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E-Business Application. The Company and Environment

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E-Business Application. The Company and Environment

Introduction

With its location in East London, B Pale and Stout plc mainly specializes in the production of ‘real’ ales. Of these, some gets sold to the various public houses within England at a wholesale price, while packaged in casks. The rest are then bottled and get distributed to retail outlets and supermarkets, both within England, and across the border, to such other countries as Holland and France. In a market that is faced with stiff competition from well established and renowned brewers such as St. Austell Brewery, GreeneKing and Diagieo plc, amongst others (Mintel 2006), B Pale Stout plc sees this as the perfect opportunity for the brewery to penetrate the beer market, by way of properly positioning its products. In addition, quality is a real concern for the brewer, for purposes of customer satisfaction.

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To assure the quality of the final product that gets to the customer, the management at the brewery ensures that the raw materials for processing, such as water, barley, yeast and hops are of the best quality. Furthermore, such raw materials are subjected to rigorous quality tests, against the standards of the company to determine if they pass the minimum quality requirements.

By being responsive to the beer market, coupled with flexibility in its operations, B Pale and Stout plc has managed to prosper, even as a couple of other brewers have found the going getting tough, in effect being forced by circumstances to close down, in the wake of a shrinking beer market (Mintel 2006), and rising costs of production. All the various functional areas of the company are characterised by an enhanced flexibility, and their individual objectives and strategies are geared towards the realization of the overall goals of the company. Furthermore, interaction amongst the various functional areas is highly encouraged, for purposes of enabling the company attain its full potential.

The market strategy that has been adopted by B Pale and Stout plc rests on the premise that the customers should be fully informed about the potential of the company’s products (Lynch 2006) to fulfil those needs that they may be seeking from them. As such, the marketing department at B Pale and Stout plc strives to see to it that the right kind of information and products are always available to those customers that they target. This has been made possible, thanks in large part by the decision by the brewer’s management to embrace a strategy of market penetration, in effect ensuring that B Pale and Stout plc becomes a brewer that is not only well known, but also respected within the brewing industry. Furthermore, the marketing department at the company is charged with another responsibility of ensuring that the prices to their products considers the budget of the target market, and that such a target market is able to really appreciate these products.

On the other hand, operation process has also been tailored to consider the production and distributions costs that the company incurs, for purposes of ensuring that the brewery remains operational and viable. Through the tireless efforts of the marketing department, it has managed to express satisfaction and quality that is to be obtained through the consumption of the products of the company. The promotional strategy that has been adopted by B Pale and Stout plc entails events, advertising, public relations, personal selling, as well as direct marketing. Lately, a lot of brewers have invested into the area of internet marketing (Whitehead 2004), as this is proving to be both an effecting and less- costly form of promotion of their products. This is no different for B Pale and Stout plc.

The target market for products manufactured by B Pale and Stout plc are the working class and corporate individuals, who have been noted for the appreciation they have over traditional and good quality ale beer. At the moment, B Pale and Stout plc has managed to rake-in a market share of 12 percent in London alone. The idea behind B Pale and Stout plc embracing their production, distribution and marketing of traditional ale beers is because these are not only pleasurable, but also refreshing. As such, they encourage their customers to both gather together, and hence share fun, after a hard day’s work.

Objectives

The business strategy that has been adopted by B Pale and Stout plc entails a desire to provide the target market with a brew that is of sound quality, thereby ensuring that the customers have their need satisfied fully. To achieve this, B Pale and Stout plc has invested heavily in technological innovations, as well as an implementation of raw materials, process and final product quality control standards of the highest order. This is in addition to the fact that the company has a policy of only recruiting sales and production teams that are professionally trained and qualified. In addition, the design of the marketing material that the company buys is of good quality, and it is intended to serves a multitude of customers.

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Moreover, the marketing materials are always done in a professional manner, in a bid to echo the reputation and image that the company intends to display. This has in effect enabled B Pale and Stout plc to position itself as a manufacturer of sound quality, whose intention is to provide the target market with a product that is able to offer them enjoyment, quench their thirst, one that is of sound image, and reliable. In light of this, B Pale and Stout plc has been able to establishing and sustain a good rapport with such stakeholders to the company as the shareholders, the management, employees, suppliers and more importantly, the customers.

