Business Process Integration and ERP Systems

Business process integration and management is critical for a company to connect systems and information efficiently. Companies implement business process integration to view the supply chain on the macro-level, collect data regarding the performance of each activity, and optimize the processes based on real-time data. Business process integration will lead to the complete automation of management, operations, and the other supply chain supporting processes. Moreover, a company’s management will overcome the challenges of operations and focus on process optimization, company growth, and developing a competitive advantage.

The continuous changes in consumer requirements and the high competition in the different industries increase the pressure on companies to improve their market share by understanding consumer needs and optimizing their business processes to reduce costs, scale-up operations, and increase profits. Information technology (IT) is a critical tool for companies to find their competitive advantage, streamline their business processes, and grow their market presence. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are computer software that integrates the processes of demand forecasting, accounting, sales, manufacturing, and other supporting operations. An ERP system integrates the planning, execution, and control of the different functional areas in the supply chain. Moreover, an ERP system is the optimal solution for companies seeking to remove redundant processes, reduce cycle time, collect and analyze real-time information, and increase speed in responding to consumer requirements and demand. Implementing an ERP system will result in providing leaders with a centralized view of the supply chain’s key performance indicators for monitoring all aspects of the processes. Moreover, IT will support the organization’s strategic planning by allowing leaders to monitor performance measures and assess the functional areas alignment with the company’s strategy. Leaders can use ERP systems to test different scenarios to decide how to address the various changes in the market and consumer demand in the companies.

The customer-driven value chain is a framework that aims to support companies by integrating supply chain processes to deliver products or services to customers and create value. Organizations need to respond to customer expectations by developing innovative strategies to create new products, target new markets, and increase the quality of product or service while reducing response times. Leaders are moving from asset-driven supply chain planning to customer-driven value chain to address customer needs by using a market-push approach, involve customers in the product design phase, and manufacture what customers want while producing value in each process and activity. There are several problems facing a traditional asset-driven supply chain planning to convert to becoming a customer-driven value chain. Firstly, a company should couple design and production tightly to enable customer-driven manufacturing. Secondly, a company should integrate with sustainable supply networks to ensure agile value chains. Thirdly, a company should forecast customer demand with high precision using data analytics and simulation techniques. Finally, a company should integrate the supply chain processes with an ERP system to control and monitor all processes and activities to measure value creation.

When implementing business process integration, leaders should consider changes in organizational structure, organizational processes, and organizational culture. Moreover, management commitment, employee training, and employee motivation are critical for the company’s migration to an integrated supply chain. When starting the supply chain integration process, leaders should decide on the strategy, goals, and objectives of the integration. Moreover, leaders should specify the key performance indicators to measure the level of integration. Leaders should drive the change by ensuring leadership commitment, promoting a culture of change, rewarding integrative measures taken by employees, and training employees about the benefits of integration.

Managing Stress in Organizations

Organizational stress can have an impact on the health of an organization. It can affect the production and motivation of the people in the workplace. The source of organizational stress can job security, work relationships, demands of heavy workload, or adapting to change. Stress management is an important aspect a leader should tackle. Leaders should create the balance between having people know the importance of change and having people feel distressed by change. Stress can have an adverse impact on the organization if it is coupled with incompetent leadership. In this article, I will examine how stress can have a negative or positive impact on organizations. Moreover, I will discuss how leaders can manage stress and what tools and strategies to use when managing stress.

Organizational stress might be both positive and negative. Organizational stress will have a positive impact if it motivates employees, creates a competitive environment, and promotes acceptance of change. Consequently, stress might have a motivational and adaptive role in organizations. It helps to develop teams and create positive learning experiences. Moreover, organizations today face challenges due to frequent changes in technology, markets, competitions, and customers which force them to develop new strategies, implement new procedures, and learn new techniques. Such changes will create stress due to organizational and structural change, new roles and increased demands from employees, and leadership style. Stress could have an adverse impact if it was not managed correctly by leaders. It may cause employees to feel overwhelmed, be resistant to change, and be frustrated. Such conditions will decrease productivity in organizations, decrease employee retention rate, and create an unhealthy workplace.

Leaders should influence people to improve team’s health, energy, and performance. Moreover, followers look to leaders to guide them in stressful situations. Consequently, leaders have an important role in managing stress in organizations and decreasing their negative impact on performance and productivity. As a leader, several techniques can be used to minimize employee stress. Firstly, leaders should focus on the importance of communication. Improving communication between management and staff and sharing information with employees to make the goals and objectives clear are important to reduce stress. When implementing change or dealing with obstacles that can cause stress for employees, it is important to define roles and responsibilities and ensure accountability. Secondly, leaders should work closely with staff and consult them about the carried activities to make sure that the assigned workload is appropriate to their resources and competencies. Thirdly, leaders should praise good work performance and offer incentives. Rewards and incentives can be in the form of verbal praise, public appreciation, or financial bonuses. Finally, leaders should promote capacity building and train to foster learning, growth, and career development for employees.

