Apart from processing, cooking, and preparing food at its manufacturing site close to headquarters, the company also out sources pre-prepared and partly prepared food products from other vendor firms, and markets them after packaging.
The annual turnover of FFC stands at an impressive UKP15 million, with a steady net profit of about 7%. Currently on an ambitious five-year plan to augment the annual growth rate to 10% discounting inflation, and net profit to 9%, FFC will take advantage of the growing demand for fashionable and quality food products. The company has been traditionally operating on a solely paper-based transaction processing, accounting, and reporting mode that is obsolete and incompatible with the information age, besides being cumbersome, time-consuming, and inefficient.
As Allen and Gilmore (2004, p.180) rightly observed, the "factory of the future" that succeeds in the new millennium would be "organized around the computer." And that future is right here and now. The power of the ubiquitous computer or laptop and the immense scope of the World Wide Web and Internet technology hold great potential to "integrate the various processes involved in the manufacture of a product or delivery of a service." (2004). Towards the closing decades of the 20th century, computer technology was largely used for MIS (management information systems) applications, mostly on a stand-alone mode. The advent of network technology and Internet has now transformed the scope of computer applications as never before. Today business executives and managers have greater and easier access to larger data on wider networks.
The benefits of MIS have now been expanded to include basic "transaction processing systems" (Allen and Gilmore, 2004, p.181) that lie at the heart of efficient operations in a successful organisation. They are better known as business information systems (BIS). Such systems are capable of efficiently and quickly handling a wide range of daily transactions in a company. The include order booking, inventory management, invoicing, shipping, payroll management, and accounting. The advances in information processing through Web-enabled distributed data networks have made global online transactions possible on a real-time basis. As Pottruck and Pierce aptly observed, the Web "makes information available to everyone, and is therefore, the single most important tool for collaboration that has ever been invented Organisations that are aligned behind common purpose will find it a powerful tool." (2001, p. 34).
BIS for FFC: A Needs Analysis
An organisation that does not quickly get into the bandwagon of technological changes for innovation is certain to be left far behind in the highly competitive business environment worldwide. The systems of operations at FFC are conventional, cumbersome, and greatly time-consuming, all of which adversely impact cost management efforts for achieving