To begin with, it is important to mention that the current paper focuses on the examination of the importance of IT Management in the modern business conditions. The object of the study is the MAO Insurance Inc. company, which has significant problems with the IT innovations and the usage of the latest computer technologies. It is essential to examine the MAO Insurance Inc. case and propose the Strategic Information Technology solutions, which could help to improve the company’s performance. According to the study, the implementation of the ERP solution with the help of SDLC methodology is the best variant for the MAO Insurance Inc.
Keywords: IT Management, ERP, SDLC, Strategic Information Technology.
MAO Insurance Inc. background
The development of Information Technology plays a huge role in the modern world. The process of globalization is shaped by the achievements in IT sector. The businessmen from all over the world start tens of new IT startups every day. Obviously, any of these projects could become new Google, Facebook, or Amazon. The job of IT specialist is very prestigious. People from all parts of the world want to influence the history with their inventions or just earn money in very profitable IT sector (Steger, 2013). Thus, it is impossible to summarize social, political, and cultural influence of IT. Needless to say, that the companies throughout the world also try to implement IT innovation in order to be competitive at the global and local market. However, there are few of them, which do not know how to pass through the process of innovation. The current paper focuses on the MAO Insurance Inc. company, which suffers from the low usage of the latest IT achievements.
A close look at the data indicates that MAO Insurance Inc. is a full-service company with main office in Chicago, Illinois that has been founded in 1985 by William J. Brown. Headquarter of the insurance company is strategically located at downtown of the city providing an easy access to all possible necessities and destinations. The company is licensed to operate all over the U.S. It has independently worked for over 40 years providing the unique services and solutions for insurance and safety of the clients.
MAO Insurance Inc. primarily deals with Personal Lines Insurance. It mostly offers the possibility of securing the most viable and effective insurance options for customers and members of their families. Its customers are mostly middle-income citizens who demand life insurance on a reasonable pricing. In addition, MAO Insurance Inc. also deals with Business Life Insurance, Disability Income and Long Term Care Protection, Retirement Products and Retirement Plans and other services. Company’s staff of licensed agents and customer service representatives is focused on providing information to help people in protection and preservation of their health and property.
MAO Insurance Inc. aims to provide qualitative insurance products maintaining high-level standards of professionalism and honesty. Company is dedicated to understanding cultural, local and economic specificities of the client while offering and setting up particular insurance programs and plans. As MAO Insurance Inc. is known to maintain superior financial strength; company permanently delivers quality financial protection and guarantees financial stability in modern insurance market (Samonas, 2015). With deep commitment to perfection and innovation, company is ready to address the changing needs of population.
- To provide our insured customers with flawless coverage and the best choice of insurance and other possible financial products.
- To fulfill our client’s expectations by establishing trust and integrity in client-agent relationships and delivering well designed personalized service at the lowest possible price.
- To protect customers by ensuring their financial stability and safety.
- To support the atmosphere of trust and understanding among the work team members.
- To offer optimal conditions for harmony of work performance that motivates employees to bring maximum efforts into promoting of Company’s success.
To Company shareholders:
- To ensure the leadership of MAO Insurance Inc. in timely and qualitative delivery of the insurance products in Chicago, Illinois.
- To achieve a long-term economic stability and presence at the market.
- To guarantee constant benefit based on continuity and growth of the company’s client base.
Company’s keys to success
- Wide range of services focused on customer needs and delivered on time with minimal issues or total absence of errors
- Continuing optimization of customer service coupled with progressive development of internal resources
- Design of new strategies that would help in covering bigger population groups, including rural area insurance market as one of the most promising groups of clients
- Experienced customer-friendly staff able to help in any cases, especially in emergency cases and unexpected circumstances
- Use of Internet, as an Internet-based life insurance would reduce the costs and time.