Through the company’ websites, customers and other stakeholders alike now have chance to sample the various products on offer, in addition to the developments within the organization., Further, this has also acted as a window of opportunity for the company to source the opinions of such stakeholders regarding the products on offer, and the quality of service that the company gives them.

There are a number of guiding principles that gives shape to the objective of the company:

  • Creation of a sound working environment, and according dignity and respect to employees and customers
  • Implementation of standards of excellence of the highest quality, to virtually all the various business processes of the company
  • Striving to ensure that the customers are always satisfied
  • Implementation of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, as a way f giving back to the society
  • Aligning all the various departments within the organization, in order to ensure that they are alls geared towards the achieving the overall objectives of the company.
  • Instilling, within the workforce, a working culture based on continuous improvement, for the attainment of maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  • A full commitment by the management and staff alike, to an embracing of programs that are geared towards economic growth and development.

Company products

There are several products that are produced and marketed by B Pale and Stout plc. However, the three main ones are labelled A, B and C, with an alcohol content of 2.8, 4.3 and 4.5 percent, respectively. A routine quality check for all the products is undertaken, to ensure that it conforms to the set specifications within the beer industry, as well as to the internal standards of the company. The three products produced by B Pale and Stout plc are characterized by unique properties, such an appealing aroma and flavour, thereby enabling these to effectively compete with those from rivals in the market.

Competition

The identification of competitors to products produced by B Pale and Stout plc is on the basis of the market needs that are sought by the customers, from these individual companies. Even then, the main challenger, in terms of competition, is S& N Allied, who have been in the market for fifty years now. This is in addition to the strong financial base that they have established over the years, along with the associated adoptions of sound human resource technological advances.

Even then, the greatest advantage that competition offers to B Pale and Stout plc is that they have concentrated on the production of traditional ale beers only, which they have managed to position in the market with an equal measure of success. In addition, B Pale and Stout plc have managed to lay put a sound distribution network that enables them to provide their products to even the most remote parts of the United Kingdom, and also overseas. This has been made possible, thanks in part to the establishment of strategic alliances with well-established distributors in the target markets. This has further acted to enhance the attainment of the goals and objectives that B Pale and Stout plc has set.

Software systems for business process enhancement

Installing the Optimal Connection System for Manufacturing and Warehousing

For a successful management and control of the raw material acquisition, processing, storage and distribution operations at B Pale and Stout plc, there is a need for the company to implement such software systems modules as will enhance both efficiency and effectiveness in process and service delivery. Some of the modules that this research study would recommend for the brewer to implement include manufacturing, financials, and sales order processing, distribution, and inventory management. In order to accomplish this, it would be recommended that the brewer embrace both the Optimal Connection System that the organisation for which this writer works for has developed and distributes, in addition to installing the same. The installation requires a server and once installed, it will enable the company assume the responsibility of managing the various operations at B Pale and Stout plc, in effect ‘overseeing’ the whole production process as well, until the beers are packaged, either in casks, or in bottles. The advantage of using such a system, as compared with human resource, is that it paves way for mass production (Minogue 2007), while at the same time reducing on the operation costs thanks to mass production.

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Moreover, the efficiency and precision of the production process is enhanced, thereby minimizing possible errors that could come about when we have human resource manning the production plant. Furthermore, B Pale and Stout plc can also employ the Optimal Connection

System for purposes of warehouse management, assigning locations for storage of beers in the warehouse, as well as management of the picking procedure for the products in the warehouse, in accordance with the ‘first in, first out’ (FIFO) rules (Lynch 2006) of storage. In addition, by implementing the Optimal Connection System, B Pale and Stout plc stands to benefit from lot traceability, for all the various products manufactured by the company.

Lot traceability becomes important in the event that a company may wish to recall a batch that has been dispatched. With this system therefore, such a traceability action becomes even easier. Traceability has also been touted as a powerful tool to help in handling possible complaints from the customers, distributors, and even for purposes of the stock taking team, in an organization (Whitehead 2004). There is also the issue of warehouse locations, transport pick lists, as well as documentation, and these are core elements of the distributions functions of any organization.

On the basis of the wide network of distributions and operations that characterizes B Pale and Stout plc, both in the United Kingdom and to the other countries it operates in, there is a need to automatically generate such information, as the need arises. Thanks to the Optimal Connection

System, this becomes a possibility, through way of scanning, and then entering the operators of for example, the forklift, to the system (Whitehead 2004).

