Strategic Information Systems For Australian Red Cross Business Essay

Published:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Our recommended system is a cost effective option for Red Cross and one that will enable the achievement of short term results with minimal business impact. The system is furthermore expected to be positively received and supported by the corporate partnership team: a critical factor for success with any IT system implementation as you would be aware. 4

Thanks for the opportunity to review and respond to Red Cross's IT business needs, and we look forward to presenting the recommendations contained in our enclosed report to you in person. 4

Sincerely 4

Kellie Johnston, Penny Impey and Ahmed Arvi 4

Executive Summary 5

Introduction 7

The implementation of a new IT system at Australian Red Cross (Red Cross) stands to directly enable the corporate partnership team to better deliver upon its strategic objective to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits.  7

7

Report 8

15

Conclusion 16

References 17

SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY 1

GRADUATE COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT 1

Cover Letter 4

Our recommended system is a cost effective option for Red Cross and one that will enable the achievement of short term results with minimal business impact. The system is furthermore expected to be positively received and supported by the corporate partnership team: a critical factor for success with any IT system implementation as you would be aware. 4

Thanks for the opportunity to review and respond to Red Cross's IT business needs, and we look forward to presenting the recommendations contained in our enclosed report to you in person. 4

Sincerely 4

Kellie Johnston, Penny Impey and Ahmed Arvi 4

Executive Summary 5

Introduction 7

The implementation of a new IT system at Australian Red Cross (Red Cross) stands to directly enable the corporate partnership team to better deliver upon its strategic objective to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits.  7

7

Report 8

15

Conclusion 16

References 17

Cover Letter

4 November 2010

Warren Don

Chief Information Officer

Australian Red Cross

155 Pelham Street

CARLTON VIC 3053

Dear Warren

Further to our recent discussions, we are pleased to enclose our final report and recommendations regarding the proposed adoption of a new CRM IT system at Red Cross, for the specific use and benefit of the corporate partnership team.

Having analysed the current shortcomings of the corporate partnership team's manual information systems, and the negative impact these systems are having on organisational performance, we have identified a new system which will directly serve to increase sales, facilitate corporate partner retention and enhance customer satisfaction. It will also improve productivity amongst the corporate partnership team and enable efficient and accurate internal reporting and analysis. Ultimately, the new system will directly enable the corporate partnership team to deliver upon its overarching strategic objective to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits. 

Our recommended system is a cost effective option for Red Cross and one that will enable the achievement of short term results with minimal business impact. The system is furthermore expected to be positively received and supported by the corporate partnership team: a critical factor for success with any IT system implementation as you would be aware.

Thanks for the opportunity to review and respond to Red Cross's IT business needs, and we look forward to presenting the recommendations contained in our enclosed report to you in person.

Sincerely

Kellie Johnston, Penny Impey and Ahmed Arvi

Executive Summary

Australian Red Cross (Red Cross) is the largest humanitarian organisation in world. In delivering on its mission, Red Cross is dependent upon funding support from the public and private sectors.  One key source of such funding is corporate partnerships. The key objective of Red Cross's corporate partnership strategy is to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits. The achievement of such a strategy is dependent on an information technology (IT) system that enables the corporate partnership team to accurately and efficiently capture, manage and leverage individual corporate partner/prospect information.

Such an IT system is not currently available at Red Cross, resulting in a range of missed opportunities and risks and ultimately compromising the ability of the corporate partnership team to deliver upon its strategic objectives. We are proposing the development and implementation of a new IT system to address these issues. The

System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) model has been adopted in the development of our recommendations.

Our team is recommending the development and implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. To minimise the budget, timeframe and implementation risk we are recommending that Red Cross adopt out-of-the-box CRM functionality with minimised customisation. The new system will:

Open new possibilities for revenue generation and relationship development

Generate reports and create a 360-degree view of all supporters

Report, analyse and predict supporters' behaviour

Make communication easy and efficient by using digital channels

Be fully integrated with the Microsoft Office suite of products

Have online backup and data retrieval functionality

It will ultimately directly serve to enable the corporate partnership team to deliver upon its strategic objectives.

