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Solving Management Problems: Disconnect Between Departments

Management Problem: Northwest Insurance

Background

Northwest Insurance is a major regional company which has four autonomous divisions that handle life insurance, automobile insurance, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, and retirement planning.

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Although their information system department is large, it is overworked. Employees of Northwest Insurance found out advantages of using computers and now requested more computers and software development from IS. The budget of information system departure allowed to buy only 30% of requested computers each year for the last three years and only 50% the two years before that. However it takes about siw months for work to even start on a software request.

Because of dissatisfaction with the information system department, divisions started independently providing their own PC support. They buy it from their own budgets and have pulled employees with computer knowledge from their jobs to support their coworker’s computing needs.

Problems

  1. As each division has bought their own computers the problems with hardware appeared. Because the computers purchased by divisions are not Northwest Insurance standard computers, the information system department refused to fixed these problems. They did not use knowledge of specialists from information system departure therefore happened that the computers are not compatible.
  2. In each division, now 80% of employees have their own computer on their desks. Individual users also develop some database applications and tracking programs. The applications available on the network are E-Mail and access to the central mainframe. However, they copied data from one computer to another and the data configurations are not compatible. Many of the created programs by employees by their own have minor irritating errors.
  3. Because of individual purchase of computers by each division and lack of knowledge, Northwest Insurance is unable to benefit from sharing data because there is no connectivity. Employees installed their own programs and they are not connected to the information system department. The IS Network has limited capability and two LANs installed by departments in the retirement planning divisions are not connected to the IS network or each other.
  4. A large database was recently lost in the automobile insurance division. The employee involved was only person with access to the data and there was no backup.
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Solutions

1. Create cooperation between information system department and divisions

  • All information system departments has their specialist which could be helpful with purchasing new computers for each division of company.
  • Compatibility of the computers with information system department is very important

2. Develop the training system of employees

  • When the company is setting up new computers the qualified employees are needed to solve all problems
  • The using of specialists or qualified people would avoid of hardware problems
  • Specialists could also developed the programs without errors

3. Create connection with the central mainframe

  • Applications and data should not be created by employees by their own but should be placed from main database to be compatible

4. Increase the connection between IS and divisions

  • All data and applications should be connected with IS and also with each other and everyone should have access to the same data. This is possible only with connection to information system department.

5. Hire new employee responsible for information system

  • if the divisions decided to buy their own computers without information system departure, they should hire new employees able to work with computers

Conclusion

The main problem of Northwest Insurance is its lack of connection between the information system department and other divisions. The decision to purchase new computers is benefiting and the company can profit from a lot of operations. However, the right and quality installation of the computers is very important.

Lack of compatibility of computers and connection with information system department caused to Northwest Insurance lot of problems and probably financial losses. The combination of qualified persons and cooperation with the information system department could help to avoid a lot of problems.