Business / Riordan Systems: Evaluation And Recommendation

Riordan Systems: Evaluation And Recommendation

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Autor:  anton  19 December 2010
Tags:  Riordan,  Systems,  Evaluation,  Recommendation
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Riordan Systems: Evaluation and Recommendation

Riordan Manufacturing has been and will continue to be a leader in the manufacturing of plastics using polymer injection molding. We will continue to maintain this standard of excellence by maintaining our ISO 9000 certification and providing continuing excellence in quality assurance and innovation. Over the next two years, a plan to increase our revenue from $46 million to $50 million will be implemented. To achieve this goal, existing business systems have been reviewed and changes have been made where needed. We have taken into account the recommendations made by each department in establishing these changes and feel that each department will benefit from these changes.

Sales and Marketing Department

All of the sales to past customers have been annotated using written methods. Riordan has requested that all past sales records, made up of diverse databases, paper files and microfiche be inputted into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The information recorded in these records is largely made up of information that can easily be entered into a CRM database for easy distribution and reproduction between departments. The CRM package will also benefit Riordan by providing the customers access to a front end server (extranet), to be able to create accounts, check account status, pay bills and place orders. Having a single CRM database will provide sales personnel or customer service representatives with the ability to quickly check customer accounting information without having to search through various paper work, microfiche and out of date or inadequate databases. Internally, employees will be able to keep track of various vendors who have a proven track record of discounts, reliable shipping and product innovation.

In the past, individual sales employees have managed customer records, and no standard of data recording has been established. Operating in this manner doesn’t allow for a cohesive sales team, which is going to be critical for the new team selling approach being implemented by Riordan. A standardization and consolidation of customer records needs to be implemented for the sales team to be more successful in the future. The CRM will consolidate the sales team into one unit rather than individuals servicing specific accounts. Customer relations will be proficient due to the ability of multiple sales personnel being able to acquire and update account information rather than a single person maintaining individual account records. Not to mention when a sales person is not available due to health, personal issues or vacation, another employee will be able to provide information and support for the customer.

To implement this CRM system many files will have to be scanned or manually entered into the database. There has been a recommendation made to hire a part-time college student to scan these documents (“Sales”, 2005). The implementation of the CRM system is being treated as time sensitive to take full advantage of the sales plan for 2007. There are two disadvantages to hiring a college student to fulfill this task. First, college students maintain a schedule that does not allow for predictable work patterns due to course work and social activities. Being that this project is of a time sensitive nature, allocating personnel from another department is a preferred method to accomplish this task. Second, the information contained in these documents is of a sensitive nature and proprietary to Riordan Manufacturing. Unless the employee signs a non disclosure act and is fully aware of the consequences of using the information contained in these documents outside the company, the company is at risk of compromising proprietary information contained in these documents.

Finance and Accounting Department

There are currently three locations Albany, Georgia, San Jose, California and Pontiac, Michigan that contribute to the finance and accounting of Riordan Manufacturing. All three of these locations have different methods and platforms for reporting that are incompatible with one another. According to Riordan internal website, “San Jose [, California] has a license for a fully integrated Windows based [Enterprise Resource Planning] ERP manufacturing, distribution and financial management software application specifically designed for plastics processors and process and assembly manufacturers. The license does not include application source code” (“Finance”, 2005). The Pontiac, Michigan and Albany, Georgia sites are using outdated systems and unsupported software. For example, Pontiac, Michigan is using terminals to connect to Virtual Memory Systems (VMS), as well as, VAX400 servers that were widely used in the early 1980’s. Using these systems has led to a waste of resources in time and money by re-entering and converting data so that Finance and Accounting can create their reports at the corporate office in San Jose.

Riordan will migrate into using the newest system contained in all three sites. In this case Pontiac, Michigan and Albany, Georgia will incorporate San Jose’s ERP software as well as upgrade to windows systems. Since the source code is needed in the Pontiac, Michigan and Albany, Georgia sites, our recommendation is for Riordan to purchase the source code for San Jose’s ERP software to incorporate changes needed at these two locations. In some cases a modern UNIX system will be used for development by installing Exceed, a terminal X software that will allow windows based systems the ability to log into UNIX systems remotely. This will help Riordan incorporate ISO 9000 needs and move the company into the future. Not to mention that the ERP software will allow easier business management in finance and accounting due to merging data company-wide. Managers will be able to quickly glance at accounting information, such as sale trends and base executive decisions based on these choices.

