These days, being a long-established business is not enough for success. Look at companies like Hewlett-Packard, Research In Motion, and Blockbuster Video. These companies failed in the task of collecting data, analyzing that data, and making intelligent decisions based on that data and now they are either slowly failing, losing market share, or, in Blockbuster’s case, already declared bankruptcy and doing whatever it can to stay in business. Lafleur Trading Company is currently at a crossroads in its efforts to stay viable in its market. Outdating network infrastructure and non-existent business intelligence processes could bring the company to its knees and see the doors to the business close for good. Service Request SR-lf-001 addresses this problem and outlines a solution to modernize the infrastructure and it’s data collection and retention process. The Organization
Lafleur is a 37-year-old company that supplies the world with the finest foods and wines. Lafleur have trading partners across the planet. Lafleur buyers deal with reputable producers and exporters so you the consumer can be assured the highest quality. The buyers that Lafleur trade with ensure the products are “organic” and meet health, ethics, and lifestyle needs. Lafleur has the latest technology to get the products from the producers to you as quickly as possible and at the lowest price possible. Company Description
Lafleur Trading Company’s mission statement is to “provide our customers with the highest quality foods at a reasonable price. While profit is important, Lafleur Trading Company recognizes that they have responsibilities to corporate citizens, customers, employees, our community, and to the world. Lafleur will act fairly and justly in the conduct of business.” (LaFleur, 2012) The life-blood of Lafleur business is the employees. They are theface of the company and the customer’s perception of the company is how the employees interact with them. Since the customer’s recognitions are through company employees, the organization of the company must meet the needs of the customer. The overview organizational flow chart shows the positions that report directly and indirectly to the Chief Operations Officer (COD) of Lafleur Trading Company.
The Chief Operations Officer reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Chief Operations Officer supervises the Director of Sales and Marketing, the Director of Human Resources, the Director of Warehouse Operations and the Director of Purchasing. Sales and marketing supervises ten Salespersons, a Marketing Manager and a Development Staff of five members. The Director of Human Resources supervises a Staffing Specialist, a Labor Relations Specialist and a Benefits Coordinator. The Director of Warehouse Operations supervises ten Supply Technicians, five Local Delivery Drivers, a Facilities Manager and a three person Maintenance Staff. The Director of Purchasing supervises ten Supply Coordinators and a Purchasing Manager. The Purchasing Manager supervises ten Buyers. Now that the description of the Lafleur trading company is been established, the CEO and executive team have identified a particular business problem that is affecting the profitability of the organization. The Business Problem
The one major problem within the Lafleur Trading Company is exposed within its networking topology within its local area network (LAN). The networking topology is the complete architecture of a network. Organizations such as corporations, colleges, and government agencies have all acquired large numbers of single user computer systems and upon reviewing and analyzing the Lafleur Trading Companies ‘Enterprise Sales Application’ on Microsoft Visio, there is a major problem within its network methodology. The architecture of the network is flawed. Although there is enough hardware to produce success within the companies’ infrastructure, the entire network lacks communication.
This interconnection may include word processing, scientific computation, process control, or maybe general-purpose departments that perform many tasks. Interconnection allows users to exchange information (data) with other network members. It also allows resource sharing ofexpensive equipment such as file servers and high quality graphic printers, or access to more powerful computers for tasks too complicated for the local computer such as data warehousing and business intelligence processes. The problem with Lafleur Trading Company exists because they lack these basic needs to have a healthy communication between any departments. They lack in the major component of networking, which is data transfers or exchanging information. Let’s take a closer look at the company’s LAN. The company LAN is designed in what is known as a bus topology. Karl Falls describes a Bus topology as such: “A Bus topology refers to a single cable that connects all the workstations, servers, printers and other devices on the network. The cable runs from device to device by using tee connectors that plug into the network adapter cards.
