Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Experience to Venture

[Note: This is a reply to Mr. G.'s thread in USEP-IC forum - Assignment 1: Identify a local organization(s) and discuss some of their best practices in IT/IS..this should be well-supported by any evidences..]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009, is just an ordinary day to me. No professors, no class. If only there were no assignments to do and no deadline to catch. But of course, to make things easier, I have to arrange things out. So to cut it short, I contacted my group mates and opted for an unplanned interview.

One of the companies we had in mind to visit was the Davao Light and Power Company. But for some reasons, the Information Systems department told us to have some pre-arranged schedule. We didn’t have to wait for more hours to waste though. So we set the first choice aside and decided to look for other establishment. Quite funny as I think about it (and somewhat with a little spirit of adventure), my teammates and I agreed to scout for companies on site, starting on the commercial establishments and private offices not far from our location. And so our next stop, the Columbia Computer Center in the City Triangle.

Columbia is located in the City Triangle near J. P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City. Being situated in the heart of the city, perhaps, gave an advantage to the center in publicity. Their display room and office is noticeably not that spacious, as what I have taken note, but various models and units of computer hardware and communication equipments fill the place. We approached one employee and the other about our questions but each of them was either surprised of our sudden arrival or a little busy over small things or just refusing to give his/her ideas for fear of not giving our expected answers. We ended up being passed on to one interviewee to another. Haha. (Of course, we didn’t mind. We understand. )

Luckily, after a couple of minutes, we had a considerable conversation with a personnel who, perhaps after noticing we had quite a harder time to get a substantial report from a newbie sales rep, gladly volunteered to entertain us and offered his help. And so with the ultimate guide question being asked primarily, the interviewee’s response was being discussed in details…

It happened that the interviewee we talked to is none other than the marketing development manager himself, of the Columbia Computer Center, Mindanao Area. He elaborated to us about the company’s best practices in IT / IS. One is the use of Biometrics System. This system is used for employees’ login and logout. For some of us who are not quite familiar with it, it is this type of fingerprint scanner in which each personnel or staff places his or her thumb(s) and/or index finger (I’m not really sure which is which, it just depends on the company) into it during login and logout. After which, the employee enters a corresponding four-digit code for the confirmation of the thumb mark. The fingerprint and code will automatically reflect on the Daily Time Record (DTR) of each employee, and by the end of each month, a summary of the attendance record will be completed. The company has been using this as a substitute for the traditional Bundy Clock’s manual system of checking their staff’s attendance.

Another practice the company has is the so-called MYOB. This is pretty unfamiliar to me but according to the personnel we asked to, it is a software program that the establishment is using in their inventory system. MYOB or Mind-Your-Own-Business as what our interviewee defines it (honestly, I was hesitant to jot down the meaning when he first mentioned it because it sounded ridiculous, but our interviewee was actually serious about it, surely…), controls their inventory – sales, credits, supply of products, prices of units, etc. I was wondering if they really made the program for their system so I asked where the software originated. He said that it was ordered from Canada (well…?). MYOB, however, is just local area based only. The company uses another software for online connection to other branches, and that is Quick Share. This is being utilized if data is being communicated from branch to branch and this is related to networking strategies of the company in sharing information.

Our interviewee also explained that Columbia Davao, being the main branch, holds the records of their sales not only in the city’s branch but also in Cagayan, Butuan, and General Santos respectively. These offices have their own records but only the main branch here in Davao can access the records of the other branches.

Stocks and sales records can also be monitored by Columbia Davao through CCTV cameras. CCTV or Closed Circuit Television, is a TV system that does not broadcast TV signals to public but transmits them over to limited monitor(s). CCTV system usually utilizes CCD video cameras (to produce the video), cable or wireless transmitters/receivers or Internet (to transmit the video), and monitors (to see the video). CCTV system is not only applied to the security and surveillance purpose but also to the other fields like laboratory in schools or in private companies, even to production lines in factories. As the application of CCTV system increased, the CCTV industry has developed variety of CCTV equipment like Time Lapse VCRs, combiners, infrared illuminators, Pan/Tilt, etc. The most recent development is web camera server which uses the Internet for remote surveillance. ( He even showed us live video footage when he accessed the other branches through CCTV cameras on it in his desktop computer. In general, everything can be monitored through CCTV cameras which can be accessed anytime depending on the internet connection.

