Example of completed_project_eosp (1)

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Example of completed_project_eosp (1)

  1. 1. Deena Vaughn End of Seminar Project: Increased Effectiveness and Efficiency in the Delivery of Instructional Materials Deena Vaughn April 20, 2010 University of Maryland University College 1002 DMBA 620 9040 Professor James Stewart
  2. 2. 2 Table of Contents Executive Summary....................................................................................................................................... 4 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 5 Managerial Challenge ................................................................................................................................... 6 Course Materials at UMUC ....................................................................................................................... 6 Student Backorders ................................................................................................................................... 6 UMUC Intervention ................................................................................................................................... 7 Purpose of UMUC/MBS Partnership ......................................................................................................... 8 Course Materials at Competing Universities ............................................................................................ 8 Looking Ahead........................................................................................................................................... 9 Feasibility .................................................................................................................................................. 9 The Proposed Solution ................................................................................................................................ 10 Project Management Plan ...................................................................................................................... 10 Project Goal......................................................................................................................................... 10 Stakeholder Analysis ........................................................................................................................... 10 Project Sponsor ................................................................................................................................... 10 Project Manager.................................................................................................................................. 10 Project Team ....................................................................................................................................... 10 Team Contact ...................................................................................................................................... 10 Project Deliverables ............................................................................................................................ 11 Organizational Structure ..................................................................................................................... 11 Organizational Boundaries and Interfaces.......................................................................................... 11 Work Breakdown Structure ................................................................................................................ 11 Dependencies...................................................................................................................................... 12 Resource requirements....................................................................................................................... 13 Budget requirements .......................................................................................................................... 13 Schedule .............................................................................................................................................. 13 Project Responsibilities ....................................................................................................................... 14 Assumptions, Dependencies and Constraints..................................................................................... 14 Risk Management ............................................................................................................................... 14
  3. 3. 3 Monitoring and Controlling Mechanisms ........................................................................................... 15 Operations Management Plan ................................................................................................................ 15 Operations Strategy ............................................................................................................................ 16 Process Improvement Plan ................................................................................................................. 16 Quality Control .................................................................................................................................... 16 Operational Efficiency & Effectiveness Improvement ........................................................................ 17 Information Systems Management Plan ................................................................................................ 17 Information System Objectives ........................................................................................................... 17 Hardware/Software Requirements..................................................................................................... 17 Database Technical Support ............................................................................................................... 17 Information Management Reports ..................................................................................................... 18 Information Security ........................................................................................................................... 18 Financial Management Plan.................................................................................................................... 18 Start Up Budget................................................................................................................................... 18 Operating Budget ................................................................................................................................ 18 Cost/Benefit ........................................................................................................................................ 18 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 18 Works Cited ................................................................................................................................................. 19
  4. 4. 4 Executive Summary UMUC, a global university with over 90,000 students, offers a broad range of opportunities for adult learners to realize their education pursuits. While the University has provisions for traditional classroom instruction, eighty percent of the classes are offered within the virtual classroom. As we enter the new decade, the administration of UMUC has been actively engaging in the evaluation and analysis of the programs that are offered in both the graduate and undergraduate schools. In the undergraduate program, in which nearly seventy thousand students are involved, a tremendous initiative is underway. The school has implemented a curriculum re-design program known as Segue. Not only have all programs been assessed and re-align, but the format of the course offering has been standardized. Effective with the fall 2011 semester, all undergraduate courses will be offered in eight week sessions. This initiative is changing operational processes across the entire University. The textbooks unit, which is already challenged by state legislation to reduce the cost of course materials to students, will be significantly impacted by Segue. Due to the high incidence of backorders with MBS, UMUC’s partnering bookstore, we simply cannot meet the course materials delivery demands that will be brought about by consecutive eight week and there is a need to develop an alternate operational strategy to meet the needs of students. A project team has been assembled to research, design and establish a virtual university bookstore that will deliver e-Content to students over a secure website. The team will establish a working plan that will enable the project goal to be delivered on time, by July 2011 and within budget, one million dollars. The team will maintain a clear line of communication and reporting to stay on track keep upper management abreast of the progress. Consideration has been given to internal and external constraints to prevent these from hindering the team’s ability to deliver the project goals. Operationally, the focus will be centered on the Japanese principle of jidoka, which is continuous improvement. The process improvement plan will include an ongoing system of evaluation and quality control. It will be necessary for the University to make a substantial investment in technological enhancements; however, these should be offset by sales potential. Additionally, customer satisfaction is expected to increase three-fold and should have a positive impact on enrollment and retention.
