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A research report is carried out to gain understanding on the decision making process of a retail business which is in the stage of establishment. In the first part, report explains the initial decisions for a business. It will explain the information and knowledge required for effective decision making for Eve LLC. It analyzes the various sources to gather information and transformed it into meaningful data. This stage is followed by identifying stakeholders in decision making and developing relationships for longer term. The second part of the report covers communication process prevailing in a voluntary organization and need for new communication plan to improve it (Levie, 2007). It will also create a plan to improve the personal communication. It will also analyze the existing approaches and need for change in collection, formatting, storage and dissemination of information and knowledge. It also focuses on the information systems to collect data and convert it into useful information to help in decision making.
Every new business comes with new opportunities, outcomes, and experiences. The process of decision making begins with determining customers, market and products. In retail industry there is a trend prevailing for online shops to reach larger market areas and customers. The following are the decisions important for a retail startup -
Find customers - Determine the type of consumers to be served in order to gain sales and profit margins. It segments the market into small groups of consumers (Andries, and Debackere, 2007).
Market research - Conduct market research to analyze the current scenario and plan strategies to efficiently place the product in the market.
Finance - Determining the amount of funds required by the business, sources of acquisition and time period (Rindfleisch, and Moorman, 2001).
Human resources - Decision to determine the quality and quantity of employees required to perform the business activities. It includes indentifying sources of hiring, determining skills set, training and compensation.
Location - Management has to decide upon which location it can target to sell its products and services. This includes decisions regarding sales and distribution channels.
Whether it is an established business or a newly start up, valuable information forms the base of effective decisions. Many a times the success or failure of a business is due to the failure to take efficient decisions to solve business problems (Dennis, 2009). The organizational activities are interdependent on each other and the decision making at any level affects other things simultaneously. The Eve Company has to carefully analyze the customer preferences and choices and focus on the particular segment. The market research study will help analyze not only customer's perception but also evaluating what trend and strategies are following in the industry. The information helps the business to develop creative techniques and establish the competitive advantage in the market. The effective decisions will result in desired outcome and help manage uncertainties (Carsten, 2007).
For the collection of information both internal and external sources can be targeted to gain as much understanding. The significance of the information lies in the knowledge gained and its impact on decision making. With the help of this information, the organization can establish performance standards, calculates the risk and uncertainties associated with the business environment and develop measures to reduce the impact (Waters, 2002).
Internal sources - The internal sources of information includes finance available with the company to invest and the requirement of physical and human resources in quantity and quality. It also includes the management of the business holding key positions to perform and take critical decisions. Customer's data through research, uncertainties and risk projection.
External sources - The organization can gather information from outside sources such as through government agencies, journals, research data, environmental law, health and safety regulations, industry laws, and trade groupings (Leathers, and Raines, 2004). This data can be utilized to know the trends of industry and competitors and rules and regulations laid out for the proper functioning.
In order to place the product successfully in the consumer hands and increase repetitive sales, the organization has to go beyond a traditional research pattern. In a conventional situation, consumer needs are identified or a problem area is defined and solutions are provided to solve the purpose (Grant, and Tybout, 2008). But there are other cases too in which a product is designed first and then need is generated. These products results in exceptional benefits for the company. The organization has to go beyond a market research and study in deep to analyze what factors influences the customers. This method makes significance to stay ahead in the industry and provide offerings that are not easily replicate by rivals. Furthermore, the organization can take expertise opinions of the key person related to the business process and are experienced with industry environment (Danes, Hart, and Lenihan, 2011).
The stakeholders for retail start up would be customers, investors, venture capitalists, employees, government agencies, private investors, society. The above all stakeholders impact significantly the decision making process in any organization. Many of these are directly associated with the business performance. The investors, employees and government influences the decision making process in one or the other way. The management cannot take decisions solely on the basis of market research. It has to involve all stakeholders' opinions to ensure transparency and encourage reliability (Link, and Welsh, 2013). Every decision the company takes has to be proper consulted and take permission from the concerned people or groups who will be affected by it. The involvement of stakeholders and respect for their recommendations lowers the situations of clashes and legal implications arising from any disclosure of company information.
