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Thomson Page Interconnections (TPI) is a UK based manufacturer for Printed Circuit Board. The company is one of the largest manufactures in surface-mount assembly along with fast-track prototyping and box build services. It employs over 100 people at its two sites in Walton and Andover with Walton being the main site. The turnover of the company is around $10 million every year. To cope with increasing competition and market influences both globally and locally and to increase the efficiency in terms of quality, reliability, productivity and optimum resource utilization a strategic plan to develop and improve information system for proactive decision making of the management is a must.
The Aims of the report are to propose a five year plan for the company to improve its deliverables and services for the consumers and to propose an information system tool which will control, monitor and record the details of products, its components, operational time of the product and its cost to improve the company's tendering procedures by analyzing the time and cost variation throughout the production.
* To strategically study and investigate TPI based on SWOT and PEST analysis with respect to its potential competitors, its environment and the probable loopholes in the market and the respective services provided by the company.
* To understand the methods and tools for advancement of suitable systems to carry out work up to the mark of proficient standards.
* To propose a business strategy while understanding the importance of efficient communication in an organization. Also, to realize and value the wide variety of services that information systems can provide as a means of communication.
* With the aid of Case Diagram, class diagram and activity diagram, analyze the existing structure of the company and based on the study, propose a new system for data collection to process time and cost efficiently to perk up its tendering process.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
Strategic planning in simply terms is a process to carry out the business from its present state to where it wants to be. It's hard to think strategically into a vague future so strategic analysis helps to anticipate what may happen and it helps in being prepared for it. Strategic planning is carried out by first analyzing the company's goal and objective followed by revealing the opportunities, analyzing company's main resources and highlighting the threats. Secondly to develop a strategy and choosing the right strategy from several available alternative by analyzing it's cost and benefits.
In this case, we would use SWOT and PEST analysis techniques.
Â· SWOT ANAYLSIS
It is a powerful strategic planning tool for summarising the key issues arising from an assessment of a business's "internal" position and "external" environmental influences. (www.corporatestrategiesintl.com)
The internal analysis consists of the strengths and weaknesses of the company whereas the opportunities and the threats combine together to form the external analysis. With the help of the internal and external analysis the SWOT Profile is formed.
Â· PEST ANALYSIS
"PEST analysis is a useful strategic tool for understanding market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations."(Kotler,1998).
PEST factors are usually considered as threats or as opportunities for an organization as they are beyond the control of an organization.
A SWOT analysis measures a business unit whereas a PEST analysis measures a market. (www.businessballs.com)
2.1 SWOT ANALYSIS FOR THOMSON PAGE INTERCONNECTIONS
The main reasons for choosing this technique by TPI is to analyze and capitalize on its strengths, address its weaknesses, take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the threats surrounding them. The technique of converting weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities will help in optimizing the potential of the company. The analysis pointed out that TPI has a strong market presence and enjoys a good goodwill and reputation in the industry. The turnover of the company also reflects its leadership and client satisfaction. They also need to develop some core competencies out of one of their strengths mentioned below. The strategy analysis also guards the company against the ever changing environment. The analysis also points out the need for a better research and development department.
* Begin one of the oldest company of its kind it enjoys a reputation of being a good and reliable company in UK.
* Now days the company is one of the largest surface-mount manufactures in the UK.
* It also introduced fast-track prototyping and box build services.
* The company operates from two sites in Walton and Andover with good dedicated employees.
* Mainly stresses on quality and customer services.
* Carries out research for new products.
* Continuously studying market trends and keeps a check on the progress of its competitors.
* No strategic plan for future.
* Small research and development department.
* No CNC machine at the Andover site so the site concentrates mainly on the specialist PCB assemblies.
* Assigning production costs accurately to individual jobs.
* Production difficulties related to specific batches.
* A well thought strategic plan, to understand where the company is actually heading.
* Being one of the oldest firms it enjoys reliable and trustworthy customers which always add to the company's goodwill.
* A better and bigger research and development department.