Exit interviews can be a valuable tool to assess stress. They are interviews conducted with departing employees. Feedback from exit interviews can result in the understanding of employee stress and provide leaders with insights into how to implement preventive actions to manage stress and minimize its negative impact on the organization. Moreover, implementing stress management workshops and conducting training sessions are important in reducing stress in organizations. Such training will promote employees to create professional relationships and have the ability to tackle obstacles with competence and integrity.

In conclusion, the causes of stress in organizations are numerous. However, leadership has a significant role in directing stress to have a positive impact on organizations. It can increase employee performance and productivity, motivate them, and help them adapt to change. It is the duty of a leader to manage stress and create a healthy work environment that promotes innovation, change, loyalty, and increased productivity.

Management and Leadership: Defining the Relationship

Management and leadership are two different processes composed of different functions and specific activities. Both processes are necessarily for the success of organizations. However, both terms can be confused and related. Researchers argued that managers and leaders are different types of people. They discussed that managers have a short-term vision, react to problems, and work with individuals to complete daily and routine tasks without considering the motivational or relationship aspects. While leaders are more emotionally involved with people, proactive rather than reactive, and are capable of expecting and coping with change. Leaders are different from managers because they focus on strategy, vision, disruption, and changing the status quo. It is important to make a distinction between the two terms since they have different roles and manage various organizational aspects. The purpose of this article is to identify managers from leaders and analyze the similarities and differences between leadership and management.

A leader is a person who anticipates the events, manages change, and brings value. A leader has the ability to transform vision into reality and influence the members of a group to work effectively. A leader has the responsibility to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives by motivating and correctly aligning the team members. On the other hand, a manager has the responsibility to implement accurately and efficiently the company’s processes and procedures. Moreover, a manager should ensure that all team members are doing their job accurately and delivering on time. Leaders create visions, promote change, take risks, set long term plans, build relationships, and align people. While managers create defined goals, maintain the status quo, control risks, build systems, implement processes, and recruit staff.

Consequently, it is important to distinguish between leadership and management. Leadership is the process to influence people to attain objectives willingly and efficiently. Management is a discipline to control processes and implement leadership visions and change. It is the skill to deliver work seamlessly with the least cost and highest quality. However, Leadership is a significant element of management. Moreover, management and leadership are both involved in the responsibility of attaining the organization’s goals, managing people to deliver the work, and ensuring that they function correctly. They are complementary for the success of the organization, but each process is carried out with different activities and skills.

The importance of management lies in the rise of large organizations. Management has a significant role in coping with complexity and preventing chaos in enterprises. Management ensures that companies are running efficiently to produce quality products or services with high profitability. On the other hand, leadership is about coping with change and disruption. Leaders need to be innovative with a vision to face the fast technological development, high competition, disruptive technology, and economic changes. Organizations need leadership to survive and grow. A good example to compare leadership and management is the army. A country’s army would perform efficiently with the proper management in time of peace. However, during wartime, the army needs leaders to prevail and win the war.

Moreover, management is responsible for setting the correct processes and procedures to run the organization, deciding the budget, and planning the needed resources. Management recruits the needed qualified people and communicates the tasks to them. Leadership, by contrast, aligns people. Alignment is defined as the convergence of the team's efforts and responsibilities to the management’s direction, objectives, and vision. Moreover, leadership has a major role in influencing and motivating team members to deliver, overcome obstacles, and solve problems.

However, management and leadership have their similarities. They are both essential for the growth and the proper functioning of the organization. Both processes affect people to attain the organization’s goals. Leadership and management both involve creating a framework for work, aligning resources to attain defined goals, taking a responsible role, and creating success.

Although there are notional differences between management and leadership, there are significant similarities at the organizational and operational level. They overlap to align and influence people to reach organizational goals and create success. Management focuses on administration, control, maintenance of the status quo, and preservation of quality and performance standards. While leadership focuses on people, innovation, change, coping with disruption, and formulating visions. Both processes are complementary and vital for prospering of organizations.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Organizations and governments are promoting entrepreneurship as the growth catalyst for the economy. Entrepreneurship promotes investments and capital formation, creates local and regional development, reduces unemployment rates, reduces the concentration of wealth, promotes technology and innovation, facilitates development, and creates change agents. With the growth of economy and markets, entrepreneurship will lead to innovation, which leads to optimization of work processes, creation of new products, development of technology, and increased productivity. Consequently, entrepreneurship is the mechanism that drives innovation. Moreover, entrepreneurship is an effective catalytic agent for change by promoting optimization of work processes and developing more efficient products.