Government compliance is a top priority for the Finance and Accounting department and as such, Riordan needs to adhere to the new reporting requirements within a timely manner. Along with meeting the requirements for the government and monthly audits, the F & A department is having difficulty meeting the needs of the corporation due to a lack of time and personnel. This problem is the result of valuable time spent needlessly compiling and re-entering data that could be avoided if all three locations had the same F & A reporting system and procedures.

A new software suite is recommended to establish a common output of data that can be easily transferred and recorded at the corporate office. There is currently a plan for a complete system upgrade that will cost $1,350,000 to be paid over a five year period. This system may not be as cost effective as just upgrading the Georgia and Michigan sites.

Human Resources Department.

Over the past 15 years, the HR department has processed company transactions using hard copies and separate electronic documents. While this practice will still be used, HR will also consolidate all employee records on a collective database system. There will be a section assigned at each location for updating all files and posting information onto the system. The System Administrator located at corporate will be able to change any incorrectly typed information.

Employee-training records have been maintained in their own Excel documents by the training and development specialist. These documents will be consolidated onto the database shared through the HR department and kept on an e-file.

A working paper copy will be kept and updated by the Department Supervisor. Quarterly counseling will consist of professional development recommendations, follow-up on any past information, and record updates on educational and job related training. Employees will also have a copy of their training records and will be able to update their information during each quarterly counseling session. Department Supervisor will review additional training classes for UNIX systems, VMS, and VAX400 servers. Riordan has already established an education reimbursement plan to further enhance employee personal and professional contribution.

Compensation program offers cash awards for solutions that bring about a more efficient and cost effective process. As we move to consolidate employee information in the HR Department, the pay program will also be transitioned to the database and information updated during the Quarterly session.

Recruiters all maintain their own information in Excel documents. Department supervisors will also maintain an electronic file of contractors working specifically in their section.

The Department Supervisors maintain employee files. They will also be responsible for supplying information when requests are needed for the FMLA and ADA. A working paper copy will be kept and updated by the Department Supervisor. Quarterly counseling will consist of professional development recommendations, follow-up on any past information, and at this time any questions or concerns regarding for the need of FMLA or ADA will be answered.

Employee relations

The employee relations are tracked entirely on paper files stored in a locked filing system at each location. Riordan is a nonunion facility and has an Open Door policy for employees to share any concerns of misconduct. Each employee will receive an Employee Handbook, which contains medical benefits, health benefits, policies and procedures of Acceptable Behavior

Worker’s compensation

Worker’s compensation is a third party system with its own set of records. This may have been sufficient in the past but the time has come to transition to a central database for storing all information pertaining to HR.

Operations Department

Overall, the operations department is operating very efficient in the manufacturing and shipping department by shipping the product to the customer on schedule. There is a concern that needs to be addressed in the Hangzhou factory in China. The decision to locate the operations in Hangzhou was based on the Chinese partners had facilities already in place and the close proximity to the Qiantang river was thought to be a sufficient means to handle shipments from the factory (McCauley, 2006). Now that the factory has been operational for several years, a concern has been brought forward as to the method of shipping currently being used. The current shipping method used is to transport cargo via the Qiantang River to Shanghai where the cargo is transported to its final destination. This shipping method has been implemented as a necessity opposed to a convenience. The roads that lead to Shanghai do not allow for the tractor trailer shipments to be delivered to the port in a timely manner and is costing on average the same as having them moved via the Qiantang River. There is a consensus that moving the factory from Hangzhou, to Shanghai, will reduce the overall cost of shipping our product to the customer and also allow future business by marketing the company inside the city of Shanghai. Moving the operations to Shanghai will be a long process lasting five years allowing the daily operations to continue while relocating.

There are also some concerns in the Research and Development section that need to be addressed. First, there are currently five personnel working in the department and there have been issues in the past where one key person would take a leave of absence and productivity would be diminished because no personnel were designated to fill in the missing role. A recommendation is being made to allocate primary and backup job responsibilities in the case of absence resulting from emergencies, illness or other unforeseeable circumstances. By allocating alternate personnel, work productivity will be maintained while the primary person is absent. Training of the alternate personnel will be required should a specific role need further training or no personnel currently have the knowledge to fill in for that specific role. On Job Training (OJT) is recommended for the implementation of these training requirements should the need arise to cut on costs of sending personnel to formal training classes.