Inside the office, staffs and personnel communicate through YM! or instant / personal messaging. Our interviewee admitted that even though the person they are communicating with is just a table away, they just PM each other.

In terms of management, he added that they still use the traditional hierarchy. From the administration down to the utility which is the lowest position. However, what I found unique about them is that, all the employees can be all-around clerks. Those who are in the utility know how to repair, entertain customers, do service works, carry stocks, do sales, network, operate software and / or hardware and many more. Our interviewee stressed the word “Daltans mi diri. Dala-tanan!” (The employees know every work of the other, and not just limited to one particular individual designation.)

And when asked if their company has established a Management Information System Department, Our interviewee said, “Murag dili na kailangan. Daltans man mi diri. It is not practical to put an MIS department.” (A Management Information System Department is not practical to be put in their company because every individual knows all the services/ works. No need for a standard rule to be followed, and information are being relayed by themselves.) He added that almost 80% of their personnel (utility) are jack-of-all-trades type. Normally, those who are in the rank (administration) knows very little and did not have any background about hardware and software and some other things related to what the company deals (I’m referring to the products and services.) but they get first-hand experience in the workplace, thus learning along the way while working. Most employees who deal with handling have skills not only limited to operating the computer’s system unit, CPU, or laptop, but also service repair, and carrying / arranging stocks. Mostly, too, are graduates of 4 year-courses.

Having learned about this, we asked if there were any problems in connection to the information being relayed and the performance of the employees since they do not have an MIS. Our interviewee said that certain problems relating to performance are being dealt with directly personal. They keep their human resource management under control. “Disiplina lang ang kailangan diri. Himoon nimo ang imong trabaho maski mo-tambling pa ka dira basta gihimo nimo imong trabaho, as long as dili ka makadistorbo sa uban, sa trabaho sa imong kauban, sa customers, ug sa company in general.” (Our interviewee stressed that minimal supervision is needed when dealing with the staff and personnel. Every employee has to do his / her work, regardless of how he / she do it, whether he rolls to the floor or what, as long as he does not do anything harmful or disturbing to his / her co-workers, especially to the customers and the company, of course.)

If someone happens to have done something unpleasant, he/ she will be approached directly and be told of his/ her misconduct. Dealing with personnel performance is something on-the-spot. Whatever you’re doing, you will be evaluated directly.

My grateful appreciation to Mr. SV (name withheld for privacy purposes :-)) for giving us the opportunity to interview him. And to for the references about the company background.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MIS 1: First Day We Met...

(Note: This is in a reply to Mr. G.'s post in USeP-IC Web Forum-MIS 1: First Day Learnings/Reflections)

I've seen...

how small the number of students in the new section..(I was a 'transferee' from the other schedule. I was wondering what and how it would like to be in the class discussions in the future when reporting will begin...and the groupings during the company visiting, will there still be groupings?hehe)

I've been refreshed...
by the POWER of the holder of the information. (I was contemplating how lucky (or not) I am that I enrolled this course because in the future I'll be one of those who will either make or unmake a company..just like what we discussed last year in the HRM class' first report-instructor's input (I have taken note of everything..) we, the techie guys, should be the most trusted people (and the highest paid!) next to the CEO!)

I've been reminded...
of the fact that I belong to the intellectual giants of the university...that I should live by that name..and I, despite of my being a techie guy/gal, should not be an emotional dwarf (hi-tech? >> hi-touch!)

I've learned...
of some of the flaws (again), of the institution where I belong, in terms of IT/IS..tsk

I've been introduced...
to the major terms where the subject and information system...and the 'control' issue as one of the functions of management. (And to leave the thought, our professor gave an assignment to be posted in our blogs..(-_-) well?)

