced system with large databases and a team of experts who will work closely to manage organizational information.
Challenges that the firm can face when automating the system
The management should be ready to deal with challenges, which may emerge when using the new automated data management system (Hesik, 2014). One of the challenges is the technical knowledge needed to manage such systems. If the top manager lacks the necessary, technical skills needed to operate the system, it may force him or her to either hire an expert or go through some form of training. It means that the firm will incur additional costs besides the one needed to purchase structures of data management. Automated data is susceptible to hacking (Dockery & Knudsen, 2018). Cybercriminals can hack into the system and steal or manipulate critical data. Depending on the type of data targeted and countermeasures put in place to deal with such issues, the impact on the firm may vary. Having a backup database may help in protecting critical information in case hackers deliberately manipulate the online database for various reasons.
Defining Information Accessible to Employees/1st Line of Visibility
The first line of visibility should define information accessible to employees of this firm. When the system is automated, the manager should define the information that employees can access and classified data that should only be accessible to the top management unit. Doughert (2014) explains that the accessibility of information should be defined by its relevance to a specific stakeholder. It means that employees should have access to information relevant to their line of operation. The drivers should know the number of students they have to handle in a day, the growth of the student population, which may require them to work for long hours, routes that they have to use when on official duties, rules, and regulations that they have to observe, and new concepts that they need to embrace when in the workplace. Permanently employed workers may be trusted with confidential information when it is relevant to their roles in the company (Livne & Yonay, 2016). However, the freelance driver should be considered a casual employee who only needs to know information relevant to what he or she will be doing in the firm when on official duties. The employees should also have a clear system of communicating with the customers to understand their needs and the manner in which service delivery can be improved.
Defining Information Accessible to Customers/2nd Line of Visibility
The second line of visibility is the information accessible to customers. In modern society, customers often value access to information that is relevant to their relationship with a given firm. Doughert (2014) states that it is important for the management of a firm to develop a database that allows its clients to have access to information they need about the firm. For a driving school, learners would want to know about the courses they have to cover, the progress they have made, the number of hours they have to be on the road, the school fee balance, and when they will take their driving tests. It may be appropriate for the firm to create accounts for every student to allow them to follow the progress they have made. Their accounts should be informative enough to enable them to know what they need to do to complete their course within the time they set. It is also important to ensure that customers can communicate to the management about the services they get from the firm (Livne & Yonay, 2016). In case there are weaknesses that they feel should be addressed, the feedback should be communicated to the management using proper systems. If possible, the identity of such customers should not be revealed to ensure that they are not subjected to any form of victimization because of their views.
Remote Monitoring of the Official Activities of the Drivers
In the current world where firms rely on technology to improve service delivery, it is critical for a driving school to find ways of digitizing its monitoring systems. Relying on the word of an employee about what he or she is doing at a given time means that the manager depends on the trust created between the firm and its workers (Livne & Yonay, 2016). However, sometimes it may be necessary to go beyond the trust. It may be necessary to be certain about the events happening within the firm. Remote monitoring of activities carried out by a firm’s employees, whether they are working on a full or part-time basis, is critical in enhancing success. One of the ways that the manager can monitor the activities of drivers is to use a car-tracking system. The tracker will provide an accurate position of a car at any given time. It means that the manager can determine if the driver is on the route that he or she is expected to be, and if there are suspicious stoppages that may require investigation (Dockery & Knudsen, 2018). The technology helps in ensuring that all drivers of the company follow the designed routes during their official duties. Tutors hired to teach students driving theories may also need to be monitored. They not only need to be efficient in teaching but also stick to the schedules set for them. Some may be tempted to report to work late and leave early to address personal issues (Doughert, 2014). Having cameras in the classrooms not only helps in determining the schedule of these teachers but also in knowing whether they understand what they are doing. The remote sensing system will help the manager to supervise the activities undertaken by the firm’s employees.
The previous chapter provided a detailed review of the literature to help address specific research questions. The chapter will describe how primary data was collected and analyzed in response to research questions. Process optimization through data automation is becoming a popular concept in modern-day companies. However, it is important to note that this firm is unique in terms of its size and manner of operation. The manager, who is also one of the three workers, does not have full control of his employees. It will be appropriate to collect data from specific individuals to determine how to help the driver achieve the firm’s strategic objectives. Primary data collected from sampled respondents may help address weaknesses of the secondary data collected from books and journal articles.
