Individual Project I-2


1. Title
Technology Management Plan

2. Introduction

You have been selected to be the acting CIO for a subsidiary of Largo Corporation called Rustic
Americana. Its primary products include arts and crafts that reflect the history, geography, folklore and
cultural heritage of the United States. It specializes in direct marketing and sales through its call center.
Sales are through a web store, a brick and mortar store, and a direct mail catalogue. All services are
housed under one roof that include warehousing, order fulfillment, shipping, corporate management
and operations, and the call center. The success of the company hinges on its eye-catching direct mail
catalogue and the unique product line.

Unfortunately, annual sales have declined over the years due largely due to internal issues. The previous
CIO was terminated some say due to incompetence primarily related to the underperforming call center.
In addition, speculation swirled around the activities of the CIO. He was often absent from the building.
He secluded himself behind the closed door of his office. Associated rumors mounted, and it was
believed that he was running a consulting business on company time. When the Rustic Americana CEO
asked him about this during a formal review, the CIO answered that it was a weekend hobby that kept
him abreast of emerging technologies. The CEO asked him if one of their competitors was a client and he
vehemently denied the accusation. She was certain that the CIO was not being entirely truthful with her.
Call Center Operations

Managing a call center demands a wide range of skills including managerial, troubleshooting, patience
and being cool under pressure. Knowledge of computer and communications skills is helpful but most
call centers have a technical support division. The call center manager is Prisha Khan – she has been in
the job for about 2 months.

The customer service representative (CSR) in the call center responds to a call for product. On the
customer management system (CMS), the CSR collects and directly enters customer information; on a
separate inventory management system (IMS), the CSR looks up the product, and verifies if the
warehouse has it in stock. If it does, the order is entered on the CMS, and the CSR decreases the
inventory on the IMS. On the CMS, the CSR creates an order fulfillment ticket that is automatically
shuttled to the warehouse processing clerk who prints it and then generates the shipping label. The
shipping label is prepared through a web-based system through either UPS or USPS, which also produces
a tracking number used by both the company and the customer. The processing clerk enters the
shipping costs and tracking number into the CMS. The customer is billed when the order ships.

The warehouse crew uses bar code scanners to track merchandise; once the order is selected, it moves
along a conveyor to a shipping clerk who packages the order, affixes the shipping label, scans the bar
code, and places the package into a bin for delivery pick-up. The final scan automatically enters the
dollar amounts into the system for billing.

An old UNIX system is used to manage inventory. Data input clerks entered information on new
merchandise into it, CSRs referred to it for product data, and if the product was on hand, it produced an
order processing form which was sent to the warehouse for processing. The CSR could reduce the
inventory through the terminal on their desk. The problem they experienced was a refresh rate on
volatile inventory. It was a common occurrence that a customer would be told the product would ship
when it was in fact depleted by other CSRs.
There were conflicting views on the party responsible for upgrading the systems. The former CIO
believed the call center manager needed to take the lead on upgrading operations, while the call center
manager complained that this was an IT problem and she could not tolerate downtime. To add to the
fray, the Chief Financial Officer balked at the cost associated with this investment. The CEO did not feel
the urgency and leaned to the CFO for advice.

Staffing the call center is the responsibility of the call center manager. Ms. Khan uses past volume
experience to make sure there were sufficient CSRs on hand. She kept a list of “on-call” CSRs for
unanticipated business. Her staffing limit was the number of stations with computer access to the
servers. The call center uses a Cisco Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. The phone
system runs on two standalone servers — one for call routing and the other for voicemail. There is a
dedicated toll free number into the center, and the system is programmed with an auto-attendant to
direct calls. The volume of calls is a problem, and the number of lines is less than the number of agents
available to take calls during high volume periods. This is because there is a per-trunk monthly service
charge and the call center cannot adjust the number of trunks based on periodic demand. When the
caller is placed in queue, the standard practice is to limit the length of the average call to six rings. The
phone system requires a local coaxial cable Internet service to supply broadband. Phones are connected
to the network architecture using standard Cat5 copper cabling which routes phone traffic to the call
center.

