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Choosing the Best Method of Service Desk Automation for a Growing Government

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Organizations and companies come up with plan that are aimed at ensuring their success in meeting the needs of their customers as a step towards the achievement of organizational goals. Therefore, planning is the first step towards the realization of a companies goals as laid down by its vision and mission statement. Coming up with a good policy is not good enough if any organization is to meet its goals and thus communication of the goals to all members of the organization is equally important in the realization of the goals.

The communication mechanism and the means adopted are the key aspects that determine the success of this phase and therefore they have to be well researched on and be relevant to the organization. The formulation and the communication phases are just the fist two steps which act as a guide toward the implementation phase in strategic planning. The implementation phase in strategic development can be described as the action phase. Therefore, as much as the formulation and communication phase play important roles in the strategic development, much emphasis is placed on implementation.

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Formulation and implementation are a must and communication is considered a means to the success of the process. Thus the implementation phase is one of the most monitored and resource intensive phase in strategic development to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in delivery and thus the success of the entire strategic development. The importance of information in the modern information conscious society can never be under stated. As it is often the case, effective management of information system is not a Sunday afternoon walk on the beach.

It is far from defined and is often filled with uncertainties. Furthermore, the benefits of automating the implementation have been too tempting for most organizations and thus the emergence of a system that allows for automation of the last two processes in strategic planning is seen as inevitable in organizations that are serious about staying afloat. The question is no longer about automation but rather about how to go about it. Problem Statement Two approaches to the development of automation for organization that are moving from a manual system have been adopted.

An organization moving from an old system may choose to either develop their own or buy an already made system. There are several issue involved in deciding on whether to buy or to build a system and thus every organization must look at these factors keenly before making a decision as it has a great bearing on the effectiveness of the organization in meeting the needs of its customers and their expectation at the time of implementation and in future. Furthermore, such strategic decisions that affect an organization’s future invariably have an effect on almost all aspects of the organization including the stakeholders.

Development of in-house software requires long term commitment in terms of resources and time from developers who often have too much to do and not enough time (Jenny, 2004). On the other hand, if a company decides to purchase the software it effectively enters a long term business relation with a vendor who not only charge high amounts for the purchase of the license but a considerable chunk of the organizations finances will be directed towards the customization and installation of the software.

The organization which is medium sized and in its active growth period faces a tough decision on the implementation of the software especially in consideration of the relative advantages and disadvantages of each approach. The advantages of building an automated help desk support system may include the reduction of the cost involved, moreover the organizations labor force are presented with a chance to understand the in details with regards to the working of the automated support system.

Furthermore, the need for training of supports staff for information technology is eliminated as they are responsible for the systems existence and are thus well conversant on its operations. On the other hand, the disadvantage may include the need for IT labor can be significant in the organizations budget, furthermore the approach does not have any form of guarantee that will help the organization in recovery in case the system crashes as they are solely responsible for the existence and maintenance of the system.

In addition, the approach is associated with a considerable amount of pain experienced by the customers and the end users of the system in case of system malfunction or lapse in performance. Lastly the building process can be so demanding on an in-house IT department or team that is not well conversed with the application that the organization intends to come up with. A decision to buy the office help support system involves a thorough survey and the calculation of the total cost involved in ownership, determination of the best software company and product and the actual purchase of the automated office support system (Coldwell, 1999).

The determination of what the company needs is a very critical part in the decision making process as most individuals and executive often fail at this phase and instead state what the organizations wants. Moreover, the considerations on the financial stability of the software company and their level of experience all come in handy in the decision making process. After the determination of all these, the focus hen shifts to what the organization needs after which a purchase is made.

Some of the benefits associated with this approach include increase in user satisfaction, well developed user support, reduced need for internal help support and easy access to support any time of the day. The disadvantages may include increased cost associated with training of staff on the use of the new software, furthermore the process of buying which is quite length may ignore some aspects leading to the purchase of a poor help support system. Lastly, customization of the systems to meet the needs of the customers is done by an outsider which often lead to conflict of interest. Significance of the Study

Using a help desk management software leads to the increase in efficiency in operation as it allows for the solution of some of the redundant issues over call. This has the effect of reducing traveling costs and man-hour billing to field engineers as they go to customer sites. Research Question The purpose of this research is to determine whether purchasing COTS or building a service desk tracking application is best for the automation and tracking of the GovComm, Inc. Engineering Support Services’ Helpdesk. To answer this question, this research must explore: ? The entities of GovComm, Inc.