To avoid IT system failure our team has prepared a detailed implementation plan. We are also recommending the adoption of a clear IT governance framework and a series of post implementation activities.

Introduction

The implementation of a new IT system at Australian Red Cross (Red Cross) stands to directly enable the corporate partnership team to better deliver upon its strategic objective to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits. 

The enclosed report outlines our recommendations for a new IT system for the corporate partnership team, and describes what the system will comprise and how it will help to advance Red Cross's strategic objectives.

We have adopted the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) model in the development of these recommendations.

Report

Organisational context

Background

Australian Red Cross ('Red Cross') is part of the largest humanitarian organisation in the world and one of the world's great brands.  In delivering on its mission to alleviate human suffering wherever it might be found and its vision to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Australia and internationally by mobilising the power of humanity, Red Cross is critically dependent upon funding support from the public and private sectors.  One key source of such funding is corporate partnerships. 

The key objective of Red Cross's corporate partnership strategy is to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits.  The corporate partnership team at Red Cross is accordingly reliant on a relationship marketing-based selling approach, and in turn an information technology (IT) system that enables the team to accurately and efficiently capture, manage and leverage individual corporate partner/prospect information.

IT problem

Such an IT system is not currently available at Red Cross, meaning that the corporate partnership team is using basic, generic and manual systems such as Microsoft Excel to capture information regarding existing and prospective corporate partners.  These manual systems do not have the level of sophistication or customisation required for the team to maximise relationship-based fundraising, nor is there a documented information governance framework in place, specifying what type of information needs to be captured by the corporate partnership team; when; by whom and how. 

The absence of an appropriate IT system and governance framework for the corporate partnership team is resulting in:

Missed opportunities

Mismanagement of corporate partners

Duplication of effort

Insufficient, inconsistent and inaccurate data capture

Multiple disparate information systems with no reporting functionality

Poor knowledge management processes, given that much of the information generated on corporate partners and prospects on a day-to-day basis by the corporate partnership team is not captured.

Such problems are:

Compromising Red Cross's ability to deliver upon the aforementioned strategic objective

Resulting in an inability to transform corporate partner/prospect information into a business asset and thereby derive a competitive advantage.

Given that the information critical to the corporate partnership team's success is gathered by the team but not appropriately recorded and managed, the problem at hand is fundamentally IT-based.

Internal and external operating environments

Whilst the current absence of a suitable IT system and governance framework has by default resulted in an internal culture within the corporate partnership team that is not 'information' focused, there is nonetheless a strong understanding amongst the team that a suitable IT system is essential if the team is to achieve its strategic objectives.  Accordingly, executive advocacy and stakeholder buy-in and engagement - both key factors for success when implementing a new IT framework - will not be problematic.

There are no major geoeconomic, cultural or political and regulatory issues that stand to impact upon the success or failure of an IT system tailored for the corporate partnership team.

IT SYSTEM Recommendation

IT system to support Red Cross's strategic objectives

Our IT system recommendation is premised on the understanding that the most vital precondition or factor for success with IT implementation is using IT as a tool to drive competitive strategy and linking IT with business strategy (Davis & Golicic, 2010, p. 58; Xu, 2009, p. 18; Porter, 2001, p.77; Rubin, 2010, p.15).

Accordingly, to address the aforementioned IT problem, our proposal has been crafted with the specific intent to help Red Cross's corporate partnership team achieve its principal strategic objective: to develop, secure and maintain long-term corporate partnerships that deliver net financial, promotional and strategic benefits.

System Development Life Cycle

We have adopted the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) model in the development of these recommendations.

