Identifying a Problem in an Organization and Coming Up With the Solutions Thesis

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TOPIC: Thesis on Identifying a Problem in an Organization and Coming Up With the Solutions Assignment

The Information Systems (IS) Department of Toyota Motor Sales USA (TMS) had become overwhelmed with the many committed projects to the sales force, service, and dealer organizations, yet had not been able to define accountability for results. This situation was made even more challenging due to the fact that a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system was being implemented throughout TMS, requiring significant change to IS, Marketing, Services, Operations and Sales roles throughout the company. Despite these many projects and the impending ERP project that was one of the largest in the company's history, the IS Department failed to deliver any of them on deadline, earning a reputation as unresponsive and not connected to the broader TMS business (Wailgum, 2005). The breakdown of responsibility between requests of the department and their performance was due to the IS Department having little accountability regarding the completion of projects and a strong resistance to change. The need for consistent leadership and the development and execution of strategies to overcome resistance to change was coming to a break point quickly. As the new ERP system was badly needed as the coordination point for all major IS projects in progress and planned. The many challenges of the PeopleSoft ERP implementation including the finalization of a distributed order management system, parts forecasting system design and launch, advanced warranty management system completion and financial document management project (Wailgum, 2005). All of these projects would eventually tie into the Dealer Daily Extranet Initiative, a massive project designed to give TMS Dealers in the U.S. The latest and most up-to-date information available. The roll-out of this system would require migration from IBM as/400-based systems that had become antiquated both in terms of the applications developed for them, and the connectivity required of dealers to get information from them. Migrating employees off of the IBM as/400 system in IS would require massive re-training efforts so these more senior members of the programming and support teams could use the new system. Most importantly, there was the need to define strategies for minimizing and alleviating the strong resistance to change that many of these senior IS staff members felt. As is common in many ERP implementations, these professionals felt their jobs were in jeopardy, and when combined with fears of being outsourced and the perception of age discrimination, many refused to cooperate and provide the necessary knowledge to make the projects successful (Allen, 2008). The costs of making change to process, systems and peoples' roles permanent is the largest cost item in many it projects, often to a 10:1 scale (Brenner, 2008).Despite these challenges and the barriers that quickly went up and became galvanized in IS culture quickly, TMS was facing increasingly aggressive competition throughout their dealer channels in the U.S. And throughout North America. The urgency to get TMS transformed into a vital link in the global lean manufacturing strategies of Toyota Motor Company made the leading of change management processes crucial (Bacheldor, Sullivan, 2004). The lack of leadership and the need for greater involvement of the employees to overcome resistance to technological change is the single most prevalent factor in ERP system implementation failures (Kemp, Low, 2008).

Statement of the Problem

The many systemic problems that IS was experiencing were emanating from the lack of leadership and the need for a much higher level of task ownership on the part of IS employees. In conjunction, there is the need for creating more accountabil8ty throughout the organization, to ensure that deadlines are met and project schedules move forward. Change management as the primary planning perquisite is a critical success factor for ERP implementations as well (Ngai, Law, Wat, 2008). The IS Department at TMS was without leadership, a workable plan for overcoming resistance to change, and no plans for how to increase accountability for results of existing projects. Because of these shortcomings, the IS Department did not have the necessary guidance to be focused on the unmet needs of those internal departments that were reliant on it to get systems, processes and new IS projects completed to assist them in fulfilling their business goals. As a result, even when projects were completed, they were often missing key features that the business units needed. With no accountability was defined on a project-by-project basis, no recognition for projects completed was part of the IS Department culture. As a result of all these factors, IS was becoming increasingly isolated and lacked the effectiveness necessary to help other departments that dependent on it to get to shared strategic goals. The ERP project, strategic in scope and critical for the synchronization of all systems, only made the urgency significantly greater for these problems to be resolved.

Literature Review

For change management at any level of the organization to be effective there must be shared ownership and trust, and a shared vision of what needs to be accomplished (Mohan, Xu, Ramesh, 2008). For TMS, the challenge of change had to begin first with leadership and trust in both the direction of projects and accountability attached to their results. The senior management team at TMS realized that competitors were quickly invading their channels from Ford, GM, Hyundai and other car manufacturers looking to capitalize on the more experienced Toyota dealers who were becoming more disillusioned with the lack of performance on the part of TMS in delivering IS projects they had promised and not delivered. For the long-term success of TMS, the IS Department needed to urgently resolve the problems that resistance to change, complacency and lack of leadership were causing to fester in their organization. Companies who desire long-term success must be infused a high degree of process ownership to overcome resistance to change, complacency, and embrace accountability (Caperelli, 1996). The difficulty of implementing change can often cause organizations to abandon their plans to change. People within an organization must be motivated to change but they often resist change (Bateman, 2007). Shared leadership where all members involved in the change support and implement the change is crucial to the success of the change effort and overcomes resistance to change (Bateman, 2007). Once the decision has been made that change is needed, managers often assume that all members within an organization will embrace the change effort when in fact most people do not want to disrupt the current status quo (Caperelli, 1996). In addition to resistance, there are additional chokepoints of change implementation that occur in most organizations. Employees may not be accustomed to being challenged to look beyond their functional department and thus are unable to see the causal relationship between the change and the overall goals of the organization (Mohan, Xu, Ramesh, 2008). IS Department employees may be reluctant to commit to the objectives of the change as they fear the unknown, and often do not see their senior managers' also making comparable commitments to the change. This appears duplicitous and often hypocritical if leaders do not genuinely embrace change and make the necessary sacrifices they are calling on their employees to (Mohan, Xu, Ramesh, 2008). Employees may question their ability to implement change or make the decisions necessary to make a difference in the change process. In addition to leaders becoming committed to their change plans, they must also establish a communication action plan, which opens the channels of communication and can stifle adversarial relationships that may lead to the choke points (Cabot & Steiner, 2006). For the CIO who is responsible for running the IS Department, a successful communication action plan should be an ongoing document that seeks to deliver critical knowledge to employees to nurture more trust and promote a more open and transparent environment. An ongoing strategic communication plan creates management credibility, trust, and support and is critical for any change management strategy to be effective, especially where rapid change occurs (Cabot & Steiner, 2006).

Problem Analysis

The culture of TMS had steadily grown less and less accountable and capable of change as globally their parent company, Toyota Motor Company, achieved exceptionally high levels of success. Complacency and the enforcements of the status quo, even to the point of missing deadlines and lacking internal controls, had begun to permeate TMS as a result. Leadership had degraded to the point of enforcing the status quo and seeing their existing information systems platforms as sufficient for their dealer channels.

While the IS department had grown complacent and began to accept a lack of accountability for results, the department began to lose the more ambitious, driven and valuable managers and vice presidents as they grew frustrated with the lack of results and performance. As accountability had atrophied due to leaders cycling through the department, the culture began to be more accepting of conflicting responsibilities and unrealistic expectations. Not surprisingly after years of this the IS department began to lose its credibility, with a new CIO brought in to turn around the deteriorating situation (Wailgum, 2005).

The new CIO had… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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