In the initial days, the organization has to contact legal advisors, experts and government agencies to know the essential requirements to start its operations. The owner has to develop good relations with their stakeholders to encourage their contribution in business decisions. Stakeholders should be communicated regularly and informed about the major business decisions that will impact the performance of the business. There may be situations where investors and employees have objections about the management decisions and their lies the need to discuss the case and help stakeholder groups to understand the necessity of decisions (Acosta, Coronado, and Flores, 2011). The organization ensures that it should not impose any decision big or small on its stakeholders as it would be against the law and ethics. As it is a start up, the management has to understand the need of good relations with investors and employees to operate efficiently in the market.
Organization processes are established to create products that can fulfill the desired purpose. Stakeholders help in informed decision making to properly utilize the resources. Product development is successful with the alignment of employee's knowledge and efforts and supplies from third parties (Goris, Vaught, and Pettit, 2003). Simultaneously, pricing and advertisement decision are affected by the consumers and competitors. Thus Eve has to analyze the perception of major stakeholders who influences the success of the product. Investors support the financial needs of the company, so management has to utilize the resources in the best possible manner to generate maximum return for the investors. The stakeholder involvement makes significance because every function of the organization is performed successfully only with the strong and positive relationship with them.
Managerial decisions tend to focus on the achievement of a solution to the problem. In the complex business environment decisions have other consequences also which may affect the initial decision and the desired outcome (Barry,and Crant, 2000). To overcome this situation, managers at Eve can use holistic approach of decision making which ensures awareness of actions. Holistic approach also helps in taking the responsibility and accountability of the decisions and empowers continuous improvement. This approach also supports long term sustainability of the competitive advantage. In addition to this, today's environment demands two more aspects of improve decision making: continuous learning to adapt to the changing environment and drive stakeholder engagement. An organization must also consider these three elements for better planning and execution of strategies - capacity for problem solving, learning and development and stakeholder engagement (Garicano, and Hansberg, 2006).
The voluntary organization is facing serious problems in communication skills. The existing process followed in the organization is a vertical communication where decision are taken at the top and flows through supervisors to the workers (Smidts, Pruyn, and Riel, 2001). When workers have an issue they communicate first with supervisors who reports to the manager. Because of the nature of work of the volunteer this chain of command is not effective. The organization operates in the services industry. Also the supervisor does not have enough time to address all issues and is overloaded with so many tasks and responsibilities that she was not able to perform any of the functions effectively. With the lack of time and proper communication systems, the volunteer does not communicate with the subordinates and delegates duties. The vertical communication system has limitations where information flowing from top to bottom or vice versa is filtered through many channels, which almost affect the very nature of message (Dessein, and Santos, 2006). The command from top received by managers may decide the information is not important for workers. Similarly when receiving any issues from workers may not be successfully communicated to the top as workers generally have issues from managers. Thus vertical communication halters the process and meaning of the message. Information flowing from any direction is tempered at the middle level. The organization is small in nature but operates internationally and involves many responsibilities which need to be carried out with the efficient work of all members. The lack of proper communication is causing the increasing frustration and reducing motivation level towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization.
In order to improve the communication process, the volunteer has to recognize the need and importance of involving every member in the projects.
The first thing to be followed is horizontal communication process where ideas and commands flow freely between members at the same level in formal or informal way. This type of communication encourages free information flow. This method will encourage direct communication between volunteer and members and decrease misunderstanding. It will also lead to better execution of decisions as members at any level coordinate directly with the volunteer (Waters, 2002). It will increase motivation through employee empowerment and drive their efficiency to work for the cause of the organization.
The other thing that could be followed is use of technology to communicate and save time. The supervisor can use internet and email technology to send and receive information and documents (Leathers, and Raines, 2004). For the purpose of external communication, the volunteer can delegate some of her responsibilities to other volunteers and pass on written instructions for the time block. Another important thing the volunteer can do is delegate some of the duties and responsibilities to other volunteers. Keeping all the work under one volunteer is a major problem faced by this organization. It is also a reason that other volunteers feel frustrated and lack enthusiasm. The project tasks can be divided among the volunteers and accountabilities are set so that everyone knows what they are expected to do (Grant, and Tybout, 2008).
An effective communication always leads to improve the understanding even in informal ways and improve teamwork and problem solving skills. It enables to effectively deal with the situations of conflict and maintain trust among the members (Danes, Hart, and Lenihan, 2011).