Research philosophy is one of the factors that a researcher has to define at the initial stages of primary data collection. Hale and Napier (2013) define research philosophy, as “a research philosophy is a belief about the ways in which data about a phenomenon should be collected, analyzed, and used.” When conducting research, it is necessary to embrace specific beliefs and assumptions. The chosen research philosophy that one chooses defines the beliefs and assumptions that will be embraced in the study. As shown in figure 1 below, a researcher can embrace positivism, realism, interpretivism, or pragmatism as the appropriate philosophy depending on the nature of the investigation being conducted. It is necessary to discuss each of these philosophies briefly before stating why one of them was considered appropriate for this study.
Positivism is one of the popular philosophies often used by social scientists. It holds the belief that knowledge or information can only be factual and trustworthy if it is gained through observations and taking of measurements (Bernard, 2013). As such, the role of a researcher is to collect, analyze, and interpret data in an objective way without allowing personal opinions or stereotypes to influence the process in any way. It embraces empiricists’ view that knowledge is often gained from human experience. It also holds the belief that the world comprises specific events and elements that interact, and can be observed to help in developing knowledge. One of the fundamental principles of this philosophy is that the researcher is independent of the study (McNabb, 2015). Although the knowledge and experience of the researcher may define the approach taken in the study, the personal opinion should not be allowed to define the information that is gathered from the field. Facts gathered from various sources should not be manipulated to be in line with the investigator’s views and perceptions. This philosophy is popular when conducting quantitative research. It allows a researcher to gather facts using an appropriate instrument and conduct a mathematical analysis to come up with specific findings. Although it is popular philosophy, the fact that it emphasizes the need to conduct pure quantitative research made it inappropriate for this project.
Realism is another common research philosophy, especially among pure science researchers. According to Hale and Napier (2013), the philosophy holds that reality is independent of the human mind. People may want to believe in things they are told by those they trust even if it lacks truth. Sometimes an opinion that one embraces is influenced by stereotypes and prejudice. As such, a researcher should not rely on the opinions and perceptions of individuals as the primary approach of developing knowledge. Instead, it is always necessary to use scientific methods. Science does not rely on the opinions and perceptions of people. Instead, it presents the truth the way it is without any exaggeration. Knowledge developed through scientific methods is trustworthy. It goes beyond the language barriers and other limitations that may mislead a researcher. As Card (2016) puts it, it uses the principle of believing what you see. Given that this is social science research, it was considered inappropriate for this study.
The philosophy holds some of the principles rejected by positivism. Interpretivism holds the view that access to reality is through social construction, which may require close interaction between a researcher and the subject being investigated (Pruzan, 2016). Unlike positivism which limits the work of a researcher to data collection, interpretivism allows a researcher to be part of the subjects. Sometimes it may not be easy for a researcher to understand why some people behave in a given manner. For instance, female circumcision is a common cultural practice in parts of Africa. A researcher from Switzerland may find it difficult to justify such a cultural practice and may be quick to classify it as a barbaric exercise that should not be tolerated.
Interacting with these people, understanding their language, and understanding the practice from their own point of view may help in knowing the genesis of the practice. When it is established that the circumstances under which the practice was relevant no longer exist, then it is easier to convince such people to avoid the practice because of the current dangers. The philosophy emphasizes the use of qualitative methods of research to make it possible to explain a phenomenon in detail. Instead of using statistics to present the finding, the philosophy encourages a researcher to provide a thorough explanation of events, and if possible, present specific scenarios that would make it easy to understand a given concept. The limited-time available for this study makes it difficult for the researcher to embrace some of the principles of the philosophy. The fact that it emphasizes the use of pure qualitative research also made it less desirable for the project.
Pragmatism is one of the most popular philosophies when conducting social science research. Hale and Napier (2013) state that pragmatism “recognize that there are many different ways of interpreting the world and undertaking research, that no single point of view can ever give the entire picture and that there may be multiple realities” (p. 67). A researcher must understand that different people may interpret different concepts in a varying manner depending on their knowledge, experience, socio-political or economic background, or any other factor. One should not be too rigid to accept a different way of interpreting a given fact. It is also important to appreciate that a concept may present different realities based on the approach of analysis and interpretation that one takes.