Furthermore, the integrated process that the Optimal Connection System allows for, also acts to facilitate in the dating-down process for the company’s stock that could be in the warehouse, in addition to the invoicing and accounts reconciliation processes. There is also the possibility of the brewer utilizing the system to achieve business intelligence (Whitehead 2004). For example, the Optimal Connection System can be manipulated to provide the management with the real measures of the organization’s production costs, as opposed to ‘standard packaging and brewing overheads’ (Whitehead 2004: 19). What is more, such production costs can be made for the three different brews that the company manufacturers.

In this respect, the brewer stands to gain the value of ensuring that the company’s accounts are tightened accordingly, in addition to an extension of the operation costs of the plant, along with its efficiency, to revolve around the production aspect, and also to the remainder of the business entity as well, and this is the most important element (Timmers 2000). What this means therefore is that by implementing this system, everyone at B Pale and Stout plc will for the very first time, come into terms with what their real input into the organization is. For the production team, the implementation of this system shall enable them to obtain their efficiencies not just as a percentage, but also in monetary terms, in this case pounds. This is important, as it is a term that they can both understand, and at the same time work hard on improving (Timmers 2000).

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For the sales and marketing team, the system will enable them to come into terms with the fact that as opposed to other manufacturing processes, breweries are somewhat difficult, in terms of capacity, energy and materials consumption. Thankfully, this could act as an impetus for the sales and marketing team to assert real impact in sales campaigns; enabling the organization to attain its objectives. More so, this system would enable B Pale and Stout plc to enhance the company’s distribution performance, courtesy of a scheduling and routing system. As a result of such an optimized and streamlined delivery system, the brewery would be in a position to cut its operation costs (Beynon-Davies 2004), like reducing the current four depots it operates, to what may be termed as a ‘”single ‘super’ distribution center” (Beynon-Davies 2004: 2), to be located possibly at the company’s headquarters, in East London. It this case, the brewery would still have the choice of utilizing its other existing depots, at a time when the demand for the beer hits its peak.

Following a successful implementation of this system, B Pale and Stout plc could also expect to greatly enhance its level of customer service (Timmers 2000), not to mention the ensuing reduction in terms of the firm’s operational costs.

One other benefits of implementing the Optimal Connection System is that it easily blends well with the already existing manual system that the brewery has been utilizing, for the past 16 years it has been in operation. The brewery has been relying on its manual system for the taking and assigning of delivery orders from, customers. The Optimal Connection System module allows for the incorporation of the best adjustments and routes to the existing manual system (Whitehead 2004). What this means is that B Pale and Stout plc will enjoy a smooth transition from manual system of operations, to one that is now fully automated, without compromising on the operations at the plant.

The Optimal Connection System would also be compatible with the following systems at B Pale and Stout plc:

Network infrastructure

In this day and age of innovations and upgrading in terms of information technology, network infrastructure becomes a necessity, for any one given organization. Even as the Optimal Connection System may serve as a useful network and information technology (IT) infrastructure, nevertheless there is a need for a back-up system to augment it. In this regard, this research study would wish to propose the adoption of Lotus Notes. By an effective lateral extension of the Lotus Notes to the Optimal Connection System, this shall then enable for email provisions and more importantly, CRM (customer relationship management), human resource management (HRM), and field sales management (Computer Weekly 2006).

Wireless internet connection, for both local area network (LAN), as well as wide area network (WAN) would also be compatible with the Optimal Connection System. In addition, this research paper would recommended for the adoption of a wireless Ethernet and Internet connection, for purposes of reduced installation equipment and more importantly, convenience and cost. Wireless connection has been seen to save a lot of money for organizations, in terms of hardware installation (Computer Weekly 2006). Through wireless network technology, it becomes also possible for the employees and the management alike to get away, literary, from the usual office environment that may at best, be described as constrained. This also ensures that the various human resources at the company are exceedingly mobile, and at the same time productive, even if they are for instance, having a cup of coffee, they can still work on their laptop, and possibly follows the productions operations, away from the productions plant. This is all made possible by sound information technology (IT) support systems, as opposed to conventional offices.

