Hybrid management in information systems refers to an integration of technological approaches into the organization, monitoring, research and management systems of a given business, company or organization that offers services or designs products for their clients. In the words of Peter Keen as quoted in the book The Hybrid manager in Information Management by David 1996, p.21, hybrid management is ‘…the ability to integrate both technical and business skills in order to be able to do a line job, but also be adept in development and implementation of IT innovations and ideas.’ Hybrid management calls for training of hybrid managers which makes organizations well armed not only in matters to do with business management, but also in areas that require application of information communication and technology knowledge in making organizations more technology based and hence enjoy the benefits that come with advancing technological innovations. These courses help develop some important attributes in managers like business knowledge, organizational knowledge, management qualities and technical knowledge (David 1996 p.41).
It has been established that courses on hybrid management come with a full package of advantages which include the fact that the courses have the highest probability of employment for graduates, compared to courses on business or computing alone, the courses also have received much industrial support in countries like the UK, the courses are now attracting a large proportion of female students who are developing particular strong capabilities in problem-solving, communication skills and team-working. In addition, the courses have presented students with the opportunity to address problems through helping them become endowed with assessment skills. There is an established need for hybrid systems because of prevailing issues like the fact that only 11% of organizations experience success with IT, 30% of organizations fail to meet IT based user needs and only 27% of CEOs in the UK fully have faith in their IT departments as far as gaining business advantage is concerned. It is with this knowledge that this team of researchers came up with an IT project based on hybrid management in information systems, one which would add value to an organization, which in this paper has been identified as Citibank. The aim of the project is to establish how information technology simplifies communication channels as well as flow of transactions between different levels of management (Schwalbe 2010 p.59).
It also aims at identifying what impacts technological innovations have on business management and organization. It is in this regard that the group of researchers proposed an initiation, implementation and control of an IT project known as the CORE banking system, which is a technological advancement specialized for use in the financial or banking institutions to make transactions flow easy and reliable between various branches of the same financial institution located far from each other (Wendy and Bob 2010 p. 1).
Background of the project
The IT project was facilitated by a research that was carried out among some banks that had already used the system in their operation and were reporting good outcome of the decision to implement the core banking system. Research was mainly through a literature review that would provide some insight into the views and perspectives of authority figures who have played a major role in the decision making process of adoption of the core banking system. The literature review would mainly concentrate on case studies of some banks as reported by authorized research bodies like KPMG and Cap Gemini. The research was also based on feedback from clients who are affiliated to the banks using the core banking systems.
CORE banking system as an IT project
CORE is an acronym that stands for Centralized Online Real-time Exchange. It refers to a centralized datacenter that serves a combination of other fragmented datacenters which are interconnected electronically and through the internet. What this means therefore is that data that is stored in one subsidiary data center can easily be accesses through another datacenter or server.
This type of a system makes it easier for banks to provide services to their customers regardless of where they are placed, provided that the customer has access to one of the datacenters or servers. The core banking system forms the basis for implementation, use and quick and reliable services offered by banks through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Unlike in days gone when one had to appear in person in a bank to make withdrawals or deposit money into his account, all these transactions can now be carried out online through these teller machines ( Don, Maryanne and Liming 2007 p.17). Furthermore, one can in one moment deposit money into his account through one teller machine and in the next few moments withdraw the same amount of money from his account through another. This way, life has been made easier for bank customers and as a result, this has boosted the economy because it means that there is always money in circulation.
Core banking system has not only proved helpful to bank customers but to the banks themselves as well. For example, it was reported that core banking systems have acted as a platform on which banks have been able to improve their operations, cut down operation costs and also find opportunity for growth. Cutting down of costs is possible through centralization of operations, hence making it easier to monitor and also cost-share between various departments that are involved in the completion of a task.
To top it up, through core banking systems, banks have been able to improve their data management operations through an overhaul of management systems that have seen a design of service-oriented architecture that cuts down the chances of data loss as well as data replication that would otherwise have implications on data management or data use. There has also been a marked improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of the bank employees, such that they have been able to multi-task and produce quick and reliable results at the same time, hence better time management through the use of information and communication technology (Eugene 2009 p.57).
Furthermore, this information can be accessed by managers easily from their workstations as it gets updated by their subordinates who are more likely than not placed in a different work station. Core banking systems come with specifically designed software that ease and facilitate operations like passbook maintenance, customer records, maintenance, monitoring of withdrawal and deposit transactions among other operations that take place within the banking system and which can be computerized. Market figures show that operations for banks that have adopted the core banking system have increased from a mere 21% to 42% and are steadily increasing over time, thanks to the new technological advances.
There are many advantages that come with core banking systems one of them being the fact that an organization gains a competitive advantage in the market over its competitors through; product innovation, automation capabilities, regulation and compliance, offering of an efficient payment systems support, e-banking solutions for customers as well as integrated alert capabilities that allow for use of diversified channels of communication like SMS, email, fax and voice messages, all in one system.
This background information of CORE banking systems is what made it desirable to the team (Eugene 2009 p.57).
Initiation of the project
As earlier mentioned, this IT project based on core banking systems would be implemented in Citibank. In order for to gain permit into implementation of the system, there was need to first create rapport with the bank’s overseeing manger and to present them with the proposal to implement the project. A report is of the feedback gained is attached in this document.
Implementation of the project
Core banking systems call for a systematic planning for the implementation and monitoring phases. This is because it requires deep consideration for the already existing system landscape, meaning that the interconnections and channels of communications that comprise the existing system need to be handled with care, weighing the impacts that the new technological implementations will have on the ‘status quo’ of the existing systems and the familiarity the users have with them.
