Information Systems – Aalsmeer Flower Auction Management Consultancy Report Introduction This assessment work will consider how the use of modern information systems and technology might ensure the continued success of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. The report will look at the type of business, information requirements, information strategy which can help Alsmeer Flower Auction to cope with changing environment. Also will take into consideration the impact and effectiveness of a new system for the organisation, management and employees. Business Analysis
Aalsmeer Flower Auction (Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer) is a flower auction, located in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the heart of the international floriculture sector. It has an intricate and high-quality network of companies, ranging from breeders and growers to sales experts and export firms, representing every aspect of the business. The Netherlands is the place where supply and demand come together. From Europe and beyond (source: About FloraHolland http://www. flora. nl/en/AboutFloraHolland/Pages/default. aspx). On January 1, 2008 the Aalsmeer Flower Auction merged with their biggest competitor FloraHolland.
FloraHolland flower auction plays a key role in the Netherlands, land of Floriculture where its position as marketplace fulfils the role of matchmaker, intermediary and knowledge center. Figure 1. FloraHolland key facts Number of centers6 (Aalsmeer, Naaldwijk, Rijnsburg, Bleiswijk, Venlo and Eelde). Number of clocks40 Number of members5,000 Number of supplyers9,000 Number of customers3,500 Number of employees4,400 Most important import countriesKenya, Israel, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Germany Most important export countriesGermany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium source:http://www. flora. nl/en/AboutFloraHolland/Cooperative/Pages/Factsandfigures. aspx) One of the most important part of FloraHolland Company is Aalsmeer Flower Auction which offers globally-producing growers and globally active wholesalers and exporters a total concept: a central marketplace for the buying and selling of floricultural products with a range of marketing channels, facilities for growers and buyers and logistics. This makes the Aalsmeer Flower Auction a prominent link in the international chain of flower and plant sales.
Structure of Aalsmeer Flower Auction cleary showing Figure 2. The AFA uses two main channels to play its role as a mediator among growers and buyers:
• auction: by using the auction clock, most of the supply from growers is divided into smaller units to be sold by exporters and wholesalers.
• direct mediation: teams of mediators combine specific supply and demand to generate transactions for day trade and futures. In this process, they often follow the auction prices (sources: Bringing e-Business to the World’s Largest Flower Auction: The Case of Aalsmeer’ 2005 www. dea-group. com). As a part of FloraHolland they transform and collect several information (see figure1) about their customers, suppliers, transport, mambers, employees, products (flowers, plants), transactions, etc. In 21st century in this type of business to be competitive advantage in the industry key role play new technology application named electronic business. It may be defined as the application of information and communication technologies in support of all the activities of business.
E-business involves business processes spanning the entire value chain: electronic purchasing and supply chain management, processing orders electronically, handling customer service, and cooperating with business partners. Special technical standards for e-business facilitate the exchange of data between companies. E-business is any process that a business organization conducts over an information technology (IT) or computer-mediated network, such as the Internet. E-business software solutions allow the integration of intra and inter firm business processes.
E-business can be conducted using the Web, the Internet, intranets, extranets, or some combination of these (source: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Electronic_business). Currently AFA (as a part of FloraHolland) concentrated on computer system innovation named E-services. They using internet and electronic channels to support its business process and to connect buyers and suppliers what helped AFA to redefine the value chain, to reduce transaction costs, to strengthen the link with wholesalers and retailers and to increase market share. Currently AFA offer for their customers on line access to: Account on-line
Clients and auction can settle customer’s accounts through daily and weekly statements. The Internet application Account Online makes these invoices available electronically. If customer have auctioned products or used mediation, then they may download the daily statement after 8 p. m. The weekly settlement is available beginning Friday at around 10 p. m. Account Online is a free service. Clockviewer Easy-access and cost-effective way to gain insight into what is happening on the clock. With a subscription to “Clockviewer” customers may follow online exactly what is happening at the same minute on the clock in the stands in Aalsmeer.