  5. 5. 5 Introduction The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) was founded in 1947 and is one of 11 degree-granting institutions in the University System of Maryland (Anonymous, 2010). What began as the adult education arm of the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) has blossomed into a global university that offers classes at locations in the Washington Metropolitan area, Europe, Asia and online. With an enrollment of nearly 90,000 (80% of which is online), UMUC serves students around the globe. UMUC's mission is to offer a quality education to students in Maryland, the nation and the world (Anonymous, 2010). Among the core values of the University are principles to guide the behaviors of individuals and institutions within UMUC. These include: students first, accountability, diversity, integrity, excellence, innovation and respect (Anonymous, 2010). To meet the needs of a growing student body, UMUC relies on the support of individuals within several departments across the University. Ultimately, the function of all units touches the student in some way; therefore, it is critical for each to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. The University has established guidelines and objectives for each unit with the intent to ensure that every area of the organization is focused on meeting the needs of the students. The textbooks unit is responsible for ensuring that students are able to purchase required course materials. Additionally, the unit ensures that instructors receive the materials needed to prepare a quality course. Within the textbooks unit there are considerations for both the graduate and undergraduate programs. While there are many correlations between the two schools there are some considerable differences. There are a substantially greater number of students and courses within the undergraduate program as compared to the grad school. Additionally, there are a greater number of formats in which courses are offered in the undergraduate program. As a result, new initiatives are typically rolled out within the undergraduate program and then implemented within the graduate program. There are also two perspectives on the textbook requirements for the undergraduate program. As indicated earlier, the unit ensures that the course materials needs of both students and instructors are met. As such, an all encompassing process is implemented. Again, in this area of focus, there are similarities and differences. Gratis materials are provided, as a courtesy, to all UMUC faculty members. Students, on the other hand, are required to secure materials independently prior to the start of class. As a result, delivery methods are centered primarily on the needs of students and then applied to the faculty distribution process. This paper will provide an integrated approach to tackle an important managerial challenge within the undergraduate student textbook delivery process. Emphasis will be placed on developing a strategy that will be scalable to meet the growing needs of the University.
  6. 6. 6 Managerial Challenge Course Materials at UMUC According to our text, quality is defined by two characteristics, design and process (Jacobs & Chase, 2008). Design quality is concerned with meeting the requirements of the customer, while process quality is concerned with the reliability of a product or service (Jacobs & Chase, 2008). With the marriage of the two, an organization is able to deliver excellence in the products and services that are valuable to the customer. The product that my organization hopes to deliver is a quality education that will be respected in the marketplace when UMUC graduates seek to gain or improve their job status. Of significance is the fact that the University is delivering this product primarily through the technology of virtual classrooms. So essentially there is a need to ensure that students receive a quality diploma and actually feel as if they have learned something that they can use to advance their careers. Textbooks are a critical part of the successful academic setting that UMUC is cultivating. Students and instructors must have materials from the first moment of instruction. Currently the University partners with Missouri Book Services (MBS) to provide students with the ability to purchase materials from a virtual bookstore. This arrangement is managed under a contract that is generated to provide students with a dedicated source for course material needs at a reasonable price. Although UMUC has partnered with MBS on certain guidelines to meet the course material needs of students, the online bookstore is still a separate entity from the University. As such, MBS operates under a business model that meets the company’s profit and sales objectives. Ultimately, this means that the University cannot dictate MBS’ purchasing strategy. Although MBS is contractually bound to provide students with the ability to purchase all course materials as adopted by UMUC, the order quantities are based on student sales. Despite UMUC’s negotiated contract pricing with MBS, there are a number of retail outlets that offer the specified course materials at a lower cost to students; therefore, these savvy adult learners shop the market place to secure the best deals on material requirements. In addition, instructors that are concerned with the cost of materials have researched the best deals and often steer students away from MBS. As a result, sales decline at the online bookstore and ordering quantities are adjusted accordingly. A consequence of this unfortunate cycle is that MBS has become notorious for high levels of student backorders over the years. Student Backorders The University maintains a high level of concern about the instances of students who do not have required course materials at the start of class. From UMUC’s perspective, one backorder could cause a student to fall behind and ultimately drop the course. This has a high reaching effect on student retention that the University takes very seriously. MBS on the other hand has determined that a 1% backorder rate is acceptable within the company’s business model and does not find the current order strategy to be too risky. Backorders exist when students place orders with MBS that are not immediately processed and shipped. Although student backorders would seemingly be the result of an order deficiency with the retailer, students pay the cost for late materials. Additionally, there are no estimates provided on the