And of course, I've been oriented...
that we will be getting our 99% learnings not from the classroom but from the industry to have a better perspective of the reality concerning the subject...(that open arguments are allowed inside the classroom during discussions...that we should share our experiences and reflections from the outside to others and to our blogs...and should bear in mind to update my blog!) whew...
lol! lol!

6 IS/IT Leadership Roles

CSC - Computer Science Corporation (1996) suggested six new IS leadership roles which are required to execute IS's future agenda. These are the following:

1. Chief architect
- designs future business possibilities. The primary work of the chief architect is not to define specific business outcomes but to design and evolve the IT infrastructure so that it will expand the range of future possibilities for the business.

2. Change leader
- orchestrates resources to achieve future optimal implementation. The essential role of the change leader is to organize the resources that will be needed to execute the change program.

3. Product developer
- helps define the company's place in the emerging digital economy.

4. Technology provocateur
- embeds IT into the business strategy. To bear on the formation of strategy for the business, the technology provocateur teams up with senior business executives to bring IT and the realities of the IT marketplace.

5. Coach
- teaches people to acquire the skillsets they will need for the future. The two basic responsibilities of the coach are teaching people how to learn to become self-sufficient, and providing team leaders with staff able to do the IT-related work of the business.

6. Chief operating strategist
- invents the future with senior management. Being the top IS executive, the chief operating strategist is focused on the future agenda of the IS organization.

Taken from a study conducted by Petter Gottschalk "IS/IT Leadership Roles" in Norwegian School of Management

Saturday, June 20, 2009

10 Managerial Roles identified by Mintzberg

Henry Mintzberg developed a thesis based on his research about the nature of managerial work analyzing the actual work habits and time management of CEOs. In his research, he had come up with the identification of the following 10 separate roles in managerial work:

the manager performs ceremonial and symbolic duties as head of the organization;
fosters a proper work atmosphere and motivates and develops subordinates;
develops and maintains a network of external contacts to gather information;
gathers internal and external information relevant to the organisation;
transmits factual and value based information to subordinates;
communicates to the outside world on performance and policies.
designs and initiates change in the organisation;
deals with unexpected events and operational breakdowns;
controls and authorises the use of organisational resources;
participates in negotiation activities with other organisations and individuals.

Mintzberg then separated these roles into three subcategories which are the following:
- interpersonal contact
- information processing
- decision making
The FIGUREHEAD, LEADER, and LIAISON roles are under the interpersonal category. These roles, which are primarily concerned with interpersonal relationships, ensure that information is provided.

The MONITOR, DISSEMINATOR, and SPOKESPERSON are under the information processing type. Informational roles link all managerial work together. These are primarily concerned with the information aspects.

On the other hand, the ENTREPRENEUR, DISTURBANCE HANDLER, RESOURCE ALLOCATOR, and NEGOTIATOR falls under the decision making category. These roles make significnt use of the information.

As we can see, each role above is defined as an organized collection of behaviors belonging to an identifiable position or function.

"Since leadership permeates all activities, the leader role is among the most important of all roles at all levels of management."

Chris van Overveen - Senior Consultant Trimitra Consultants
ProvenModels - Ten Managerial Roles - Henry Mintzberg

Is Management Information System (M.I.S.) an apropriate term for the subject (IT 313 - MIS)?

Wikipedia defines Management Information System (MIS) as a subset of the overall internal controls of a business covering the application of people, documents, technologies, and procedures by management accountants to solving business problems such as costing a product, service or a business-wide strategy. I believe it (the subject IT313-MIS 1) is included in the curriculum for the students to have knowledge and perspective in the study of how information technology / system is being integrated in the management of an organization.

When we talk of information system (IS), it refers to a system of people, data records and activities that process the data and information in an organization, and it includes the organization's manual and automated processes. In a narrow sense, the term information system (or computer-based information system) refers to the specific application software that is used to store data records in a computer system and automates some of the information-processing activities of the organization. [wiki] If IT==h/w + s/w, IS==IT + p/w or IS == h/w + s/w + p/w. IS is simply the study of IT with peopleware.