Engineering Support Services’ Helpdesk ? Based on advantages and disadvantages, which qualities of each configuration best adhere to Engineering Support Services automation and asset tracking; ? If these applications fulfill stakeholders’ requirements Design and Methodology This research is qualitative, drawing mostly from a review of the literature on the subject of Helpdesk/support desk tracking applications and the battle of building versus buying to determine which application structure provides efficient asset tracking, failure notification, and metrics collection. GovComm, Inc.

’s Engineering Support Services will be reviewed to discover details that might affect the factors that will contribute to the decision of choosing build or buy. From the review of the internal workings of GovComm, Inc. ’s Engineering Support Services a decision will be made upon comparison with the inherent nature of the two systems of implementation. Chapter 2 Literature Review Automated office systems support (AOSS) is a model made up of teams of technicians in computer who are charged with the responsibility of providing a variety of support activities in a desktop computer environment and area networks for any organization.

To ensure the provision of high quality services and products, each of these teams must follow the processes, standard and procedures. A process referred to as quality assurances is used in monitoring and evaluation of the level of adherence to the procedures processes and standard in a bid to determine the potential quality that the product will attain. Therefore, QA involves review and audit of the services and activities as a means of verification of their compliance with the relevant procedures and standards so as to assure the appropriate results are seen.

The question of whether to buy or build an AOSS is one of the very complex decisions that an organization has to deal with in its daily activities. It is in deed a perpetual dilemma for the organizations that are contemplating on automating their office activities. Buying implies purchasing an off-shelf Automated office systems support that are produced in mass by some software company, more often multinationals (Leopoldo, 1999). The products typically contain contents that are not unique to a particular organizations or user population needs.

Moreover, it is the general trend in the software industry to create new softwares that do no conflict with the existing and thus the technology can be implemented without conflict with the existing systems. Build imply the creation of Automated office systems support from scratch (Leopoldo, 1999). Therefore, the process of building requires the determination of the organizational needs, the data and information nature and needs of the organization, design of the system an the actual implementation of the system.

The process of building may and often include testing the end product to ensure that its functionality are as per the objectives that acted as the basis for its formulation (Leopoldo, 1999). A decision to buy or build a Automated office systems support may seem to be complex but in reality it can be reduced to three considerations: Resources, Needs and uniqueness. The organization must clearly determine its needs and wants before a decision is made, this may involve identification of features which are critical in meeting the organizations needs. In determination of the organizational needs they must consider the following:

? Organizational objectives ? Skills ? Information needs ? Culture ? Corporate direction. Meeting all the needs is an impossible event and therefore setting priorities is inevitable. Resources Resource as a factor is one that many organizations and individual would quickly jump at an opportunity to ignore. However, examination of resources is a very important aspect to the development agenda. Moreover, many organizations make the mistake of viewing resource in the monetary dimension only. Although money as a resource is quite critical, two other pieces; time and personnel, need to be considered to complete the puzzle (Shrapre, 1999).

Time When taken in the context of either building or buying a Automated office systems support, time takes the following into account: ? The time that will taken in decision making. ? The developmental time of the Automated office systems support including the time taken in testing. ? The time taken in rolling out the Automated office systems support or implement it within the organization. Analysis of organizations against the three time variables helps in the determination of the importance of time in deciding whether to buy or build. Decision making

The time taken by the organization in making decision is quite varied and cannot be correctly determined as the nature of the problem and other variables that can never be determined nor controlled easily have a great bearing on the total time (Curan & Mitchell, 2001). The nature of the organization and the kind of decision to be made also have a bearing on the time taken. It time critical decision making the aspects of time is important and the challenge thus lies in coming up with sound decision within limited time (Curan & Mitchell, 2001).

Most theories adopted in decision making leave out the time taken in selection of actions which is often considerable in organizations where the decisions are viewed differently by constituent members (Curan & Mitchell, 2001). Coming up with a solution that are made without consideration of a well carried out problem solving session could lead to solutions that lack in operational significance, thus any decision making should be aimed at finding the solution that is either associated with the least cost or most returns of the total costs (Curan & Mitchell, 2001).

In coming up with the cost, organizations must include the cost and effort taken in thinking and coming up with a plan or a policy in determination of the time taken in decision making. The problem with time considerations is that complex problems may hinder the development of best solutions (Spezzano & Mertens, 1999). In some instances, coming up with the best solutions could be within organizations grasp but the cost associated with such may not be acceptable to the organization. The organizational structure plays a great role in the speed of the decision making process (Spezzano & Mertens, 1999).

