1) Provide a brief description of the organization and your department.
The company I have chosen for analysis is Walmart Stores Inc., one of the largest world retailers and employers. The company has a worldwide chain of retail stores of different format, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, supercenters, discount stores, express stores, restaurants, apparel stores, etc. In addition to this, Walmart Stores Inc. also has an online retail segment, financial segment, membership club called Sam’s club, and manages a number of private labels (Kurtz, 2010).The target department at Walmart Stores Inc. is Information Systems Department (ISD). The core responsibilities of project managers at ISD department include management of software development projects, maintenance and support of existing projects and their adjustment, working with software development life cycle, with emerging technologies, analysis of market applicability for new technologies, time management and project scheduling (Daft, 2011).
2) What types of service does this department provide?
Walmart Stores Inc. does not rely on outsourcing services in IT sphere, and the functions of ISD department are to develop and maintain software for internal purposes, support extranets and applications for logistics and information exchange with suppliers. Nowadays the scope of responsibility of ISD department at Walmart is also to maintain sustainability and economies of scale, in order to support the company’s low-cost strategy and to improve business efficiency. Overall, Walmart has always considered IT technology as a competitive advantage, and the role of ISD department is to use this advantage to the full.
3) What is the issue and why?
Current issue is the consequence of global economic downturn multiplied by recent problems of world economy. Walmart operates globally, and thus the overall effect of reduced consumption and growing unemployment on the retailer creates pressures for the economies of scale built by Walmart, and hinders the company’s progress. Walmart executives have noted that US sales of the company have been falling during 9 quarters (Ireland & Hitt & Hoskisson, 2011). This tendency affects both customers and the company, so Walmart should take appropriate measures to adjust to this situation.
4) What is the impact of the issue on the department?
Economic pressures created by the global downturn affect all departments of Walmart, and ISD department also feels the impact of this issue. The challenges and requirements for software development are increasing, and requirements for efficiency and stability of internal systems have become more strict. Funding issues have also affected the ISD department, and currently there is a need for IT professionals with more diverse skills. The economic issue also adds pressure for IT project managers.
5) What project will be undertaken to address the issue?
The problem of increasing costs and lowering consumption should be addressed first of all basing on Walmart’s impressive IT infrastructure and EIS (electronic information system). Currently this system can maintain electronic data interchange, RFID inventory tracking, supply chain management, evaluation of sustainability, measurement, evaluation and benchmarking. The retail link system (Capehart & Middelkoop, 2011) developed at Walmart should be modified in order to offer reduced packages of products, to identify the need to express shopping and low-cost shopping, and determine the locations of smaller express shops. Also, an effective solution will be to create a special database for low-earning customers and offer special discounts and incentives for them.
6) What will be accomplished by managing this project?
This project will allow to retain Walmart customers who cannot afford making purchases in the same volumes as they used to do before the recession, to offer an affordable model of shopping for low-income families, to adapt the size of Walmart stores and their merchandise to the changing customer needs, and to help customers living below the poverty line or close to it. This project will also attract customers currently enticed by Amazon low-cost opportunities and smaller one-dollar shops (Williams, 2011).
7) What are the measurable objectives of the project?
The measurable objectives of this project are: reduction of the cost of key merchandise products by 3-5%, increase of sales volumes by 10-12%, inflow of new customers by 15%, and increase of sustainability by 3%.
8) Discuss what will not be included in the scope of your project.
The scope of this project does not include additional cooperation with suppliers which might be useful to improve the economy of scale. This project itself does not include analysis of appropriate merchandise – this is the responsibility of other system, and of other department. Also, this project does not include performance benchmarking, which would be quite useful for refining Walmart’s economy of scale.
Capehart, B.L. & Middelkoop, T. (2011). Handbook of Web Based Energy Information and Control Systems. The Fairmont Press, Inc.
Daft, R.L. (2011). Management. Cengage Learning.
Ireland, R.D. & Hitt, M.A. & Hoskisson, R.E. (2011). Understanding Business Strategy: Concepts and Cases. Cengage Learning.
Kurtz, D.L. (2010). Contemporary Marketing 2011. Cengage Learning.
Williams, C. (2011). Effective Management: A Multimedia Approach. Cengage Learning.