One person may have a view that a cup is half-full while another person may argue that such a glass is half empty (Prescott, 2016). The two interpretations are true but they are based on different perceptions of viewing life. One is a pessimist while the other is an optimist. A researcher should be pragmatic enough to understand these two varying views. When using this philosophy, a researcher is allowed to use different methods and concepts to develop knowledge. One can use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method research to conduct analysis. It was considered the most appropriate philosophy for this project. When trying to understand process optimization for a driving school through automation of driver and consumer coordination, it may be necessary to use mixed-method research.
When the appropriate research philosophy has been selected, the next step is to determine the research approach. The reasoning approach should be in line with the philosophy selected for the study. One can use deductive or inductive reasoning. It is necessary to discuss each of these two reasoning approaches before
Deductive reasoning is an approach that requires a researcher to start by developing a hypothesis based on an existing theory. It means that when using this approach, a researcher will need to identify a theory or concept relevant to the investigation. The next step would be to come up with a hypothesis that has to be confirmed or rejected based on the primary data. A test will be conducted to help confirm or reject the hypothesis. When a hypothesis is accepted, the theory will be confirmed to hold true based on the prevailing factors. In case it is rejected, then it would be an indication that the theory is no longer relevant, and as such further research would be necessary. Figure 2 below is a pictorial summary of the steps that need to be taken when using this reasoning approach. It was considered inappropriate for this research because there was no specific theory upon which this study was based. Moreover, the philosophy taken makes it necessary to use mixed-method research. However, deductive reasoning emphasizes the need to conduct mathematical analysis to help confirm or reject a given hypothesis.
The inductive reasoning approach takes the opposite direction to that of the deductive approach. It does not involve pegging the research on a given theory. It also does not involve developing a hypothesis that has to be confirmed or rejected based on the analysis of primary data. Instead, it requires a researcher to start by making observations. The observation should be made by collecting primary data and reviewing relevant literature. The focus will be to answer research questions in a given study. The observation made will help in developing a pattern. Finally, the researcher will develop a theory or new knowledge that addresses the research problem. In this case, the goal is to develop process optimization for a driving school through the automation of driver and customer coordination. The project seeks to find a solution to the challenges facing this small business. Figure 3 below is a pictorial presentation of the inductive reasoning approach.
After defining the research philosophy and approach, the next step is to determine the strategies that will be used to collect primary data. The chosen strategy should take into consideration the time available for the study and the availability of the possible participants in the project. As shown in the research onion shown above, the strategy is the third step that must be observed. The following are the strategies that will be used to collect data in this study.
One of the main sources of information in this study was secondary materials. They include books, journal articles, and reliable online sources. Secondary data was particularly important because they provided background information to this study before the actual process of collecting data from respondents. Most of the secondary materials used were available in online libraries and databases. It was possible to collect the needed information from the participants using key search words.
The other approach that the researcher used to collect data was a survey. Card (2016) explains that a survey is often appropriate when collecting data from individuals who cannot participate in an interview. The geographic barrier is eliminated by allowing participants to respond to online surveys within a given period. Once the question is posted, they can respond to them within their free time. The information can then be analyzed quantitatively using mathematical methods. In most cases, surveys are used when planning to use the quantitative research method.
The interview was another method that was used to collect primary data from a small sample of respondents. Process optimization through system automation is a system that is relatively new among local driving institutions. However, Bernard (2013) notes that it has gained massive popularity over the recent past because of its efficiency. It was necessary to interview some of the people who have used the system to understand their view about it. They can provide a detailed explanation of the benefits of the system, weaknesses that it has, and factors that one should take into consideration when planning to use it. The interview made it possible to understand some of the challenges that exist when a small institution, such as the one under focus in this paper, may face when automating its system.
Sampling and Sample Size
Sampling was important in this project because of time and other research constraints. As academic research, it is important to ensure that the project is completed within a specific time set by the school. It means that a researcher must have a small group of people from who data would be collected within a given period (Walliman, 2016). A simple random sampling technique was used to collect data from people working in local driving schools. Of interest was to ensure that some of the sampled participants, especially those engaged in the interviews, are in positions of management. That would help in ensuring that they provide clear information based on their experience at their current or former institutions. A sample size of 20 participants was used to collect primary data for the study.