The SDLC model is a commonly accepted modern approach for describing the complex processes and issues involved in information system development.  There are iterations among activities within each phase and among the phases.  Haag et al. (2008) identified seven phases that interact with each other:

Project Planning and Selection - establishing a high level plan of the intended project and the project goals 

Systems Analysis - this phase will involve analysing the corporate partnership team's business requirements and refining project goals to define functions and operations of the intended system 

System Design - this phase will describe desired features and operations of the system including screen layouts, business rules, process diagrams, pseudo code, and other documentation 

Development - this phase involves transforming the detailed design documents into the actual system (note that this phase won't be feature heavily in our proposed system implementation, on the basis of the IT system being largely 'out of the box' as outlined later)

Testing- this phase includes designing the testing environment to test for errors, bugs and interoperability and verifying the system meets all of the business requirements defined in the analysis phase

Systems Implementation - this phase includes putting the system into production.  The implementation phase may include prototyping, summative evaluation before the system release and evaluation of the system after it is installed and being used by the corporate partnership team for a period of time 

Maintenance - this phase includes performing changes, corrections, additions, and upgrades.

It should be noted that SDLC models are based on organisational needs rather than human needs. The human interaction aspect of an information system is considered far too little (only the screen interface) and far too late in the IT development process (only at the design stage). Thus there are often gaps between satisfying organisational needs and supporting and enriching human users as they use the systems for their tasks. Bostrum and Heinen (1977) suggest that IT failures could be attributed to 'faulty design choices' resulting from the lack of emphasis on human/social aspects of system use.  This problem can be addressed by carefully integrating Human Computer Interaction development into the SDLC process to achieve truly human-centred IT development approach.  Incorporating a Human Computer Interaction perspective into the SDLC is crucial to IT success and in turn to the success of Red Cross.

IT system description and specifications

Having undertaken the first two phases of the SDLC model as outlined above, namely (1) Project planning and selection; and (2) Systems analysis, we are proposing the development and implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. To keep the implementation project within budget and time limits and to reduce implementation risk, we are recommending that Red Cross adopt out-of-the-box CRM functionality with minimised customisation.  By minimising customisation we hope to increase manageability of maintenance and lower future investment in upgrades.  This approach will also show results quickly and gain user buy-in amongst the corporate partnership team, even for those members of the team that may not be computer savvy or seem unhappy to share information or can't see the benefits of the CRM software (Agnew, 2000).

It is envisaged that the CRM system will provide a centralised repository for the sophisticated capture and leveraging of all information related to existing and prospective corporate partners and supporters.

The new CRM system will give Red Cross a stable and customised platform for supporter insights and open new possibilities for external communications, revenue generation and relationship development. The CRM will furthermore give Red Cross better control over its communications, leading to diminished donor fatigue and irritation, whilst identifying the most effective development paths for supporters.

We recommend that the new CRM system have two primary components: operational CRM and analytic CRM. Operational CRM supports traditional transactional process for day-to-day front office operations or systems that deal directly with supporters (Haag et al, 2008). Analytic CRM supports back office operations and strategic analysis and includes all systems that don't deal directly with supporters. Analytic CRM provides analytic applications to help predict, scale and optimise supporter relationships (Xu,2005). The new system will enable varying types of analysis, aimed at maximising supporter opportunities and relationships:

Customer Analytics: Provides a better view of customer behaviour, assessing customer values and profile to create a comprehensive understanding of donors

Service Analytics:  Enhances the service which answers all questions regarding donors or corporate partners' satisfaction

Channel Analytics: Analyses supporters' behaviour and preferred channels of communication (e.g. telephone, web, personal interaction, etc). The new system will enable our web site with a feature of 'click-to-talk'. This will allow to supporters to click and talk with Red Cross's corporate partnership team.

 

We further recommend that the new system offers a comprehensive, modern and user friendly solution for the corporate partnership team, and that a comprehensive IT governance framework be implemented to create business rules around how the corporate partnership team's information is kept, shared and used. Such a framework should specify "decision rights and accountabilities for important IT decisions" (Weill, 2004, Introduction) and "form the policy foundations needed to transform information from a business liability into an asset" (Council for Information Advantage, 2010, p.8).

Red Cross needs to keep detailed records of existing and prospective supporters, carry out a range of reports, maximise tax efficient giving, perform administrative tasks, send statements and other communications, link to its back end financial systems, manage contact histories, facilitate and track its supporter stewardship and cultivation strategies and track financial and non-financial contributions. The proposed CRM system will fulfil all of these criteria, and will be fully integrated with the Microsoft Office suite of products, including Excel and Outlook. The proposed system will have no space limitations on email and phone number fields.