The term 'management', in all business and human organization activity, is simply the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives. [wiki]

Management implies that someone has to be managed, and when someone has to be managed, he/she is inherently? capable of functioning independently or properly.

There are 4 activities or basic functions of management (although some references may have 4 or more): Planning, Directing, Organizing, and Controlling. Planning is deciding what needs to happen in the future. Directing is somewhat supervising/leading and giving directions. Organizing is making optimum use of the resources required to enable the successful carrying out of plans. Controlling now, I must say, is the controversial term. For in lay terms, controlling is exercising authority over something or someone. It is synonymous to restricting or manipulating somebody or something his/her expression, movements, etc. But humans, apart from things or softwares or applications, cannot be manipulated. Activists and pro-human rights would react, I'm sure. But as the term implies, and as far as the job desription suggests, if you are a subordinate and your job is to follow your boss, you will follow what your employer tells you to do. You are being controlled. So the 'suggested' term is, leadership management. Because humans, esp. 'techie guys' are not to be controlled just like computer instructions and software applications, but to be guided/lead.

And if the subject MIS is meant to study the principles/values/knowledge of using information technology applications/ system(s) in the management in the company, the conflict with the appropriate term lies. The proposed subject term is L.M.I.S. or Leadership Management Information System. (-_-)

In my stand, Management Information System (MIS) is not an inappropriate term for the subject. For controlling here, in terms of managing, DOES NOT directly imply restraining or limiting the actions/movements/ideas of the employee just like manipulating a toy. The administration of a business involves organizing and controlling of the affairs of the organization all because to follow certain company standards and not merely to follow what the boss says.

Robert J. Mockler's comprehensive definition of managerial control: Management control can be defined as a systematic effort by business management to compare performance to predetermined standards, plans, or objectives in order to determine whether performance is in line with these standards and presumably in order to take any remedial action required to see that human and other corporate resources are being used in the most effective and efficient way possible in achieving corporate objectives

As wiki says, control in management means setting standards, measuring actual performance and taking corrective action. Directors and managers have the authority and power to manage decisions and as a discipline, it involves controlling the firm's resources to achieve the policy's objectives.

Leadership is somewhat very broad and untechnical to me. Besides, leadership is also a function of management. No need to attach it before the title as it will be discussed more when we tackle management. And I think it is not appropriate to say Leadership Management Information System just because of the 'controlling' issue. Thus I say, Management Information System is just appropriate as the technicality implies.

major sources for the definitions are Wikipedia and Microsoft Encarta Dictionaries.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Conversation

An Atheist Professor of Philosophy speaks to his Class on the Problem Science has with GOD, the ALMIGHTY.He asks one of his New Christian Students to stand and..

Professor : You are a Christian, aren't you, son?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor : So you Believe in GOD?
Student : Absolutely, sir.
Professor : Is GOD Good?
Student : Sure.
Professor : Is GOD ALL - POWERFUL?
Student : Yes.
Professor : My brother died of Cancer even though he Prayed to GOD to Heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn't. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?
( Student is silent )
Professor : You can't answer, can you? Let's start again, Young Fella. Is GOD Good?
Student : Yes.
Professor : Is Satan good?
Student : No.
Professor : Where does Satan come fro ?
Student : From.. GOD.
Professor : That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this World?
Student : Yes.
Professor : Evil is everywhere, isn't it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?
Student : Yes.
Professor : So who created evil ?
(Student does not answer)
Professor : Is there Sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the World, don't they?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor : So, who Created them ?
( Student has no answer )
Professor : Science says you have 5 Senses you use to Identify and Observe the World around you.
Tell me, son . .. . Have you ever Seen GOD?
Student : No, sir.
Professor : Tell us if you have ever Heard your GOD?
Student : No , sir.
Professor : Have you ever Felt your GOD, Tasted your GOD, Smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any Sensory Perception of GOD for that matter?
Student : No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.
Professor : Yet you still Believe in HIM?
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student : Nothing. I only have my Faith.
Professor : Yes, Faith. And that is the Problem Science has.
Student : Professor, is there such a thing as Heat?
Professor : Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as Cold?
Professor : Yes.
Student : No sir. There isn't.