Second, there has been an issue regarding power outages that have caused a loss of data resulting in the need to re-enter the data into the database. The outages have been for a short period of time usually lasting a few minutes. This interruption however results in all equipment powering off which is unacceptable. Besides losing data, equipment failure can result when power outages occur. There are two recommendations to remedy this situation and they are as follows: Implement an Un-interrupted Power Supply (UPS) system with surge protectors, and verify that all equipment is currently grounded. Implementing an UPS system will allow current operations to continue when there is a loss of power. All systems will stay operational giving personnel time to save all data entered into the database, power down systems and take any other steps deemed necessary to prevent equipment failures. Grounding the equipment is essential to ensure that any power surges will be properly dissipated into the earth allowing all equipment to continue to run effectively. The most common hardware failure resulting from power surges are a failed power supply or fuses. These are relatively inexpensive items to replace, however, other failures may result as well. We recommend that an electrician be consulted to verify proper grounding in the R & D department and install proper grounding if required.

The final concern is instances where CAD tools purchased from a specific vendor have been discontinued, forcing the company to purchase new versions of the tool, or pursue other vendors who can supply the needed tool. This has led to a loss of production due to time needed to research different vendors and purchase the required tools. We recommend that a request be made to the vendors we currently have on contract to send a memorandum detailing when current products will no longer be available and a list of replacement products. Alternate vendors are also recommended as to not rely on one specific vendor should they decide to increase cost or go out of business.

Legal Department

The legal matters for Riordan Manufacturing (RM) are currently held through Litteral & Finkel, a large international law firm with offices combined in twenty-one (21) national and international locations. Litteral & Finkel deal with all aspects of legal issues, such as, tax law, employment law, civil litigation, workers compensation, labor law and customs regulations to name a few (“Legal,” 2005). Lowell Bradford is the Chief Legal Counsel for RM. All legal issues and/or questions go through Mr. Bradford. All department heads at RM send questions to Mr. Bradford whom answers the questions through personal knowledge or consultation with other attorneys at Litteral & Finkel (“Legal,” 2005). An onsite legal representative at RM may benefit RM so that there is one point of contact between Mr. Bradford and the company. However, due to the understanding between Mr. Bradford and RM because of the long relationship between Dr. Riordan and Litteral & Finkel from Dr. Riordan’s cousin whom worked was a partner at Litteral & Finkel there may not be a need. RM does have the ability to request a team of attorneys, paralegals and clerks sent to any location around the world to represent the company in case of confronting legal issues. Due to the vast resources available between both firms there are no recommendations or changes that should be made in the legal department other than a single representative for RM to communicate with Mr. Bradford at Litteral & Finkel.

Information Technology Department

Recommendations for the IT department will be broken down in two sections. First will be the recommendations for the San Jose, California and Hangzhou, China locations due to their similarity in network structure and upgrade needs. Second will be the Albany, Georgia and Pontiac, Michigan locations also based on their similarity in network structure and upgrade needs.

Currently in the San Jose and Hangzhou network, there are approximately 35 - 40 users connected to two Cisco 5920 switches. Switches of this size are often placed in a distribution layer role within a network as to provide the best switching mechanism possible. Currently, they are acting in an access layer role, which is not allowing the capability of the switches to be used at their full capacity. There are also currently three Hubs connected to the LAN segment which is very prohibitive to traffic flow. A hub only operates in half duplex mode allowing collisions to occur on the domain. This causes delays in network transmission across the Ethernet medium decreasing productivity in all areas. Our recommendation is to purchase five Cisco Catalyst 3550 switches with Power Over Ethernet (POE) capabilities to allow for the relocation and use of IP phones in specific departments. These switches will be take the place of the two 5950 switches and the 24 port hub currently in operation. The two 5950 switches will then be moved to take the place of the two gateway switches currently connected to the backbone of the network. This will allow the Ethernet segment to operate at full duplex mode eliminating collisions and enable the use of redundancy in the network.