  7. 7. 7 arrival stock and MBS does not expedite shipping. This situation is particularly troublesome for military students who are stationed in faraway lands that have a mail system that is already quite extensive. Backorders can also be caused by the school if academic units are allowed to implement changes at the last minute. If the replacement title is not readily available in MBS’ distribution system, an order, which is subject to the constraints of shipping lead times, will be placed. This situation also has an impact on the quality of the instruction within the classroom, as the instructor is also likely to be without the necessary course materials. State legislation has prompted the University to implement a text selection process to lower the cost of materials for students. This practice, which solicits bids from the publishing community, has come with a fair share of problems. One such problem is the need for the University to adopt materials that are assigned specialized international standard book number (ISBN). These specialized materials are created because the publishers cannot offer UMUC a lower price than is provided to any other establishment. As a consequence of this system, custom ISBNs are assigned and students are only able to order from MBS. Unfortunately, MBS approaches these items with the same focus on the company’s business model and orders against previous student orders. A case in point, the math and statistics department implemented a program that utilized bundled packages specifically designed to meet the needs of the students taking courses within that discipline. Despite the custom nature of this program and the company’s position as the sole distributor of the materials, MBS did not alter the acquisition strategy. This is due to the fact that customized materials present a larger problem for the company; they can only sell the materials to UMUC students. And since, students sometimes will go through an entire semester without purchasing course materials, MBS could not rely on enrollment data to build orders for product that might sit in the warehouse. While the publisher was willing to offer a guaranteed return on custom packages, MBS took two years to develop enough data to accurately project sales and build the appropriate inventory to meet the needs of the students. UMUC Intervention The textbooks unit at UMUC has worked diligently to combat the issues that cause student backorders. MBS is provided updated enrollment data three times a week for an extended period leading up to the semester start date. This sharing of information is intended to aid MBS in the development of a procurement strategy designed to meet the needs of all students. MBS, in return, provides data on problem titles, of which, inventory cannot be secured for a variety of reasons as well as notices of backorders from publishers that supply the bookstore. Another strategy that has been implemented by the University that has resulted in an advantage to the partnering bookstore is the introduction of staggered start dates for online sessions within each term. This has allowed MBS to carry less inventory and place orders as needed for each session. There have been some fallacies with this system, in that the bookstore has run into trouble with securing the required materials for the later sessions.
  8. 8. 8 When the undergraduate program decided to offer ten week sessions, the Dean was very concerned about the impact of backorders on the new accelerated format. As such, the textbooks unit was charged with developing a way to circumvent any potential for collateral damage. The approach that was undertaken was one in which the help of the academic units, library services, marketing/communications and the publishing community was solicited. This collaboration resulted in the implementation of an intricate system of providing the first three chapters of all textbooks utilized in the affected courses. An elaborate system of communication was developed for the academic units, faculty and students. The program would be considered moderately successful considering the scale for which it was implemented. Purpose of UMUC/MBS Partnership With the challenge of ensuring that the course materials needs of students are met, there is a lingering thought that the University should maintain a bookstore instead of outsourcing this important function. While the idea may be tempting, there are a significant number of factors that would preclude UMUC from undertaking such an endeavor. The most prevalent would be the cost associated with the construction and maintenance of a brick and mortar facility to accommodate the inventory that would be needed to supply materials to nearly 70,000 undergraduate students. The next question one might ask is why the University would develop a partnership when the internet has opened the market place for student purchases. While this might also be a good option in theory, there are also reasons that would prohibit this practice for some students. With the number of students utilizing financial aid to cover the cost of educational expenses, UMUC needs to provide a venue that will accept book vouchers for payment of course materials. MBS serves students well