Riordan Manufacturing HR System: Architecting and implementing a more sophisticated, state-of-the-art Information System
Length: 1539 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)
Interaction with Managers and Users
Before beginning a preliminary investigation, a memo or an e-mail message would be sent out to managers and employees to know about the investigation and explain my role as a systems analyst. I would meet with key managers, users, and IT staff to describe the project, explain my responsibilities, answer questions, and invite comments. This starts an important dialog with users that will continue throughout the entire development process.
When interacting with users, I would highlight the point that this investigation is not about a problem that Riordan Manufacturing has, but rather the additional capability that the company would like to have. This would help employees to not focus on desirable new features and enhancements rather than on current system limitations. Instead of focusing on difficulties, I would question users about additional capability they would like to have. Using this approach, I hope to highlight ways to improve the user’s job, get a better understanding of operations, and build better, more positive relationships with users.
A. Analyze Organization charts.
This would give me a fair understanding of how the department functions and identify individuals I might want to interview, keeping in mind that organization charts show formal reporting relationships but not the informal alignment of a group, which also is important.
B. Conduct Interviews
The primary method of obtaining information during the preliminary investigation is the interview. The interviewing process would consist of these seven steps for each interview:
1. Determine the people to interview.
2. Establish objectives for the interview.
3. Develop interview questions.
4. Prepare for the interview.
5. Conduct the interview.
6. Document the interview.
7. Evaluate the interview.
C. Document Review
Although interviews are an extremely important method of obtaining information, I would very much like to investigate the current system documentation. Document review can present a better understanding of how the current system is supposed to work. Due to the fact that most of the HR processes of Riordan are done manually, it is expected that these documentations may not be up to date. Forms can change or be discontinued, and documented procedures often are modified or eliminated.
Copies of actual forms and operating documents currently in use would be obtained, in addition to document samples during interviews with the people who perform these procedures. The documentation might not be up-to-date, so I would use follow-up interviews to check with users to confirm that I am receiving accurate and complete information.
The observation of current operating procedures is another fact-finding technique. Seeing the system in action gives additional perspective and a better understanding of system procedures. Personal observation also enables the verification of statements made in interviews and determine whether procedures really operate as they are described.
E. Questionnaires and Surveys
A questionnaire, also called a survey, is a document containing a number of standard questions that can be sent to many individuals.
Questionnaires can be used to obtain information about a wide range of topics, including workloads, reports received, volumes of transactions handled, job duties, difficulties, and opinions of how the job could be performed better or more efficiently.
Research is another important fact-finding technique. The systems analyst would use the Internet, IT magazines, and books to obtain background information, technical material, and news about industry trends and developments. In addition, discussions with other IT professionals would be very helpful in helping to solve this business problem.
Keeping accurate records of interviews, facts, ideas, and observations is essential to successful systems development. Every data and information collected through the process of information-gathering would be recorded and stored. This is because as information about the current HR system and the general project at hand is being collected, the importance of a single item can be overlooked and complex system details can be forgotten. The systems analyst would:
• Record information as soon it is obtained.
• Use the simplest recording method possible.
• Record findings in such a way that they can be understood by someone else.
• Organize documentation so related material is located easily.
The scope of the project is to architect and implement a more sophisticated, state-of-the-art information system technology that will integrate all the human resources processes at the different Riordan manufacturing plants into one unified process at the company’s headquarters in San Jose, California. The current HR system, which was installed in 1992, is simply a part of a financial systems package which keeps track of employees’ hire dates, personal tax exemptions, pay rate, seniority dates, organizational information, vacation hours and personal information. Due to the lack of an automated HR system, any changes to these forms of employee information are submitted in writing by that employee’s manager, and manually entered by a payroll clerk. Training and development records are kept in an Excel worksheet by the Training and Development specialist. The recruiters for Riordan Manufacturing each maintain applicant information for open positions. Employee resumes are kept in a central storage area, and an Excel spreadsheet is used to track the status of applicants.
Riordan manufacturing has outsourced workers’ compensation to a third-party provider which keeps its own records.
The current HR system that Riordan manufacturing maintains lacks a central employee database. Each individual manager keeps the files of the employees that are under his or her direct supervision. These managers, in addition to their duties, also have the added responsibilities of tracking FMLA absences and employee requests that fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The compensation manager keeps an Excel spreadsheet that tabulates the results of job analyses, salary surveys and individual compensation decisions. Employee relations specialists track information about complaints, grievances, harassment complaints and others, in locked files in their offices.
This is evidence that the company maintains a disparate HR system which is not taking any advantage of the current IT tools and systems that would make their operations much more effective, efficient and save the company money.
Specific project goals include:
Acquire a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to be situated at the headquarters. This would be a web-based portal that is accessible to all the manufacturing plants.
Convert all human resources departments at other plants into HR representatives.
Switch from traditional telecommunication to Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). This is projected to save the company up to 30% in communication costs.
Acquire a database management system (DBMS) to consolidate all data from the manufacturing plants.
PRELIMINARY PROJECT FEASIBILITY ASSESSMENT
This section presents the results of a preliminary evaluation of the potential challenges, benefits and setbacks that may be realized from the introduction of a more sophisticated, state-of-the-art information systems technology in the Human Resources department of Riordan Manufacturing.
The results of the evaluation are presented in four ways: operational, technical, economic, and schedule feasibilities.
Each of the measures presented herein is preliminary in nature, and is not at the level of detail typically required of a feasibility-level project analysis.
• There is support for this project from all levels of management. This project would relieve lower level managers of having to maintain employee records and focus more on their specialized duties which pertain to their units’ role in the overall organization of Riordan Manufacturing.
• The current HR system makes for a cumbersome data retrieval which is time-consuming and counter-productive. Employees in the HR division of Riordan Manufacturing all welcome the introduction of a more robust and advanced HR system, and admit it is long overdue.
• Members of the HR department shall be interviewed to discuss what works for them, and find out what they would like to see in the new system. This would help to better customize the system to meet their needs.
• The new system would not result in a workforce reduction. Riordan Manufacturing would have to invest in training the current HR employees and possibly employ new people to get the most out of the system. The return on investment, in the long run, will outweigh the cost of these new hirings and extra training.
• It would not be difficult for the company to acquire the hardware software and network resources necessary for this project. The current IT market has these tools, and at very affordable prices.
• The company already has an IT department and so this internal resource would be used to provide technical expertise if and when needed.
• The propose platform has built into it the capacity for future expansion and modification
The project benefits, both tangible and intangible, clearly outweigh the estimated costs.
• There is ample time to get this project completed within the 6-month window that management has given for this project.
• A project manager will be appointed to supervise the timely completion of this project.
Shelly, Gary B., Cashman, Thomas J., & Rosenblatt, Harry J. (2004). Systems analysis and design (5th ed.). Boston: Course Technology.
Satzinger, John W., Jackson, Robert B., Burd, Stephen D. (2004). Systems analysis and design in a changing world (3rd ed.). Boston: Course Technology.