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DTDC Worldwide Express is a domestic and international express distribution company in India, established in 1990 to cater to the international courier and cargo business. The company, popularly known by its acronym DTDC, has enjoyed strong growth from its inception. DTDC, India's largest domestic delivery network company, delivers 10 million parcels a month, 3700 locations in India, 240 international destinations, with over 13000 people and 16 years in business. DTDC offers low prices for large parcels to India, USA, UK or any other destination worldwide. From Leh, Kalimpong, 24 Parganas to Seatle and Tokyo, DTDC offers services arraying from Domestic Express, Domestic Air Cargo, and Domestic Ground Express to International Air Express, International Economy Express and many more services taking shape. DTDC also gives solutions to excess baggage. DTDC is most effective and price friendly courier company. DTDC delivers to the remotest places in India with the help of 4000 business partners spread across the length and breadth of India.
The company is managed from its corporate head office at Bangalore. DTDC has national network through its regional Offices, located at Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Nagpur, Cochin and Pune.
1.1 OPERATION OF DTDC FRANCHISE
DTDC franchise was incorporated under the name Courier & Cargo Ltd. in 1990. Through its effective network of business partners, the courier services franchise has expanded its network all across the country with in 17 years. The goods delivery services franchise, which has the largest domestic delivery chain, was the first company to introduce franchising concept in the Indian courier industry.
With its headquarters at Bangalore, the courier services franchise serves 10,000 pin code areas through its four zonal offices. The goods delivery services franchise has more than 4,000 franchised outlets and is supported by 176 branch offices. The DTDC franchise has spread its overseas network to serve the major global cities as well. With a turn over of Rs.500-Crore, the transportation services franchise is all set to venture further into the business.
With the launch of the DTDC Shopping Net, the courier services franchise has made its presence felt in the domain of internet shopping. Shortest possible transportation time is exactly what the transportation services franchise constantly assays to achieve. Effective training is provided by the DTDC franchise to its employees and franchisees in order to help them in saving time in delivering goods with out making any compromise on quality standards.
1.2 HOW FRANCHISEES ARE SUPPORTED BY DTDC FRANCHISE
DTDC Franchise has implemented a system of predetermined pin codes in order to help its franchisees in delivering consignments promptly. Each committed franchisee of the goods delivery services franchise is assigned to cover each pin code range. The overall performance of deliveries made in the pin code ranges will be monitored directly by the courier services franchise. The quality of its line-haul connections is improved continuously to achieve minimum transit times.
Transparency is ensured by the DTDC franchise in all its transactions. The goods delivery services franchise ensures that customer oriented service is offered by its franchisees. Customer loyalty is the set goal of the courier services franchise. Franchisees are encouraged by the DTDC franchise for adopting modern technologies and improved systems in order to ensure fast paced service.
Franchisees are selected in an impartial manner by the DTDC franchise and they are then trained well in order to provide high quality reliable service to customers. The goods delivery services franchise monitors the work of all its franchisees and ensures that the trust placed on them by customers are duly returned.
2. AIM OF THE RESEARCH & OBJECTIVES:
The aim of the research is to find out the feasibility of implementation of Modern technologies in DTDC franchisees in small towns & rural outlets. The outlets in towns and rural areas are not computerized and everything is done manually.
To investigate the impact of IT in DTDC Franchisees in small towns and rural areas.
To train the local staff at these particular outlets.
To consider the costs incurred in implementation of Information systems.
To provide recommendations about the successful implementation of Technology in these underdeveloped areas.
3. LITERATURE REVIEW:
It is clear from the above objective that the research is focused on the feasibility of implementation of information systems for the rural outlets of DTDC Franchisees. "Information Systems (IS) are systems that provide information service. To do so they must receive information and store, access, transform, transfer and process information so as to produce the desired information service" (Langefors, 1976). According to Laudon & Laudon (2002) an information system can give companies a competitive advantage by producing data for finely tunes sales and marketing techniques. Systems originally intended to be strategic frequently become tools for survival, required by every firm to stay in business, or they may inhibit organizations from making the strategic changes essential for the future success (Eardley, Avison, Powell, 1997). On the one hand, it is important to align information technology to the business plan, to the firm's business processes, and to the senior management's strategic business plans. Information technology is after all to serve the organization. On the other hand these business plans, processes, and management strategy all may be very outdated or incompatible with envisioned technology. In such instances, managers will need to change the organization to fit the technology or to adjust both the organization and the technology to achieve an optimal "fit".