in this capacity by accepting financial and employer issued vouchers. In addition to offering students the ability to utilize alternate payment methods, partnering with MBS affords the University the opportunity to offer a one stop shop for course materials. As mentioned in the undergraduate catalog and the schedule of classes, MBS is the only placed guaranteed to stock all of the materials required and recommended for UMUC courses. Course Materials at Competing Universities Strayer University is an open access institution dedicated to serving the needs of adult students in locations all along the eastern seaboard and parts of the Midwest. The school is a UMUC competitor in that working adults are offered a broad range of options to complete their education. Strayer also partners with MBS to provide course materials for students; however, they appear to have taken the approach a step further. To avoid the issues of some student backorder or to just give the students an opportunity to get a jump start on reading assignments, Strayer has provided a limited number of e-chapters that students can obtain from MBS, free of charge, with the purchase of certain textbooks. Strayer also has a selection of e-books that students may purchase from MBS. University of Phoenix (Phoenix), which is UMUC’s primary competitive, has taken course material availability to the next dimension in comparison to UMUC. Phoenix does not partner with any bookstore to provide course materials for students. In fact, the school ended a long time relationship with MBS shortly after I joined UMUC. This was a hot topic of discussion as UMUC officials scrambled to learn the cause of the resolution of this relationship. I recently had the opportunity to speak with a former UMUC employee who now works at Phoenix. As a result of this conversation, I learned that the
  9. 9. 9 University of Phoenix actually provides students with e-Resources, which are course materials that are embedded in the virtual classroom. The cost of these resources is included in the tuition; therefore, students do not pay separate fees for course materials. Looking Ahead As UMUC looks ahead to the next decade and beyond, upper management seeks to ensure that the University is poised to meet the challenges and opportunities that accompany sustainable growth. This vision is being carried out at every level of the organization. Often the change in one area necessitates a change in a related area. The academic units within the undergraduate programs have recently implemented a strategic plan that will reshape the way courses are presented to students. This initiative, which is titled Supporting Educational Goals for Undergraduate Excellence is affectionately labeled SEGUE (pronounced segway). Through the efforts of SEGUE, the entire undergraduate curriculum will be redesigned by fall 2011. Along with the re-defining and re-shaping of the programs within the school, all face-to-face and online sections will be offered in eight week sessions. An undertaking such as this will have far reaching ramifications across the UMUC and has already signaled a need for drastic process improvements in many departments. As the undergraduate dean has been noted as saying, “this is not a SUS initiative, it is a UMUC initiative.” Feasibility The textbooks delivery method, as it is today is not sufficient to meet the needs of nearly 70,000 students who will be taking a new class every eight weeks. The current process, which is primarily handled by an outside vendor is plague with a plethora of perceived or real delays that have no place in a highly accelerated course offering such as that which is promised by SEGUE. The University simply does not have enough control over the external entities that support the needs of the students. The provost has already identified the textbooks unit as one that will be impacted by the implementation of SEGUE. As a result, he has commissioned the department to develop a website to post the first three chapters of all courses, graduate and undergraduate, offered at Adelphi, Asia and Europe. In addition, a new position has been approved to manage this process on an ongoing basis. This approach is really a work around that does not get to the root of the core problem. By implementing such a plan, University officials are essentially admitting that there is a lack of faith in the abilities of the partnering bookstore. Companies such as Wal-mart or Dell that understand the significance of effective supply chain management also understand that the companies with which they form alliances must be on the same page. Both companies work within the constraints of just-in-time (JIT) inventory, which is a pull system that grabs parts for Dell or stock for Wal-mart, only when needed for the next stage of the process. Both companies have indicated that any supplier that wishes to do business with them must be willing and able to subscribe to this system. As a result, vendors and suppliers have made a tremendous amount of concessions, including establishing offices strategically in relation to these companies in order to comply. UMUC has outsourced a critical function that dramatically impacts the quality of instruction at the University. Along with contracting this external vendor to handle this monumental task, UMUC has