MAO Insurance Inc. is a privately incorporated company, owned by William J. Brown and Oliver K. Mills. It was founded as a sole proprietorship in 1985 and was owned and controlled by William J. Brown. Company located in a small office in Chicago’s southwest suburbs and employed five people. Mr. Brown was operating the company alone till 1997, when he bought a new insurance business from Mills Services. New company was formed, which included MAO Insurance Inc. services and Mills Services. The owners of two companies, William J. Brown and Oliver K. Mills, held all shares in new company equally.
Today, the company has grown to become one of the biggest companies in Illinois insurance marketplace. Company headquarter currently locates in a separate two-story building comprising 2500 square feet. Thirty-five employees currently employed at the Company are working in spacious light rooms with all necessary facilities for both work and leisure. Unfortunately, the competitors of the company become stronger with each year.
The external analysts argue that the basic reason for this is the low quality of IT innovations. For instance, the employees do not use online messengers and communicate only via the traditional channels of communications (Fitzgerald, 2009). At the same time, the programs used to calculate the probability of different insurance cases are absolutely outdated. The company is currently successful due to good reputation from the earlier decades. However, the fast changes at the market require new IT solutions. Therefore, the analysts have provided the SWOT analysis, which could help the company to develop the new vision of further development (Cawsey, 2011).
Company’s SWOT analysis
Following SWOT analysis underlines existing key strengths and weaknesses of MAO Insurance Inc. It also focuses on opportunities the Company has and threats it may face during upcoming years.
1.Wide range of insurance products that appeal to different target markets.
- Solid reputation in Illinois insurance marketplace.
- Highly qualified staff with in-depth knowledge of client’s needs and industry in general.
- The absence of the rational usage of IT resources.
- Focus on existing customer rather then on search for new customers who need insurance.
- Limited use of new technologies in client’s service.
4.Poor online advertising company during recent 6 month.
- Hire the IT specialists, who would develop an ERP system for the further performance of the company.
- Building relationships with other businesses; networking.
- Expansion of current services, offering of new supplemental products as an opportunity to increase profit.
- Insurance consulting services as a way of reaching new target markets.
- The usage of the latest IT trends in insurance by the competitors.
- Potential problems due to the impossibility to forecast economic uncertainty with the help of IT.
- Risks regarding data protection and cyber security.
Undoubtedly, the nature of insurance market creates a unique list of challenges that are faced by most of insurance companies during work performance. Number of threats in insurance industry is constantly increasing forcing insurance companies to adapt to quickly changing economic, social and political environment. However, the basic threat for the company is connected with the development of Information Technologies. Therefore, the analysts provided the solutions for the further existence of the MAO Insurance Inc.
Proposed IT innovations
It is necessary to highlight that there is a wide spectrum of applications, which provide a huge variety of system capabilities. The experts argue that the best solution for the big insurance company is the development of the ERP (Enterprise resource planning) system, which would unite all the aspects of IT in one single program. Evidently, ERP solutions commonly have eighteen to twenty four specific integrated modules. Therefore, there exists are a myriad of choices of the ERP solutions concerning particular case. These choices differ due to a number of different dimensions, which include the size of the business, the size of the company’s budget, the number of staff with necessity to have an ERP access, the features of the desired system, and the industry.
A close look at the data indicates that the first criterion of the qualitative ERP solution is connected with the basic possibilities of the system. Thus, in order to be considered true ERP solution, the system must be able to work with a range of business processes across the company (Bradford, 2015). Therefore, in case of the comparison of the ERP solutions, it is important to compare the overall components.
The data yielded by this study provides convincing evidence that any ERP systems are similar in their possible functionality. They tend to more greatly in the usage of their resources. Therefore, the evaluation of the experience with the participants of the market and the employees of the company is important to understand the work of some ERP solutions in the company’s system.