Couger and Zawacki (1980) reported that Information systems specialists consistently demonstrated a higher need for constant challenge but a lower need for interpersonal relationships than other professional groupings. While such information and communication systems development facilitates the integration, the realization of this potential requires that these systems are effectively managed (Bob Ritchie et al (1998)). There is hence an important functional responsibility for overall planning, development, co-ordination and maintenance of the systems. This relates not only to computer facilities and software but to the overall management of organizational data and information flows, to system security and to the training and support of users. The primary objective of any information system must be to provide an effective and efficient support service to all its users.
Organizations usually change their systems as a result of external pressures and to exploit opportunities as part of systems planning process. According to Cashmore and Lyall, (1991) an information system should be as flexible as possible so that it can meet the changing needs of the business, the author also argues on this by saying that a system capable of adaptation cannot be tailored specifically to the current needs of the business. In order to cope up with rapid change in technology the information system should be updated so that it can suit the organisation at various stages.
According to Bob Ritchie et al (1998), management must also consider the human aspect. To a certain extent, if a conventional manual system is to be partly or wholly automated by using a 'parallel run' approach, the problem is that the organization will be required to continue the employment of the staff that are ultimately to be replaced by a system. This gives rise to real problems of security and motivation. Alternatively, if there is no existing system, the organization will have to recruit and train the relevant staff. This might be on a temporary basis to run a manual back-up system during the period testing, or it may be intended as a permanent addition to staffing. The training issue becomes far more severe if the organization intends direct implementation than parallel run because, in the latter case, there is time to phase in the system and to train the staff. Parallel running also enables the organization to monitor the performance of new system more effectively and to produce more relevant data about the comparative benefits of the system.
Curtis (2002) identifies that information produced for business has a cost and this cost is associated with collection, processing and storage which incurs while producing information manually or using a computer system. Curtis (2002) also says that in order to justify the cost, the information should have some value and this value can be found out in better decision making in any functional area.
Harry, (2001) outlines two management structures: Horizontal which means what managers do is at the same level of authority but at different sections of the whole management process, Vertical which tells that what mangers do is supposed to relate directly to their level of authority within the organisation. Laudon and Laudon (1991) states that business organisations coordinate the work of employees through a hierarchy which is typically composed of senior level, middle level management and lower level workers often called as knowledge and data workers. This explains that managers in an organisation are required to continually seek and then quickly process large amounts of information, they also spend a lot of time communicating this information with other managers at different levels both inside and outside the organisation.
The research will study all the levels of the target organisation keeping in mind all the information above which is directly or indirectly related to information systems in an organisation. It will assess how the users at different level of organisation interact with information systems in order to fulfil the type of information required. Doing this the study will analyse what benefits a business can get from the use of information systems.
4.1 Research philosophy
Saunders et al (2003) says that a research is divided in two broad categories namely Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research. Qualitative Research deals with distinctions based on quality and Quantitative Research involves considering amount or size. According to Bouma and Atkinson (1995) qualitative research is more intuitive, subjective, and deep whereas quantitative research is structured, logical, measured, and wide.
While undertaking the module the researcher explored his learning style by undertaking the learning style assessment introduced by Kolb and McCarthy (1984).Undertaking this exercise assessed researcher's style as a Diverger which are classified as Interpretivists (Refer to Appendix- 4 Learning style Assessment result).This indicates that the researcher has a strong belief in understanding the perceptions of others and to explore how people give importance to a particular thing in their daily lives (Berg, 2001).
In interpretivism (constructionism), the people not only interact with their environment, but they also make sense of it and interpret and construct meanings that people infer from their experiences. The focus should be on what people, individually and collectively, are thinking and construct interpretations of individual /group experiences. Qualitative data that provides true insight into the individual's interpretation to its environment is considered valid. (Easterby- Smith et al, 2004).
The learning style of the researcher matches with two methods used in this research; Interviews & Focus Groups which are going to be applied during investigating the subject area. The research deals with understanding how information systems helps the staff of courier company to deliver fast paced service, and in order to analyse this, people who use information systems will be the most accurate persons who can narrate their experiences while making use of information systems. The methods used by the researcher gives direction to the research topic investigated as it justifies respondent's point of view about information systems.
Induction and Deduction are the two ways for establishing what is right or what is wrong and to draw conclusions out of it (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2005).Ghauri and Gronhaug, (2005) says that induction is based on empirical evidence whereas deduction is based on logic. The research combines both of them and aims at producing a research process that goes from observation-findings and theory building, and at the same time the research will build hypotheses from the existing literature which can be empirically tested and can be accepted or rejected.