A structure whereby all members of the organization have to be involved is time consuming (Kaplinsky, 2007). Such an approach is inclusive and the decisions made from this approach are more likely to meet both the needs and wants of the organization. The implementation of such policies is often smooth as those charged with the responsibility of carrying out the policies are well aware of the good and thus have the motivation required for the implementation. The tread off in this approach is the time taken; the approach requires organization wide consultation and is time intensive.

Getting the opinion of each and everyone in a medium or large organization and coming upon with a decision based on their varied views can be demanding on an organization’s financial resources and time. Most organizations have adopted a mechanism where the executives and top managers exclusively take part in the formulation of the policies. Such an approach is time conscious and often leads to timely formulation of policies. Despite this, the relevance of the policies to the needs of the organization is brought into question as the people charged with the responsibility of implementation are not included in the formulation.

Policies implemented through this mechanism often address what the organization wants rather than what it needs since organizations are best known by the people charged with the duty of policy implementation. Deciding on the correct approach is thus complicated as both time and relevance of decisions are very important, moreover, company heads have in a number of occasions made decisions that have turned out to be for the good of organizations without necessarily involving everyone, this complicates the issue even further.

Therefore, organizations have to consider all the factors inherent of their organization that affect the decision making effort and thus the cost of decision making associated with each approach before deciding on whether to buy or build Automated office systems support. Developmental Time The time taken in the development of Automated office systems support varies with the approach employed. Other factors inherent of an organization also play an important part in the determination of the total time the organization will take in coming up with a new system (Tapscott, 1998).

The developmental time can be viewed in two contexts; the time taken in building an Automated office systems support and the time taken in buying an off-shelf Automated office systems support. The time taken in building a new Automated office systems support is generally larger than that taken in buying (Tapscott, 1998). Moreover, the factors that are influential on the overall time taken in building are more compared to those in buying.

The total time taken in building is influenced by internal and external factors which include; the availability of resources, the organization and coordination of all those involved in the implementation of the project. The level and the availability of the required expertise within the organizations working environment is a consideration. The availability of the required software and hardware components necessary in coming up with Automated office systems support is fundamental. The software and the hardware components must be as per the required functionality set by the organization needs.

Change in government policies and market trends may greatly affect the availability of the required components and thus have an effect n the developmental time (Tapscott, 1998). In addition the needs of the users often change with time and this may require the modification of components that are already in place which lead to delay. The time taken in buying a new system is highly dependent on external factors that are not within the control of the organization (Tapscott, 1998). In most cases organizations lose time in this stage for reasons that are not within their reach or control.

Buying as a process requires a well established resource base and a good legal framework to fully engage the system as a whole (Kenyon, 2001). The market conditions are influential on the speed of purchase and thus very important in the determination of the total developmental time. The actual location of an organization is also important in evaluating the total buying time. An organization in an urban setting find it easy to buy software and hardware components as the availability and cost associated with their purchase is small compared to those in a rural setting.

Personnel This is also one of the most overlooked factors (Kenyon, 2001). In consideration of the personnel, decision on whether to buy or build an Automated office systems support requires company wide consultation (Kenyon, 2001). As organizations analyses their resources they must determine what they have and the needed personnel required for the implementation of the Automated office systems support. The organization should determine the number of available technical staff available for the support.

If organizations lack or anticipate a lack of personnel, they must decide on when and where the required staff will be obtained from, which may involve the determination of the cost of the support (Kenyon, 2001). Money Money is an important consideration in strategic development as it affects the nature of the budget. A limited or unlimited budget has a great bearing on the choice of whether to buy or build an Automated office systems support (Katzan, 2002). In consideration of the budget both individuals and organizations must consider the short and long term benefits that will be accrued by the implementation of either methods.

This may also involve the analysis of the effects of the non-implementation of the alternative. The importance of money is such that without it the project is non-existent (Levy, 2001). Therefore, organization are required to accurately estimate their resource requirements before a decision on whether to buy or build an Automated office systems support is made. The cost involved in both cases have to be estimated and any other factors that may affect the estimated cost determined.

