This project discusses the system analysis of MedAMore Management System. The brief description of case study and existing system is described based on the study. We analyze the potential problems in the existing system by using Wetherbe’s PIECES Problem-Solving Framework. Finally, we proposed the possible recommendation intending to be better improvement of MAM system in MedAMore drug store.
MedAMore is a drug store chain in U.S. In 1960, it started to change as a regional chain. In1995, it implemented MedAManage (MAM) innovative software system to handle daily operations more efficiently. MAM system contains three programs. The system is flexible, and communication among three programs is reliable when transferring the files from one location to another. However, MedAMore purchased three regional chains and extended its business in 2000. As a result of expansion, MedAMore faced the problems in 2002.
In order to analyze the MedAMore’s problems, opportunities and directives, Wetherbe’s PIECES Problem-Solving Framework is selected and applied. Hopefully, this project outcome may be helpful for the improvement of MedAMore Management System.
2. Description of Existing System
MAM software system consists of three modules as following:
MAM/Store module runs on drugstore’s small computer. Inventory lists are required to be supported in different regions in order to establish adequate control over inventory on order and inventory in stock. The correct amount of daily sales from different drug stores is needed to be reported to the home office. Besides, different insurance plans are transferred to different regions. Daily operating expenses at different stores are necessary to be informed to the Home office. The regional specifications are performed in this module.
MAM/Warehouse module runs on a regional warehouse’s server. It is acquired to receive the different ways of orders from the different retail stores. Moreover, it is necessary to supply the different procedures of orders from the wholesalers.
MAM/Home module runs on the home office’s large server. This module coordinates among drugstores, regional warehouses, geographic offices, and home office. Files are delivered to the home office to get up-to-date sales and inventory information.
3. Problems and Opportunities
After describing the existing system of MedAMore in the previous section, we will categorize the system issues by applying the PIECES problem-solving framework. This framework was developed by James Wetherbe to focus on the actual work of doing requirements determination (Normal, 1999). It consists of six categories:
The need to correct or improve performance.
The need to correct or improve information (and data).
The need to correct or improve economics, control costs, or increase profits.
The need to correct or improve control or security.
The need to correct or improve efficiency of people and processes.
The need to correct or improve service to customers, suppliers, partners, employees, and so on.
The PIECES Framework for Problem Identification (Bentley & Whitten, 2008)
The following sections identify the problems using this framework in details.
MedAMore drugstore faces the data transfer performance issues. Three programs in the whole system are mainly communicated through files transferred from one location to another. When extending the quantities of drugstores from 30 to 200, file transfer process cannot work well. Data transfer time becomes longer, and MedAMore faces the problem in transferring data. Flies are often delivered late, and cannot reach the destination on time. As a result, response time also takes longer when accessing the data from all of the drugstores from different regions. This causes slow and inconvenient performance to MedAMore drug stores.
MAM/Store program does not provide effective information for MAM/Warehouse and MAM/Home office. It has the regional specialization problems. The statistical output generated by MAM/Store is often not concrete information, which in turn can cause erroneous report for the MAM/Warehouse and MAM/Home office.
MAM/Warehouse program gets information that is not a useful format. Different formats of same information are recorded, stored and processed in the current system. The retail stores from all of the regions are ordering different ways of format. The wholesalers also supply different procedures to the retail store. This result causes the duplication of information and human error in every different stages of order processing.
MAM/Home program does not receive the accurate information. The data coming from 200 drug stores is not timely to its subsequent use. File transfer is late, sometimes lack of information, and sometimes too much information (information received multiple time). This is the main problem for the home office to access reliable and up-to-date information, especially in the areas of sales and inventory. Due to the above problems, it is difficult to debug the system.
MedAMore Management System cannot manage the daily operations owing to the expansion of MedAMore’s business. Thus, MAM system is needed to enhance; however, it is hardship to upgrade the existing system because each of three modules (store, warehouse, and home office) including MAM system is huge, and the implementation and maintenance costs for each module are too expensive. This becomes the huge economic problem for MedAMore to upgrade MAM system.