Merton,(1967);Chalmers,(1982);Bryman and Bell,(2003); Ghauri and Gronhaug, (2005) argues that while following a deductive approach the main job of a researcher is not only to build hypotheses from existing literature but also to present them in operational terms, to show how information can be collected to test the hypotheses and the concepts being used. Though the researcher assessed his learning style as an assimilator, still the researcher aims at using deductive approach by doing survey because in order to analyse the hypotheses collection of quantitative data is required for empirical testing.
4.2 Triangulation research method
The researcher will adopt the triangulation method of data collection which has been articulated by Silverman (2005) as a way of being truthful
Figure : Triangulation method of data collection
Validity would also be ensured while designing the questionnaire by adapting it from the available resources of marketing questionnaire in the published resources. Piloting of the questionnaire and the use of SPSS for the analysis of the data would also ensure the element of validity in this research.
The researcher wishes to explore different methods of research and aims at using triangulation methodology by using multiple research methods. The research makes use of focus groups, interviews and questionnaire survey, each method targets the subject area and attempts to relate each methods of research. Goetz and LeCompte (1984) say's that triangulation methodology is a means to refine, broaden and strengthen the conceptual linkages with the subject being investigated. According to Berg (2001) "the use of multiple design strategies and theories increases the depth of understanding an investigation can yield".
4.3 Methodology conclusion
The research applies inductive and deductive approaches and makes use of three methods forming triangulation, which will strengthen the weaknesses which lies in different types of methods being followed in this research. The researcher follows positivists approach and phenomenological approach towards the research in order to gather information which will compliment the different methods used in this research (refer to Philosophical Table in Appendix 1).
Research strategy is a general plan to answer the research question Saunders et al (2003). Though there are different research strategies but the researcher will adopt the triangulation of methods for collecting and verifying data. This will include literature review, focus group interview and questionnaire.
5.1.1 Design of questionnaire
According to researcher the design of the questionnaire is going to depend on the number and quality of questions. The questionnaire probably will include:
Simple direct questions requiring respondents to tick one box only.
Questions on the Likert scale using five responses with the central response being neutral.
Rank based questions.
Open ended questions asking respondent if they would like to add any comment, either positive or negative.
While designing the questionnaire proper care is going to be given by the researcher considering the positive or negative viewpoints of the respondents so that respondents could express the views whichever they feel is most appropriate. Furthermore, the questions will be designed in a way that it does not effect the emotions or personal matters of the respondents and the language of the questionnaire will be kept simple and precise.
5.1.2 Sample Selection & Sampling Frame
The research will target high level and field level staff of DTDC Franchisee who use information system in order to get useable information from it. In this study purposive sampling is appropriate since the data is being selected from only those who make use of information systems for daily decision making and communication purpose. According to Denscombe (2003) purposive sampling is applied in situations where researcher already knows about the people he or she is targeting, and deliberately selects them because they are the people who are likely to produce most valuable data. The main reason for choosing purposive sampling is that it will help the researcher to believe on the group of people selected on the ground that the data provided is going to be critical for the research.
According to Bickman and Rog (1998) sampling frame is the operational definition of the population, which explains the group about which the researcher can reasonably speak. The researcher aims at using two sample frames each representing middle level employees and high level employees.
5.2.1 Case Selection
The researcher proposes to use interviews for collecting qualitative data. Interviews will be conducted with people who are suitable and who can provide relevant data pertaining to the research topic, therefore middle level managers and high level managers are being targeted because they are the people who explicitly make use information systems. Conducting interviews will help the researcher to understand the perception of people about information systems and how it makes life easier for managers for conducting business.
5.2.2 Interview Preparation
The researcher aims to make use of semi-structured interviews because of there flexibility to retain a critical awareness of what is being said and explore some issues in greater depth instead of sticking to a point like structured interviews (Allan and Skinner, 1991).The questions will comprise of both fixed and open response questions so that the research findings are properly described by the interviewee and up to the researchers view point. The semi-structured interview method will help the researcher to get response to the main research question and also to get wide explanation about and around the investigating topic.
5.3 Focus Groups
The researcher will also conduct focus groups on a particular theme of subject matter so as to get a perception about a particular group of people. According to Bickman and Rog (1998) as stated by Stewart and Shamdasani (1992) focus group involves a group discussion on a topic that is the focus of the conversation. The researcher wants to use this method because it has the advantage of getting quick and collective data from a group of people. The open response format of focus group will help the researcher to interact directly with the respondents and there is a room for clarification and probing of responses as well as follow-up questions.
