Assignment #4

20 points


Please note that this assignment has three parts.

Due dates are stated below.




Part 1 (written on the board a few weeks ago)

DUE:  October 23, 2000


Make a list of all the changes in which Arlo Jennings, CIO of Mission/St Joseph Hospital System, was involved.  Describe and comment on each one.




Part 2

DUE:  October 23, 2000


Examine the case below.  Work in groups of two to discuss the techniques Sofa So Good should use to transition to the addition of online (e-commerce) sales.  Describe the problems/challenges Sofa So Good is facing and propose solutions to these challenges.




Part 3



This part will be a follow-up to Part 2.  It will be described in class on October 23.




The Sofa So Good Furniture Company: A Case Study in Change Management


The Sofa So Good Furniture Company is an old, established retail chain store company based in Hong Kong. It has built up a solid business over a number of years importing furniture from the Philippines to Hong Kong. Immediately following importation, the furniture is stored in a central warehouse prior to being placed on show in the Sofa So Good shops.


Furniture is currently sold in three ways. Customers may come into the shops, browse the furniture on display, and immediately buy any items that are available at the appropriate price. Alternatively, they may phone the shop and order an item from the Company’s catalogue. In this case, the items are picked and transported directly from the warehouse to the customer’s home address and are paid for, by the customer, on delivery. A third way, which is popular with Sofa So Good’s customers, is for them to order an item from the catalogue and arrange to pick it up from the shop of their choice, thus avoiding delivery charges etc. All three ways of buying furniture from Sofa So Good require customers to place their orders via the highly trained sales staff who are based in the company’s retail outlets (currently four stores, but with an option to expand further).


Currently, the Board of Directors is considering adopting new technology to permit customers to order furniture items online directly from the warehouse. This facility will be put in place (if adopted) as an additional option to those already available to the customers.


As Change Management Consultants there is a strong possibility you will be hired in the near future to advise Sofa So Good in their deliberations. In the meantime it is important that you should consider the broad background, including the key personalities in the Company’s decision-making processes.


Hugh Che Dah is the Managing Director (CEO) of Sofa So Good. Nicknamed “The Big Cheese” Mr. Che Dah is a dominant personality on the Board and is keen to modernize the company’s image. It is he who has made first contact with you to seek your advice. Acquaintances in the industry have warned you, however, that Hugh is rumored to have had a run-in with the authorities recently which has made him extremely unpopular with them. As he is known to own a British passport, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he will leave the country in the near future. If so, he is likely to stay in overall charge, but may hand over day-to-day running to either the current Finance Director or the IT Director (CIO).


May Ng Fraim is the IT Director (CIO) of Sofa So Good. She has masterminded the company’s IT strategy and has a strong industry-wide reputation for her astute utilization of the latest technologies to automate the company’s import-ordering and warehouse systems. She has long had a dream of fully automating the company’s support services using internet technologies linking not only Sofa So Good digitally with its customers, but also with its suppliers in the Phillipines and possible future suppliers in mainland China.


Ebenezer Scrooge is the Finance Director of Sofa So Good. An accountant trained in top business schools he is a well-known member of the ex-Colonial Establishment in Hong Kong. He is famous for bringing his meticulously maintained accounting ledgers to Board Meetings. The “bottom line” is his overriding concern, and he was quite rightly credited with maintaining the financial health of the company through the recent South East Asia crisis by his prudent monetary policies. Sofa So Good’s debt to the banks has been kept at a minimum. A naturally cautious man, Mr. Scrooge has already pointed out that the provision of on-line facilities will require Sofa So Good to open credit facilities for their customers, something they have never done in the past because of the risk of fraud. He has not ceased to ask questions about the cost of the new equipment the proposal would entail.


Sal Thelot is the Sales Director of Sofa So Good. His main focus in the company is two-fold. On the one hand he is interested in increasing the volume of furniture items sold, on the other he is directly responsible for managing the well-trained sales staff. He considers them his own, private army according to some company cynics. Mr. Thelot is considered by those in the know about these things to be the prime mover behind the opening of the last two retail outlets. This was made possible by constantly returning above-target sales figures thus providing the necessary finances. In doubling the number of shops Mr. Thelot simultaneously increased the sales force members under his charge, therefore, increasing his own weight in Board-level decision-making. Mr. Thelot has been intrigued by the possibility of increasing sales through customer-facing e-commerce, but has also expressed doubts about the effect on his sales force.


Nilesh “Shifty” Liftah is the trade union convener for the warehouse staff. He has won support through his clever negotiating tactics in the past which has allowed the warehouse staff to benefit financially from the company’s past productivity achieved largely through Ms. Fraim’s automation projects. He is already known to have asked for a meeting with the Personnel Director in which the increased responsibilities that online trading would bring to the warehouse staff will be on the agenda.


Donna Askme is Sofa So Good’s Personnel Director. Ms. Askme’s duties include hiring, firing, provision of training and negotiation on working conditions with the trade unions. Ms. Askme claims credit for the reputation that Sofa So Good’s sales staff have acquired in the marketplace. However, she is a natural compromiser and often in Board Meetings plays a mediating role in conflicts. Once a decision is made she will loyally carry it out brooking no opposition – until the decision is changed in which case she will support the new one. Ms. Askme has already raised issues about how the proposed new business processes will impact upon her training programs, and the required skill sets of both existing and newly required staff.