In recognition of the fact that many of Red Cross's supporters want to communicate through digital channels, such as web or VOIP, the new system will track this information and alert the corporate partnership team accordingly. In cases of natural disasters where Red Cross launches Disaster Appeals, the new system will send SMSs to supporters alerting them of opportunities for involvement.

The system will have the capacity to generate regular reports as required by the corporate partnership team and finance team. Analysis tools will analyse supporter trends and thereby help to inform further strategic development.

Good relationships with supporters are an important factor for success in corporate fundraising, and the new system will accordingly record all supporter interactions and create a 360-degree view of every supporter. This will enable Red Cross to target donors based on past relationships. The new system will also alert the corporate partnership team of major donations so as to enable a personalised response to high value supporters.

There are three phases of CRM evolution, including reporting, analysis and predicting. Reporting technology identifies Red Cross's customers across other applications. Analysis technology will help Red Cross to segment its customers into categories. Predicting technology will help to make predictions regarding behaviour such as which supporters are a flight risk. Both the operational and analytical CRM technologies can assist in customer reporting, analysis, and prediction (Haag et al, 2008).  

We propose that the new system have front end functionality for supporters to edit their own information and to subscribe online for Red Cross communications.

In the case of fire, major equipment failure or other disruptions, the new system will have an online backup system, so as to ensure that all of the data can be safely and fully retrieved without any extra expenditure.

The proposed system will reduce Red Cross's operating costs, maximise relationship development opportunities, save time amongst corporate partnership staff, develop better communication channels, increase customer satisfaction, and ideally facilitate the achievement of greater support from corporate supporters. The new CRM system will ultimately increase the efficiency of Red Cross in its fundraising and stakeholder engagement efforts and directly help to facilitate the achievement of the corporate partnership team's strategic objectives.

By involving members of the corporate partnership team (end users) in the deployment of the CRM system and making them feel that their feedback was important for the system to address their needs, it is hoped to gain their buy-in.  Throughout the project the goal and progress must be communicated to the corporate partnership team and their feedback sought. The team should also be given the opportunity to try the new system in a test environment.  This will allow some experimentation is a safe environment along with faster acclimatisation to the system.  Also, a lower number of mistakes will be likely to be made when the system is actually implemented, because the corporate partnership team will have already experienced these mistakes (Hendriks, 2005).

It is also important that the training will educate the corporate partnership team about the importance of the system to Red Cross and not only about how to use it (Pliskin & Ben-Zion, 2005).

IT system implementation, risk management and change management

An implementation plan has been developed by the project team as follows:

Action

Delivery date

Prepare training materials

December 2010

Review policies and procedures to include the software

December 2001

Develop an executive management communication plan

December 2010

Develop data migration process

December 2010

Import data

January 2011

Install client software

February 2011

User training and support

February 2011

Effective project management is 'the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project' (Haag, et al. 2008).  Project management for this implementation should include strategies to deal with the change management and the identified risks of the project.  Benjamin Franklin advised that by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail, and there is abundant evidence that software implementation projects fail at an alarming rate.  The Hackett group in Atlanta conducted research that showed that in their sample, three in ten IT projects failed, with the main reason being poor planning or poor project management.  The key components of good project management for this implementation are: the project deliverables are measurable, tangible, have verifiable outcomes and can demonstrate results. There need to be clear milestones and that the project has to have been fully justified. 

As the project manager for this implementation, we have good change management skills - a vital factor for success - which include a set of techniques that aid in evolution, composition and policy development of the design and implementation of this system.  Change should be viewed as an opportunity and not a threat and as previously mentioned, good employee engagement amongst the corporate partnership team is vital if the change is to succeed.

Risk management is the process of proactive and ongoing identification, analysis, and response to risk factors.  Project risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on the project objectives.  The best place to address project risk is during the project plan creation.  The implementation of the CRM system project will:

Learn from previous experience and will revisit methodologies

Employ project management software tools and best practice methodology 

Share knowledge and a project management culture

Reward success.