6. TIME AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
There is a sequential way through which the research is going to be carried out which has been explained with the help of a project plan (See Appendix 3). According to Taylor (2005), "developing a project plan has been identified as one critical factor for project success". It has been predicted that the research is going to take almost 5 months of time.
The project plan comprises the period where the active plan is indicated and the critical paths which are indicated in red blocks which cannot be delayed. These time periods have been identified and kept clear. They should also provide some break points within the research, which may well aid reflection of current work to date.
7. SUITABILITY OF RESEARCH
7.1 Researcher's Background
The researcher is a graduate in Electronics & Communications Engineering from Maheshwara Institute of Technology, India, and at present pursuing MBA (Masters of Business Administration) from Liverpool John Moores University. The research topic was selected by the researcher because of his experience of managing the DTDC Franchisee at his place in Adilabad, India. His father is the branch manager of this Franchisee
7.2 Suitability for Researcher's position for research
The researcher is currently engaged in a part-time work at Cineworld Cinemas Edge Lane, working as a multifunctional staff. The researcher has the access to the data required for research as the franchisee is managed by his father. Another added advantage is that the researcher has managed this franchise for almost a year which will enable him to carry out the research effectively.
As stated in literature review the subject area under investigation is not a new topic for research but it is a very important topic for DTDC Franchise especially in small towns and rural outlets as use of information systems is a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The positivist side of researcher wants to investigate whether there is a quantitative link between people's interest towards using information systems and how it helps businesses. The researcher is also following an ethnographical approach to try and understand detailed perception of users towards information systems and relate it to statistical data attained from questionnaires.
8. OTHER ISSUES
According to the researcher the research includes some other issues as well during the process period of the research which might affect the research. There is an existence of some ethical issues which may arise during the research.
8.1 Ethical Issues
8.1.1 Informed Consent
"The belief of Informed Consent is one that has heaved its head on a number of occasions whilst devising the research methods". According to Miller & Boulton (2007), informed consent is a concept which attempts to capture and convey what is regarded as the appropriate relationship between researcher and research participant. "The definition of informed consent have traditionally emphasised respect for autonomy and the right to self-determination of the individual". However, the meaning of informed consent and the values on which it is based are grounded in society and the practicalities of social relationships. Informed Consent is important in both the quantitative and qualitative methods within the study.
The researcher and the respondents share a professional relationship in this research and therefore it becomes necessary to make the respondents understand the objectives of this research, and that collecting information from them is not going to harm them or hamper their position in the organisation. Also the respondents might feel insecure that the information about the organisation might be divulged to their competitors and to avoid this only the researcher has access to all the information gathered, and the information gathered will be destroyed abiding by Market Research Society [MRS] (MRS, 2005) guidelines as soon as the research is over. The respondents will also be informed about the interviews and focus groups timings so that they can take time from their busy schedule and also the questionnaire information provided by them will be kept confidential.
8.2 Market Research Society
The target population is this research is that of high level and field level staff of the organisation and therefore it is going to be important to fix a suitable time for interview and focus groups as most of the time they will be busy with official work. Officials will be informed in advance about interviews and focus groups; also if they feel they don't want to take part in this, they are free to withdraw there names out of this at any stage. Respondents will also be informed that survey results are going to be confidential and all the information gathered will be destroyed after the research is over.
8.3 Research limitations
8.3.1 Focus group limitations
According to Saunders et al (2003), there are some general limitations in the research process which might exist with the focus groups. Proper conduct of focus group is a limitation to this research because all the participants are higher level officials of the organisation and most of the time they are busy with official work, and hence it's difficult to gather all of them at the same time. In order to cope up with this, focus group would be held on a weekend i.e. either on Saturday or Sunday because the operations during weekends closes early and so the participants can participate in the Focus group after work.
9.1 Interview procedure
Week prior to the interview, the interviewee will be given a rough outlay of the interview with associated documents included. This is to allow the interviewee to fully understand the questions and be prepared with the required answers. Also, a brief Informed Consent will be given to sign to give the consent to avoid any legal or ethical issues.
The purpose of the interview will be informed prior interview and outline of the project will be conveyed.
The researcher will inform the interviewee that the interview will be recorded and it will be kept confidential.
The interviewee will have the opportunity to stop the interview at any time and the recording could be destroyed in accordance with the principle of Informed Consent.
The interviewee will be informed about any observations made at the end of the interview. All interviews will be recorded for later analysis on Nvivo.
The interviewee would be able to read the final research report only the request.