Each end device has a terminator on one end of the tee and a cable going out to the next device on the other end, while all devices in the middle have one cable coming in and one going out. The terminators on each end device simply stop the network signal from reflecting back into the cable and colliding with other transmissions.” The most common type of network cable used for a bus topology is RG-58 thin net. The network speed is limited to 10 megabits per second, making it a suitable media for only 10 BASE 2 Ethernet. There are also network size limitations. You may have a maximum of twenty network devices on a segment, and the segment cannot exceed 185 meters in total length. By using a device called a repeater that boosts the signal, you can have up to five segments on a network. However, only three of these segments can have devices attached to them. The other two segments are used to link the three populated segments, giving you a maximum number of sixty devices with a total network length of 925 meters. This topology works equally well for either peer to peer or client server.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this set up or architecture of the organization. Some of the advantages include being less expensive to install because it is a one-cable network that requires no switches or routers for messaging. This is good for a small network like dental office or an optometrist. However, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Some of the disadvantages are that the trading company is too big for such a LAN because the company limits itself in size and speed of meeting the demands of a competitive trading market. Moreover one bad connector can take down entire network and that is very costly and difficultto troubleshoot. This leads to a quote by Gordon Bell, “The easiest way for an enterprise to fall is to select cheapest, fastest, and most unreliable components for its big business network.”
Lafleur Trading Company is guilty of cutting corners in its initial networking topology and this leads to problems within the hardware infrastructure, problems within the client to company relations, problems in the speed of the network, problems in the repair of the network, problems in the maintenance of the network, problems in the communication between departments that need to talk with each other, problems with privacy in the upper ranks of the company, problems with data management and analysis, and problems keeping up with the competition.
SR-lf-001 presents the opportunity for Lafleur to bring it’s network infrastructure to a place where it can handle the advanced data storage and analysis operations it needs to conduct in order to stay competitive in their market and look forward to a profitable, intelligent future for the business. The Benefits of This Approach
Having a high quality network for communication between departments and branches of a company brings with it a certain set of advantages when it comes to data warehousing and business intelligence. Some of these benefits include quick, efficient retrieval of information from data warehouses, more efficient queries when analyzing data, the ability to make educated decisions based on that data, and effective reporting processes.
Business intelligence systems are important in a company because they allow an organization to collect sales data and quickly analyze trends in order to respond to changes in customer demand resulting in increased sales. A business intelligence application supports and provides intelligence for Business Process needs. A good business intelligence system delivers information that is insightful, timely, and reliable. This information is delivered in a way that is useful (i.e. not complex. The data is understandable and actionable) and relevant to what is currently happening in the company. This data is also retained for enough time for analysts to look at historical data and make decisions and determine future trends based upon customer activity shown in that data. (McQuigg, February 2009).
Business intelligence applications retrieve their data from data warehouses. A Data Warehouse (DW) is simply a consolidation of data from a variety of sources that is designed to support strategic and tactical decision-making. Its main purpose is to provide a coherent picture of the business at a point in time. Using various Data Warehousing toolsets, users are able to run online queries and ‘mine” their data. (data-warehouses.net, February 2012) Being subject-oriented enables the data to be analyzed based upon a particular subject, making the analysis process more streamlined than if the BI process had to loop through bytes of unrelated data in search of relevant information.
These things are very important for a company that wants to stay competitive in their market. Up to date, accurate and integrated information about a company’s supply chain, products, and customers are critical for the company’s survival. (data-warehouses.net, February 2012)Without these things, a company has no intelligence on their customers, what is happening with their product, and no way to make decisions about how to go forward in the future. If a company is unable to probably store, retrieve, and analyze their data to make business decisions, the company will fail.
By implementing strong, modern, fast networking infrastructure and data collection channels, Lafleur Trading Company positions itself as a competitive, forward-thinking company that will be able to succeed. This is due to their ability to make smart decisions based on actual, relevant data retrieved from their business intelligence process. Conclusion
Lafleur Trading Company is the type of organization that can live or die based on the whims of its customers. Especially in this modern, computerized society, without the infrastructure in place to collect customer data, analyze that data, and make intelligent decisions based on that data, Lafleur cannot hope to be competitive in their market and will likely fail as an organization. The completion of SR-lf-001 and the development of a strong data warehousing plan and business intelligence application will allow them to be successful, profitable, and will stimulate growth and
expansion for the entire company.
LaFleur.com (January, 2012) Human Resources. Retrived from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Lafleur/intranet/human-resources/cio.asp
Bell, G. (June 29, 2011). Network Infrastructures. Retrieved from http://quotes.cat-v.org
Falls, K. (jan 7, 2011). Network Topologies. Retrieved from http://fallsconnect.com
1keydata.com (Januray, 2012) Data Warehouse Definition. Retrieved from http://www.1keydata.com/datawarehousing/data-warehouse-definition.html
http://data-warehouses.net (February, 2012) Guide to Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence. Retrieved from http://data-warehouses.net/guide/introduction.html