  10. 10. 10 yielded power. As a consequence of this practice, customer satisfaction has declined and many students and faculty have complained. If UMUC intends to be a leader in distance education, the University must take control of the critical operation of course material delivery to students. The Proposed Solution Project Management Plan A project is a temporary undertaking that is tasked for the purpose of achieving a specified end (Schwalbe, 2009). It may include such things as the building of a new football stadium, construction of a new bridge or widening of an existing road. Although outcomes may vary considerably, common attributes of projects include, a unique purpose, a limited timeframe, a progressive operational planning process, resource requirements from a variety of areas, a primary customer or sponsor and some degree of uncertainty (Schwalbe, 2009). Additionally, all projects are constrained in some way by scope, time and cost goals (Schwalbe, 2009). Project Goal The goal for this project is to develop a UMUC virtual bookstore that will enable students to purchase electronic resources directly from the University. This “store”, which has been budgeted at a million dollars, would be developed within a one-year timeframe, provide for the use of student vouchers and establish a zero tolerance for backorders. The outlaying result of the project will be the development of a course materials delivery process that will meet the needs of students who are taking courses within the guidelines of SEGUE by providing timely delivery of course materials at a reduce price. Stakeholder Analysis Stakeholders include students, faculty and University staff, all of whom are located in a variety of locations world-wide. The advantages for these stakeholders include process improvements, increased productivity, reduced costs, enhanced customer service and an improved learning environment. Additionally, there would be an elimination of physical materials, which may be considered a disadvantage by some stakeholders. Project Sponsor The project will be sponsored by the University Provost Project Manager Assistant Director of Textbooks Operations Project Team Members of textbooks unit Members of IT A member of the finance department Team Contact The project team has agreed to a code of conduct that will include active participation of all members, a constant flow of communication and a level of transparency that will aid in the goal of
  11. 11. 11 solving the established problem. Each member is expected to operate in an effective and efficient manner that allows for the professional resolution of any potential conflicts. Assigned duties are established and each team member is expected to respond accordingly despite the demands of his/her normal area of responsibility. Project Deliverables Deliverables for the project will include a weekly comparison of the established milestones and the relevant progress. The data analyst will be responsible for compiling and maintaining a progress report, which will be presented to the project manager. Additionally, the data analyst will maintain a data log, which will be available upon request to the provost office and the University System. The project should produce a one-hundred percent reduction in the instances of student backorders, a fifty percent decrease in course material costs and enhanced customer satisfaction. Organizational Structure Project Manager Budget Analyst e-Content Specialist Assistant to the Project Manager Web Designer Data Analyst Database Administrator Software Engineer Organizational Boundaries and Interfaces The project manager will direct the effort of the team and serve as the liaison between the unit and upper management. Directives of upper management will flow from the project manager through the assistant project manager to the remaining team members. The data and budget analysts will report directly to the project manager; however, all team members have the ability to utilize the services of these individuals. Database administrator, e-Content buyer, web designer and software engineer have front line responsibility for obtaining information, acquiring resources and implementing virtual bookstore content. These persons work in concert to complete the necessary tasks and keep the project moving forward. Work Breakdown Structure 1. Research laws of local jurisdiction
  12. 12. 12 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 2. Determine the type of business license and permits will be needed Consult legal counsel Choose a name for the bookstore Register the name Secure a tax identification number Establish guidelines for course materials selection 2.2 Analyze current process 2.2 Evaluate constraints 2.3 Make improvements to uncovered process constraints 3. Analyze requirements for acquiring e-Content 3.1 Develop relationship with publishing community 3.2 Research methods for securing copyright rights 3.3 Identify constraints 3.4 Develop processes to overcome identified constraints 4. Establish accounting system 4.1 Establish payment methods 4.2 Develop point of sale system 5. Prepare merchandise for sale 5.1 Set prices 5.2 Secure images 5.3 Develop promotional plan 6. Create website 6.1 Analyze current University web design 6.2 Evaluate constraints 6.3 Make improvements to address uncovered constraints 6.3 Incorporate virtual bookstore 7. Open University e-Content Bookstore Dependencies There are three primary types of dependencies; mandatory, discretionary and external (Schwalbe, 2009). Mandatory dependencies are related to those tasks, which are reliant upon other tasks for completion. While there are some dependencies, many tasks will occur simultaneous as each team member sets about the work of completing individual tasks. A few aspects of the project may require more scrutiny as these tasks may rely on completion of another before moving forward. Discretionary dependencies are those that are established by choice rather than the logic of the necessary flow of things (Schwalbe, 2009). For this project, the team will build on the lessons learned from previous attempts at resolving the challenge at hand and the success of other organizations or institutions that have implemented e-Content delivery methods. External dependencies, which are those that exist outside of the plan, include the cooperation of the academic units and the publishing community (Schwalbe, 2009).