* A better tendering procedure with accurate information on the cost and time of assembling products.
* Improving its position in the manufacturing market by selling good and high quality products in a feasible price.
* Activity Based Costing System keeps a check on the products, components, employees, cost and timings of different products.
* Overseas competition from India and China.
* Declining profit margins for the past four years.
* Changing market and customers requirements.
* Processing many different contracts of varying levels, complexity and value.
* System breakdown can cause a big problem.
2.2 PEST ANALYSIS FOR THOMSON PAGE INTERCONNECTIONS
As TPI is presently operating within United Kingdom the analysis of the economic factors would help us in anticipating the current and future economic growth of the organization as economic factors helps us to determine the changes in the economic environment along with the interest and inflation rates.
Analysis of factors such as tax policies, trade restrictions and tariff control must be carried out very efficiently. There is definite need to survey the present political scenario therefore politics factor cannot be ignored as it helps in analyzing any possible changes in the future.
Various socio-cultural elements such as employment, mobility should be thought properly as TPI has two sites to operate from. It would help the company to analyzing the liabilities and negligence in the safety requirements.
PEST analysis reveals another important factor which should be considered by TPI which is technological environment. As the process is dependent on technology, technological analysis will help TPI in establishing the use of effective communications and customised software that would help in reduction of costs.
IDENTIFICATION OF FACTORS FOR PEST
* Political Stability and likely changes.
* Tax Policies.
* Trade restrictions and Tariff controls.
* Environmental Regulations
* Employment Laws
* Current and project Economic Growth
* Interest Rates
* Inflation Rates
* Labor Costs
* Likely impact of technological changes on the economy
* Likely changes in the whole economic environment.
* Population growth rate
* Social mobility
* Employment patterns, job market attitudes, career attitudes
* Emphasis on Safety
* Impact of emerging technologies-use of latest equipments
* Impact of Internet and reduced communication costs.
* Research and Development Activity
* Rate of technological changes.
In accordance with the analysis in chapter 2, the company needs a strategic plan which will not only help to improve their business but also step by step take them out of the decline profit margin. A business strategic not only helps in management to clarify, focus and research their project's development or business prospects but also offers a benchmark against which actual performance can be measured and reviewed.
A proper strategic not only helps in avoiding mistakes but sometimes it may also led up to finding some hidden opportunities. To form a strategic the vision, objectives, goals and programs must be as clear as possible.
The mission out here is to make the firm self sustainable in any kind of competitive environment by introducing information system tools to bind the firm as one and to increase the productivity and sales of the firm.
As identified from the SWOT and PERT analysis in Chapter 2, the strategies for a five year plan are
APPROACH: Improving Relations with the Clients
One of the major strengths of TPI is their strong history of service and good relationship with their Clients. There should be a lot of focus on holding customer, high customer service and commitment and quality. "It is about recognizing that the organization's existing customer base is its most important asset, which has to be protected."(Winter and Preece, 2002). There should be equal focus on getting new clients as the company has an opportunity to sell high quality goods at reasonable price.
APPROACH: Larger Research and Development Department
As the company studies market trends and the competitor's progress very closely, there should have a bigger and more efficient research and development department. This is to make sure that the company is not left behind owing to the changes in the market trends. Changes in the demands of the clients should also be taken well care of, to supply the client with the best product at a reasonable price from its competitor should be the motto of the research and development department.
APPROACH: Knowledge Management
In doing so, the best practices will be stored in a knowledge bank so that there is no reinvention of things and any frequent queries or activity process can be addressed by the data already stored. This will also enable the employees to learn from experienced managers experience. Online software's (connected to the server) shall be used by the employees for time sheets and recording data.
APPROACH: EDMS - Electronic Document Management Systems for Communication
EDMS is one of the most convenient and efficient systems to control and support as it single handled, easily manages system administration, document configuration and versioning. The system is clear, precise, uncluttered and easy to manage interfaces and hence the efficiency offered is great. Multiple documents can be made available to all the members who are associated with the project. Some document types can be made on hand to only administration, while other documents are available for viewing only by certain users, and allow other official users to edit them. EDMS has also proved to deliver all its functions with a considerably low cost of operation and ownership. It can very well satisfy the requirements of any scale of projects, from multi-nationals to single department projects.
