The Four Steps Of Problem Solving Information Technology Essay

The initial problem that Mark Singleton was trying to resolve is the implementation of a CRM system to increase sales by raising the number of contacts relationship bankers were making and improving the tracking of these activities so that the bank could learn more from them. Also Singleton wanted a CRM system that places a great value on the person-to-person interactions between his relationship bankers and their customers and doesn’t interfere with those interactions and diminishes the relationship bankers’ rapport with customers.

In the problem-solving process which is especially valuable when we need to build new systems as a solution to a problem or set of problems the organization perceives it is facing. The problem in this case came from the management realization that the organization should take advantage of new opportunities to perform more effectively, but they didn’t apply the four steps of problem solving. In the problem-solving process to system building, we would need to take the following four steps:

(1) Define and understand the problem.

(2) Develop alternative solutions.

(3) Choose the best solution.

(4) Implement the solution.

Citizens National Bank CEO Mark Singleton achieved the first step with an outstanding performance in defining and understanding the problem for which they need to build a new system but he failed dramatically in applying the rest of the steps required by the problem-solving process to build a new system. Mr. Singleton did not devise, develop or try several alternative solutions before opting for a new CRM system to solve the problem of paper and manual work and replace it with a new information system to automate some of the bankers’ tasks. Because he did not develop alternative solutions, he couldn’t choose the best solution which led to a failed implementation in the first solution.

What was the business case for implementing a new system? What were some of the tangible benefits? What were some of the intangible benefits?

Organizationally, Citizens National Bank of Texas is a private, full-service bank with headquarters in Waxahachie, Texas, and 200 employees that has operated independently since 1868. Citizens National Bank relies on personal, retail, and commercial customers and serves businesses and consumers in Ellis County and other nearby counties, primarily in communities with populations of 25,000 or less.

Citizen National bank operates heavily manual and count on paper system in which sometimes a salesperson that left Citizens National could take records of customer interaction with him or her, leaving the bank with no information to maintain the relationship. The paper system also created too much information for Singleton and his branch managers to process effectively. So that the old paper system cannot support the large number of new customers and the annual grow at a rate of 12 percent.

A major part of Citizen National’s strategy for continuing growth was to implement customer relationship management (CRM) software. The CRM strategy targeted the bank’s two main contact points with customers: the bank’s call center and its sales force. The objectives of a solution for Citizens National Bank would be to reduce the amount of time, effort, and errors in the tracking of activities made by relationship bankers and to increase sales by raising the number of contacts relationship bankers were making and improving the tracking of these activities so that the bank could learn more from them.

Tangible Benefits

Increased productivity: Using a CRM system will enable relationship bankers to improve their tracking activities with customers, which in turn increase their productivity and give them ability to serve more customers.

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Lower operational costs: using electronic records will substantially reduce papers used and result in cost saving.

Reduced workforce: this is will be the result of increasing bankers’ productivity to serve more customers, which in turn will considerably reduce the workforce required to handle the projected increase in sales.

Reduced rate of growth in expenses

Reduced facility costs: due to paper reduction, and workforce reduction.

Intangible Benefits

Improved organizational planning and flexibility: because the paper system created too much information for Singleton and his branch managers to process effectively. The CRM system will give them efficient information to make effective decisions.

Improved decision making: having accurate information under executives and managers control will dramatically enhance the decision making.

Improved operations: The CRM system will enable the bank to approve credit and loan applications more quickly.

Improved asset utilization and improved resource control.

More information available in a timely manner.

Enhanced employee goodwill: because under the old paper system, a salesperson that left Citizens National could take records of customer interaction with him or her, leaving the bank with no information to maintain the relationship.

Increased job satisfaction among employees.

Higher client satisfaction: nothing will satisfy the customers more than getting a quick approvals and smooth transactions.

Better corporate image: this is will result automatically from an increase in job satisfaction among employees and a higher client satisfaction.

Why didn’t the implementation of the Siebel CRM solution work out for Citizens National? What were the biggest factors? How would you classify these factors in terms of organization, technology, and people issues?

I believe that the implementation of the Siebel CRM solution didn’t work out for Citizens National because it was not the best solution that applies or fits into the defined problem; it didn’t work out because it was not a result of a thorough selection that went through precise evaluation for multiple alternatives or solutions. The implementation failed for many factors, I will classify these factors in terms of organization, technology, and people issues

Organization: the approach of Citizens National toward nearly all business functions, from tracking customer leads to generating reports about them, was very basic. The Siebel software was simply too rich in features.

“From the start, Citizens National had trouble getting the software to fit its rather straightforward, basic customer-lead tracking and reporting needs. “With Siebel, we were spending way too much time turning off capabilities that we didn’t need,” Singleton explains. An example of functionality that didn’t fit Citizens National’s business model was Siebel’s capability for setting up customer support cases. While some large corporations may want to set up a support case with detailed complaint-tracking and resolution functions, the small bank had no use for it. Service complaints that come in to Citizens National are handled on the spot by its call center. For service inquiries that require a follow-up, such as a customer asking about the reordering of checks, the call-center representative schedules an activity by sending an e-mail to the employee who handles check orders.” (Bartholomew, 2007)

People: Employees found the software to be too complicated. They were surprised to learn, for example, that the system did not automatically generate potential business opportunities for customers on their records. Furthermore, bankers were not able to view multiple relationships between a customer and the bank on the same screen. The extra navigation was confusing and inefficient.