When it comes to earning profit, MedAMore was an industry leader last five years ago with the help of MAM innovative system. But it is currently struggling to stay out of the red because of still using the inflexibility of this same system. Such problem can reduce the MedAMore’s income and profit.
MedAManage system cannot control over human errors. After extending the business, the number of staffs is increased for the purpose of running the business well. The new staffs that is not familiar with the system such as cashiers can make a mistake when keying in the input into the system. It is difficult to get the accurate output.
Additionally, MAM/warehouse module becomes overloaded for strengthening the number of regional warehouses from one to four. It is troublesome to keep track of the processing errors when information is lost, and replicated. It can degrade the reputation of MedAMore.
In MedAMore Management system, there are over 1 million lines of code per each module. It is not easy to change one function without affecting others. Furthermore, the system has a single database that is accessed by all of the functions. Changing a single line of code can affect the rest part of the system in an unpredictable fashion. Building the software is challenging, and installing new system causes a great disruption. These problems take place the internal conflicts within the home office of MedAMore. The business side wants to obtain two more regional chains, but IT side wants to transport the existing acquisitions online. It creates the division between the business side and the technical side. The business person thinks that the technical side makes impossible demands whereas the business side sees IT as making business inactive.
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the executive team distrust each other. The business side supports IT in order to create every chance. The technical side forms its IT systems with little help from the business people. The business side discards many costly IT initiatives. The continuous argument and distrust between business and IT affects these efficiency and profitability of the MedAMore.
The regional warehouses are attainted the receiving orders from the retail stores and the supplying orders from the wholesalers. Each of these differences is required to change the MAM/Warehouse module. There is only one home office to control 200 drug stores, four regional warehouses, two geographic offices. In file transfer approach, sharing of information files are distributed late and sometimes multiple times. It may take a long time to deliver a customer’s needs. It may be a communication barrier between the sale department and warehouse. Consequently, the volume of sales will be dropping down because of late delivery or responses.
In the department of sales and inventory, it is problematic to access up-to-date financial information. Each of three parts (drug store, regional warehouse and home office) is vast, ineffective, and cumbersome. This fact can be the longer waiting time for the company’s staffs to perform their jobs. On the other hand, it can lose customers’ patient, and reduce their reliability upon the company. Finally, it can result the serious issue on service quality of MedAMore drug store.
4. Recommendation and Conclusion
We suggest that MAM should upgrade its network bandwidth speed in order to solve the file transfer delay problem. Network speed can be faster than ever, and then files transferring process can run as the correct way. Still, home office can also receive the up-to-date information on time. In addition, the server hardware from the regional warehouse and home office should be upgraded. Further, MedAMore should lay the same format for all regions to settle down the regional specialization problems. Information can be recorded, stored and processed with the same format in this way. It can also prevent data duplication errors. Consequently, MedAMore’s performance can be progressed.
In order to prevent input/output errors, MedAMore should provide the training related to the system use to new staffs in advance. As a result of it, new staffs become to know how to handle the system well, and they can perform their job more effectively. So, the percentage of human errors can be decreased in this way. The warehouses can also acquire the correct information regarding to the number of orders and supplies. Thus, they can deliver the customers’ order on time. This is the way of saving customers’ reliability upon MedAMore’s service. The more customers trust the service, the more MedAMore’s revenue increases. In return for this, the volume of profit can be improved. Moreover, the home office can also get the daily amount of sale and inventory accurately so that they can calculate the sale and profit amount.
In conclusion, PIECES framework is a useful and cost-effective tool for classifying the possible problems. Even though the categories of the PIECES framework overlap, it is a practical framework, not just an academic exercise (Bentley & Whitten, 2007). It helps any project team to understand the problems, opportunities, and directives thoroughly.