Information Management at Homestyles Hotels.
Homestyle Hotel lacks a unifying vision for all its operation sectors. The various business lines have retained their identity even after the merge, and they have unique and varying information needs. To harmonize its operation and maximize the collection and use of data, Homestyle invited potential vendors to present their proposed information system. The core driver of the initiative is to enable the entire hotel and all lines of business to collect adequate information to assist the management in decision-making. However, the various stakeholders do not seem to agree which level of management can best use the information and who will be responsible to make decisions for individual hotels. The original plan was to adjust rates based on the available information and to connect the rates to the online reservation system to inform customers’ price changes. However, the organization runs two divisions of business including hotels and resort section. The two line of business has retained strong identity. The management has not created a united or common vision for the company. In efforts to facilitate the operation of the distinct lines of business, the company installed ERP particularly to consolidate its financial system. The distinct identity of the various business lines put a strain on the process and ease of collecting information. While the resort deals with tours and conferences, the hotels have direct contact with customers. The company has decided to invest in a third party application for its information management. The two possible vendors include Hotels Confidential and Clear Reservation. The two systems have web-enabled interfaces and data dictionaries. Additionally, HC provides information protection for customers while CR had been content management functions. The current ERP and Homestyle Hotels have a firewall and virus scanners. HR allows for increased risk protection but only gathers metrics for executives once a week. CR offers increased content management including data mining capabilities and offers role-based screens. However, the two systems place the decision-making role of either the executives or the hotel manager. Increasing customer services including an online reservation system, via the use of e-business, has ignited a political battle between the independent-minded hotels managers and the corporate executives. They will need to place customer goals first to deliver on the value. At the corporate level, the managers need to capitalize business intelligence through effective data mining strategies. As such, the company needs to align the behavior of the organization and all its aspects toward fulfilling the organizational vision, and goals need to be realized. As such reevaluating metric that encourage an information-positive behavior is a way, corporate can guide the business rather than control it.
Does it make good business sense to integrate across the different lines of business represented by Lifestyle Resorts and Home-Away Hotels? What exactly would you integrate (beyond financial information) and why?
For the information system and its management to offer maximum value, it needs to have an enterprise-wide view. The current situation at Homestyle Hotel places the executives and the hotel managers at conflict. There is a struggle for control between the divisions and executive need to be resolved before an information management policy is implemented. Additionally, the different lines of business need to know how and where they fit in the organization. The entire organization lacks a shared vision and commitment to support the change. The company needs to establish strategic governance that will compare core competencies and organizational vision and the goals of the information management system (Adina, Iulian & Rodica, 2007). The strategic management should align the business with the overall business strategies and objectives. The organization has to ensure information system buy-in from all employees and the executive. It is essential to ensure all the vital stakeholders are involved in the planning phase so as they can provide their input.
While the importance of identifying strategic information systems application is obvious, the importance of the organization-wide information architecture of information systems that share common data and communicate easily with each other is highly desirable. Unfortunately, an organization’s commitment to construct an organization-wide architecture complicates the information system process. It is beneficial for the company to integrate operational information, human resources information, performance information, communication systems information, relationship information and business intelligence. Operational information will play a critical role in enhancing the possibilities that the entire LOB will benefit from the project.
Outline a process for Homestyle to follow to decide between the two software options (i.e., HC and CR)? What selection criteria would you use? Who should make the decision?
It is essential for Homestyle Hotel to develop a comprehensive policy and process that outline the information system selection process. The preliminary step should be to outline organizational goals for the initiatives and align those goals with the overall strategic goals of the firm. For the company to develop a comprehensive and effective policy, it has to involve all the lines of business. These lines of business should outline their contribution to the success of the entire organization.
The company needs to harmonize all its business requirements. These requirements may be categorized into management information, strategy execution, efficiency, reliability, cost-saving and control, infrastructure and compliance. The implementing team needs to assess how easy it is to access key information and data. They have to evaluate whether the current applications limit and complicate business decisions and the effectiveness of the proposed solution. The organization needs to understand whether the proposed application integrate with the rest of the organization’s infrastructure (Adina, Iulian & Rodica, 2007). The evaluation committee should include the executive, functional experts, and end-user. Throughout the selection process, end each step with a consensus of all members to gain enterprise-wide acceptance.
Homestyle Hotel needs to make a comprehensive assessment of the existing business processes and the scale of its operation. The assessment will help the organization identify the gaps and key challenges that the system will solve. The company should use the identified gaps and business needs to establish an evaluation criteria. The evaluation criteria should include the features of the systems, prices, platform, and flexibility of the systems and total cost of the project. During the vendor evaluation phase, all participants should keep scores of each of the evaluation criteria. Each of the participants could score the vendor for each of the criteria and its importance from 1 to 10 (Adina, Iulian & Rodica, 2007). At the end of the demonstrations, the organization needs to bring all participants together to decide which vendor should be evaluated in more details.
After deciding on the two most probable solutions, the company should check vendors’ references. The company should consult a similar company in terms of size and operation where the shortlisted systems have been implemented successfully. The company should visit and consult these companies and establish whether the system is working as expected and what the organization likes or dislikes (Adina, Iulian & Rodica, 2007). If there are issues, then the company should determine how the vendor resolved the issues. Vendor reference will also assist in the vendor characterization. The vendors have to be categorized in terms of stability. Each of the vendors needs to be assessed and how long the vendor has been in the business. It is essential to evaluate how many clients are using the application (Verville, Palanisamy, Bernadas& Halingten, 2007). The Homestyle Hotel should assess each of the vendors for the professionalism displayed in dealing with the client’s inquiry and in demonstrating their systems. Additionally, the company should assess the service level agreement. It should assess each vendor for the extent and reliability of future services and support. Homestyle Hotel needs to evaluate the provision for the customization. If the application needs to be customized, each of the vendors should be evaluated for the services they offer and any additional costs involved. They should also assess the vendor for the upgrade path. Often, organizations such as Homestyle Hotel need to upgrade their systems as they operations expand. Cost is other critical criteria to assess to ensure the company selects the most viable vendor. The total costs come in terms of cost of software, hardware, potential future costs, implementation costs, training costs and maintenance fee. The selection criteria for the vendors can only be effective when the organization vision is taken into context and agreed upon by all LOBs. The initial reasons Ben Garrett are to rejuvenate and consolidate the firm’s IT. Additionally, the senior management needs to have better control over branding, marketing, and operations. As such, the executive want a hands-on approach, and Clear Reservations seems to be the most viable option that suits the executive needs. Clear reservations cater for upper management’s needs. On the other hand, the hotel managers handle the realization of the organization’s vision and managing the hotel’s day to day operations. As such, Hotels Confidential will provide information that is greatly useful in making decisions because it is more customizable at the lower levels of operations.
It is understandable that the various divisions and hotel managers are reluctant to lose control of r information since information is critical to the business. Information management relates directly to managing the information of the organization and needs an enterprise perspective to do to so. The core decision criteria applicable to the choice is controlled and knowledge enhancement and how they add value to the organization. The decision will have to come ultimately from the top but to have the organization run well the decision must have divisional buy-in.
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