  13. 13. 13 Resource requirements Each team member will require the support of the data analyst to compile information and provide statistics. There will also be a need for meeting space and general office equipment and supplies. Budget requirements Funding has already been approved for a position that will be responsible for maintaining a dedicated website for the first three chapters of all course materials. We recommend utilizing this person in the management of the bookstore website; therefore, the budget should have consideration for salary and benefits. Additional funding will be required for system development and enhancement. This cost could be in the neighborhood of five-hundred thousand dollars and would require approval of investment funding. Schedule Task: Research laws of local jurisdiction Determine the type of business license and permits will be needed Consult legal counsel Choose a name for the bookstore Register the name Secure a tax identification number Establish guidelines for course materials selection Analyze current process Evaluate constraints Make improvements to uncovered process constraints Analyze requirements for acquiring e-Content Develop relationship with publishing community Research methods for securing copyright rights Identify constraints Develop processes to overcome identified constraints Establish accounting system Establish payment methods Develop point of sale system Prepare merchandise for sale Set prices Secure images Develop promotional plan Create website Analyze current University web design Evaluate constraints Make improvements to address uncovered constraints Incorporate virtual bookstore Open e-Content Bookstore Launch website Target Completion Date: June 15, 2010 June 15, 2010 June 15, 2010 June 30, 2010 June 30, 2010 June 15, 2010 Sept 15, 2010 Dec 1, 2010 June 15, 2010 June 15, 2010 Sept 1, 2010 Dec 1, 2010 Mar 1, 2011 Mar 1, 2011 Mar 1, 2011 Mar 1, 2011 Mar 1, 2011 Jan 1, 2011 Mar 1, 2011 Jun 1, 2011 July 1, 2011 July 15, 2011
  14. 14. 14 Project Responsibilities Each team member has responsibility for a specified area of the project. While some tasks rely on the completion of another task to get started, many of the activities can occur simultaneously. The assistant project manager will monitor the progress of all team members and report in to the project manager. The data analyst is responsible for ensuring that all requested data is prepared, evaluated and disseminated amongst the team members. The budget analyst is tasked with ensuring that the project is operated within the established financial constraints. The project manager has overall responsibility for ensuring that the project remains on task and on target. Assumptions, Dependencies and Constraints The assumption is that all team members will work in a collaborative effort to see the project through to completion. While there may be conflicts between the work of the team and that of the individuals’ normal areas of responsibility, the project task will prevail. The bar will be set high, as it relates to the level of communication, and the assumption is that each member will operate within the guidelines of transparency and confidentiality within the team. Additionally, the entire project hinges upon the assumption that the University will be able to secure the appropriate permissions to obtain, duplicate and distribute e-Content. The premise behind the approach is based on the model presented by Coursesmart.com, an online supplier of e-Books. Constraints include the need to secure copyright permission to distribute e-Content and the availability of technology for a delivery method. There would be a need to develop strong relationships with the publishing community to ensure that the University is able to obtain copyright permission on a continual basis. Additionally, technology personnel would need to maintain a close watch over the project before during and after the launch of the website. An endeavor such as this is undertaken, would require enhanced support to meet the needs of system users. Additional constraints will include the diversion of internal upper management support to other areas. Conflicting tasks within team members area of responsibility and the project needs. These would need to be address due to the potential of hindering the timely completion of the project. Risk Management There is a risk that conflicting objectives might interfere with the completion of the project. There are a substantial number of initiatives within the University that could potentially make already scarce resources non-existent. To mitigate this risk, we will work closely as a team to plan our needs in advance so that we may be able to achieve priority over some of the lesser projects. Additionally, since the provost is sponsoring us, our project should have the benefit of widespread organizational support. While e-Books are becoming more popular, not all books are currently available in this format. Since publishers must satisfy contractual agreements with authors, there is a risk that we will not be able to secure the necessary copyright permissions to obtain e-Content for all materials. Additionally, smaller publishers may not be able to handle University requests for e-Books.