Entrepreneurs are the agents of change who contribute to economic and social growth. They use the existing knowledge to spot business opportunities and build businesses upon them. On the other hand, innovators are the people who deliver breakthrough innovations in starting companies or mature and large organizations. They are self-motivated and seek challenging problems for which a solution would benefit the organization, its customers, and fellow employees. Consequently, innovators are the leaders of creative change especially in mature companies bound by processes and procedures that are challenging to change. Graham (2006) suggested that the best way for entrepreneurs to succeed is to work on an innovative solution to solve a problem that affect them personally and change the status quo. Paul Graham gives examples that Apple happened because Steve Wozniak wanted a personal computer, Google was created because Larry and Sergey couldn't find needed resources online, and Hotmail was developed because Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith couldn't exchange emails at work.

Risk taking is inherent in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs invest their time and sometimes their capital to work on an idea they believe will cause a change. But they cannot possibly foresee all the consequences of innovation. However, innovators are better at risk-taking since they can deliver, find flaws and correct their logic, find needs, and provide solutions. Entrepreneurs need innovators to grow their companies and tread the path towards success.

What is Disruptive Innovation?

Disruptive innovation is defined as any situation that shakes up the industry and causes the fall of previously successful endeavors. Disruptive innovation does not refer to a particular product or service at a point in time, but it applies to the development of a product or service over time. It is a process that focuses on the business model as well as the product or service. Netflix is a great example of disruptive innovation. It revolutionized the way people rent movies and watch TV shows by developing an innovative business model and services.

Disruptive technology is beneficial for the customers as it offers new products and services. It first appeals to low-end or unserved customers and then address the mainstream market. Moreover, companies developing disruptive technologies will grow. Companies succeeding in disruptive innovations will interpret and address the needs expressed by a market niche or a new market segment. Disruptive technology introduces a different business model, product features, or service performance about existing products or services. However, disruptive technology can be a mortal threat to companies offering the existing products and services. Businesses that are not aware of disruptive innovation in the industry or might not have the needed resources or change capabilities will lose their market share.

Many market leaders such as Blackberry, Nokia, Kodak, Polaroid, Nortel, and Blockbuster could not survive disruptive technology. By clinging to the status quo and failing to address the threats of changing consumer behaviors, technologies, or business models, these companies have lost their market share. To survive disruptive innovation, companies should develop their disruptions by promoting innovations and embracing change. Researchers suggested three steps to survive and take advantage of disruptive technology. Firstly, companies should identify the strengths of the disrupters business model. Secondly, companies should determine their advantages relative to the disruptive technology. Finally, companies should evaluate the conditions and actions that should be considered to hinder the disrupter from using or hiding the companies’ strengths in the market. Moreover, companies should set strategies to consider consumer behavior, technology advancement and implementation, new technologies, and innovative business models. For example, the introduction of DVDs and streaming videos did not eliminate cinemas. Cinemas have been working to develop and implement new technologies such as 3D technology, advanced sound systems, and impressive marketing. In this example, disruptive technology gave existing operators an advantage to improve with the current business model.

Preparing Your Website for a High Traffic Event

Many websites, especially e-commerce websites, witness high traffic spikes such as Black Fridays, Christmas shopping and other events. In this article, we will mention few tips and recommendations, gained from our experience in optimizing web applications, to help websites survive and thrive during high traffic spikes.

  • Use Tiered-Architecture: Ensure your environment is built with at least three tiers. The first tier is the load-balancer (preferably a hardware load-balancer), the second tier is the web/app servers (preferably separated into two sub-tiers: the web pages as interface and web services as the business layer, and the third tier as the database servers. This recommended architecture provides the most flexibility and allows the website to easily scale to meet traffic demands.
  •  Use Cloud Solutions: Using cloud solutions will give you the option of auto-scaling according to your traffic. Cloud solutions like Azure have the capability to create new instances of your website servers based on high resource usage that you can configure. Needless to say, that scaling on cloud solutions is one-click away.
  •  Test: Testing your application for functionality and performance is critical to a successful high traffic event. Make sure to stress test the website, adjust the configuration, test again and continue to test and adjust until you’re satisfied with the results.
  • Optimize: Consider further optimizing the environment by serving static files from CDN (Content Delivery Network) and introducing caching layers (in the business layer) to improve performance, reduce reading from the database and load speeds.