Athal is a service offering company that was established in 1980. It offers inspection, testing, consulting, and quality control services. The company offers services to different companies in different industries through its 15 branches in United Kingdom. The company had offered these services in the past using manual quality system but due to competition in the industry and emergence of technology in the industry, the company found it necessary to implement a new automated quality assurance system by adapting information technology systems. The move would make it adapt to new technology that would enable it to offer quality services that meet national and international standards. The implementation of the new system was faced with challenges from financial to employees’ acceptance to the new technology.
The data on the case study was obtained through questionnaires and interviews. The findings were as follows From the 110 questionnaires administered, only 100 of them were complete and used for this case study. From the 100 questionnaires that were complete, 90% discredited the manual system saying it was faulty as it offered minimum monitoring. 70% of the employees had a positive attitude about the manual system as it was not effective when monitoring employees. 30% had negative attitude on the system as they felt the system caused personal conflicts between them and the people in charge of quality control.
100% of the participants agreed that the automated system was more effective compared to the manual system since all the employees had to log in to automated biometric system. 43% of the employees were resistant to the process and felt that the manual system would continue while 57% of the employees felt that transformation to the automated quality system was necessary. 95% of the employees felt that it was important to implement the quality system for both the external and internal environment of the business to ensure that the overall performance of the company was monitored. 5% of the participants were not sure if the quality system was supposed to be installed both internally and externally. The company’s 110 employees were issued with questionnaires and five management employees from the five departments were interviewed revealing the following: The employees were resistant on the new implementation was because of fear of losing their jobs and their relevance when the new technology would be adapted in the company.
Hence, the implementation process heavily relied on the employees in the company. The company sensitization and trainings employees on the new technology saw the implementation process become smooth. The company also faced challenge on the cost of the new system in terms of infrastructures such as software, computers, and training employees and technical staff on running and marinating the process. However, the implementation of the new system improved the services offered and increased its competitive advantage in the market. Through analysis, it was realised that, the company use of technology has limited the buyers’ bargaining power thus retraining and attracting more customers from its unique quality services that it offered. The new technology decreased the profitability of the industry thus decreasing the threats of the new entry.
The company was under the threat of high suppliers’ bargaining power due to few suppliers in the industry that made the cost of operations to increase thus decreasing the profits margins. There industry has threats of substitute services that are offered by companies using the manual system at low prices. However, the new automated system was found to be fast and giving effective services that attracted consumers and thus retaining and attracting new employees in the company thus helping it to regain its competitive position in the market. Moreover, the ability of the system to be monitored by different people at the results in services that are accurate is free from errors thus giving consumers’ confidence as opposed to the manual system. The process is also cost effective in long term due to reduced time and human capital that can be utilized in other constructive duties that would improve the productivity of the company. The system was recommended for both internal and external controls.
Case study on Implementation of quality systems through information technology systems in Athal Company
Introduction and question
Athal is a company was established in 1980 in United Kingdom. It main work is provision of services in that vary from inspection, testing, consulting and quality control. They offer these services to different organizations to ensure that they offer quality services and that they are able to handle all managerial and financial problems with the international standards. The company offers these services in more than 15 branches in United Kingdom. For the company to be efficient, it has linked all the 15 offices through information systems and technology. The company also manages to offer these services by employing 110 workers that are of various professional backgrounds. The workers are delegated duties based on 5 different departments of the company that include public relations, finance department, technical, marketing and quality control. The finance department ensures that all the financial services are met for the company and that of the clients looking for consultancy services in the organization.
The public relation department ensures that all the clients and workers interpersonal relationship is maintained and improved so as to improve the performance of the employees, retain and attract more customers. This has led to productivity of the company due good customer relation and high quality services that the company offers. Technical department ensures all the other department and technical services are delivered and managed in accordance with the goal and mission of the company to offer quality services.
The quality control department ensures that all the services that are offered by the company and its internal managements are in line with the international and local standards (Hoyle, 2009 p. 244). The company had adopted manual quality control system where employees were given the mandates to monitor all the services and departments in the company. In addition, the inspections and testing when assessing qualities of their clients was done manually, which was expensive and involving to the employees in charge. The manual system was not efficient and some of the departments, employees, and services were not monitored effectively resulting to poor services that affected the productivity of the company.
Moreover, the inspection and testing of other organizations could not be effected fully resulting to poor quality control services that did not reflect the true picture of the client company. The quality of services that a company or business offers helps it to retain and attract more customers making the company more competitive and commanding a wider share of the market (Berry, & Parasuraman, 2004 p. 134). Therefore, for the company to improve its services and improves its market share, a competitive and efficient quality control systems had to be put in place. Despite the high cost of implementation, the service would ensure that quality services are dispensed through efficient monitoring services.
