Strategic Analysis of a Business Information Systems (BIS) Initiative
⦁ Assignment (individual)
⦁ Strategic analysis of a business information systems (BIS) initiative (part 1 of the module)
⦁ 2,000 words +/-10%
⦁ 50% of the total mark
Choose a company and a BIS initiative it undertook in the past. The company can be of any sector, size or country, and the BIS initiative (i.e. application) can embrace either Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), e-Customer Relationship Management (e-CRM), e-Supply Chain Management (e-SCM), e-Commerce or any combination. Although you can explain some technologies and services received by the company, the initiatives have to be about transactional systems (e-CRM, e-SCM, e-CRM and e-Commerce). Similarly, although you can comment about business intelligence systems, the initiatives must be transactional. We will explain what a transactional system is in the first sessions of the module. You are required to explain the strategy of the company and/or the strategic imperatives in its industry and how the BIS initiative addressed some or all the key strategic aspects to remain competitive and be successful in the market.
The student will have to research the company, its strategic needs/strategic success factors in the industry, the application(s) that the company adopted (including the brands, if the applications were bought), information systems suppliers, and from there to link business strategies and BIS applications. It is expected that the student will reference relevant sources of information, such as web links of customer success stories and customer testimonials (in the websites of the IS suppliers), website information of the company adopter, its annual reports, industry/government reports, reports of analysts, brochures and videos of the applications, website information of the suppliers of IS, news and blogs.
It is also core in the assignment the systemic use of diverse theoretical frameworks for the strategic analysis of the company/industry including the PESTEL framework, the 5-forces of competitive position, the value chain framework, the generic strategies, the resource-based view of business strategy, etc., including any international component. The students will also have to use theories related to the type of application(s) they are writing about, i.e. ERP, e-SCM, e-CRM and/or e-Commerce as well as theories related to the interaction between organizations and IS. As BIS cut across different functional areas, relevant theories from other modules are also welcome but just as a minor complement to the ones previously mentioned. The references in the assignment have to be from English language sources.
Students are expected not only to link theory and the information of the company/BIS initiative but also to be critical, for example emphasising factors that were (or were not) taken into account for the (partial) (un)success of the initiative, lessons learned, recommended BIS roadmap for the company, etc. Although the assignment requires the use of very numerous theoretical references in the main body of the text and in the list of references, the student does not have to occupy much space explaining them. The crucial point is to include them at relevant places of the text, explain them very briefly (if necessary) and apply them correctly to make sense and interpret the factual information of the cases.
It is suggested that the students start to search for information as soon as possible, about both the companies and their BIS initiatives. The students must send by email to the module leader four options of companies (just companies, not the BIS initiatives) by 19th November as a maximum. Please, state in your email the number of each option. The order of the options is symbolic since the student has to feel confident to do a good work with any of them in terms of information and theories. The module leader will make the final allocation of one company per student at some point between the 20th and 21st November, and will post it on Blackboard. The idea is to avoid students choosing the same company.
The module leader will accept the e-mails with the students’ choices from the 18th November, not before. The allocations will be done randomly, so it will not be the first-come, first-served modality.
Companies that Cannot Be Chosen
There is a group of companies that cannot be chosen because there is too much information about them in the Internet and as a consequence, my experience says, the students that choose them tend to be overconfident and start their work quite late in the process. There could also be a temptation to take just two or three similar works from the Internet and paraphrase them for the assignment, which is not acceptable.
The list of companies includes (including any of their business units and subsidiaries) Apple, Amazon, Alibaba, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, E-Bay, Google, Baidu, Yahoo, Skype, YouTube, Youku, WhatsApp, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft, Groupon, Dell, Intel, Jingdong, Guomei, Tencent, Huawei, Sainsbury’s, GlaxoSmithKline, Walmart, Netflix, PayPal, ASOS, CISCO, INTEL and any game company. If a student chooses any of them, the module leader would allocate to the person another of her/his four options. However, it is responsibility of the student to ensure his/her options are not part of this group. The module leader could realise this at the moment of marking, which would be too late for the student. If the student writes the assignment with a company of this group, the mark would be zero.
In general, the module leader will not suggest, question, approve or give feedback either on companies or BIS initiatives in any case. The module leader will just accept the options of the students.