( The Lecture Theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events )
Student : Sir, you can have Lots of Heat, even More Heat, Superheat, Mega Heat, White Heat, a Little Heat or No Heat... But we don't have anything called Cold.. We can hit 458 Degrees below Zero which is No Heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as Cold. Cold is only a Word we use to describe the Absence of Heat. We cannot Measure Cold. Heat is Energy.
Cold is Not the Opposite of Heat, sir, just the Absence of it.

( There is Pin - Drop Silence in the Lecture Theatre )
Student : What about Darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as Darkness?
Professor : Yes. What is Night if there isn't Darkness?
Student : You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is the Absence of Something. You can have Low Light, Normal Light, Bright Light, Flashing Light . . . But if you have No Light constantly, you have nothing and its called Darkness, isn't it? In reality, Darkness isn't. If it is, were you would be able to make Darkness Darker, wouldn't you?
Professor : So what is the point you are making, Young Man ?
Student : Sir, my point is your Philosophical Premise is flawed.
Professor : Flawed ? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the Premise of Duality. You argue there is Life and then there is Death, a Good GOD and a Bad GOD. You are viewing the Concept of GOD as something finite,
something we can measure. Sir, Science can't even explain a Thought. It uses Electricity and Magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view Death as the Opposite of Life is to be ignorant of the fact that Death cannot exist as a Substantive Thing.
Death is Not the Opposite of Life: just the Absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your Students that they evolved from a Monkey?
Professor : If you are referring to the Natural Evolutionary Process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed Evolution with your own eyes, sir?

( The Professor shakes his head with a Smile, beginning to realize where the Argument is going )
Student : Since no one has ever observed the Process of Evolution at work and cannot even prove that this Process is an On - Going Endeavor, are you not teaching your Opinion, sir? Are you not a Scientist but a Preacher?

( The Class is in Uproar )
Student : Is there anyone in the Class who has ever seen the Professor's Brain?
( The Class breaks out into Laughter )
Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's Brain, Felt it, touched or Smelt it? . . . No one appears to have done so. So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have No Brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then Trust your Lectures, sir?

(The Room is Silent. The Professor stares at the Student, his face unfathomable. )
Professor : I guess you'll have to take them on Faith, son.
Student : That is it sir . . . The Link between Man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that Keeps Things Moving & Alive.

I believe you have enjoyed the Conversation . . . and if so . . .
You'll probably want your Friends / Colleagues to enjoy the same .. . . won't you?
Forward them to Increase their Knowledge . . .. or FAITH.
It turned out later that the student is Albert Einstein.
note: However, no confirmation was made if this student was indeed Albert Einstein... well its something to think about, isn't it?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Love and Bicycle [error: unfinished draft. accidentally posted]

I guess falling in love is like riding a bicycle. At first you're afraid to give it a try because you already knew that what most people believed in is that you can't go on and learn to ride successfully unless you experience knee and elbow scratches, bumps, drops, and pains. You stumble and fall. Yet your adventurous spirit tell you to continue, pedal, and drive in spite of the unsteadiness of your balance.

There is also moments when you want to learn by yourself and test how far you can go but you can't drive fast all the way forward. You stop by when you see a rock, afraid you might stumble. You slow down when you notice a car heading on your direction for fear of getting bumped. You pause when you're near a canal or a manhole, scared you might drop yourself into it. You're frightened when little children suddenly cross the streets, that's why you hit the brakes and yell at them even though you are more than a meter away afraid you might hit them. Lastly, you refuse to give in when someone skilled enough challenges you to a race, especially in a busy street, fearful you might collide with them and get hurt. Well, whatever your fears are, bottom line is, you don't give your whole self into it. Something keeps you from moving your way forward.

You can't love if you don't give yourself wholeheartedly. Love is giving. It is by sowing love that you reap love. It involves trusting yourself ????ambot