National Children’s Alliance – Business Process & Supporting Informations System: 3 Sets of Interview Questions

Simple assignment here. A group of students need to interview at National Children’s Alliance in regards to ANY focal business process and its supporting information system. There are 3 separate interviews to take place.

Write interview questions for each interview to further explore this organization and their business processes and supporting information systems. Formatting and essay-style paragraphs are NOT necessary. Only numbered interview questions for each of the three interviews are needed.

INTERVIEW #1: Selecting a Business Process
At minimum, the group needs to use this interview to narrow down which IS-supported business process they want to study for the rest of the semester, and to gather specific details on how it works. The group needs to turn in the following information (this list can help guide you on the types of questions you might want to ask):

1. Overview of the organization

2. Generic description of your focal business process (explaining exactly how it works from start to
finish), as well as a description of how technology supports, modifies, or otherwise improves that process. Some things you might want to ask about (if they apply to your situation) include:
a. How often does this business process occur?
b. How much time does it take to perform?
c. How much money is spent to carry out the process each time it occurs?
i. If possible, compare these figures for the process before and after the IS was implemented to support it, or before and after a recent system upgrade (if the system has been in place for several years)
d. What kind of information does the system capture?
e. Was the system developed in house, purchased off the shelf, or custom built by a consulting team?
f. To what degree has this system/technology transform or restructured the business process that it supports? How has it impacted the job of workers and management who are responsible for this business process?

3. Identify the handful of things that must be done well for that business process to succeed (these are known as critical success factors, or CSFs). For example, if you are studying an online ordering system, you might expect to uncover some CSFs related to 24/7 availability of the system, security and accuracy of the transactions, etc.

4. Basic description of the architectural requirements to support the focal business process (e.g., how
many and which computers is the software loaded on, how are threes computers networked together, can the system be accessed through the internet, etc.)

5. Basic description of information management issues related to the focal business process (e.g., does the organization have a dedicated IT dept.? If not, who supports the system when it breaks? Who is responsible for upgrading the system? Etc.)
Before you leave your organization, make sure that you have telephone numbers of several individuals to follow up with at a later time. Often, that contact person will be busy, traveling, or have taken a job at another company at some later date. Additionally, try to get e-mail addresses for these people. You may want to go ahead and arrange a time for a follow-up interview before you leave. If you have trouble narrowing down a project topic after your first interview, feel free to make an appointment with me to brainstorm ideas.

INTERVIEW #2: Strategic Business Analysis
Now it is time to develop a better understanding of National Children’s Alliance’s competitive situation, and how it carries out the key activities necessary to produce its product or service, and compete effectively. Your focus in this interview should be on developing a solid understanding of your organization’s supply chain, value chain, and competitive pressures. However, you may want to go ahead and gather information in this interview regarding how your focal business process and its supporting IS relates back to the supply chain, value chain, and Porter’s Competitive Forces.

Some things you want to make sure you cover in this interview:

1. Supply chain:
a. Who are the upstream suppliers and where are they located? Who are the downstream customers and where are they located? How do materials, information, and money flow between the organization and its suppliers and customers in order to produce and deliver its products and services? How does it estimate demand? What concerns does it have about new trends or challenges impacting its supply chain?
b. How does your focal IS-enabled business process fit into the supply chain? What activities does it support? How does your focal technology improve supply chain management (directly or indirectly)?

2. Porter’s competitive forces:
a. Ask your contact about each of the five forces, to get an idea of which ones he/she
considers to be true threats. Be sure to get details, e.g. for traditional competition, ask who he/she considers their main competitors to be, and what these competitors offer that makes them distinct from your organization. Be sure to ask which of Porter’s generic competitive strategies they are following.
b. How does your focal IS-enabled business process help (or not help) to counteract each of the 5 forces? How has it impacted their competitive position?

3. Value chain:
a. Make sure you get details on each of the nine VC activities and how they function specifically in your organization. What are the important resources that must be stored, scheduled, or coordinated in order to produce its products and services (inbound logistics)? How are its products manufactured or services carried out (operations)? How does it store finished products and get them in the hands of its customers (outbound logistics)? How does it hire and train employees (HR)? How does it order supplies (procurement)? Etc.
b. How does your focal IS-enabled business process fit into the value chain? Which of the 9 activities does it directly or indirectly support? How does your focal technology improve these value chain activities and thereby add marginal value?

INTERVIEW #3: Time to Think More Deeply
You are required to develop a clear understanding of how your focal IS helps (or doesn’t help) to counteract competitive threats, and how it helps (or doesn’t help) to support the organization’s competitive strategies and value chain activities. It also requires you to go beyond just the information provided by your organizational contacts, to do comparison and benchmarking against how other organizations use technology to support the same business process, and finally, to offer up your own opinions as to how well your organization is leveraging technology to support this business process, and to make recommendations for how it can improve or make use of additional technologies in the future. Thus, this interview may require outside research and incorporation of articles into your paper.

If you were not able to gather all of the information at your second interview on how your focal IS- enabled business process supports (or fails to adequately support) your organization’s supply chain and value chain, and how it helps (or fails to help) counteract each of Porter’s five forces, you need to do so now. Otherwise, use this interview to dig deeper into examining how successfully your organization has deployed information technology to support your focal business process and better compete in the marketplace. Feel free to ask your organizational contacts for their thoughts on how technology could be used more effectively in their organization, problems they have faced when implementing new technologies in the past, or even what technologies they are considering implementing to further improve your focal business process in the future. You might even want to ask them if they are familiar with ways in which their competitors use technology differently in support of this process. Also, feel free to dig deeper into understanding issues such as the security and privacy of customer data, and steps that the organization could take to improve in these areas. You should feel free to go in any direction here that seems interesting, as you analyze the effectiveness of IS use in your organization, and consider suggestions for how they could better leverage technology in the future.

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