The company adopted and automated a quality control system that was developed through information technology to link all the five departments and the employees. Consequently, the company linked all the 15 branches such that all the services offered meet the customers need. The interlinked company departments and branches would ensure that inspection and testing process is efficiently carried out. The technical department was mandated with all the monitoring processes and maintenance of the systems. The marketing department quality system ensures that customers were able to get all the necessary information and services that meet the international standards and their needs. Consequently, through quality control the public relation department would ensure that a good relationship is maintained in the company by disseminating relevant information and keeping the customers updated throughout.
The questions were structured for questionnaires and interviews. The employees’ questions related to the effectiveness of the new process, their attitude on the change, and the transformation to the new system. Moreover, it also focused on employees’ involvement in the new process, and how monitoring changed comparing the old and the new system. In regard to this question, some employees said that the new system was more effective while few of them did not distinguish between the performance of the manual and the new system saying that they view both systems as the same. On the issue of cost and monitoring, most of them said that the new system on quality assurance was more costly and offered close monitoring of employees and projects on the course thus maintain a high performance rate in the company. On the issue of the attitude of the employees, some employees had a negative attitude on the new system as they said that the new system would limit their freedom and might result to losing their jobs. Those with positive attitude argued that the new automated system would make work easier and improve the performance of the company. Few were confused on the though seemed interested with the implementation of the new technology.
The implementation process was expensive from the response of the majority of the participants while few did not care about the cost and they said that it was cheap for the company since it had enough resources to implement the new system. According to the participant in this case study that were working for Athal company for the time of the research, the transformation process was faced with resistant as some employees feared losing jobs due to inadequate skills. Other argued that new technology would result in working overtime because some machines would require monitoring and thus resisted the change and made the transformation process difficult for the management.
A number of the employees said that transformation was smooth as they cited that the management was able to deal with employees and assured them that nothing would change on the management of employees and their jobs were safe. They also indicated that the management assured them that the transformation to the new automated system would ensure that employees would be trained in order to adapt to the new system. The employees argue that method would be applicable to both internal and external monitoring as the company required the monitoring of the quality of other companies that it offered services. To them, this was the best means by which the company would improve its services to its clients.
On the part of the management interview, it emphasized on the performance of the new technology, employees and clients response, and the cost of the implementation. The interview was only done to five management employees under the five departments. The management unanimously answered that the performance of the new system was better compared to the manual system. They cited that the system could process large information fast, accurately, and effective as compared to the old system. The management argued that the employees had a mixed reaction on the implementation while the clients were happy and welcomed the new system as they believed that it could improve their services. The implementation process was costly according to the management but they did it as a way of improving their qualities.
The organization experienced problems and poor performance in the marketing department thus caused reduced customers in the company. Similarly, poor performance of public relations department resulted to conflicts and poor employees’ performance that affected the efficiency and productivity of the company in delivering its services. In every company or business, good employees’ relationship is important since it minimizes conflicts and improves their working conditions and as a result, employees become very productive, which is the aim of every business.
Consequently, employees are able to offer quality services to the customers thus retaining more customers for the company. Similarly, the slow monitoring and poor services in the finance department caused company poor performances and financial mismanagements. All the problems happened to Athal Company despite it having a manual quality assurance system that was mandated monitoring and ensuring that the company was able to operate within the local and international business environment. The problems reflected that the manual system was ineffective. Therefore, the company needed to change its method of quality assurance so that it could ensure that quality services were offered to customers. Finance department also needed good management as it was ensured that the company operated with the international and national standards. The approach would not only improve the company’s quality systems but also improve its productivity and its competitiveness due to high quality services and standards that it would uphold.
The target market for Athal Company is organizations and businesses that are in need of consultancy services. Moreover, organizations requiring inspection, testing, and quality control also serves as the target market for the companies. The companies or businesses may be diverse and offering various services in the market but for them to provide quality services to their customers, they strengthen their managements through Athal consultation services (Wigand, 2003 p. 33). Some companies are large, small, and medium and therefore require high quality services that will help it to meet the needs of the market. Therefore, Athal Company needs to provide high quality services and set international standards to its clients. Hence, it was important for it to adapt new technology in quality assurance services that would allow it give quality inspection, testing, and quality control services. Thus, adapting an automated information system would ensure that it would be able to carry out internal and external quality control.
Athal Company has been known for offering effective services in the industry, which has maintained it productivity in the market in spite of its manual system.