When primary data has been collected from respondents, the next stage of research is to conduct an analysis. As explained in the research philosophy and approach, the appropriate method for the study was the mixed research method. It was necessary to use both qualitative and quantitative research methods for the project. It was possible to explain how this small driving school can use system automation to enhance customer and driver coordination as a way of improving service delivery using qualitative research. The method also made it possible to explain in detail the challenges that the institution may face when using this strategy and the approach that the management can use to overcome these challenges. Quantitative methods made it possible to quantify the impact of the new strategy to help justify the need for this institution to automate its system. Using graphs and charts, using quantitative methods made it easy to convince the audience about the need to embrace process optimization at this firm.
Instrument of Data Collection
When conducting the survey and interviews, it was necessary to use a standard instrument to ensure that respondents answered similar questions. As such, a questionnaire was developed to help in the data collection process. The questionnaire had three parts. The first part of the questionnaire focused on the demographical factors of the participants. The age and nationality of the respondents were determined in this section. The second part of the questionnaire focused on the experience and academic qualifications of the respondents. It was necessary to determine the academic qualifications and experience of the participants. As Dougherty (2014 notes, highly experienced or knowledgeable participants have a better capacity to provide reliable answers than those with limited knowledge on a given issue. The last section of the questionnaire focused on specific issues regarding process optimization for driving school through automation of driver and customer coordination. The section used both structured and unstructured questions to answer specific questions. A copy of the instrument used to collect data is attached in the appendix of this paper.
When conducting this research, it was necessary to take into consideration a number of ethical concerns. One of the ethical requirements was to seek permission from the authorities of the institutions where primary data was collected. As Hale and Napier (2013) note, it is important to contact the management of institutions where data should be collected before contacting their employees. The researcher made a formal request to the institution. The goal of the study was explained to convince the participants to take part in the study. After getting the authorization, the researcher explained to the participants the goal of the study and their role in it. It was important to protect the identity of the participants in this study. Instead of using their actual names, participants were assigned different identities to ensure that they remain anonymous. As academic research, it was necessary to ensure that all school rules and regulations were observed. Any form of plagiarism was avoided as it is against the rules that guide thesis development. Information collected from secondary sources was referenced appropriately using the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing method. The project was completed within the time set by the institution.
It is important to appreciate that there were limitations when conducting the research. One of the main limitations was the time within which the project had to be completed. Process automation is a wide research concept that different authors have talked about. However, it would be interesting for the researcher to interview as many people as possible to determine the level to which it is embraced in the local institutions. Talking to many managers and employees of various institutions across the country would help in understanding the relevance and the popularity of the concept. The limited-time available for the study meant that only a few people could be involved in the study. The geographic location of the respondents was another issue that affected the process of collecting primary data. Some of the people who would have participated in face-to-face interviews were left out of the study because of their geographic location. The researcher had to interview individuals who were in convenient locations. This limitation was overcome by using online surveys. Those who could not be reached physically for the interviews participated in the online surveys.
Results and Discussion
The previous chapter focused on the discussion of the method that was used to collect data from sampled respondents. This chapter focuses on how the problem identified can be addressed based on information collected from experts in this field and individuals working in this sector. The primary data helped to identify some of the most recent strategies being used by others who are in similar situations. As explained in the methodology section, mixed-method research was considered appropriate for the study.
Analysis of the Question
It is important to start by analyzing the research questions to help find solutions to this small start-up driving school. The first question focused on determining the challenges that respondents felt this firm is facing based on the short case study about the firm presented. It was important to get views of the firm from individuals who have been working in this industry to help find a way of helping the firm to overcome these challenges. The question below was presented to the respondents after being given a short history of the firm. They were requested to identify one problem that they believe comes out prominently based on the case. Figure 4 below shows the outcome of the analysis of responses obtained from the participants.
- What are the main weaknesses of the current system of operation at this company?
One of the major issues that the respondents identified as the limited access to assets for this small driving school. The fact that the firm owns only two cars is a major issue that may affect its operations. The firm does not own the third car. The problem of relying on such borrowed assets is that the firm does not have full control over them. The owners may withdraw their cars from the company when they are needed the most. The second issue that comes out clearly is poor communication between the manager and the employees. The fact that the manager fully relies on the information received from employees means that it may not be possible to know when they are providing false information. Lack of proper control of the employees and poor coordination are the other problems identified as major concerns that this institution should deal with to achieve the desired level of success.
- How can this firm automate driver and customer coordination in its normal operations?
The second question focused on finding out how this firm can automate driver and customer coordination in its normal operations. The respondents were requested to suggest ways in which they believe this firm can automate driver and customer coordination based on their experience in this industry. They gave various suggestions on how this company can address this issue.