Other considerations that needed to be taken care of in the implementation process include the cost-revenue analysis of current components, which will be analyzed later in the document. This refers to the changes or fluctuations in figures that the bank is likely to experience as a result of the changes in the level of expenses. It is also known as the cost-benefit analysis and helps stakeholders to evaluate the likely pros and cons that are likely to be experienced due to the new advancements (Max 2004 p.79).
The implementation process was marked by three major steps that incorporated a number of other many sub steps, some of which include unit testing, user-acceptance testing, migration testing and cut over system migration. In the implementation process, effectiveness was not easy to achieve without putting down some logistic issues and seeing how to go about them. This was best achieved through assessment of some elements to determine how they would be affected by the implementation process. The components were
Core banking systems require that the organizational structure be modified a bit or to some extent if only to accommodate the changing work processes. In that case therefore, core banking system implementation must play an important role of upholding a number of business objectives like ensuring that the new systems are in line with the priorities and strategies of the organization, addressing the approach that will be used in training and motivating people in using the new technology, ensuring that data systems are complete and accurate and doing all the change management processes that were required to strengthen the changes that would follow (Schwalbe 2010 p.48).
The big question here was, ‘how would the new technology affect, either positively or negatively, the number, quality and speed at which the bank would continue to offer services and products to its clients? Remember that these effects would not have been felt immediately and as such, these loopholes needed to be established well in advance to avoid a situation where the bank realized that it needed to uninstall a system sooner that it was installed.
New implementations will always more likely than not affect the way affairs are currently carried out in the organization. There was therefore need to consider whether the current process were much more important to withhold than those that would develop as a result of the new technology or vice versa.
Existing System Landscape
The different interconnections and channels of communication comprise the system landscape. Different portals that serve different communication points come with a given strength or coping capabilities for such a volume of communication flow. A central server that serves a certain number of communication points will also come with a given amount of volume to support the given volume of demand. This meant therefore that a disruption in this existing system would mean reconsideration of how the already existing systems landscape would still remain effective, or be upgraded to cope with the changing demands of flow in communication (David 1996 p.46).
Selection of a project manager
To oversee the implementation process, the team had to select a project manager to whom all the other team members would be accountable. The basis on which the project manager was selected was preference for an individual with some characteristics that suit a hybrid manager. Some of the characteristics that qualified this team member as a project manager include strong technical, analytical and business skills and knowledge, such that the person is able to work in user areas, but who should also be able to develop and implement IT application ideas. Furthermore, a hybrid manager is one who should be endowed with capabilities of leadership, impresario and charisma. Senior hybrid managers that the researchers came into contact with during the research period also exhibited characteristics such as those of consultants, facilitators, pragmatic, energetic and sociable, common-sense-users who couple this with IT hype as well as being ambitious and teachable(David 1996 p.41)!
In advocating for the selection of the team member as a project manager, it was considered that they posses a great ability to blend managerial skills and technical skills, in a way that counters the shortcomings of the other team members who are mostly endowed with technical and rather generalists capabilities. The team as well needed a person who is keen to details, bearing in mind the long process that lay ahead of the project way from the planning to implementation and closing of the project. The group also considered that a hybrid manager needs to exhibit four major attributes, which were rather easy to pick in the selected project manager.
These attributes are business knowledge which should be rather detailed working knowledge, management qualities like interpersonal and negotiating skills, organizational knowledge that implies knowledge on how to get things done and finally IT knowledge which tends more to capabilities rather than detailed technical knowledge. These qualities, being present in the selected project manager, better placed the team to realize its objectives through the demanding but worthy project course ( Don, Maryanne and Liming 2007 p.32)
Business case- NPV and ROI calculations as a means of stakeholders’ analysis
This is yet another model that refers to Return on Investment and is sometimes simply referred to as rate of profit or simply returns. It is a model that measures performance in order to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or project, and to compare this efficiency with other projects. The formula used to arrive at the figures is
If the formula gives a negative value, it simply implies that the project or investment should not be undertaken because there are simply other more profitable projects that can be undertaken at the same costs, yet would yield much more.
After an analysis of these two models, it was evident that core banking systems IT project was a promising project that would give high returns, and this would prove fruitful to all the stakeholders involved in the project (donors, customers to the bank, employers and employees as well as partners).
Other approaches that could have been used for the calculation of the worthiness of the project but which were not applied in this case include Internal Rate of Return, Modified Internal Rate of Return, Regular payback and discounted payback. NPV is in most cases considered the best approach as it addresses directly the most crucial goal of financial management, which is basically maximization of shareholder’s profits (Eugene 2009 p.78).
Plan of communication between stakeholders and team members
Due to the importance attached to constant feedback and for the purposes of ensuring continuity of the project, there was need to ensure that communication flow between team members and other stakeholders who had a role to play in the design, implementation and analysis of the outcomes of the project. The formula for establishing the number of communication channels there should be in a project is n(n-1)/2. There being only four stakeholders to communicate with, the team established that it only needed six channels of communication and they settled for emails, phone calls, short message services, memos, fax and face to face meetings.
Work breakdown structure
The work breakdown in any project management is a tool that is used to give a description of the work elements involved in carrying out the project, and which helps organize and define the total scope of input required in the project. The WBS may be defined as a product, data or service or a combination of the three. In this project therefore, the WBS would outline the roles and duties of each team member and the level at which they would be working.
A Gantt chart is a bar chart that is useful in describing a project’s schedule in terms of the work breakdown structure. The chart gives a graphical presentation of the start and finish dates of the terminal components of the entire project. The chart in some cases also shows the interdependence between the various activity components of the project. Below is an outline of the Gant chart that the project team would adopt in structuring their work plan (Max 2004 p. 35).