Clock Supply Online provides information on clock supply every auction day beginning at 3:15 pm. The information includes data on suppliers, products and amounts. Information is updated every five minutes until the “closing bell”. The system gives an advance look at the daily clock supply available. It supports the buyer in his purchasing and administrative procedures. EAB Besides the paper delivery form (PAB) the floriculture industry also uses a digital version: the e-delivery form (EAB). Each supplier may use the EAB to provide direct supply information to all floricultural auctions in the Netherlands. EABel
If customers are unable to utilize the e-delivery form (EAB), you may transmit supply information by phone using EABel. EABel is accessible seven days a week between 8 a. m. and 10 p. m. Electronic direct batch accountability The VEPT (temporary electronic batch feedback system) contains clock transactions from the current auction day. The major advantage of this service is that you can receive transaction information already during the auction process. Electronic batch accountability Electronic batch accountability (EPV) contains clock transactions on the current auction day from the mediation organization.
This information is sent to client “after auctioning”. In addition, Electronic Batch Accountability includes clock transactions from the current auction day. The major advantage of this service is that the transaction information is sent to customer already during the auction process. Floranet is to compare sales figures from the past three years, products prices checker, account history and transaction services. FlorEcom order system FlorEcom-notices (order confirmations and order responses for example) are part of the FlorEcom-order system. FlorEcom-notices are designed according to a certain structure (electronic data interchange (EDI).
Image Centre Electronic photo supply. The photos are used for Remote Buying, image auctioning and projection auctioning. Internet weekly and daily statementThis daily statement, which has the exact same content as the standard paper daily statement, is sent each afternoon by internet to your (electronic) inbox. Kiss it Current information on logistical processes. MyFloraHolland This Internet portal allows both buyers and suppliers online access to a wealth of information (special code needed to access). TeleVBA With TeleVBA customers may consult information and statistics concerning products they have supplied.
Thay may access packaging data and statistical figures on all products traded through the auction. Customers may also call up their personal Buyer Top 25. All this information is only available for them to consult and print out. Saving and editing the information (as with electronic daily statements) is not possible. Tracking and Tracing If supplier have the products for sell through their delivered using their logistical services, they may use the Tracking & Tracing option to see exactly which logistical phase customers products are in at the moment. (Source: http://www. lora. nl/en/Supplying/Eservices/Pages/default. aspx ). Information requirements and strategy Board of Aalsmeer Flower Auction needs still a lots of information to be competitive in the industry and to achieve their business objectives (entering a new market, maximize sales, minimize costs, market dominance, new technologies). To be competitive and the best in the market they should know their: Services Quality, Information Quality, System Quality, User Satisfaction, Information Use, Individual Impact, Organizational Impact. That information can give them knowledge about: Main competitors and their solutions, -How and where they can find new and original products? , -How sell products fresh as possible? -New technologies (better conectivity with suppliers and customers). -World’s prices in Industry, -How to keep information and data safety? -How minimize costs, etc. The best information system strategy for AFA is a continue ‘Business Inteligence’- ‘Business Inteligence’ refers to computer-based techniques used in spotting, digging-out, and analyzing ‘hard’ business data, such as sales revenue by products or departments or associated costs and incomes.
Business Inteligence uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data and business processes while competitive intelligence, is done by gathering, analyzing and disseminating information with or without support from technology and applications, and focuses on all-source information and data (unstructured or structured), mostly external to, but also internal to a company, to support decision making. As a main point of their startegy (‘business inteligence and e-services’) Aalsmeer Flower Auction needs to: 1.
Extend their IT department to better identify and develop their information system and be more competitive with a changing enviroment. 2. Merge Mediation and Auctioning and departments in one. Between the auctioning and mediation departments, there is a cultural difference. Employees of both departments see each other as competitors. In the past, the emphasis was clearly on auctioning, while mediation was mainly a by-product. Now, business is gradually moving to mediation, but the mediation process is following the price setting at the auction. As a result, both channels are strongly interrelated.