Respondent 3 said, “This driving school should create a database where information about its clients is stored in a central repository. The firm can then create an account for every client to allow them access information relevant to their course.”
The view was shared by most of the respondents who argue that this firm needs to move from using paper files to digital data management. Customers should have access to information about the firm and its course. Issues such as school fee balance, units to be covered, milestones realized, and when to undertake the main exams should be clearly stipulated.
Respondent 5 said, “Drivers should have access to information relevant to their work. The management should create accounts for these drivers so that they can understand what is expected of them in the workplace at a given time.”
Having information about what is expected of them will make the drivers more responsible than when working in an uncoordinated manner. They should know when they are expected to be on official duties, the time they should take on the road, cases when their workload has increased, and any other relevant issue that affects their work.
- How can process optimization through system automation help address the weaknesses of the firm and improve its profitability?
The third question focused on determining the manner in which process optimization through system automation can help address weaknesses of the firm and increase its profitability. The participants were requested to share their views on this issue based on their experience. First, the researcher asked the respondents whether they believe system automation can improve the performance of this firm. Figure 5 below shows their responses.
It is clear from the figure above that the majority of the respondents believe that system automation can improve the performance of this firm. When the case about the firm was presented to them, most felt that one of the greatest areas of weakness of this firm is that it lacked proper coordination of activities because the management relied on traditional means of communication. Addressing the problem would be critical in ensuring that this firm can improve its service delivery to its clients. Only one respondent had a contrary view to this argument. The other respondent stated that she was not certain about the significance of system automation in improving the performance of such a small start-up company.
Defining the Appropriate Model for the Driving School
When it comes to defining the appropriate model for the driving school, many factors should be put into consideration. One of the issues that the owner of this new business should consider is the legal framework. As a driving school, it is important to ensure that the institution follows all the rules and regulations put in place by the government for such institutions. Following such rules will ensure that students can take the relevant exams when they present documents from the institution. The majority of the participants stated that this issue should be taken seriously to ensure that this firm could achieve the level of success it desires. Most importantly, the model should ensure that the manager has control over the activities of the employees. The goal is to ensure that these employees would not engage in illegal operations when on official duty because such acts may not only have serious legal ramifications for the manager but they may also destroy the image of the company in the market.
Respondent 1 said, “The management of this institution should observe all the legal structures set by the government when selecting an appropriate model for the driving school.”
The resource available for this firm is another issue that should be considered when selecting an appropriate model for the driving school. Some models may require more resources than others may. The business owner should assess the financial capacity of his or her business and select an operational model that would not put a lot of strain on the business. The selected model should make it possible for the small institution to achieve consistent market growth without having to get deep into debt. It is more advisable to register a slow but consistent growth than to make huge leaps only for the business to be crippled by huge debts that may cripple its normal operations.
Respondent 2 said, “When selecting an appropriate model for the driving school, it is important to take into consideration the financial capacity of the firm.”
The employment arrangement that the firm has with its drivers may also be a factor that cannot be ignored. As a small firm, the manager may have an agreement with the drivers stating how business should be run in a way that is mutually beneficial to everyone involved. It is ethically important for the manager to stick to the agreements made by these business partners and employees. In case it is necessary to change from one model to another, there should be a clear explanation to each of these employees as to why the firm may need to embrace a new model.
Based on the factors presented above, the most appropriate approach that the firm should consider is the structured business model. In this model, the manager will have significant control of the activities carried out by the drivers and any other employee of this firm. It will allow the manager to monitor the activities of the employees when they are expected to be on official duties. The approach may be financially demanding, but it will shield the firm from any legal battles that may arise from illegal activities that some employees may be tempted to engage in while on official duty. The manager may not find it easy to make a sudden switch from the current relaxed management approach to a strict policy within a short time because it may bring about some sense of resistance from the current employees.
In such a case, it may be necessary to start by embracing a hybrid of the two strategies just to ensure that the change is introduced systematically (Doughert, 2014). The current employee of the firm may need to work under the structured business format, while the freelancer may be allowed some sense of freedom. However, the freedom should be regulated in a way that allows the manager to monitor his activities at all times after reporting to work. As the firm grows, the focus will be to acquire more assets to give it full control of the activities going on in the company. It can form partnerships with companies leasing vehicles to ensure that it can have access to different types of cars when it is necessary. It can then hire full-time and part-time employees who will have to work under the directives of the management of the company.