Benefits of EDMS
* Cost effective information retrieval
* Cost effective storage of information
* Web based delivery of information
* Secure distribution and control of information
* Low maintenance
* Highly scalable application
APPROACH: Core Competency
"Core competencies are what give firm one or more competitive advantages, in creating and delivering value to its customers in its chosen field."
As analysed from the PEST analysis of the macro environment that TPI is operating within needs continuous improvements in the fields of technology. This would help taking the organization to another level where no one else can match their technical knowhow in this particular area they have to innovate new and more efficient methods of manufacturing.
Strategies are nothing but a realistic view of the expectations and long-term objectives for an established business. It provides the framework within which the company must operate so that to guarantee success not only in funds raising but also in the ultimate challenge of Success.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE NEW SYSTEM
The development of new systems should be made in a more cohesive way with greater integration and communication throughout the organization. A clearly defined process for specifying server, building, commissioning and supporting should be developed to ensure consistency in hardware platforms, operating systems and software. A standard set of supported hardware and operating systems should be defined to ensure that support continues but also that in the event of failure hardware could be resourced far more easily to enable the restoration of services far more quickly.
There are currently 6 computers in use by the organisation out of which 4 are at Walton office and 2 at the Andover office. All the computers would be linked to the central server residing at the head office. The entire network would be protected by firewall to monitor incoming and outgoing security alerts and track down any intrusion or detect viruses, threats, or securing the database from a crash down.
All computers would require a common operating system such as Windows Vista or Windows 7 with core applications (Including Microsoft Office 2007). This is to ensure that the similarity is maintained throughout the two branches. Applications such as Microsoft Outlook would be used as the standard e-mail and Internet Explorer as the default web browser. The computers must be equipped with an anti-virus so as to protect it from viruses, threats, and break down and protect files and company documents.
Further certain security measures should be considered for the server infrastructure. Potential access points have to be identified as "the security can be only as good as the security on these access nodes".
There have to be safety measures at the terminals of the network to achieve adequate network security. In the architecture of the system designed for TPI, firewalls could be used to concentrate network security into one point. This firewall would monitor and log traffic through the network. As the central server would store all the data of the organisation, a hardware firewall would be used to make it more secure and configurable.
The systems at the regional offices would be further protected by providing software firewalls so that all messages entering or leaving through them pass through the firewall, which would examines each message and block those that do not meet the specified security criteria. Such measures may include the use of user id's and password security, antivirus security to combat against the various virus outbreaks.
Ref: Anonymous, 2009. [online].: http://www.fortunaps.net/fortudoc/images/FortuDoc2.gif
Planning not only includes identifying strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats but includes establishing goals, objectives and budgeting foe both long and short terms. Right and accurate information is the key for planning. The better the information, the clearer the picture managers has of the present and past; the clearer the picture of the present and past, the better prepared managers are to plan for the future.
Resources like information, materials, manpower, equipments and methods should be allocated properly so as to optimize the management system. To set up standards such as project time schedule, control budgets and productivity standards Information Systems is the key and the most necessary part. It also helps in measuring and comparing progress and costs of a particular product.
Based on the above analysis, TPI may therefore develop a more concentrated and systematic approach with new and improved information management system to cope with competitive environment and improved awareness in the industry. Thereafter, in order to deliver the information on time for decision-making or any remedial corrective action, it is desired that the information system be so updated that much time can be devoted to the actual execution of the necessary action rather than on the accumulation of information prior to it. Timely achievement of targets and schedules in terms of overall profit and reduction in time and cost is the most important priority of a company. Thus to remain as a leader, it is important that the company is always in the process of planning, modifying, and redesigning its information system at its various levels and thus ensure a complete information flow throughout the company.