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The relationship bankers were the key employees; the system was intended to be of value to them, and, in turn, provide value to the bank. However, they found no incentive in the Siebel environment because their compensation was based on sales, and sales had become harder to make.

Another issue was Siebel’s complexity. Citizens National’s bankers found the system difficult to navigate. For instance, the banking representatives couldn’t understand why an opportunity to make a loan to a particular customer wasn’t listed under the customer’s record. “You have to assign that opportunity to that person,” explains Doug Furney, president and CEO of The Small Business Solution. “If you don’t make those relationships when entering the data, the opportunity won’t appear under that customer’s record. Not everyone easily grasped this concept.” (Bartholomew, 2007)

Furney says the way the screens were laid out in Siebel, Citizens’ bankers had to flip back and forth between the various screens to identify different relationships that customers had with the bank. “Understanding these relationships in the system was very confusing to their bankers,” he says.

As a result, the bank’s top sales representatives, who weren’t eager to change the way they did their work to fit the needs of the software, found Siebel’s learning curve too steep to negotiate. “Citizens National’s 16 relationship bankers never got over the ease-of-use problems that Siebel presented,” Furney says. (Bartholomew, 2007)

Deloitte’s Davis says that the Siebel implementation at Citizens National may have indeed failed because of a lack of buy-in from those expected to use it most-the relationship bankers. “If the people using the system don’t know what’s in it for them and don’t see the value of using it, then it will not work the way the company expected,” Davis says. (Bartholomew, 2007)

Technology: Citizens National experienced compatibility issues between the database formats in Siebel and those used by the bank’s core banking application, developed by Kirchman. As a result, the two systems had difficulty exchanging information properly. The bank was forced to spend a significant amount of time fixing such compatibility issues, which negatively impacted its ability to serve customers.

Citizens National also had to deal with a raft of customization issues, often stemming from the differences between databases. Furney worked to integrate Siebel with Citizens National’s core banking application. The bank uses banking software from Kirchman, whose vertical systems are used by numerous small and medium-size banks to process and track customers’ deposits, loans and trust accounts. “Trying to get these two systems to talk was a challenge,” he says. (Bartholomew, 2007)

One basic difference was the way the core banking application set up its customer data fields. The Kirchman system did not have individual fields for both the customer’s first and last names, choosing instead to include the full name in a single field. By contrast, in Siebel, the customer’s first and last name each had a data field. “That’s the kind of thing we ran into when we tried to marry data from these two different systems,” Furney says. “This kind of integration takes time, and customers don’t realize how much time is required.” (Bartholomew, 2007)

Was QuickBase a better solution for Citizens National? If so, why? What factors suggest that the bank ended up with the right approach and the right choice of product?

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In my perspective, QuickBase was the best alternative solution that meets the requirements of Citizens National Bank for a new IT system that is an easy to use, capable of doing some tracking activities, and store the interactions between relationship bankers and their customers and doesn’t interfere with those interactions and diminish the relationship bankers’ rapport with customers.

QuickBase was designed for organizing, tracking, and sharing information among team members in the workplace while encouraging progress by notifying workers via automated e-mails of updated files, new task assignments, and approaching deadlines. Because QuickBase was not programmed as a specific business application, businesses could modify its database structure to meet specific business functions.

One reason some small and medium-size companies, as well as groups within larger ones, are adopting QuickBase is its flexibility. Intended not just for customer management, QuickBase-which is actually more of an easily modified database than a full-fledged business application-can be harnessed for other business tasks. For example, Procter & Gamble uses the system to track technology projects. Because it’s easy to use, runs online via any browser and doesn’t require an I.T. professional to set up, the hosted application is finding its way into all kinds of businesses. (Bartholomew, 2007)

There are many factors suggest that the bank ended up with the right approach and the right choice of product, some of these factors are:

The Citizens National staffs were able to make changes to QuickBase themselves, so the costs of ownership and maintenance fees were much lower.

QuickBase offered Citizens National flexibility that it did not have previously. Because the system was Web-based, the relationship bankers were able to use it anywhere that they had access to a browser.

Relationship bankers and management received daily updated access to all interactions and transactions, enabling them to track business in a way that was never possible previously.

For the first time, Citizens National was able to completely track sales opportunities and, as Singleton said, “where we lost business, so we know where we need to make those extra 10 or 15 sales calls.”

Also central to the success of QuickBase at Citizens National was Furney’s ability to integrate the system with the Kirchman core banking application. Furney configured QuickBase to upload new account information to the core system every night via an XML interface.

For example, a banking representative can click on a commercial customer’s file and immediate see all the contacts that have been made with that customer by bank staff, any actions that were taken on the customer’s behalf, and the end result. Citizens National bank representatives use it to check on customers to see if there has been a follow-up call to a contact, whether a voice-mail message was left with the customer, who the salesperson was and the status of the contact. “It’s been an invaluable tool for us to keep track of our customers,” Singleton adds. (Bartholomew, 2007)

5. Based on this case study, what kind of organization do you think would benefit from using the Siebel CRM package? Give an example of such an organization and justify your choice. You may use the Web to research your answer, including Oracle’s Web site.

6. Could Citizens National have made a better choice of software for its CRM system the first time around? Explain your answer.

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