Just the cooperation of the two channels gains advantage for growers and buyers. They can choose which percentage of selling or buying they want to do via each channel and therefore they are almostalways assured of selling or buying what they want. 3. Concentrate and extend E – business strategy. E-services (Online auction) is a parts of a large segment of internet software engineering – e-commerce software solution development. Online marketplace, if powered by quality auction software, is an effective means of connecting buyers and sellers online while optimizing trade processes such as negotiation, payment and shipment.
This services can give AFA easier entrance to new market and new customers. Extended E-services and IT department can give a possibility to offer better and quicker services (flower can be fresher and faster delivered to buyer), more varieties, cut cost, etc. For the Aalsmeer Flower Auction best solution to keep and transffer important information and data (finance, sales, customers, employees, suppliers, logistic, etc. ) is connected and integrated computer system with all their departments. This strategy can help Aalsmeer Flower Auction extend customer and supplier base, compare effectivnes of other uctions and their problems. Also it can be more attractive and easy for employees and for existing and potential clients. Easy connection and communication between staff, suppliers and customers, knowledge about competitors and other parts of Company (FloraHolland) is a key to success. Methodology needed to identify and develop a new information system An Information System consists of four parts which include: procedures, software, hardware, and information or data, which are essentially the same.
There are various types of information systems, for example: transaction processing systems, office systems, decision support systems, knowledge management systems, database management systems, and office information systems. It is very important to know how data collection is important to theoretical development, and how different traditional research methodologies used to collect data have strengths and weaknesses that can cause some research to be dilemmatic when investigating certain topics.
The wide availability of Internet technology give possibility for new five approaches include two new data collection techniques ( data-collecting agents and Web log files) and three new research approaches that extend existing methodologies (online experiments, online judgment tasks, and online surveys) (source: Kauffman, Robert J. (Editor); Tallon, Paul P. (Editor). Economics, Information Systems, and Electronic Commerce : Empirical Research). Information System effectivenes in Company is dependent to Services Quality, Information Quality, System Quality, User Satisfaction, Information Use, Individual Impact, Organizational Impact.
To check and messures all this facts they can use analysis (like SWOT, PEST, ets) or one of the software development methodolgy and their models. SWOT and PEST analysis is a valuable step in assessing your company’s and competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It offers powerful insight into the critical issues affecting a business. Softwere Development Methodology refers to the framework that is used to structure, plan, and control the process of developing an information system. A wide variety of such frameworks have evolved over the years, each with its own recognized strengths and weaknesses.
One system development methodology is not necessarily suitable for use by all projects. Each of the available methodologies is best suited to specific kinds of projects, based on various technical, organizational, project and team considerations (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Software_development_methodology). The three basic patterns in software development methodologies. Figure 3. (sources: Software development methodologies http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Software_development_methodology). For AFA one of best methodology can be V-model.
They all ready started business inteligence strategy so they have a lots important information to choose more complexed methodology than Watrfall, Prototyping or Spiral. The V-model is a software development process which can be presumed to be the extension of the waterfall model. Instead of moving down in a linear way, the process steps are bent upwards after the coding phase, to form the typical V shape. The V-Model demonstrates the relationships between each phase of the development life cycle and its associated phase of testing.
The V-model deploys a well-structured method in which each phase can be implemented by the detailed documentation of the previous phase. Testing activities like test designing start at the beginning of the project well before coding and therefore potentially saves a huge amount of the project time. Figure 4. V-model The V-model consists of a number of phases. The Verification Phases are on the Left hand side of the V, the Coding Phase is at the bottom of the V and the Validation Phases are on the Right hand side of the V.
V-model includes two phases: Verification Phases:Validation Phases: Requirements analysis In the Requirements analysis phase, the requirements of the proposed system are collected by analyzing the needs of the user(s). Unit Testing In the V-model of software development, unit testing implies the first stage of dynamic testing process. It involves analysis of the written code with the intention of eliminating errors. It also verifies that the codes are efficient and adheres to the adopted coding standards. Testing is usually white box.
It is done using the Unit test design prepared during the module design phase. This may be carried out by software developers. System Design Systems design is the phase where system engineers analyze and understand the business of the proposed system by studying the user requirements document. The software specification document contains the general system organization, menu structures, data structures etc. Integration Testing In integration testing the separate modules will be tested together to expose faults in the interfaces and in the interaction between integrated components.