The other obvious mean of comparison is price. Thus, different ERP packages come at various price points. For example, a large customer ERP solution could cost eight thousand dollars per user across the installation. Without any doubts, price is very important in making a final decision. However, it is necessary for the management to be careful using this criterion. Low pricing could be attractive but could influence the productivity of the system. Higher pricing usually provides more qualitative solution. On the other hand, the company could pay for the unnecessary functions. It means that the managers have to find the balance between the low and high prices.
It is important to highlight that historically the complexity of a business was close to the size of the business. It means that the large businesses were complex while the small businesses were easier to cope with. However, this rule has changed during the last decades. Therefore, small businesses could be as complex as large business, especially when they need to manage their IT systems. As a result, the evaluation criterion of the ERP solution could be based on the ability of the solution to work with complicated tasks on the level of the small business. In the case of MAO Insurance Inc., it would be not easy to evaluate the work of ERP at the primary stages. However, in few months, the senior managers would be able to coordinate the work of all modules.
There exists an opinion that the most perspective ERP software systems are seamless. It means that they are developed as a build-in set of modules. These software systems use a common data interface, database, and methodology (Giller, 2014). Obviously, an ERP solution that tries to switch together internally different technologies and products could lose many of its potential opportunities. In such case, some important information could not be used for dozens of minutes or even hours due to the interactions between different modules. Furthermore, the same information could have to be entered more than one time. It requires extra attention and the risk of system errors. Therefore, it would be essential for MAO Insurance Inc. to hire the IT engineers and programmers, who would help to maintain the system.
The current research shows that the perspective data mining and data query capabilities could disappear without common data in the common database. Therefore, without a usage of complex software, the users could have unnecessary issues. For example, they could wait for other employees to run the ERP software before they could process with their operations. Thus, a user friendly software, which is developed with a big number of modules greatly reduces training time. Consequently, MAO Insurance Inc. would need to use the optimized systems with the average number of modules. It would also help to prevent some problems with employees’ skills to study the peculiarities of the system during the work with it.
On the basis of the examined principles, the external analysts proposed the management of MAO Insurance Inc. to implement one of the three ERP solutions. They are abas-USA ERP, Abbasoft ERP, and AccountMate ERP.
It is necessary to not that it is impossible for the senior management of the company to find the best solution. Therefore, they hire the IT specialists, who explains them the basic principles of the ERP system’s evaluation. The primary aspect of the ERP system to observe is the ability of the system to provide the support of the complicated corporate-level information architecture functions, which ensure high security and business integrity. For instance, the ERP solution must provide the utilization of a proven IT architectonics, which supports the schemes of the system recovery (Phillips, 2012). Evidently, the more sophisticated ERP solutions support the options with bigger availability. As a result, it ensures that each step processed in the ERP system is duplicated over a specific architectonics of the system, which consists of both software and hardware. Thus, if a system failure occurs, there is no loss of information continuity. Thus, full-function ERP systems usually take advantage of these capabilities.
Evidently, abas-USA Inc. develops and markets different customizable ERP solutions and complementary IT services for mid-sized and small businesses. The company’s software includes a huge variety of functions such as accounting and BI. Furthermore, they have various optional features such as document management and project management. Abas ERP is an ERP software system, which has a target of manufacturing, distribution, and service industries.
It is essential to mention that alongside the company’s ERP solution system, abas-USA offers a variety of professional services including ERP project management, ERP training, ERP implementation and information migration, as well as upgrade services. The market analysis shows that abas-USA ERP user training consists of test scenarios and project-level training. Obviously, these allow end users to understand the ERP software in a business environment.
The other ERP producer, Abbasoft Technologies, provides solutions for medium and small business markets, especially distributors and suppliers in the promotional products industry. It also works with job shop manufacturers. Abbasoft released one of the first internet-based and fully-integrated ERP systems. This ERP system includes such important modules as Order Configurator, Job Costing, Order Entry, Vendor Purchasing, Marketing, and Capacity Planning Work Flow. Their solution provides good possibilities for the small business, which works with complicated operations to use the ERP solution. Furthermore, the representatives of the medium business regularly buy the Abbasoft ERP solution in order to make the automation of some specific part of their resource planning system.
