CISM7330 – INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT Case Study 1 – Midsouth Chamber of Commerce (A) Wednesday August 24, 2010 Brian Putallaz Midsouth Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit, member driven, business advocacy group is in the processes of upgrading their current information system. Midsouth has decided they need to upgrade their information system to a more currently system, in order to increase revenue producing opportunities. Their original IS system was built by an outside consultant (who is no longer in business) on a departmental need base, rather than a company wide need.
The original system was put into place in 1987, with modifications done in 1993, and 1995. During this time all IS decision were made by outside consultants, since there were no in house IT personnel. During the spring of 1996 the decision was made to hire Simon Kovecki as a systems analysis. Simon came to MSCC straight out of college and without every working with a membership organization or working with accounting software. He was placed in a difficult position since the company which originally built the system, was out of business so he had no ‘road map” on how the software was built.
In 1998 there was reorganization and all computer system was put under Jeff Hedges domain. This again placed Simon in difficult position because Mr. Hedges was as Vice President of Public Finance. Mr. Hedges lacked a technology background and often found himself wrapped up in other projects and too busy to attend to the technology side of his duties. The reorganization would have been a perfect opportunity to add a IS manager to the ranks of upper management, but MSCC declined to do so. Later in 1998 a decision was made to move to a complete new system, an AS 400 system called UNITRAK.
This particular company was chosen by Leon Lassiter and was poorly vetted. The software was in its infancy, they had only sold 1 copy, and changes were still being made to the software. During the selection process the MSCC IS analysis Mr. Kovecki, was largely ignored, as well as end users of the system. In early 1999 the decision was made by the board to move forward with purchasing and implementing the UNITRAK system. Thing did not go well, Kovecki lacked project management skills and proper guidance from above.
Due to the lack of an IS manager in the ranks of upper management there was no one to keep the project on track. This resulted in a poor migration that was months to late, data was corrupted and lost, and the new system UNITRAK was inoperable. Jack Wallingford: President of Midsouth Chamber of Commerce Ed Wilson:Vice President Public Affairs Did not seem to be interested in IS side of organization. Later was key in pulling away the lone IS employee during a key time of the implementation. Leon Lassiter:Vice President of Marketing/ Membership
Wore many hats for the organization. While he seemed to have a vision as to what he wanted in an IS system, he was unclear on how to go there. He made decision to go with UNITRAK and made some key mistakes during his decision making process. Ted Vassici:Initial information systems person for MSCC, as an outside consultant He built and made all IS recommendation for MSCC until 1996. His company later went out of business and he was not available for questions on his custom developed software.
Simon Kovecki:Information Systems Analysis Kovecki was the lone IS employee, though his concerns with UNITRAK were largely ignored, he was tasked with the migration to the new system. Jeff Hedges:Vice President of Public Finance Though he lacked a technology background, during the reorganization in 1998 was placed in control for all computer systems within the organization. He had a very lackluster interested in the new UNITRAK system. Greg Grinder:President UNITRAK Perhaps his software was to new and not quite ready to be used.
Out of all of these roles I believe the biggest mistake the company made was placing computers systems under Jeff Hedges. He lacked the background for it and did not have the proper vision for it. Although he was in charge of information systems, he was not involved in choosing a new system, and seemed mostly concerned with keeping their old accounting system intact. Even went as far as calling the system “Lassiter’s system”, although he was in charge of IS. Hedges did not buy into the UNITRAK system and he was not a champion of it.
However he is tasked to implemented for the organization. UNITRAK was a software company in their infancy and had only sold and implemented their software once prior to MSCC. Although they were new, they seemed excited at the chance to work with organization such as MSCC and seemed very willing to adjust their software fit the end user. A big win for them, a chance to see and learn how their software would work in the field. One issue was Lassiter acting as the primary contact for UNITRAK, although the employees in charge of the implementation where Hedges and Kovecki.
UNITRAK was unable to get clear information on what assistance was need during the implementation. Although willing and wanting to help, UNITRAK was not able to do so. However as a manager of IS one would have to ask themselves do we want to be the guinea pig? Do we have faith that UNITRAK can pull it off? Of course they tell you that you will receive unlimited support, but what if the company is not around in a year. That fact that they were able to come down in their price by 30%, could be a sign of cash flow issues.
MSCC failed to properly vet UNITRAK as a supplier. MSCC seemed to pass around the role and responsibilities of IS Manager to who ever seemed to want to do it, regardless of qualification. What transpired over the years was an IS system that was piecemealed together based on departmental needs, not the needs of the company, and without regard to future. Although MSCC eventually realized the need for a central, modern IS system, they still lacked the foresight to place the duties and responsibilities of IS under a qualified individual within upper management.
This resulted in an implementation project that was never properly managed from the get go. The end result was a migration that was months over due and resulted in corrupted data and a system that did not function. There were a lot of politics being played with the IS role within MSCC, particular when it came to the implementation of the new UNITRAK system. Hedges the person in charge of IS did not provide any assistance when it came to deciding on which system to go with.
Hedges also did not buy into the system, his only real concern was that the current accounting system stay intact (his department). He tended to pass the buck calling the system “Lasiter’s system. ” Lasiter was the one championing UNITRAK, however he was not in charge of IS. Lasiter even goes as far as making his pitch for the system to the board and president without Hedges or Kovecki. At this meeting he makes promises to the board, in a sense placing Hedges and Kovecki on the line for those promises. Later Lasiter goes above Hedges and complains to the Wallingford.
Kovecki the lone IS employee felt disgruntled, he was not given a chance to be promoted into an upper management position, and his concerns with the new system were largely ignored by Lasiter. Kovecki is getting no guidance on the implementation from his supervisor and even schedules a two week vacation during the implementation process. The core issue here was the lack of responsibility and accountability. Without a project manager, a clear person with whom “the buck stops”. The end result was certain promises being made, a poor implementation, no clear work flow, no timeline, and no back ups of old software prior to migration.