Testing is usually black box as the code is not directly checked for errors. Architecture Design The phase of the design of computer architecture and software architecture can also be referred to as high-level design. System Testing System testing will compare the system specifications against the actual system. After the integration test is completed, the next test level is the system test. System testing checks if the integrated product meets the specified requirements. Module Design The module design phase can also be referred to as low-level design.
The designed system is broken up into smaller units or modules and each of them is explained so that the programmer can start coding directly. User Acceptance Testing Acceptance testing is the phase of testing used to determine whether a system satisfies the requirements specified in the requirements analysis phase. (sources: Software development methodologies www. wikipedia. org/wiki/sytems_development). Also popular and effective softwere development methodology can be for AFA Rapid Application Development (RAD). RAD that involves techniques like iterative development and software prototyping.
In Rapid Application Development, structured techniques and prototyping are especially used to define users’ requirements and to design the final system. The development process starts with the development of preliminary data models and business process models using structured techniques. In the next stage, requirements are verified using prototyping, eventually to refine the data and process models. These stages are repeated iteratively; further development results in “a combined business requirements and technical design statement to be used for constructing new systems” (source: http://en. ikipedia. org/wiki/Rapid_application_development). The impact and effectiveness of a new system for the organisation, management and employees.
The New Information System will have important impact for AFA’s ‘knowledge’ about Company, their strengths and weaknesses. New system can: -transform unstructured processes into routinized transactions, -transfer information with rapidity and ease across large distances, making processes independent of geography, -replace or reduce human labour in a process, -bring complex analytical methods to bear on a process, bring vast amounts of detailed information into process, -enable changes in the sequence of task in a process, often allowing multiple tasks to be worked on simultaneoulsly, -allows the capture and dissemination of knowledge and expertise to improve the process, -allows the detailed tracking of task status, inputs and outputs, -can be used to connect two parties whitin process that would otherwise communicate through intermediary (internal or external). New developments in Information System and Technology have led to an increasingly mobile workforce.
AFA are no longer tied to their desk in order to stay in the information loop. They customers can buying or selling wherever they are. Ultra-mobile PCs permit to access e-mail and other data products at a wide range of locations. A wide range of new technologies can give businesses access to faster communication, increase efficiencies, and the ability to work away from the office, get new customer from all world, better control and manegement, etc (source: ‘What is the impact of new technology in the workplace? ’ www. helium. com ). New information technology can open a door of opportunities for AFA and their mployees willing to explore non-traditional work arrangements. This technology also allows a new kind of team to emerge. Virtual teams can be formed, bringing together the best people regardless of location and time. E-mail, teleconferencing, video conferencing, and new emerging technologies are enabling people around the world to communicate and collaborate rapidly and efficiently.
References Books 1. Kauffman, Robert J. (Editor); Tallon, Paul P. (Editor). Economics, Information Systems, and Electronic Commerce : Empirical Research. Websites
1. Aalsmeer Flower Auction
2. Information systems discipline www. wikipedia. org/wiki/information_systems_discilpline
3. FloraHolland E-servives http://www. flora. nl/en/Supplying/Eservices/Pages/default. aspx
4. Methodologies www. ncycles. com/e_whi_methodologies. html
5. Software development methodologies
6. Systems development www. wikipedia. org/wiki/sytems_development
7. IS Effectiveness for business www. business. clemson. edu/ISE/html/is_effectivenes. tml
8. RAD development
9. About FloraHolland http://www. flora. nl/en/AboutFloraHolland/Pages/default. aspx
10. Facts and Figures http://www. flora. nl/en/AboutFloraHolland/Cooperative/Pages/Factsandfigures. aspx
11. Electronic Business http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Electronic_business Articles
1. ‘What is the impact of new technology in the workplace? ’ www. helium. com
2. ‘Bringing e-Business to the World’s Largest Flower Auction: The Case of Aalsmeer’ 2005 www. idea-group. com