Summative evaluation will take place after the CRM system is developed to confirm whether the evaluation metrics or other industry standards are met.  User evaluation will collect feedback from the corporate partnership team in understanding the actual behaviour towards the system use.  This understanding will help in developing new versions of other similar systems. 

The following table describes the post implementation activities recommended for this implementation.

Conduct a gap analysis 

 

Review the project charter to evaluate how closely the project results match the original objectives.

Review the expected deliverables (including documentation) and ensure either that these have been delivered to an acceptable level of quality, or that an acceptable substitute is in place.

If there are gaps, how will these be closed?

Determine whether the project goals were achieved

 

Is the deliverable functioning as expected?

Are error rates low enough, and is it fit for purpose?

Is it functioning well, and in a way that will adjust smoothly to future operating demands?

Are users adequately trained and supported? And are there sufficiently enough confident, skilled people in place?

Are the necessary controls and systems in place, and are they working properly?

What routine activities are needed to support the project's success?

If there are problems, how will these be addressed?

How does the end result compare with the original project plan, in terms of quality, schedule and budget?

Determine the  satisfaction of stakeholders

 

Were the corporate partnership team's (end users) needs met?

Is the project sponsor satisfied?

What are the effects on Red Cross or the end user?

If key individuals aren't satisfied, how should this be addressed?

Determine the project's costs and benefits

 

What were the final costs?

What will it cost to operate the solution?

What will it cost to support the solution in the future?

How do the costs compare with the benefits achieved?

If the project hasn't delivered a sufficiently large return, how can this be improved?

Identify areas of further development.

 

Have all of the expected benefits been achieved? If not, what is needed to achieve them?

Are there opportunities for further training and coaching that will maximise results?

Could further changes be made which would deliver even more value?

Are there any other additional benefits that can be achieved?

Identify lessons learned

 

How well were the projects deliverables assessed, and how well were timescales and costs assessed?

What went wrong, why did these things go wrong, and how could these problems be avoided next time?

What went well, and needs to be learned from?

(MindTools, 2010)

Conclusion

In conclusion, we recommend that the corporate partnership team at Red Cross implement the proposed CRM system to:

Ensure delivery of its strategic objectives; and

Create a system that allows partnership information to capitalise competitive advantage.

This project will require sustained investment in developing staff competencies in the use of the CRM that, once in place, will enable Red Cross to exploit the technology, systems and information relating to its corporate partners to deliver explicit, measurable value through realised organisational performance improvements.

In developing our recommendation we have considered Red Cross's existing structures, processes and culture and the commitment by the executive management coupled with the engagement and empowerment of staff. We are confident that these internal and external factors are conducive to the proposed IT implementation and that such an implementation will assist in directly contributing to competitive advantage,

Taking advantage of all that technology offers requires an enduring ability within Red Cross to understand how systems and information use can and does improve performance.

Writing Services

Essay Writing
Service

Find out how the very best essay writing service can help you accomplish more and achieve higher marks today.

Assignment Writing Service

From complicated assignments to tricky tasks, our experts can tackle virtually any question thrown at them.

Dissertation Writing Service

A dissertation (also known as a thesis or research project) is probably the most important piece of work for any student! From full dissertations to individual chapters, we’re on hand to support you.

Coursework Writing Service

Our expert qualified writers can help you get your coursework right first time, every time.

Dissertation Proposal Service

The first step to completing a dissertation is to create a proposal that talks about what you wish to do. Our experts can design suitable methodologies - perfect to help you get started with a dissertation.

Report Writing
Service

Reports for any audience. Perfectly structured, professionally written, and tailored to suit your exact requirements.

Essay Skeleton Answer Service

If you’re just looking for some help to get started on an essay, our outline service provides you with a perfect essay plan.

Marking & Proofreading Service

Not sure if your work is hitting the mark? Struggling to get feedback from your lecturer? Our premium marking service was created just for you - get the feedback you deserve now.

Exam Revision
Service

Exams can be one of the most stressful experiences you’ll ever have! Revision is key, and we’re here to help. With custom created revision notes and exam answers, you’ll never feel underprepared again.