When selecting an appropriate model, it may be necessary to embrace best practices in the industry. The new firm will need to understand how some of the local market leaders operate. They should understand what the market leaders are doing right, which makes them successful in the local market. One of the top driving schools in Zurich is Fahrschule-Stamm.ch Driving School. It offers various classes for drivers who want to learn how to drive small cars, passenger vehicles, and heavy commercial trucks. The company has a fleet of cars, buses, and trucks used to train driving students.
The company has emerged as one of the most preferred driving schools in the country because of the nature of services it offers to its clients. It uses the structured business model where the management closely controls every activity of its employees and most of the assets, especially vehicles used for training, are owned by the firm. It may not be possible for this small company with only three employees to follow the exact business model as this large institution. However, it can borrow from some of its best practices to ensure that its long-term goals and objectives are realized. The most important thing is that the chosen model should not put this firm in an awkward position where it not only has to defend itself legally but also deal with a destroyed reputation.
Challenges to Expect
The manager should expect to encounter challenges when implementing some of the proposed policies. One of the challenges expected is possible resistance from the employees of the firm. Some of them may feel uncomfortable with the new strict rules that have to guide their operations. Doughert (2014) says that many people often fear change and will always try to resist it. For instance, using trackers or CCTV cameras may make some of them uncomfortable. They may feel that the manager does not trust them, making it necessary to use remote tracking strategies. When employees resist change, they may deliberately sabotage the activities of the firm. They may lack the motivation to deliver the best results in the assignments given to them. Given the fact that this small firm is just starting its operation, it may not be easy to deal with a few people who feel that they are being subjected to unfair scrutiny in the workplace.
The financial challenge may be another issue. A driving school is a sensitive business that one cannot afford to use freelancing as its main model of operation. The fear that drivers may engage in illegal trafficking of contraband goods makes it necessary to have a scenario where the manager can monitor every activity of the workers. When using the structured model, the manager will need to formalize everything within the firm. It means that it may also be necessary for the management to purchase more vehicles for the school to ensure that the institution has full control of the use of its assets. Sometimes the freelancers who are using their cars may decide to engage in others at a time when they are needed the most, a fact that may inconvenience the firm.
The chosen model may demand high management skills from the business owner. The current approach that the owner is using is like a small partnership without a clear sense of direction. The new model will mean that this driving school will be run like a small business with clear systems and structures. The manager should be able to define rules and regulations that employees must follow. He or she must be able to motivate the workers to follow a given path to ensure that the institution achieves success. Introducing new laws may be challenging, as discussed above. It will require the manager to demonstrate a high level of leadership by persuading the workers to embrace them instead of forcing them to do so. Limited management skills may make it impossible to achieve the desired goals.
How to Address the Challenges
The management of this institution will need to find proper ways of dealing with each of the challenges identified above. Resistance to change is a serious problem that can cripple the operations of this small firm. Dealing with this problem will require the manager to embrace transformational leadership skills. The manager should let the employees to understand the need to introduce the new rules instead of forcing them to follow them. For instance, the manager should explain to them dangers that the firm and all employees may face in case there is a misuse of the vehicles when on official duties. Threats posed by the current system of management should be outlined to make employees believe that indeed it is necessary to embrace the new system.
The financial challenge will also need to be overcome to enhance the ability of the firm to achieve success in its operations. The management should consider securing loans to purchase additional vehicles that can be used in the training. Another approach can be to find companies leasing vehicles and develop a working relationship with them that is mutually beneficial. Instead of having a leased car for the whole day, the two businesses can have an agreement where this driving school only goes for the vehicles at specific hours when they are needed. The arrangement will ensure that the car is leased to the driving school at a relatively lower cost than would be the case if it had to take the whole day.
It may not be easy for the owner to run this institution without proper management skills. A driving school is a unique form of business that has numerous challenges. Without proper control of all the activities within the institution, the school cannot only collapse but the owner may end up in jail for crimes committed by other workers. As such, if the manager feels that he lacks the needed skills to control other employees and manage activities within the institution, he may need to enroll in leadership classes. Acquiring leadership skills will make it possible to take this business from one level to another. Alternatively, the owner may consider hiring a manager with the right knowledge to undertake the necessary leadership responsibilities.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The previous chapter provided a detailed analysis of the primary data collected from the sampled respondents. In this final chapter, the focus is to provide a summary and recommendations to the boss on the best approach that can be used to address the problem. The findings show that it is important to choose the most appropriate model that it should use to run the small business. The driving school can use structured, unstructured, or a mix of these two elements depending on various factors that the firm faces. Irrespective of the model chosen, the study emphasizes the need for the manager to be in control of the activities conducted by the firm’s employees. One of the main issues that come out is that some employees may be tempted to engage in illegal activities.