The company has also high skilled although the achievement of the company’s goals has been achieved through extra management and monitoring. In addition, the company operates in an industry where completion is not very much stiff. However, the emergence of the new technology that few companies are adapting, competition is becoming a business issue that management has to deal with. Moreover, the companies marketing strategies and technology adaptation has been poor until the recent past when the company adapted the new technology on quality assurance. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the implementation process of the new quality assurance system and how best is suited in the company’s strategies to improve its productivity and growth in the industry.
With the development and the industrialization of the world, technology has become inevitable to business industries (Lanz, 2013 p. 6). Many businesses industries adapt technologies to increase efficiency and quality of services offer. The quality services and efficiency serves as a strategy to compete in the market. Information technology is one of the technologies that have been adapted by many companies and bushiness to improve on their performance (Ho-Chang, Chang, & Prybutok, 2014 p. 316). The information technologies have been used in various areas of specialization for company such as records department, financial, marketing and quality control. The technologies are linked to the business strategies such that they fit the competitive strategies making the company to fit in a dynamic market and environment (Wang et al, 2012 p. 346). The information technology systems help to integrate business entities making it more manageable and efficient in delivery of its services (Drnevich, & Croson, 2013 p. 488-489). Hence, the quality system that would incorporate information technology system will enhance the integration of the five departments and the external environment making the company more manageable and improve the delivery services. Consequently, the business would be able to compete and improve its performance.
The implementation of the new technology in Athal Company involved an organization change. Hence the company needed to prepare the employees for a new change because people tend to resist to changes and particularly to those that tend to affect their freedom (Ford, J., Ford, L., & D’Amelio, 2008 p. 370). The managers have the responsibility to initiate new changes and influence employees to develop positive attitude on the technologies for smooth adoption of new technology (Lilly, & Durr, 2012 p. 199). To avoid resistance managers and executive must provide employees with trainings and other support skills that will help them to adapt to new technologies (Kumpikaitė, & Čiarnienė, 2008 p. 93-94.).
The case study used questionnaires to obtain information from the employees about the manual quality system and the newly implemented quality systems in the company (Appendix 4). All the 110 employees were administered questionnaires to feel that contained both the questions about the old and the new information systems. In addition, interviews were conducted with five members from the top management team to understand the monitoring of the two systems (Appendix 5).
The questionnaires were preferred for the employees because they were a large group in the company and other methods would take a lot of time. Moreover, it was possible to administer all the questionnaires at the same time thus saving time and getting the required information. However, the tool is not appropriate for getting details.
Interviews were preferred for the management team because they were few and it could be managed with a short time. Interview also helps in getting details about the implementation process. However, it is time consuming. The interview involved the three questions attached in the appendix for the management.
The case study involved the shifting of Athal Company from the manual quality systems to new automated quality systems that would be implemented using information technology systems. To implement the new quality assurance system using information system, the company needed to purchase new computers, information systems software to link various departments and branches. The program required skilled labor that was costly and extra training for the employees so that they could be able to adapt to the new technology freely. In addition, the new technology needed change of organization behavior from a manual system to an automated system, which many of the employees were not conversant with. Therefore, the company had to change the behavior of employees from manual to automated systems, which risked objection and resistant. Hence, the management had to use their leadership skills and organization development in order to successfully implement the new change. The new system meant that the employees freedom, poor performance and missing of duties would end. Consequently, their level of services would be monitored and thus giving quality services. The implementation process involved installation of inspection, testing, and quality control infrastructures that were linked using information system software and hardware that would be used to disseminate information.
The change to new technology for Athal Company meant that it would increase its market share due to improved quality of services that it would offer. Its clients would receive quality inspection and testing that would guarantee the quality control. The new information system would be able to monitor external companies that serve as its client at constant rates thus enhancing efficiency of Athal Company.
Moreover, the automated system has low errors as compared to the manual system thus the right services will be offered. This will guarantee the company efficient services that meet the national and international levels.
The new changes to the automated system will enable the management in the Athal Company to be able to define their objectives and delegate to specific employees, which could not be possible with the manual system. Defined objectives and delegation of duties in the company will mean that the tasks will be accomplished in time. Moreover, less time is wasted using the automated quality systems thus the employees become more productive in spite of quality services that they offer. The result is the overall productivity of the company and better services to their clients compared to when they were using the manual system.