These things will track the progress and performance of volunteers and projects. The record of all activities provides a proof and maintains trust. Additionally, the communication will help volunteers feel motivated and important part of the organization (Goris, Vaught, and Pettit, 2003).
An effective communication is a blend of skills that involve ability to attentive listening; understanding emotions, manage stress and frustrations.
Attentive listening - The volunteer do not only need to delegate duties and held accountable for the task but she also needs to build a stronger and healthy connection with other volunteers. She also needs to respect and allows others to freely express their ideas and issues faced during the execution (Barry, and Crant, 2000).
Involvement - The volunteer does not remain aloof from other volunteers and engage with them for an efficient team work.
Save time - The volunteer has to devise ways to convey the messages through emails, handouts, telephone and web conferencing as it operates with international locations.
Aware of differences - She must be aware that individuals have different skills and abilities to handle work. She must respect their feelings and emotions while dealing with them (Corman, and Poole, 2000).
Manage stress - The volunteer also needs to understand that her lack of communication and delegation is causing frustrations in other volunteers. She has to be a little bit social to deal with the negative influences.
Rewards - The volunteer should also recognize the work of other members and appraise them for their efficiency (Tourish, and Hargie, 2004).
The existing approaches of execution of work is not properly organized and designed. The assignment of tasks and duties are not divided according to the abilities and skill set of the volunteers. The lack of communication, poor organization structure and allocation of work are resulting in inefficiency and delay of project execution. The method of information collection and transform it into meaningful data is also not proper (Clausen, 2006).
Collection of information - Information is gathered in an unstructured manner through many sources. Survey and personal interviews are conducted to know the public opinion.
Formatting of information - There is lack of data categorization in the organization. The volunteers are not able to manage and distribute the data for use by various departments. However there is bulk of information available and one has to search out for relevant information which requires sufficient time and energy causing delay in project activities (Keyton, 2011).
Storage of information - All other volunteers except the supervisor is engaged in storing the information. They work on updating the databases with new information through computer systems.
Dissemination of information - Due to lack of proper information systems in above three steps, the information collected cannot be used to transform into meaningful data for efficient decision making. The is due to the lack of communication process which also hampers the information systems as a whole (Belasen, 2000).
The organization requires a communication plan for the effective functioning and management of all other departments. Through proper communication channels information systems can be organized so that relevant data is gathered and use for efficient decision making.
Collection of information - To collect the information, the volunteers should be cleared about the purpose and data collection techniques. They must define the techniques best suitable for the project requirement. The purpose should be defined clearly, questions set is prepared for survey and personal interviews (Corman, and Poole, 2000). The volunteers should also check that sample of survey should be relevant and that contributes to ideas and answers which are useful for the purpose.
Formatting of information - The information collected from various sources should be categorized as per the projects and requirements of the volunteers and departments.
Storage of information - Information should be stored at a centralized location to be easily accessible for the volunteer and project needs (Clausen, 2006).
Dissemination of information - If all the steps above are carried out effectively then data gathered can be helpful in effective decision making.
The voluntary organization should develop information systems so that data and knowledge can be aligned to achieve the cause of the organization. The systems available are -
Transaction processing systems - This systems supports the daily activities of the organization in stock management, payroll processing. The information is collected and managed by operational department in a structured form (Garicano, and Hansberg, 2006). At this level every activity and transaction is recorded. This system ensures accuracy and speed in routine functions of the organization.
Management information systems - The middle management use the structured information provided by TPS. It is used for tactical decision making by project managers. MIS includes hardware to serve as databases, software systems to convert raw data into meaningful information and drive interpretations using it.
Office automation systems - This system supports communication process with the use of technology in routine tasks. Documents and information can be send through email, messages can be conveyed through phone and web conferencing (Smidts, Pruyn, and Riel, 2001).
Decision support system - At this level, top management used the information provided by MIS and TPS in strategic decision making.
The above report prepared into parts explains the decision making process and organization communication process. The first part helps understand the need and significance of stakeholder in efficient decision making. It explains how useful information can be gathered from various sources to support business activities. The second part explains the importance of effective communication for the smooth functioning of organization activities. It also analyzes the need for horizontal communication to improve the delegation process and assignment of projects. The report also focuses on the changes to the existing approaches of information systems.
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