History: Wagner Foods
Wagner Foods was founded in Baltimore in 1898 by Micheal C. Wagner. The company has by now built a long history of success, expansions, and diversification in terms of size, products, divisions, and human resource. Over the years, it survived through problems like depression and established while establishing its image as a people concerned and progressive corporation with sales of $600 million.
However, with the rapid technological advancements and changing organizational norms, the corporation faces challenges of various natures, which have been analyzed in the case study under discussion. The case study has been analyzed and discussed from the perspective of Douglas French, CEO of Wagner Development, one of the divisions of Wagner Foods. The problems that Wagner Development comes across are as follows:
- The lack of IS background of James Weeks. James Weeks being the IS Head is inexperienced, leave the problems unattended. He is not fully trained to manage tasks that are his responsibility.
- James Weeks is not given a job description so he was unable to realize the urgency of tasks he was supposed to accomplish.
- The employees are expected to take up their own training. Management does not understand that proper training sessions should be conducted to fully brace the staff with the new software and technology suites.
- The system analyst is not clear of his role and, despite knowing the C++, he does not think that it falls in his job description to make use of his skills and do the programming.
- The feasibility study put up a lot of issues that needed to be addressed but no project plan was created as to when things should be completed or corrected.
- Lack of Communication; there is a communication gap between divisions that is due to the small corporate staff of the corporation. In an effort to give autonomy to the divisions, the corporate management has missed out retaining clear communication between the divisions. For example, the perception about MSD is bad among other divisions whereas MSD’s staff is competent and ready to extend its services. There was no inter-division-structure to clear these wrongly conceived notions and evaluate MSD’s costs and their competitiveness of giving timely solutions.
- Understanding the MIS mechanism and then educating the staff about them. For instance, if MSD is expensive, not responsive and takes too long; it is due to the nature of their work and any MIS expert would take up the task the same way.
- The software, PMAS, and CMAS don’t work properly and the staff cannot access things as needed.
- There are deficiencies in current back-office systems, the rentals do not update automatically and pro forma statements cannot be written before time.
- There are enhancements needed to be done in the existing software.
- IS department has a negative opinion and perception about other departments.
- James Weeks is unwilling to understand the problems that other departments have and he has a defensive approach to suggestion and criticism.
- The software vendors of Wagner Foods do not understand the urgency of services expected from them and make fake promises for the future.
The management at Wagner Foods may go for the solutions for above-listed problems as follow:
- French should ascertain positive communication between Barber and Weeks and maybe hire a consulting firm to help out.
- Recommend Weeks to use MSD for help in getting results instead of trying to do everything himself.
- Make use of MSD’s increasing capacity by hiring them as external consultants or partner MIS firm to improve the systems, educate the existing MIS staff and to negotiate with software vendors.
- Communication within the company as a whole is needed to be improved.
- Wagner Development should propose the corporate management to establish a centralized communication structure between divisions so that divisions like MSD get fair chance to position itself among other divisions.
- The implementation of change is needed in management and for those people like Weeks who are resistant to that needed to be trained and developed.
- The management has to be proactive in foreseeing the problems and addressing the existing ones on a timely basis. E-g each employee must get a job description and should be clear on what task is his/her responsibility.
- Development of HR department is needed that address the issues like Job descriptions and hiring candidates whose skills perfectly match the job given to them.
- Douglas French should establish a department for PC support to his employees.
- The soft wares installed should be checked and daily arising queries from users should be communicated to the respective vendor. The availability of the vendor should be ensured on a timely basis.
- Technical glitches that the staff has to face should be either addressed by an IT expert from IS department or MSD should be involved to amend the systems.
The solution was chosen:
The feasibility study should be consulted in regards to points made in memos and prioritize these in order to get things accomplished. The management, however, needs put a plan in place this time with dates to ensure the timely and effective implementation of the solutions presented in the report.
The problems that Wagner Development faces are regular in the corporate set up and a little understanding and course of actions can make things straight. The central problem lies in MIS problems and employees inability to resolve their issues by any mean. For that James, Weeks is responsible as he holds the position to address the issues. It is time for French Douglas to clearly discuss and explain Weeks his shortcomings and should forecast the increasing problems in future if he left these issues unattended and remains defensive. After discussion, he should be monitored and if it is established that he doesn’t change his mindset he should be considered for some other role in the firm and a better-suited person should be hired.
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However, if James Week’s show concern and flexibility towards the problems, the points of feasibility study can be conveyed to him again. He should be given deadlines again and explain by putting him into others shoes who face these issues. MSD’s help should be taken in this regard to train Weeks where it is needed and to promptly resolve the existing problems that Linda’s staff and Construction Company have; while training Weeks alongside.
To further avoid such problems in future, it is essential for Wagner Development to establish a Human Resource Department that specializes in hiring the right person for jobs matching their skills level and meanwhile identify training and development needs for the staff.