The company decision to implement the new quality assurance system was followed as a result of increased competition and the deteriorating performance on its inspection, testing, and quality control services. The few companies in the industry had improved their performance and they had started to command the market and therefore, the company had to look for means by which it could be able to compete with the other companies. The adoption of the new automated quality assurance system was seen as the only way that the company would be able to compete successfully in the market and thus a decision was finally reached to implement the new system. However, the decision was subject to employees support as they would be the one s that would use the technology for the benefit of the company. The decision process involved all the employees in the company where opinions were sought and included in the new projects. Due to fear of most of the employees on their relevance when the new technology would be implemented, training of existing and recruiting of new employees was included as part of the implementation of the new system. When all the employees were comfortable with the new technology and sensitized on the need to shift to the new technology, the management went ahead to implement the new automated quality system in the company. Since the employees are growth oriented, they were able to adapt to the new system.
The company wanted to implement new system as a sign of its improvement from the manual to the automated system. The automated system would allow the company to improve its services and the ability to upgrade and update the systems software will give the company ability to adapt to continued improvement of its services. Therefore, the new technology will be advantageous to the manual quality system that limited continued improvement throughout the operations.
The case study can be analyzed using various porters’ five forces to determine its applicability of the new technology in Athal Company and the external business environment (Appendix 7). The porters’ five forces help to analyze the business in terms of competition, threat of new entry, power of buyers, suppliers, and substitute’s products or services.
Consulting industry in United Kingdom is very competitive and thus companies in the industry must devise strategies that will make them more competitive and make them the leading companies in the market. Therefore, for Athal Company to remain relevant in the market, it must adopt the best technologies that will enable it to provide the best quality assurance services in the industry. In the industry, company adapt to manual systems due to their low operation cost (Ahuja, & Khamba, 2008 p. 745). Hence, Athal company shift to new technology gives it competitive advantages over the other companies in the industry. According to the research carried out on the company, 90% of the employees credited the automated system saying that it was effective compared to the manual system. Thus, the system would be able to deliver quality effective services to its target market. Quality services help a company to retain its customers and place it in a more competitive position in the market as customer or buyers tend to be attracted by quality and not the prices (Porter, 2008 p. 33). Therefore, the company’s choice on the automated system would be advantageous in the market despite the cost that is associated with it.
The implementation of the new automated case study led to the improvement of the company’s performance and increase in customers seeking services from the company and thus improved incomes as shown in figure 1 below (Appendix 1). According to the interview carried out on the company’s income performance, the income is expected to rise to $ 27,000 million with the new automated system.
The industry suffers from the presence of companies that are still using manual systems as a means of quality assurance system. The manual system forms the substitute services offered in the industry. These companies charge their inspection services at lower prices that threaten Athal automated services. Hence, Athal Company must offer good services beyond their clients’ expectations so that they will be able to shift from the manual to the automated. The company also needs to put in place marketing strategies that will advertise the new system emphasizing on the quality of services that it will offer as opposed to their previous method of quality assurance. Moreover, the company needs to offer quality services that will meet the needs of the clients. Hence, the company needs to improve its management and staff training so that it will be able to cope up with the substitute services from the company.
In every market, companies maintain the large share of the market through limiting the bargaining power of the consumers. Initially, the company was offering manual services that were offered by other companies in the market. This gave consumers more bargaining power as they had a wide choice of obtaining services from various companies. However, the shift of Athal company from manual system to the new technology that was adapted by few companies make consumers to have limited choices of seeking services from the automated companies. The presence of few companies with the automated quality control system makes it possible for Athal Company to limit the bargaining power of consumers. When the bargaining power of consumers in the market is limited, they will tend to buy or obtain services from a single business (Chen, 2008 p. 241). Therefore, Athal Company will limit the customers and thus they will tend to seek the new services from the company thus improving its productivity and making it more competitive in the market.
Athal Company shifting to the new technology meant that it will also shift its suppliers from those that provided the manual facilities to those that would suppliers it with facilities and infrastructures for the new technology. Since the new technology has not been adapted by many companies in the industry, it means that the suppliers are few in the industry. Few suppliers mean that the suppliers provide their services with strict conditions and high prices due to lack of competition. Moreover, the suppliers have high bargaining power in the market. This led to high installation cost for the automated quality system and the maintenance cost. The high prices offered by suppliers in the market reduce the profits margins for the companies operating in the industry (Chen, 2008 p. 241). Therefore, the new technology was costly to the company and the consecutive maintenance costs remain high thus reducing the profits margin for the company. Hence, limited suppliers in the industry threaten Athal Company adaptation to the new technology for quality system.