Mobile technology

The delivery fleet at B Pale and Stout plc could also benefit from mobile technology. What this means is that the various individuals that are operating the delivery trucks, are provided with mobile phones registered with a service provider that is well established. The same case could also happen at the productions facility, in which the maintenance engineers and equipment operators at the brewery are provided with mobile phones and bleepers. Mobile phones with a blue-tooth-enabled connection would also come in handy for the sales and marketing team, so that they can liaise with the rest of the team at the plant, when they are in the field. According to

Beynon-Davies (2004), “seam-less information flow” (p. 3), along with wireless technology has really helped in the decision making processes of business. This also applies to the issue of easing the forecasting process that has for a long time proved quite difficult to organizations. As can be seen, mobile technology enables a business to manage better, more and faster (Timmers 2000).

As such, information technology not only facilitates in supporting businesses this way but also plays a significant role in transforming business entities, often times for the better. Working thus becomes quite flexible for the management and the employees alike, in addition to the huge savings for the organization. Furthermore, business intelligence implies real monetary gain for an organization (Timmers 2000). Besides, information technology paves way for integrations of the employees, and thus helps create virtual teams.

Other modules that the research study recommends for implementation by B Pale and Stout plc include:

  • Scheduler: The purpose of a scheduler is to assist the management of the brewery in overseeing the operations at the plant (Klein 2001). It means that once the system has been implemented, it will be possible for the maintenance engineers and equipment operators to oversee the operations of the manufacturing plant from the comfort of a control room. As such, they shall be in a position to monitor the conditioning tanks, the fermenters, and the malting equipments. In addition, the human resource department will also be best placed to oversee the operations of the human resources.

With a scheduler in place, the system allows for output display, often times in the form of a graphical format (Klein 2001). As a result, it is possible for the maintenance care and the equipment operators to clearly visualize potential problems or areas of conflict, thereby rectifying the situation before it gets out of hand. Even as a basic scheduler lacks in say, the volumes of the beer ingredients, or data recipe, nevertheless advances in technology today have made it quite practical for scheduler operators to enter dependency matrices, with the result that an “auto schedule” (Klein 2001: 12) algorithm is then provided

For a majority of the breweries that are successful in their operations, these have already implemented a scheduling method that has over the years proved worth their investment (Minogue 2007). However, what is increasingly becoming clear is that such scheduling methods usually entail a lot of paperwork. Others are less manual, and include such applications as spreadsheet and excel. All too often, a majority of the breweries find out, albeit too late, that the management software that they have implemented, and which they are currently utilizing is both expensive in terms of implementation and maintenance (Mintel 2006). Furthermore, there is also the possibility that such management software do not provide a guarantee to the company, for the money that they have implemented in its installation and the associated operation costs.

Most of the software packages that are to be found in the market carries far more features that would be necessary for a specific operator. As such, they are not tailor-made to the specifications of the customers. This is because a majority of the developing companies for these kinds of software targets the larger production environment and not the brewing industry specifically. What is more, the requirement of this software is that they first have to be installed on a computer running on Windows (Beynon-Davies 2004).

In addition, most of these offer a single license for a one window computer. There is a need therefore to come up with a scheduler that is designed to fit the specifications of a customer. In light of this, this research study would wish to recommend that B Pale and Stout adopt a scheduler that they have developed, one that operates “with a database back end” (Gilbert 2009: 3). In addition, this scheduler, as opposed to running on a one Window computer, operates on the webserver. The benefit of such a scheduler is that there is no need for the client to install extra software (Minogue 2007). Besides, the software may also versatile, running on Windows, Linux, and Mac, amongst other operating systems. Hypothetically, it is quite possible for one to gain access to this particular software from any corner of the globe, as long as considerable security measures by the operator are first instituted (Timmers 2000). Another benefit of the software is that the information contained in such a schedule may either be modified or viewed using such other sophisticated gadgets as an iPhone.

  • Recipe data: Aside from the implementation of a scheduler, the brewer could also install a recipe data, as yet another separate module. In essence, a recipe data takes care of the various ingredients or inputs that are incorporated into each and every beer batch, during the manufacturing process (Whitehead 2004). In addition, a recipe data would also help the operators at B Pale and Stout plc to record the various volumes of the ingredients of the entire production process, and these would include the volumes of such raw materials as water, hops, malted barley, the wort (a mixture of boiled hops and malted barley), and yeast. The goodness with a recipe data is that it can be designed in such a way as to enable the manufacturer to incorporate virtually inestimable amounts and number of ingredients.

