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Business Processes, Information, and Information Systems

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1 Business Processes, Information, and Information Systems
Chapter 2 Business Processes, Information, and Information Systems

2 Study Questions Q1: Why do we need to understand business processes?
Q2: What is a business process? Q3: How can information systems improve process quality? Q4: What is information? Q5: What data characteristics are necessary for quality information?

3 Study Processes and Look for Inefficiencies
Can any processes be simplified? Can tasks be re-ordered or re-organized to eliminate tasks and save labor hours? Can process costs be reduced by applying information technology? How to place an order offline and online? Out-of-date interview processes (time-consuming and costly) – Web-enabled video interview process (current trend). More virtual (audio visual) meetings and fewer in-person meetings. Needs to understand its existing processes and to identify the problems they have. Needs to redesign its current processes. Needs to know where and how to save costs. Procurement and sales process will show how an information system can help to record problems and better negotiate with, or avoid, its problematic vendors.

4 Q2: What Is a Business Process?
A network of activities, resources, facilities, and information that interact to achieve/accomplish some business function. Business Function Activities Resources Facilities Information Examples: After-sale customer service – meeting customers face-to-face to answer questions and complete return and refund, a room in a building, electricity, air conditioner, equipment, people, information sources (product, customer, payment, etc.). Buying & managing inventory, making sales to customers, paying bills, collecting revenue, and hundreds of other business functions

5 FlexTime’s Three Business Processes
Figure 2-1 GearUp Ordering Activity: As shown, vendors agree to sell a certain quantity of items to GearUp at very low prices. Typically these items are discontinued, or out of season, or out of style, or for which the vendor has a need to reduce its inventory Vendor agrees to sell certain quantity of items to GearUp at very low prices. GearUp negotiates price and number of items, then conducts an auction on GearUp’s Web site. After action closes, GearUp orders total number of items sold. GearUp receives items in bulk from vendor, repackages them, and ships to customers. Example:

6 Register Participants Process
Figure 2-2 is a chart in what is called swimlane format, which is a graphical arrangement of GearUp activities for a given role.

7 Register Participants Process
Figure 2-4

8 Process Symbols (BPMN Standard)
BPMN Standard: Business Process Modeling Notation standard - a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a business process diagram. Check “business process model and notation” in wikipedia.

9 Components of a Business Process
Activities— Transform resources and information of one type into another type Decisions— A question that can be answered Yes or No Roles— Sets of procedures Resources— People, or facilities, or computer programs that are assigned to roles Repository— Collection of business records Those components are needed to develop a work flow chart.

10 Q3: How Can Information Systems Improve Process Quality?
Figure 2-3 To assist flow of activities, to automate flow of information, to automate flow of documents to achieve effectiveness and efficiency (two dimensions of process quality). Business process enables organization to accomplish its strategy. Efficiency is reflected in the ratio of benefits to costs and reduction of time and infrastructure. Cost-saving and efficiency through automation is the major drive for IS implementation at operational level. GearUp’s current process, shown in Figure 2-2, is not effective. GearUp wants to provide lowest-possible prices, and Kelly and Emily think its operational costs are too high. Drew believes if buyers knew about problems caused by certain vendors, buyers could negotiate compensation for the cost of the problems, or avoid those vendors entirely. Examine Figure 2-2 to see source of the ineffectiveness. The Receive Goods activity of Operations stores results of vendor shipments in Vendor Order Repository. However, when Buyers are deciding which vendors and products to sell and negotiating with chosen vendor, they use only the Vendor Data Repository. They do not have access to the data in the Vendor Order Repository. One way to make this process more effective, and raise product quality, is to change its structure.

11 Revised GearUp Process Using BPMN
Buyers and Operations share a single, integrated repository of vendor data Figure 2-4 shows a different version of this business process, in which Buyers and Operations share a single, integrated repository of vendor data.