  15. 15. 15 To mitigate these risks, we will work closely with the publishing community to develop an understanding of the requirements of authors and the publishing company. We might also solicit the support of library services to develop e-Content within the organization for those companies that are unable to provide the necessary files. Additionally, we will work closely with academic units to ensure that we have a clear understanding of the course material requirements prior to making contact with the publishing community. Lastly, there is the risk of backlash from students that are not interested in substituting e-Book for physical textbooks. While the market is growing, there are some students, including myself that are willing to pay a little more for the physical textbook. To mitigate this risk, we would provide the standard text requirements on our website to enable students to shop the marketplace. Special consideration would need to be taken for students that are using a voucher to purchase materials. Monitoring and Controlling Mechanisms Each team member will maintain accurate records and submit progress reports to the assistant project manager on a weekly basis, which will be compiled for submission to the project manager. Monthly meetings will be held to allow each team member the opportunity to share ideas and get feedback on their respective areas of responsibility. At the completion of each phase a report will be compiled and maintained for submission to the provost office and the University System. Operations Management Plan Operations management is a continuous process of evaluating, developing and implementing changes to a system for the purpose of achieving process improvements and increased efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of a product or service (Jacobs, 2008). Companies may be concern with these two aspects of business because it directly impacts whether or not established objectives are met. Operational efficiency is concerned with ensuring that the resources of a company are utilized in a manner such that the expected output is achieved with the least amount of input (Jacobs, 2008). Dell is a company that started with a strategy of providing low cost computers to the market place. As part of Dell’s strategy, the company looked at the efficiency of its operations to ensure that the least amount of resources was utilized to assemble a computer. As the company became a leader in the market, management continued to evaluate the production process to cut costs and thereby increase profits without increasing the price. As a result, the company realized significant growth each year and was very effective in the goal of providing low cost computers to the marketplace. Since legislation has been handed down by the state to achieve reductions, UMUC has been challenged to take a look at internal processes to determine a way to respond to the state mandate. The resulting plan was for upper management to implement a text selection process that is directed by a textbook committee. This plan was designed to encourage publishers to significantly reduce costs to the bookstore, which will be passed along to students. I propose instead that we look to our processes and develop efficiencies that can be passed directly from the University to students.
  16. 16. 16 Operations Strategy Operational strategy provides for the ability to set broad plans and policies to better utilize the resources of a firm to meet long term objectives (Jacobs, 2008). Looking at the Dell model, we can see that a company that does not lose sight of a winning formula can maintain a focus on the consumer while continuously evaluating internal processes. During Dell’s heyday, the company was centered on delivering a low cost custom product to the consumer. Our strategy would be to streamline the text delivery process that we currently have in place and cut out the middle man. By buying copyright permission from the publishers and selling e-Content to students, UMUC would not only be able to ensure timely delivery of course materials but also lower costs. While there would still be a cost to the University, the mark-up to students would be controlled internally. There are a substantial number of universities, including traditional schools that are venturing into online or distance education. Faced with a growing number of competitors, it is critical that UMUC utilizes resources in the most effective and efficient manner. The focal point of our operational plan is to meet the goals of our project, which would ultimately set UMUC apart from the competition. Process Improvement Plan Process improvement is concerned with refining the structure of operations within an organization. It is a process of looking at circumstances to establish of means of prevention instead of just determining what cause the incident. This process also known as jidoka or kaizen is a process of identifying defects and continuously working to develop process improvements (Unknown, 2010). Toyota is actually scrutinizing the jidoka principle in response to the bad publicity generated by the company’s handling of the recent defects in product manufacturing (Anonymous, Toyota Begins Radically Reshaping Operations to Meet Customer Expectations, 2010). There are always challenges that may arise whenever process improvements are undertaken. The most prevalent, of such, is gaining support from affected parties within the University. Competing initiatives may interfere with the effort to align a process improvement plan with organizational objectives. We have already experienced this type of feedback with the implementation of the first approach to meeting the requirements of the state legislation. Many directors have expressed concerned that the current new process has stripped them of the academic freedom to select the material they deem appropriate for the courses they manage. Our process improvement plan will be centered on timely delivery of course materials to students at a reduced cost; however, it will also provide a horizontal objective of ensuring the academic units remain the experts in the area of course management and text selection. Quality Control Six-Sigma is a methodology that companies use to ensure that the product that is delivered to the consumer is free from defect (Jacobs, 2008). Using the DMAIC cycle will help to evaluate the ability of the textbooks unit to handle the undertaking that is brought about by SEGUE.