Return On Investment

The Optimal Connection System

Investment: The cost of purchasing the Optimal Connection System, along with the associated installation and license costs, has been estimated at 120,000 pounds. This includes the purchase cost of the Server as well. In addition to this initial cost of purchasing the Optimal Connection System, there is also the added investment in terms of human resource that shall be charged with the responsibility of operating and maintaining this system. In this regard, this research paper recommends the training of 6 personnel, to oversee the system. The total training cost has been calculated to the tune of 150,000,000 pounds.

Payback: Once installed, the Optimal Connection System is poised to ensure a 15 percent reduction in the manufacturing cost at the B Pale and Stout plc. In 2008, the brewery’s total annual manufacturing cost was 170 million pounds. By implementing this system, the company would thus cut the cost of production by 22.5 million pounds. In addition, the Optimal Connection System is expected to reduce the warehousing cost incurred by the company by 20 percent. In 2008, this amounted to 90 million pounds. The system, once fully functional would therefore result in a reduction of warehouse costs by 15.3 million pounds.

Calculating the Return On Investment (ROI) for the Optimal Connection System:

Return On Investment (ROI) = [Payback- Investment/Investment)] * 100. (White 2007).

= [37,800,000-270,000 pounds/270,000)]* 100

= 13,900 pounds

Cost of implementing a Scheduler

Investment: The cost of a scheduler software shall be dependent on the agreement reached between say, a company, and the developer. Nevertheless, a good scheduler that would fit into the business process of B Pale and Stout plc would be in the range of 50,000 pounds. Seeing that such scheduler would be quite compatible with both the hardware and the operating system, currently in use by the company, no extra cost is anticipated. Moreover, such a scheduler comes with a user manual that is user-friendly and as such, the company may not expect to incur training costs.

Payback: The scheduler is expected to help B Pale and Stout plc reduce their overall operations costs by 5 percent, on an annual basis. In 2008, this amounted to 320 million pounds. The reduction that may be anticipated is therefore 16 million pounds.

Return On Investment (ROI) of the scheduler:

Return On Investment (ROI) = [(Payback- Investment/Investment)] * 100.

= [(16,000,000 pounds- 50,000/50,000)] * 100

= 31,900 pounds

Cost of implementing a recipe data

Investment: an ideal recipe data software for corporate and organizational business processes retails at 40,000 pounds. Most of the recipe data software in the market is universal, meaning that they do not require additional software or hardware investment.

A recipe data would enable the follow the production process, ensuring that the various brewing ingredients are optimized to the required levels. This is in addition to the handling of possible productions errors, and avoiding them before they actually occur.

The average annual losses due to poor incorporation of ingredients, based on the company’s records, stand at 150,000 pounds.

Payback: Recipe data software, when properly implemented and maintained, could result in an 85 percent reduction in potential production losses, and this translates into 127, 500 pounds.

Return On Investment (ROI) = [(Payback- Investment/Investment)] * 100.

= [(127, 500- 40,000/40,000)] * 100

= 218.75 pounds

Cost of implementing a recipe data

Investment: an ideal recipe data software for corporate and organizational business processes retails at 40,000 pounds. Most of the recipe data software’ in the market is universal, meaning that they do not require additional software or hardware investment.

A recipe data would enable the follow the production process, ensuring that the various brewing ingredients are optimized to the required levels. This is in addition to the handling of possible productions errors, and avoiding them before they actually occur. The average annual losses due to poor incorporation of ingredients, based on the company’s records, stand at 150,000 pounds.

Payback: Recipe data software, when properly implemented and maintained, could result in an 85 percent reduction in potential production losses, and this translates into 127, 500 pounds.

Return On Investment (ROI) = [(Payback- Investment/Investment)] * 100.

= [(127, 500- 40,000/40,000)] * 100

= 218.75 pounds

Bibliography

Beynon-Davies, P., 2004. E-Business. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Computer Weekly (2006). CRM system pays for itself ‘in first month’.

Klein, N., 2001. No Logo. London: Flamenco.

Lynch, R., 2006. Corporate Strategy (4th Ed). Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.

Minogue, T. (2007). ‘Last Orders’ The Guardian G2. pp 6–9. Web.

Mintel (2006) ‘High Street Pubs and Bars-UK 2006. Web.

Timmers, P., 2000. Electronic Commerce – strategies & models for business-to-business trading. London: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

White, D. C. (2007). Calculating ROI for automation projects. Web.

Whitehead, A. (2004). The Monarch Beverage Company Drives International Performance Management System with Geac. Information Management Magazine.

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