The decreased number of suppliers and the reduced profits margin in the industry discourage new entrants in the industry. The decreased new entrants in the industry result in decreased competition in the market and threats for the existing companies. Therefore, Athal Company is free from threats of new entry due to high cost of adapting new quality system technology. The reduced competition creates favorable environment for the existing company to operate and improve their services in order to achieve their desired profit margin and growth in the market. According to the management, the maintenance cost for the new technology in the quality system is 40% more than the previous manual system. Hence, few companies in the industry can adapt it and especially those that are profit oriented.
Advantage of Athal Company on implementation of the new quality assurance system
The implementation of the new quality assurance system by Athal Company will accrue various advantages over the old manual system. The advantages will be in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, cost, involvement, and result oriented.
The automated system will be advantageous in that inspection and tests will be run fast and effectively thus saving time that can be used to do other constructive duties in the company. Automated system will mean that the same type of the information will be fed to the system for various clients at a very short time and giving results instantly (Mak, & Peng, 2008 p. 366). One can only repeat similar information for the automated system. However, on the manual system one would be forced to record similar information for various entry and different clients thus taking a lot of time for a given task and giving out delayed results. This can be distractive to clients making them to shift their services to other companies that can offer fast and effective services. Hence, the automated system will not only give effective services at a very short time, but also retain the customer making the company more competitive in the market as opposed to the manual system (GE inspections N.d p. 1).
Although the automated system installation and training of employees on the new system is costly in the short term, in long term, the system will be cheap as there will be saving of time and decreased human involvement thus saving the cost of labour for the company. The time saved could be used to do other constructive and productive services for the company, which would in turn give returns that subsidise the cost incurred by the company. Since the new system utilises decreased human labour, the company can opt reducing its labour, which may as well reduce its cost of operation and thus increase its profits margin (GE inspections N.d p. 18). However, the manual system required a lot of time to fill out the forms and extra human labour to attend different labour thus the process becoming expensive in the long term and but cheap in the short term since there are is no cost of installation. Hence, the automated system is less expensive in the long term and thus more advantageous to the company compared to the manual system.
The automated system is results oriented and the results can be assessed by different employees since they will be available from the system thus minimizing errors being transferred to clients. Moreover, different employees can monitor the results in their various destinations so that a perfect final product is achieved. Hence, the system forms the best collaborative monitoring system. This is in contrast to the manual where results are only processed by an individual subjecting them to errors that may be transferred to clients and may affect the customer relation with the company and affect its performance and provision of services. Therefore, Athal implementation of the new quality system through information system presents it with advantage on accurate and quality services for the customer thus maintain customer relations and maintaining its market performance at improved level.
However, the new automated system will be a challenge to the company as the information system tool is expensive on purchase and replacement in cases of breakdown. Moreover, the process of maintenance and training of employees can be very expensive for the company thus accruing unplanned cost, which may make its services more expensive thus making it less competitive in the market. Customers are attracted by low prices in the market. Although the automated system performs various tests for the information fed for the machine, the system has limitations and some of the tests such as images, and colour are only tested using manual system. Hence, the system cannot operate fully independently. Thus the cost of operation is increased by additional services for manual system.
The data obtained from this case study from Athal Company was summarised as follows. From the questionnaires, only 100 of them were complete and used for this case study. From the 100 questionnaires that were complete, 90% discredited the manual system saying it was faulty as it offered minimum monitoring. 10% saw it as the means to abscond their duties for their private jobs. All the employees agreed that the manual system was costly in terms of monitoring but cheap on the maintenance. 70% of the employees had a positive attitude about the manual system as it was not effective when monitoring employees. Employees could be absent from work without the knowledge of the top management due to unreported cases. 30% had negative attitude on the system as they felt the system caused personal conflicts between them and the people in charge of quality control. 100% of the participants agreed that the automated system was more effective compared to the manual system since all the employees had to log in to automated biometric system.
The information could be relayed fast and reach the target group within the shortest time possible. 43% of the employees were resistant to the process and felt that the manual system would continue while 57% of the employees felt that transformation to the automated quality system was necessary. 95% of the employees felt that it was important to implement the quality system for both the external and internal environment of the business to ensure that the overall performance of the company was monitored. 5% of the participants were not sure if the quality system was supposed to be installed both internally and externally.
The data that was obtained from the management was as follows. According to the management, the automated quality system was more effective and efficient in monitoring and delivery of information across the company departments and branches. Moreover, the system was fast as compared to the manual systems. The management agreed that the automated quality system improved the performance of the employees and that of the company thus increasing attracting more customers. The customers had increased from 300 to 550 per day when the new system was put in place as shown in figure 3 below (appendix 3). Similarly, it is expected that the income would increase from $ 13,000 to $ 27,000 million by the end of the first year the figure 2 below in appendix 3 analysis the change.