The marking will be strongly based on the following criteria:
80% – Excellent 70%-79% – Excellent 60% – 69% – Merit 40% – 59% – Pass < 40% – Fail
Purpose, Focus and Conformity
Attention to purpose Has addressed the purpose of the assignment comprehensively and
imaginatively Has addressed the purpose of the assignment coherently and with some attempt to demonstrate imagination Has addressed the main purpose of the assignment Some of the work is focused on the aims and themes of the assignment Fails to address the task set
Clarity of objectives and focus of work Has defined objectives in detail and addressed them comprehensively and imaginatively. Has defined objectives and addressed them at the end through the work Has outlined objectives and addressed them at the end of the work Has provided generalised objectives and focused the work on the topic area No information provided
Conforming with instructions (e.g. word length) Work has been submitted within time boundaries and within prescribed parameters Work has been submitted within time boundaries and within prescribed parameters Work has been submitted within time boundaries and within prescribed parameters Deviates slightly from the required parameters Work has been submitted late with no allow-able reason, or deviates significantly from the required parameters
Presentation of assignment (intellectual approach) Shows a polished and imaginative approach to the topic Carefully and logically organised Shows organisation and coherence Shows some attempt to organise in a logical manner Disorganised/
Communication and presentation (appropriate to discipline) Can engage effectively in debate in a professional manner and produce detailed and coherent project reports Can communicate effectively in a format appropriate to the discipline and report practical procedures in a clear and concise manner with all relevant information in a variety of formats Can communicate effectively in a format appropriate to the discipline and report procedures in a clear and concise manner with all relevant information Some communication is effective and in a format appropriate to the discipline. Can report practical procedures in a structured way Communication is unstructured and unfocused and/or in a format inappropriate to the discipline
Presentation (visual) Material is imaginatively presented resulting in clarity of message and information Material is carefully structured with clear message and visual effect Material included is relevant to topic and has been structured. Visual aspect of presentation is limited Material presented is relevant but lacks structure or visual impact Not all material is relevant and/or is presented in a disorganised manner
Clarity of expression (incl. accuracy, spelling, grammar, punctuation Fluent writing style appropriate to document. Grammar and spelling accurate. Language fluent
Grammar and spelling accurate Language mainly fluent Grammar and spelling mainly accurate Meaning apparent, but language not always fluent Grammar and/or spelling contain errors Meaning unclear and/or grammar and/or spelling contain frequent errors
Theory and Practice
Content and range Comprehensive/detailed knowledge of topic with areas of specialisation is depth and awareness of provisional nature of knowledge Reasonable knowledge of topic and an awareness of a variety of ideas/frameworks Has given a factual and/or conceptual knowledge base and appropriate terminology Evidence of limited knowledge of topic and some use of appropriate terminology Lacks evidence of knowledge relevant to the topic and/or significantly misuses terminology
Knowledge of theory Assignment demonstrates integration and innovation in the selection and handling of theory Insightful and appropriate selection of theory in key areas Most key theories are included in the work in an appropriate straight forward manner Selection of theory is appropriate but some aspects have been missed or misconstrued Inaccurate or inappropriate choice of theory
Context in which subject is used Takes account of complex context and selects appropriate technique Takes some account of context and selects some appropriate techniques Recognises defined context and uses standard techniques for that context Context acknowledged but not really taken into account Context not recognised as relevant
Information gathering/processing Selects and processes data with confidence and imagination. Makes a selection from data, applies processing tools and use some imagination Makes a selection from data and applies processing tools. Collects some information and makes some use of processing tools Random information gathering. Inappropriate use of processing tools.
Clarity of Reasoning and Analysis
Analysis Can analyse new and/or abstract data and situations without guidance using a wide range of techniques appropriate to the topic Can analyse a range of information with minimum guidance, can apply major theories and compare alternative methods/technique for obtaining data Can analyse with guidance using given classification / principles Can analyse a limited range of information with guidance using classification / principles Fails to analyse information
Reflection / evaluation Can critically review evidence supporting conclusions/
recommendations including its reliability, validity and significance and can investigate contradictory information/ identify reasons for contradictions Can select appropriate techniques of evaluation and can evaluate the relevance and significance of data collected Can evaluate the reliability of data using defined techniques and/or tutor guidance. Limited and only partially accurate evaluation of data using defined techniques and/or tutor guidance. Fails to evaluate or use techniques of evaluation, or evaluations are totally invalid.
Critical reasoning Consistently demonstrates application of critical analysis well integrated in the text Clear application of theory through critical analysis/critical thought of the topic area Demonstrates application of theory through critical analysis of the topic area Some evidence of critical thought/critical analysis and rationale for work Lacks critical thought /analysis / reference to theory
Conclusions Analytical and clear conclusions well-grounded in theory and literature showing development of new concepts Good development show in summary of arguments based in theory/literature Evidence of findings and conclusions grounded in theory/literature Limited evidence of findings and conclusions supported by theory/literature Unsubstantiated/invalid conclusions based on anecdote and generalisation only, or no conclusions at all
Students can ask for additional feedback to the module leader regarding their assignment.
The learning outcomes will be addressed in the assignment in the following way:
Intended Knowledge Outcomes
Analyse and critically evaluate interconnected knowledge on enterprise systems, strategy and organizations 70%
Demonstrate a critical understanding and appraise the controversies of the ethical and social aspects of the information society 5%
Intended Skill Outcomes
Synthetize and critically analyse diverse theoretical-practical concepts to facilitate decision making related to different aspects of information systems 50%
Align strategy and business information systems in order to support business processes of different functional areas 90%
Manage the information systems life cycle from analysis and development to sourcing and maintenance 10%
Function as an independent learner by critically gathering information to build and analyse business cases 95%
There will be two 1-hour sessions about the assignment. The first is in session 2 on how to collect information for the case studies and the second in session 9 on the structure and content of the cases. For session 9 students will come with the structure of their cases, notes and questions. The session will be interactive and the module leader will give formative guidance not only on what is expected in the cases but also on the most common mistakes done by the students so as to avoid or minimise them in the current cohort of students. There will also be a non-timetabled session after releasing the marks and feedback, which the students could attend to know how they could improve their academic performance for similar tasks in the future. This session will be organised in February and the module leader will communicate the details in due course. This is optional to attend for the students since each one will receive a personalised feedback via Turnitin apart from the general feedback on Blackboard for the whole cohort.