Currently there is no redundancy in the existing network. Implementing the above recommendations will allow for backbone switch redundancy by connecting two uplink ports from each of the 3550 switches into each of the 5950 switches allowing for redundant connectivity in the LAN should one of the backbone switches fail. Also there are currently no UPS systems currently in place in the network. This is catastrophic for outages due to power and will severely impact daily operations should a power outage occur. There is currently a UPS system that is not being used and should be installed into the backbone of the network to allow for usage should a power outage occur. All existing servers, computers and network devices should be connected to an UPS as well to prevent loss of data and productivity. We are recommending that company purchase a UPS system for each department, so all critical equipment can function should a power outage occur.

The Satellite link that is currently being used to communicate to the facility in China is not necessary to provide communications and is more costly than providing a dedicated link using a T1 line or ATM technology. The operational cost to have satellite bandwidth is very expensive and the current expense for leased lines is $4,200 per month (“Budget, 2004”). This allows for a very limited amount of bandwidth to be utilized resulting in slow links between the sites. Changing the WAN connection from satellite to T1 or ATM will result in a lower cost, higher bandwidth link to the facility in China. Securing access to this link can be implemented using IPsec over a tunnel interconnecting the two sites.

Information security is primary concern to any company and Riordan currently does not have any infrastructure in place to protect its data from unauthorized access. There are two methods to provide security using existing equipment and new equipment that will help protect the company network. First is the establishment of network security on the Cisco switches, and Access Control Lists on the Cisco routers. With these two implementations in place, the network will be more resilient to employees connecting privately owned devices to the network, that may allow malicious programs such as viruses to enter the network, and only allow access to network services to authorized users. The next implementation will require Riordan to purchase a firewall device and install it on the WAN connection on the Cisco router. With a firewall in place, all traffic must go through a rigorous set of requirements before being allowed access to the network. This is to prevent unauthorized access to the network from outside sources that are not authorized to access the network. These implementations are recommended for all locations and are a first step in securing the network that will require very little time to implement. All configurations to this equipment can be done offline and then implemented during an authorized service interruption at such time as the IT department sees fit, usually this will take place on off duty hours as to not affect work daily work performance.

The Albany and Pontiac networks are using legacy equipment that can not be upgraded. There are computer systems currently in place that are unable to operate current programs because of the outdated processors, memory, hard drives, operating system and network interface card (NIC). These computer systems are very slow to boot and run out of memory very fast, resulting in slow work performance. Upgrading these systems will not be possible because replacement hardware is no longer available on the market. Replacement of these computers is recommended in order to increase productivity by the users of these systems.

Nortel switches, which are legacy network devices, are operating as the backbone of the LAN. While these devices are currently operational, they do not allow for the ease of interoperability between Cisco devices because of proprietary protocols. Upgrading to use VOIP phones for example would require the purchase of Cisco switches that would have to be running a protocol capable of communicating to the Nortel switches, which would inhibit network performance. Replacement of these Nortel Switches with Cisco Catalyst 3550 switches will allow for better network performance and future upgrades.

There is currently a patch panel that is connecting the user computers to the Nortel switch for network connectivity. This is limiting the network performance due to bandwidth limitations and cabling. This system shares it’s bandwidth with other systems in the network slowing the performance of the entire LAN. Replacing this patch panel with a Cisco Catalyst 3550 switch will allow the bandwidth on the network to be utilized at full capacity.

Network diagrams have been submitted along with the presentation portion of this memorandum and graphically describe the IT infrastructure proposed. New Cat6 cable will also need to be purchased to provide the links from the distribution layer switches to the WAN router. We recommend that funding be set aside from the special project approved for the IT department for the cabling needed.

References

Budget (2004). Finance & Accounting. Budget: Information Technology Budget. Retrieved February 22, 2007 from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Riordan/Finance/RioFandA004.htm

Finance (2005) Finance & Accounting: Overview. Retrieved February 12, 2007 from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Riordan/Finance/RioFandA001.htm

Legal (2005) Legal. Retrieved February 19, 2007 from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Riordan/Legal/RiordanLegal001.htm

McCauley, Hugh. (2006) Memorandum. Personal communication retrieved February 19, 2007 from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Riordan/Ops/ChinaMove.pdf

Sales (2005). Sales & Marketing: Marketing Information System. Retrieved February 14, 2007 from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Riordan/Marketing/RioMarket001.htm



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