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Every employee of the Excelsior Furniture Company received the same message on the company’s intranet. Excelsior had decided to implement a new, fully integrated information and data management system that would affect each business operation within the company. Every employee in the company (including marketing, operations, ﬁnance, human resources, sales, and information technology) was required to attend eight hours of training to learn the new system. The vendors of the new system had developed a speciﬁc training program for each separate business function and would explain to the employees how their work lives would be affected. This was the second time in three years Excelsior had adopted a new information system. For many years the company had department-speciﬁc systems. Thus the ﬁnance area managed its own functions (e.g., payroll and beneﬁts) with its system, human resources managed its functions (e.g., selection and training) with its system, and so on. However, important information kept “falling through the cracks,” not entered into any department’s system. So Excelsior had decided to implement an integrated system that was common to all business functions. All employees had to learn how to enter relevant data and use the data in their work operations. That was three years ago. In the past 12 months Excelsior came under pressure to upgrade from two sources. First, they acquired two other furniture businesses, one specializing in ofﬁce furniture and the other in lightweight wicker furniture, typically used on patios and porches. The second source of pressure was a big increase in overseas suppliers and customers. The two new acquisitions had to be melded into Excelsior’s system, including information and data management. The new overseas businesses demanded greater speed of response to matters halfway around the world. In short, the three-year-old system could no longer handle the volume and complexity of Excelsior’s new information needs.
Most employees readily accepted the need to implement the new information system. Learning the system was onerous, but it meant that business was good, sufﬁciently good to warrant a new way to keep track of everything. All the employees worked with computers in one form or another in their jobs, so using a computer-based information system was not alien to them. However, some employees didn’t understand why the current system couldn’t be modiﬁed to meet the new needs. After all, it took several months to become proﬁcient in the current system, and now they had to start all over again with yet another system. It also seemed that some business areas would be more heavily affected by the changes than others, yet all business areas in the company had to adopt the system for it to work effectively.
Nick Chappel was not particularly pleased to have to learn an entire new information system. Learning the current one was not easy for him, and the rumor was the new system was even more complex. Nick went to his boss, Carol Hardy, and asked what exactly this new information system could do. Carol said she was told it was so sophisticated that “if someone in Florida bought a bag of French fries, it told a farmer in Idaho to plant a potato.” Nick replied, “Farmers in Idaho have been planting potatoes for over 100 years. I don’t think they need to be told when to do it.”
Answer the following questions:
1. What factors in the company might cause some employees to resist learning the new system? Why might employees like Nick Chappel question the value of a new information system? Have any personal experiences to share regarding this?
What issues do you think Excelsior considered in making the decision to adopt a new information and data management system?
Have you ever had to go through an experience like this, or maybe a friend or relative?
3.What knowledge and skills should supervisors like Carol Hardy possess to get their employees to be more enthusiastic about learning the new system?
What factors in the company would facilitate employees learning the new system?
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