Under this approach, there have been issues with “quality of service.” The former CIO was fond of
saying “problems with the cable company” when things went wrong. There was no effort to track
downtime. During these “downtimes” the entire call center becomes idle and revenue is lost. Because
the Internet is tied to the same cable service, web services were also down. The Rustic Americana CEO
felt that the lack of access discouraged new customers, but no data was collected to indicate a
correlation between downtimes and sales decline.

Inside the building there is an application server, a server for Microsoft Outlook email, the web server,
and the typical complement of routers and switches. The former CIO used a variety of hardware from
different vendors. When broadband cable services are up, bandwidth is not a problem, except when the
former CIO allowed employees to stream movies during their breaks to boost morale. Employees
routinely used their workstations to check personal email, and to manage their social networking
accounts. There was a problem with one employee posting unflattering comments about the company
that resulted in a severe reprimand.

The data systems for the call center are setup as follows. The center has two data servers. One data
server has a UNIX operating system, and it runs Oracle database technology. The second server is a
Microsoft operating system, and it runs SQL database technology. The two data servers are accessed via
40 workstations in the call center. It is staffed 24/7 but is closed on major holidays. The call center also
contains 10 additional older workstations, which are used by data input clerks to update inventory when
ordered and upon arrival this inventory was verified and bar code tagged with local stock inventory
labels.

CSRs use a “homegrown” customer support application developed in house which uses a generic Oracle
Forms interface. The former CIO did not believe in “bells and whistles” of modern Customer Resource
Management (CRM) systems — besides, the Director of Marketing did not understand the value of CRM,
the CFO was not persuaded to make the software and hardware investments, and the Rustic Americana
CEO held stereotypical, non-strategic views of customers. The inability to do their required work was a
constant complaint of agents. Moreover, there is no technology infrastructure in place to support
mobile computing such as staff use of tablets or (more critical) a wireless interface on bar code scanners
used in the warehouse.

Your Role as Acting CIO

You should frame your work around understanding the mechanics of enterprise technology
management beyond the need to specifically recommend the replacement of antiquated yet functional
systems. You should strive for an alignment of technology with the business needs.

You have been asked by the Corporate CEO to fix the problems created by the former CIO’s perceived
mismanagement of the IT operations and resources. In particular, you need to address the numerous
complaints about the call center regarding its poor service such as delayed shipping and failure to notify
when a product is out of stock.

The CEO asked that a plan be prepared and presented for effectively managing the company’s IT
operations – specifically its call center. Within Rustic Americana, there is a Chief Financial Officer, a
Director of Marketing, a Direct Sales Director and the usual departments. You are the “acting” CIO, and
as such, you have your own staff of ten which includes an assistant who handles staff management and
equipment orders, a network engineer for each of the three critical systems, a systems analyst, a web
server programmer, and four desktop support technicians.

This learning activity focuses what it takes to manage technical operations. You will learn about creating
reliable feedback mechanisms for difficulties at all levels of enterprise Information Technology interface.
This includes timely discovery of technology related issues, resolution of these issues, creating a culture
of trust and dependence, informing staff of your activities, and developing strategic plans for reducing
bottlenecks in the future.


Understanding technology management is important to an IT professional because in this environment,
as would be true of most corporate environments, computer-based information systems are at the core
of an efficient and competitive service delivery. Effective leadership requires the identification of
problems, the resolution of those problems, an eye on the future of the corporation and its profit, and
transparency through communication with peers and subordinates.