Some may try to smuggle contraband goods using the label of the driving school as the cover to ensure that the car is not inspected. If the management of the institution has no control of the activities of the firm, such mistakes may be common and it may have devastating consequences to the business owner. The manager may be sued when the employee implicates the firm, even if the claims made are not true. In case the firm and its top managers are able to exonerate themselves from criminal liability arising from such acts, then the image of the firm will not survive. Clients will not trust a company whose employees engage in dangerous illegal activities. The negative reputation can easily force this small company out of the market. The management should consider the following recommendations to ensure that it achieves success in its operations:
- The driving school should embrace the structured school model even though it is involved. The drivers should be under the direct supervision of the manager, including the freelance driver who has his own car.
- The management should get into a written agreement with the freelancer about the nature of the engagement. It should be clear when he will be reporting to work, activities that he will carry out, activities that he should not engage in when on official duty, and the payment that will be made on a weekly or monthly basis.
- The second driver should be given a different treatment because he is a full employee of the firm. His pay should be on a monthly basis and he should report to work at a given time and leave in the evening based on the set schedule. At this initial stage, this employee should work during the day, while the freelancer can work in the evening.
- The manager should have clear information about every action taken by each of the employees when on official duty. All cars should have trackers to determine their location. There should be a clear instruction to the drivers that no unauthorized person or goods should be carried during official working hours.
- Information should be made accessible to stakeholders based on relevance. Using a digitized database, customers, and drivers should have access to information that is meaningful to them.
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[The primary aim of this study is to conduct an analytical study of process optimization for a driving school through automation of driver and customer coordination. The aim is to determine how this small driving school can achieve success in its operations by automating its system to ensure that the manager has access to reliable information about activities of the employees. Your participation in this study is needed to help in collecting relevant data. Kindly answer each of the following questions to the best of your knowledge. Participation in this study is on a voluntary basis]
Part A: Participants’ Background and Demographic Information
Kindly select your age group based on the classes below:
- Above 55 Years
What is your nationality? Tick as appropriate
- Swiss citizen
- Non-Swiss citizen
Part B: Participants’ Academic Qualifications and Experience
Kindly state your highest academic qualification:
- A High School Graduate
- A College Diploma
- A Bachelor’s Degree
- A Master’s Degree
- A Doctorate Degree
How long have you been working in your current organization?
- Less than 2 Years
- 2-4 Years
- 5-9 Years
- 10-15 Years
- Over 15 Years
Part C: Process Optimization for Driving School Through Automation of Driver and Customer Coordination
Do you believe that there is a positive relationship between process automation and improved organizational performance? Tick as appropriate:
- Strongly Agree
- Not Sure
- Strongly Disagree
Do you agree with the statement that local driving schools in the country are embracing system automation as a way of improving control of managers over activities conducted in their firm?
- Strongly Agree
- Not Sure
- Strongly Disagree
Do you believe that local stakeholders in the sector of driving school understand the relevance of automating their system?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
Do you believe that improved customer and driver coordination can help a manager to address various challenges that affect a firm?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
Do you believe your firm is making significant investment in system automation as a way of enhancing employees’ and customer coordination?
- Very Often
- Not sure
Do you believe that a significant number of your colleagues at work who still do not understand the significance of system automation?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
How often does the management of your firm embrace emerging technologies in the field of communication?
- Very often
- Not sure
In case your answer is yes (very often or often) to the question above, kindly explain some of the emerging trends that your firm has embraced over the recent past in the field of communication. _________________________________________________
What are some of the areas of weakness that your firm should take care of to ensure that it achieves its strategic goals and objectives?
Do you believe that a small driving school can achieve significant growth if it embraces system automation?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
What are some of the challenges that a small firm should be ready to deal with if it embraces system automation?
What do you think the manager of such a small driving school should do to ensure that he or she has full control of the activities done by the employees?
Thank you for being part of this project. Information obtained from you will be used for academic purposes. Your identity will be protected from third parties as we initially promised.