Moreover, since all factors can never be determined accurately, including a contingency or escape plan in the formulation of the original policy will ensure that the organization is well prepared for any eventuality (Kenyon, 2001). The effect of money on the total time taken also depends on the government policies, market and industry condition that can affect the availability of resources especially money (Carter, 1999). Expected change in areas that currently affect the availability of funds largely determines the feasibility of the project in future.

The availability of additional funding and all the factors that affect it, which may include legal and political issues all play important roles. Uniqueness The nature of organizations differ and therefore their requirements may vary though the degree depends on the organizations being considered. A major consideration is thus the uniqueness of the needs of the organization. In determination of the uniqueness of an organizations needs the following have to be looked into: ? What are the needs of the organization? ? What are the objectives in the implementation of Automated office systems support?

? What are the connections between the available of the shelf-software and the needed capabilities in what the organization looks for in Automated office systems support? ? Does the implementation of the system go in line with the industry and market needs? ? What is the relationship between the methodology of choice and the organizational culture? The determination of the answers to this question as per the context of the organization helps in coming up with the level of uniqueness needed for the Automated office systems support and thus plays a very important role in the determination of whether to buy or build.

The needs of an organization are defined as its requirements to perform in the industry (Herbert & Sparck, 2004). The needs are thus the components that are necessary for the survival of a business in the industry that it is in. The needs are the basic components of the operational environment. Determination of the needs requires one to look deeply into the processes and establish their requirements, outputs, behavior and interaction before any modification aimed at the improvements of the processes is made.

It is noteworthy that every process has a number of factors that affect it both from its external and internal environment. Moreover, every activity or operation than an organization may undertake in can be broken into a number of processes and thus determination of the needs of the organization is done effectively in an efficient manner. The implementation of developmental agenda in any organization is best done through strategic planning (Buckingham, 2006). Strategic planning involves the formulation of a plan aimed at development of some project(s) so as to ensure organizational growth.

Any plan that is developed with success in mind must have a well laid out action plan that is characterized by well intentioned and realistic objectives. It is important that the objectives of any plan be in line with the actual needs of the organization. Therefore, the objectives of the organization in coming up with an Automated office systems support must be established and documented clearly so that the guidelines in the implementation of the policies that arise as a result of the consideration of the objectives be in line with the organizational goals.

Moreover, the objectives in the implementation of a plan differ according to the priorities of the organization and are therefore unique to the problem being addressed and the organizational approach to problem solving. After the determination of the exact needs of the organization, the available software and software components have to be evaluated. An important consideration is that in either case the organization has to buy either software components to, or the full Automated office systems support since the organization does not engage in the manufacture of softwares (Gibson, 2004).

Thus, determination of the needs of the organization and the available software capability in meeting those needs must be established. Moreover, organizations must effectively determine any addition capabilities possessed by the available softwares that may enhance service delivery. These capabilities which meet the wants of the organization must be addressed clearly and effectively if the investment is to be a success. Industrial and market considerations also contribute a great deal in deciding whether to build or buy Automated office systems support.

An industry is defined as a collection of businesses and related economics (Gibson, 2004). The industry is thus one of the factors that is influential on the strategic development of any organization. Companies may choose to either go with the trends of the industry or adopt a trend that can be considered as being contrary, in either case there are pros and cons that must be considered. The effects of the trends in an industry do impact on its players. Moreover, how the effect is felt by the constituent members depend on their abilities and thus differs across the industry.

An occurrence in an industry may be viewed by the sector players as an opportunity or a threat depending on their policies, resource base and technical capabilities (Gibson, 2004). Policies implemented by organization under the consideration of the industry may be aimed at measuring up to other players in the industry or gaining an edge over them. In either consideration the nature of the organization in question plays a great role in the strategic direction adopted. The market is a very important consideration in deciding on what strategic direction an organization will adopt in pursuing its vision.

Most organizations are in business for the sole aim of meeting their customers’ needs and thus their strategies are often biased towards the achievement of this cause. The customers needs are an aspect of business that is nearly impossible to predict. The requirements and the expectation often shift with changes in technology, industry, preferences, fashion and taste. The social, environmental, legal, political and economic factors all have a great bearing on the market and thus on the decision.

Moreover, in market considerations, expected growth in the future plays a central role in formulation of current market strategies. In consideration of the market needs, the policies formulated are often aimed at coming up with directions that will best meet the needs of the market so as to either match the other players or earn a reputation and thus a competitive advantage. Organizational culture Organizational culture is defined as the shared values and beliefs within an organization (Wilkes, 2000).

