E-Commerce Operations Management

Discuss the use of computers and JIT (just in time) inventory strategies and ways to mitigate disruptions in the supply chain.

Just-in – time inventory strategy in a system of inventory management that aims at having many finished and intermediary products as required by a company at a time. This reduces the cost of inventory and wastes without affecting the customer supply. This is because managers have realized it is extremely expensive to keep a large level of inventory on hand. With just-in-time system, orders are placed only when needed thus money is saved by reducing inventory holding costs. There must be frequent checks to ensure that the firm does not run low on stock. This implies that there is a system of signals which dictates when there is a need for replenishment of stock. According to Hollins & Shinkins, the basic elements of the JIT inventory management process include total quality management (TQM), design flow, vendor management, waste elimination, and process and product design (Hill & Jones, 2009).

Mitigating the supply chain disruptions can take many forms. Here, are some of those that are used by firms. By having a proper understanding of the magnitude of the consequences of the disruptions, this is done by examining the impacts of the supply chain disruption on the shareholder’s returns and share price volatility and profitability. This also offers insight into factors that can increase the chances of disruptions to guide managers as they assess the chances of disruptions. Secondly, managers should also avoid supply-demand mismatches. This ensures that the firms have sufficient supplies as they demand. That way the firm neither runs out of inventory nor does it have too much (Dalkir, 2007).

Discuss the reasons enterprise resource planning (ERP) high failure rates, suggest ways to avoid such failures, and if the system is not operating up to expectations, should it be replaced?

The decision by management to go ERP is faced with a wide range of risk. The possibilities of this risks occurring often determines success or failures of the ERP. Some of the failures associated with these risks are as follows:

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Technicality of the ERP is one of the major failures. This arises as ERP includes the use of operating systems, data bases, client server technology, network requirements and software. Network capacity of the ERP may also determine the levels of failure of the ERP as they are highly dependent on underlying networks. This is so as to provide a wide range of user access especially over the internet.

ERP uses relational data bases to store information. Unlike legacy systems, this data bases store information in a single location which means that if lost then all the information would be lost with it. This calls for an extra form of backup to guard against this possibility.

ERP systems may be established as a standalone or may be linked or maybe linked with other systems. Linking ERP systems increases the complexity which increases the chances of failure. Thus, it is advisable that ERP systems be developed individually (Wallace & Kremzar, 2001). It is advisable that should the system fail to produce expected results even with improvements it should be replaced.

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An initial response that will attract the interest of the company that posted the RFP.

“We are an information technology company that does a pre study of your company so that we develop a computerized system for your company. Considering that your company is a young developing one, we shall look into your objectives and long term goals, so that we are able to develop a sustainable system. We recognize the fact that you intend to grow big, therefore, need to have an easy to understand and maintain a system which is sustainable. We look forward to your invitation.”

Would you prefer to be a first, second or later mover in the market you select? How would you differentiate yourself from other competitors or prospective new entrants? What can a front-runner business do to foil the assaults of second movers? Is the second-mover advantage always a compelling business strategy?

I would prefer to be the second mover in the market. This way I would have a chance to study the pros and cons of the market. Thus, I would know what decisions to make in reference to the ones made by the first movers. The advantage of being the second mover would be that the risk involved is not as large as that of being a first mover. Some of the risks are exposed by the first mover and thus the second mover has a lit path to follow.

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Differentiating myself from other competitors and other new entrants would take the form of services provides being better. There would be a different and concise flow of data between the customers and the firm. This would be in the form of advertisements and opening links for feedback, complaints and complements. The firm’s products would have a distinct attractive, and consumer friendly brand name. The brand name would also be in such a way that it identifies with the consumer needs thus appeals to them (Darmont & Boussaïd, 2006).

To foil the assault of the second mover, the front runner can:

  • Increase on the quality of products and ensure satisfaction of the customers to challenge the second mover as it would be hard to achieve these.
  • Make sure they protect the secrets of the firm in regard to production so that the second mover does not make of them.
  • Assume a lofty control base for the raw materials of the production so that he creates some monopoly in the production.
  • Learn on the second movers’ tactics and counter these moves as appropriate.

The second movers’ advantage is not always the best as the front runner may come up with schemes and methods which hinder entrance to the market. This is done through creating monopoly powers for self.

What is the difference between the ability of a manager to retrieve information instantly on demand using an MIS (Management Information System) and the capabilities provided by a DSS (Decision Support System)? What experiences and qualifications are crucial in preparing managers for “fact-based” decision making and how are the skills needed for DSS obtained?

A DSS uses sophisticated data modeling, and analysis tools to resolve semi structured problems while a MIS dwells on past, and current performance to aid in decision making. In most cases, a MIS has a semi-inflexible nature unlike a DSS which is adaptable to many situations. Thus, a manager using MIS will be restricted by the nature of the past events unlike one using DSS who will be exposed to all the possible ways to go.

Managers who are competent enough for “for fact based” decision making in most cases go through hard times in order to achieve the necessary experience for decision making. They are faced with problems such financial difficulties and hardships which make the operations of the business even harder. These managers have extensive knowledge in management and are thus able to identify and match problems with solutions.

What are the business benefits of Business Intelligence deployments and the main challenges required to extend Business Intelligence tools beyond mere reporting? What roles do data and business processes play in achieving the benefits, and what can companies do to obtain management commitment to Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence application to a business environment can be extremely useful in helping to discover new business opportunities, locating areas for cost saving as well as increasing the efficiency of the business systems. Through the use of business intelligence, management is in a position to access data that is more accurate, updated and reliable reducing the need to rely on guesswork or mere gut feeling hence reducing the likelihood of severe business miscalculation which may prove irreversible (Schniederjans & QCao, 2002).

Business intelligence also gives insight through market research where by it is possible to deduce and understand consumer behavior, which is essential, in identifying potential selling opportunities which may manifest them. Finally, business intelligence also enables a business to predict where it is headed based on where it is now, and where it was coming from based on past performance.

For management to commit to business intelligence, companies can ensure that the management has the chance to choose for themselves which tools and processes involved so that management owns the process (Williams & Williams, 2007).



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