3. Steps to Completion

  1. Analyze the Situation

First review and analyze the business and IT operations of the call center. Break down the entire
process into smaller parts and analyze these parts. If necessary draw a sketch.
In general, here are some typical questions one should consider as part of the analysis:
1. What is the business model for the corporation?
2. Where is technology strong? Where is it weak?
3. How do we manage capacity both in terms of our computer system’s capacity (and response
time and fault tolerance) and our staffing capacity (does the work performed full occupy the
expertise for which it is paid?).
4. What is our sustainability policy?
5. What is our technology innovation strategy?
6. What is our level of contract support? How are contracts evaluated for their full value to the
efficiency of the corporation?
7. How are problems solved within the corporation?
Next identify key issues and challenges. Beyond technical concerns, there are also managerial issues
that need to be addressed.

Deliverable: Capture this information in an issue matrix which is a table that lists, categorizes and
prioritizes these problems (High, Medium, and Low), that assigns responsibility for the problem to
internal staff, to contract support, or to others (specify these individuals) and contain other information
you feel relevant. This will be shown to management so they will readily identify and understand the
key concerns. Use your creativity.
Identify problems and do not jump the gun and start identifying or implying solutions at this point.
Solutions are to be presented in Step 3.

2) Identify Best Practices

Research current best practices relating to technology management practices including operational
improvement approaches. You can start with these U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
information:
• Managing Technology: Best Practices Can Improve Performance and Produce Results
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORTS-T-AIMD-97-38/pdf/GAOREPORTS-T-AIMD-97-
38.pdf
• Information Technology: Implementing Best Practices and Reform Initiatives Can Help Improve
the Management of Investments http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663051.pdf

Also, key management best practices are listed in Chapter 2 of this reference:
https://books.google.com/books?id=SPjRBQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r
&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
(Note: If you have trouble accessing this reference, you will need to go to the Safari e-book database. To
do this, go to the library home page at http://www.umuc.edu/library, click Databases by Title (A-Z ), and
then S, and then the Safari Books Online database. Using the search bar, you can then locate the book
entitled “IT Best Practices”. Click on the book that is by Tom C. Witt. Proceed to Chapter 2.)

Also identify people management skills needed to have an effective operation. You can begin with this
link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2014/06/09/6-tips-for-managing-people-who-are-hard-
to-manage/ 

Understand ethical requirements for individuals in an organization. Here is a Prezi presentation about
the subject: https://prezi.com/swchhg04exdh/how-ethical-theories-apply-to-it-professionals/

Deliverable: Prepare a best practices report that addresses the key findings from this step. This will be
shown to corporate management. Minimum length: 400 words.

3) Select Applicable Operational Improvements

You are to identify what is needed for managing the call center. You use all of your staff as a team to
identify solutions (Note: you may request for new positions on your staff but you cannot exceed your
current number of slots).

You have a sense of the problems; now document the best practices which, if implemented, generate a
computing environment more stable, reliable and innovative and help in resolving the challenges you
have set as top priorities facing your corporation.


Specifically, identify needed operational improvements applicable to Rustic Americana’s call center with
a set of recommendations. Among other approaches, explore the use of ITIL to provide customer-
centric IT services. Here is a good starting resource: https://docs.newhorizons.bg/itil/ITIL-the-basics-
White-Paper.pdf

Here is an introduction to call centers:
https://books.google.com/books?id=0ZdG1qF2XvYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&
cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Also, be sure to address ethical behavior based on concerns raised in this learning demonstration. This
has been a major concern in Largo Corporation because of recent unethical corporate practices that has
been in the news recently.

Also address needs for the support, renewal, and sustainability of a call center technology. Be sure to
specify effective day-to-day practices needed to manage operations.

Deliverable: Develop an operational improvement report that summaries the key requirements
discussed above. Minimum length: 600 words.

4) Document Findings and Recommendations

Document key findings and recommendations in a presentation to your executive team (e.g., CEO, CFO,
and Director of Marketing). This presentation should document the issues and solutions identified
earlier.

4. Deliverables


1) Issue matrix
2) Best practices report
3) Operational improvement report

Combine all of the files into one Word document. Provide an abstract,
introduction, table of contents and conclusion in this one document. Should be completed in APA -7 format.

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