Organizational Analysis it Perspective Thesis

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¶ … company's competitive strategy and value model. Explain how information systems and technology are used to create strategic advantage.

Comments on the Answers Provided

The answer to this section does not specifically answer the question as to what the primary competitive strategy is for Imperial Tobacco. Maybe it is differentiation but it the answer does not have a logical flow of was supposed to make this point stand out without getting embedded in the entire write up.

I also wanted the question to answer the question as to which of the three business models Chain, Shop or Network that Imperial Tobacco uses.

The Porter's Five Forces was interesting but it did not answer which value model applied.

Finally, it is hard to pick out how it created strategic advantage for Imperial Tobacco based on the answer provided for this section.

Primary Competitive Strategy

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The primary competitive strategy for Imperial Tobacco relies on a Chain Value Configuration Model as core to the company's business is the transformation of raw materials into products. Critical process areas that are core to the company's business model are its inbound logistics, Operations, Outbound Logistics, Marketing and Service. As a result of these many integration points throughout their value chain, Imperial Tobacco needs to evaluate it technologies for the standpoint of their ability to create greater levels of collaboration across its many activities, ranging from Inbound logistics through Service. As Scale and Capacity Utilization are the key cost drivers of the Chain Value Configuration Model, it is also essential for Imperial Tobacco to include a series of analytics applications to measure the performance of the company in this interlinked chain business model.

Thesis on Organizational Analysis it Perspective Assignment

Based on the Chain value configuration of the Value Chain Model as defined by Porter (1985), Imperial Tobacco's existing supply chain processes, from the coordination with tobacco growers and providers through the development of curing and packaging requirements, the company needs to nurture and enable greater levels of collaboration across its supply chain and into its manufacturing locations in order to achieve higher levels of efficiency and production, These processes that have interlinked the company's operations have continued to be improved over time, through continual effort to improve them through manually-oriented means. Automating these supply chain, quality management, curing and packaging processes however will increase the overall efficiency of the company while also reducing costs. This will be achieved by selectively applying software applications in the form of collaborative work platforms that will provide each department and opportunity to coordinate and work more effectively with the other. There is also the opportunity for each member of the Imperial Tobacco value chain to see how the entire operation is running.

The competitive strategy of Imperial Tobacco has two facets. The first is the internal efficiency that is necessary for the company to succeed. This internal efficiency needs to focus on how to make the value chain as cost- and time-efficient as possible. Imperial Tobacco also must work to alleviate wasted steps in their value chain to stay competitive globally and also support globalization efforts as well. The more lean and agile their supply chain is, the quicker they will be able to respond to external opportunities and threats while staying profitable and able to execute on their core business. The second facet of their competitive strategy is externally focused on their distribution channels, trading partners, retailers and customers. Their chain-based configuration of their value chain needs to concentrate on defining its performance so that it aligns with the expectations of these external customers, whether they are part of their distribution channel, reseller channel, or end customer.

Value Chain Model

The use of the Value Chain Model (Porter, 1985) is pervasive in explaining how the many contributory factors of any business all lead to the generating of gross margins and the ability to synchronize the many diverse departments to a common goal. Figure 1 illustrates the value chain as defined by Porter (1985).

Figure 1: Value Chain

For Imperial Tobacco, their business model requires a serialized set of processes be used in the development of their products. As a result of this requirement of integration across departments, the use of technologies, specifically those that enable collaboration, would be the best possible implementation strategy of it given their unique requirements. The need for close interdepartmental coordination and integration, all made possible through the use of a shared collaborative workspace or framework is going to be critical for Imperial Tobacco to achieve its strategic plans. In addition, the continual change in the essential areas of Marketing and Service also necessitate the development of price optimization applications that can help the company overcome commodity-like competition in the near-term and margin reduction in the long-term. In short, Imperial Tobacco needs to use it as an enabler of these relationships across their entire value chain. Second, Imperial Tobacco can use the collaboration platform or portal to also provide access to specific applications to their channel partners as well, Following an it deployment strategy of providing applications that help resellers attract new customers, sell to them, and serve them is the foundation of Imperial Tobacco creating their own Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system. In conjunction with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, the applications that comprise a PRM system could be used for ensuring that resellers get sales leads continually, that pricing both for channel partners and for consumers is optimized, and that the monitoring of new product introductions to measure their effectiveness is also effectively accomplished. The customer-facing facet of Imperial's competitive strategy needs to focus on automating these critical areas of partner and customer relationships for the company to be competitive for the long-term.


Porter, M. (1985), Competitive Advantage, New York: Free Press, 1985, 33-61.

Section 3

C) Question

Identify and describe three cross-functional processes and their information flows in your organization.

The answer provided for this section did not fundamentally answer the question. With the answer provided it is very hard to discern what the three cross functional processes were. What was picked out after reading it the answer this section are a) the package to order process and b) the products manufacturing process - which was not that well explained. The diagram you included was very good, but only covered 1 of the 3 processes that was asked to be explained

Answer Provided - Cross-Functional Process Analysis

The first process is the Package-to-Order Process and Tobacco Processing and Products Manufacturing is shown in horizontal swim lanes in Figure 1: Overview of the Package-to-Order Process in Imperial Tobacco

Figure 1: Overview of the Package-to-Order Process at Imperial Tobacco

The Package-to-Order process relies on interdepartmental integration across Marketing, Packaging and Processing and Products Manufacturing. This process is begun when a large retail customer (such as Wal-Mart) decides to create their own private-label brand of a tobacco product. To initiate the entire process a quote must first be created. The process workflow in Figure 1 shows how the quote is produced so that it accurately reflects what Imperial Tobacco will be capable of producing. If the quote is accepted, then the Tobacco Processing and Products Manufacturing process steps begin and the actual product is produced. The key integration points in this process are the integration between Marketing and Package-to-Order Scheduling, which needs to define the availability of order items with manufacturing., and most importantly see if the preliminary product design can be produced or not. Once approved the design is then transferred to Package-to-Order scheduling and then back to the customer via Marketing and Sales.

A second process area is sales forecasts. As Imperial Tobacco must know how much of their specific ranges of tobacco and their quality levels to produce before initiating manufacturing, the sales forecast process workflow is crucial to their success. This process begins in Marketing and Sales, who provide forecast templates to distributors and dealers. The forecast templates are filled out and returned to Imperial. Marketing and Sales management review the forecasts, assign their own weighting, and then pass the forecasts on to Manufacturing for their scheduling and shop floor planning. Manufacturing must take the forecast and break it out into a Master Bill of Materials first to see how many raw material elements are needed. Second, the Manufacturing team defines which shop floor machines will be used, and also schedules each of them in the succession of how the products will be produced. Scheduling shop machines gives Imperial greater efficiency on the production floor once the orders are entered. Third, the forecasts are also shared with Processing and Products Manufacturing for any special requirements in terms of packaging. Once all these steps have been completed, the managers from Marketing, Sales, Operations and Manufacturing will all meet monthly to review progress against the forecast. Finance evalutes the forecast for accuracy and also defines variances both at the unit and voume level, and these are discussed at the monthly meetings as well. The forecast accuracy levels are then used for defining the relative weighting of new… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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