The culture also comprises of the norms and beliefs and is thus an in build system within an organization (Wilkes, 2000). Thus organizational culture is specific to an organization and it defines the relationship and the nature of the interaction between members of an organization and is influential on the nature of the relationship with outsiders (Wilkes, 2000). The culture is also definitive of the goals that are set for each member of the organization and is seen to go in line with thee vision of the organization. From the clear definition, goals, guidelines or expectations are developed; these constitute the norms.

The management may try to instill some kind of a culture on its employees, this type of culture is thus described as corporate culture and is more specific (Wilkes, 2000). The classification of culture takes on diverse dimensions and therefore the analysis of the effects must also take on the same trend. The following are some of the factors that are used in classification of organizational culture: ? The expected differences in power levels. ? The extent to which the organizations members are willing to take risks. ? The level of collectivism or individualism in an organization. ? Gender aspects.

? Orientation, which can either be short or long term. Any strategy that an organization comes up with must be within the organizational setting and thus be relevant to the organization culture. A clash between the strategies and the organizational culture will lead to the flop of any program, therefore all organizations must ensure that their development plans are in line with the culture, failure to which the implementation will be a flop. Support for the policies After the analysis of needs, resources and uniqueness, there is an additional factor that must be considered in coming up with a decision; support.

The organizational support to the mode chosen is very critical in the determination of the success of the mode of choice in meeting the needs of the organization. This is because it affect how members of the organization receive the decision. Support can be categories into three: ? Upper level support ? Like/ Colleague level ? End user support Management The reasons for support by upper management staff and executives is quite clear. The main reason for their support is the power they posses in the implementation of the plan especially in resource allocation and policy formulation (Woodruff, 2005).

Moreover, the obvious nature of the need to influence the top executives often lead to concentration on them and thus ignoring the other members. Organizations must ensure that such occurrence are minimized and if possible eliminated as they can cause failure of well intentioned plans. Colleagues This group is made up of all those that the organization have to interact with in their daily undertaking (Woodruff, 2005). The importance of this group lies in counteracting the power that the organizations executives have on the decision making process.

The support of the members of the organizations operational environment plays a very important role in influencing the decision. Therefore, enlightening the colleagues on the importance of Automated office systems support will go in line with drumming up support for the implementation of the approach of choice. In addition, enlightening the colleagues to understand the implementation of the plan, which it is meant for and the effect of its implementation on their jobs will go a long way in influencing their support.

End Users Even though they have the power to influence the success of a plan, the end user are often ignored in lobbying for support (Woodruff, 2005). The end users have the power to render the plan a failure by deciding not to use the product, which will have the effect of changing the attitude of the colleagues and the management executives on the effectiveness and efficiency of the adopted Automated office systems support acquirement mechanism.

Moreover, the sabotage need not be intentional; the failure of the system may be due to their lack of understanding of why the product is necessary or as a show of their lack of support of the governance model adopted. Furthermore, the products failure in meeting the needs of the end user could lead to failure and thus the importance of the end user in deciding on whether to buy or build Automated office systems support can never be downplayed.

The Decision Process Whenever an organization decides to buy, the decision is always an aftermath of a series of processes. The decision may be instantaneous or take a long time though buying is a process and not an event (Woodruff, 2005). No matter the length of the process the origin is when a company becomes aware of the need (Woodruff, 2005). The need is then identified and the organizations searches for avenues through which the needs can be met.

In the process of information or data gathering, the criteria that will be used in buying affects the buying process and should therefore be evaluated and refined. It is advisable for organizations to choose a few alternatives that are considered to be the best from the lot. Once a decision in reached and a choice made the purchase is made which is another process that can be quite time consuming (Woodruff, 2005). In summary, the decision to buy can be broken into five stages in which the first three are also constituted in a decision to build:

? Identification ? Searching ? Evaluation ? Decision ? Purchase ? Reevaluation i. Identification This is the phase in which the organization realizes that it has a need that can be met by an Automated office systems support. The identification could be as a result of the failure of the system that they are using, increased competition from their rivals who have automated or as a strategy to gain some competitive leverage on players in the industry who are still implementing the manual system or are using a poor automated system.

ii. Searching This is more of a research phase where the organization analyses itself, processes together with the industry to come up with the aspects in which it is lacking (Woodruff, 2005). Moreover, the organization can establish areas in which it can improve in so as to aid the establishment of its presence in the industry. iii. Evaluation In this phase the results from the searching p

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