12 Q4: What Is Information? Knowledge derived from data (recorded facts or figures) Data that is presented in a meaningful context Data processed by summing, ordering, averaging, grouping, comparing, or other similar operations A difference that makes a difference A difference that makes a difference – data processed in a certain way that is organized differently and meaningful to the users. Example: Employees James Smith earns $17.50 per hour and Mary Jones earns $25.00 per hour are data. That the average hourly wage of all the aerobics instructors is $22.37 per hour is information. Average wage is knowledge derived from the data of individual wages.

13 Where Is Information? Graph is not, itself, information
Graph is data you and others perceive, use to conceive information Ability to conceive information from data determined by cognitive skills People perceive different information from same data Does that graph contain information? If it shows a difference that makes a difference or if it presents data in a meaningful context, then it fits two of the definitions of information, and it’s tempting to say that the graph contains information. However, show that graph to your family dog. Does your dog find information in that graph? Quality of your thinking, your ability to conceive information from data, determined by your cognitive skills Information is value you add to information systems.

14 5. Characteristics of Quality Information?
1. Accurate Correct and complete Crucial for management Cross-check information to ensure accuracy 2. Timely Produced in time for intended use 3. Relevant to both: Context Subject Example: Gas price changes; Weather forecasts; what else?

15 Characteristics of Quality Information (cont’d)
4. Just barely sufficient Sufficient for purpose it is generated Avoid too much or extraneous information 5. Worth its cost Relationship between cost and value Information systems cost money to develop, maintain, and use Must be worth that cost (i.e., trip vs. web conference)

16 Q6 Where Is the Information in Business Processes?
Information Stored in Repositories Status Member Records Check Membership Status Customer data: Name, , Address, Phone(s), DateOfBirth Membership data: DateOfMembership, MembershipType, FeePaid, ExpirationDate Course data: Name, Description, StandardFee, PromotionalTerms Class data: CourseName, StartDate, EndDate, Instructor, AvailableSeats

17 Information for Unstructured Processes
Quality of information determined by people and procedures used to interpret that data Data is a stimulus that causes you to create information …in your mind Data How about mobile learning? Semi-structured processes: A doctor treating a patient; Unstructured processes: high level decision making such as business forecasting, strategy decision making process. Level of difficulty, judgment needed, availability of resources all determine the nature of a process. Your mind and your thinking are most important part of an information system

18 How Does the Knowledge In This Chapter Help You?
Be able to document GearUp’s business processes, and explain in a professional way how GearUp should develop new or adjust existing information systems Think about similar issues you will likely encounter in your career. Go through Ethics Guide topics in the textbook

19 Additional Points 1 Management tasks differ with levels of decision
2 Different tools/data may be needed at different levels 3 Same tools and sources may be used differently 4 IS Tools are interrelated in an organization 5 A digital firm = DM (processes + assets + relationships) 6 Social-technical approach to study MIS

20 SystemsThat Span the Enterprise

21 Active Review Q1: Why does the GearUp team need to understand business processes? Q2: What is a business process? Q3: How can information systems improve process quality? Q4: What is information? Q5: What data characteristics are necessary for quality information?

22 Case Study 2: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Sold via Sold elsewhere Order handling (per order) $1.00 $4.75 (+) Pick & pack (per item) $0.75 Weight handling (per pound) $0.37 $0.45 (+) Storage (cubic foot per month) Minimum $0.45 (rates vary by time of year) Minimum $.045 The table summarizes the FBA fees for products like sporting goods as of May 2012. Goods sold via, Amazon uses its own information systems to drive the order fulfillment process. Goods are sold via an FBA customer’s sales channel, then the FBA customer must connect its own information systems with those at Amazon. Amazon provides a standardized interface by which this is done called Amazon Marketplace Web Service (MWS). FBA enables companies to outsource order fulfillment to Amazon, thus avoiding the cost of developing their own processes, facilities, and information systems for this purpose. Is FBA right for GearUp?

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