The other ERP solutions producer, AccountMate, provides ERP software and business accounting to medium and small-sized businesses in light and heavy professional services, warehousing, manufacturing, consulting, and retail sectors. It is popular among the companies with high transaction rates and large number of users.
Evidently, AccountMate ERP software products have the ability to integrate with existing business software systems. Thus, it offers source code access to clients, which enables the standard AccountMate ERP solution to be adapted to the specific configuration and to be modified as the company needs some planning change (Kotter, 2012). As a result, this willingness to share source code gave AccountMate possibility to develop partnerships with various software vendors. It broadened the functional range of the ERP solution. For instance, its partnership with the shopping applications gives possibility for ecommerce stores to control their data with AccountMate ERP system.
AccountMate’s ERP solution has more than twenty modules, such as payroll, inventory management intelligence, and purchasing. The statistic shows that the company has over one hundred thousand users in more than two hundred industries.
Taking everything into account, it is possible to conclude that the AccountMate’s ERP solutions seems to be the most preferable for MAO Insurance Inc. because it has more modules, higher customization level, and wide application focus. Furthermore, it could be used on various operational systems, which is extremely important in the modern offices with changing operational systems. At the same time, AccountMate ERP is designed for businesses that desire the speed and stability of a SQL database with minimal expenses. Furthermore, it provides quick and smooth operations, creating a high level of efficiency even within multi-warehouse environment. Without any doubts, this choice of ERP system would help the company to improve its regulation of the further IT system.
The other important aspect of the IT Strategic planning is the control of the successful implementation of informational systems. Software Development Life Cycle seems to be a good choice for MAO Insurance Inc. SDLC is a series of phases, which provide a model for the lifecycle management of an application or technical part of the software (Murch, 2012). Evidently, the methodology within the SDLC process could vary across industries (Drew, 2014). However, there exist different global standards, which provide the understandable sequence of steps. The implementation of a SDLC has a big importance because it helps to produce a cost-efficient and qualitative product. A close look at the data indicates that the SDLC methodology contains the six phases, such as analysis, design, construction and coding, testing, release and integration, and maintenance (Dennis, 2012).
It is necessary to note that like any other business process, security could follow a lifecycle model. This model of security system lifecycle follows four basic steps, such as identity, assessment, protection, and monitoring. Needless to say, that this lifecycle provides a perspective foundation for any security program. Thus, using this lifecycle model provides the company a guide to ensure that the informational security is continually being improved. However, this model requires constant attention and regular improvement. It could be achieved by qualitative valuation of the work of the security system.
It is essential to highlight that SDLC methodology provides the important tool for IT Project Managers to ensure successful implementation of informational systems, which could satisfy the business objectives of the company. Therefore, the managers of the MAO Insurance Inc. could use this approach during the implementation of the ERP system.
Management team of MAO Insurance Inc. understands the importance of timely reaction to changes in insurance business. Company tends to mobilize both internal and external resources to keep the standards of insurance policy on the level, which would be profitable for customers and employees. New aspects introduced to Company’s policy would play an important role in reducing risk and pitfalls of modern insurance industry.
In a world of rapid internalization and challenging economic relationships, most of the insurance companies work under pressure of growing competition for market share. It is necessary to implement the single solution that would help the company to achieve its aims. According to the studies, ERP solution is the best variant for the MAO Insurance Company due to the fact that it works as a package. It means that all issues would be solved simultaneously.
The usage of SDLC methodology would help to ensure the successful implementation of informational systems. Competitive landscape of insurance market implies a growing demand for increasing productivity and operational efficiency. Understanding the need for transformation, MAO Insurance Inc. is successfully turning current challenges into bright opportunities. With the help of IT innovations, MAO Insurance Inc. network takes advantage of the strategies available today to enhance the long-term business and life perspectives.
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