  17. 17. 17 1. Define – e-Content acquisition objectives are determined at the beginning of each semester 2. Measure – assessment tools are developed to ensure that the requirement of each course is met with the required acquisition objective 3. Analyze – data managers analyze the records provided by the assessment tools to determine if it is necessary to make adjustments within the acquisitions outline 4. Improve – the system goes through process improvement sequence that looks at the fulfillment rate of each course make any changes that are necessary to improve the quality of the delivery method 5. Control – targets are established and reports are generated routinely to monitor the progress of the system. A dashboard is implemented to highlight problems to ensure that immediate actions are taken when problems are detected Operational Efficiency & Effectiveness Improvement The expectation is that the project will result in a substantial improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of the text delivery methods that will not only provide timely delivery of course material to students but will also reduce the cost of materials. The textbooks unit will be able to streamline processes to ensure that the needs of students are met on a continual basis. Information Systems Management Plan Under the guidelines of information systems management, technology departments are concerned with helping the organization meet its objectives. As such, these units will be available to evaluate, design, manage and implement a high quality information system. While the team includes members with a technology background, an undertaking of this magnitude will require support from the UMUC’s IT department. Considerations must be made for systems compatibility especially since the University is implementing PeopleSoft9. The project management team will account for any constraints that may develop within this area. Information System Objectives Our project team will first attempt to tap into the current system to meet the goals of the project; however, it is more likely that we will need to be one from the ground. Considerations will be made for both the text selection and distribution processes. We may be able to tap into the current accounting system for student payment; however, this will need to be developed if warranted. Additionally, there will be a need for point of sale system to track student purchases. Hardware/Software Requirements The new employee and team member will require a computer with standard operating system the most recent versions of Microsoft Office and Outlook. The project will require a web based system for use by a large number of internal and external stakeholders. Database Technical Support While the data analyst will provide the first level of support for team members, 360-Support is currently available to all UMUC students, faculty and staff. This service would be extended to meet the
  18. 18. 18 requirements of the University e-Content Bookstore. As such, support would be provided around the clock to help users navigate the system. Information Management Reports An array of data will be available for the e-Content specialist, data manager and data analyst. This may include textbook adoption by semester, e-Content requirements and class scheduling information. This information will be compiled, analyzed and disseminated by the data analyst. Information Security Of high priority will be the need to secure information that is gathered over the course of the project. Team members will share data as necessary to elicit the support of external factors such as the publishing community and academic units; however, classified information will be regarded as such and confidentiality will be implemented as needed. Additionally, a level of security must be incorporated into the ordering system to protect online shoppers. This may also be implemented under the existing systems; however, provisions will be made for need for new developments in this area. Financial Management Plan Start Up Budget One million dollars has been allocated for start up costs, which include new personnel, permits, licensing, a new or enhanced system and copyright fees. A new or updated system has been estimated at $500,000 dollars. Copyright fees are a variable and could potentially become a constraint for the project. Operating Budget Once the bookstore gets off the ground sales should offset the ongoing cost of copyright fees. The operating budget will account for salaries and system maintenance. Cost/Benefit While there is initially a handsome investment in this potential, the potential for an estimated $250,000 per year in sales will allow the new system to pay for itself within four- to-five years. Additionally, the improved support to students will substantially improve customer service and potential increase enrollment. This would have an unmeasured benefit as the possibilities are limitless. Conclusion UMUC is poised to be a leader in distance education. The University has established a solid footing within the industry and has experienced considerable growth over the most recent years. To achieve sustainable growth UMUC management must critically assess the way the University operates. As such a number of initiatives have been implemented to bring about process improvements. The textbooks unit has been identified as an area of improvement. Upper management can dramatically improve the go to market strategy of the University’s textbook division. By altering the text delivery method to one that is maintained internally, the University would be able to ensure timely arrival of text requirements as well as reduce costs. While
  19. 19. 19 there are some considerations and possible constraints, a project of this scope has the potential to outweigh the risks. An e-Content virtual bookstore would not only provide an enhanced level of customer service to students, but would pay for itself in a relatively short period of time. The new method would place UMUC ahead of many of the University’s competitors and has the potential to increase enrollment and student retention. Works Cited Anonymous. (2010, April 19). About Us: UMUC. Retrieved April 19, 2010, from UMUC Web site: http://www.umuc.edu Anonymous. (2010, March 31). Toyota Begins Radically Reshaping Operations to Meet Customer Expectations. JCN Newswire . Jacobs, F. a. (2008). Operations and Supply Management: The Core. New York: McGraw-Hill. Schwalbe, K. (2009). An Introduction to Project Management. Boston: Course Technology Cengage Learning. Unknown. (2010, April 21). Manufacturing: Toyota Motor Manufacturing , Kentucky Inc. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky: http://www.toyotageorgetown.com/terms.asp
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