With the increased globalization and diverse changes in customer needs, management information systems are essential tools for a business success. Management information systems (MIS) help the management of any organization, despite its size, to plan, program, and organize its financial and operational activities for improved feedbacks on the business performance. The information displayed by any organizational MIS is a good measure of performance as it typically highlights the actual data against the planned data. Consequently, this becomes easier for drawing conclusions and making rational and wiser business decisions. Problem statement: Notini’s, an Italian Restaurant, is still embarking on the traditional information systems in all its departmental operations. These aspects have challenged Notini’s organizational growth and financial performance for the last 30 years. Methodology: The study adopted a survey technique that collected data from relevant sources to answer the survey questions regarding the operations of Notini’s Restaurant. Results: The firm has operated for more than 30 years and has not increased in size and performance. There has been poor communication between its managers and employees. Its traditional financial system has been ineffective for its transactions with suppliers and vendors. The use of the point order inventory system has been ineffective in tracking past inventory records while little advertising is carried out to sell its brand name. Additionally, internal departmental records are kept in file cabinets with no information security. Implications: The company’s financial growth will show a retarded trend in the future with changing consumer trends and the use of internet shopping and marketing techniques, as well as what rival companies in the food service industries are adopting to gain a competitive advantage. Employee-boss communication is vital, and Notini’s Restaurant management will lose trust with its employees if no better action taken. Recommendations: The study recommends an adoption of integrated management information, ERP systems, and updating its security systems to improve Notini’s financial, inventory management, operational, human resource, and service delivery facets. MIS for the marketing department ensures constant feedback from its customers regarding their services and customer satisfaction.

Background of the Organization

Notini’s is an Italian restaurant that became fully operational in 1981. It is a privately owned medium scaled restaurant that is owned by brothers, Jerry and Ronnie Notini, and their father, Stanely Kolniak. Therefore, it started as a family business that was opened in the honor of Jerry and Ronnie’s grandfather, who had immigrated from Barga, central Italy. Consequently, it reveals that the brothers inherited the restaurant as a family business. The restaurant has 20 employees led by a manager and his assistant. The targeted customers are the military personnel and families. It deals with a variety of products ranging from food stuff to the company T-shirts. Additionally, the restaurant runs throughout the seasons except on Sundays. The summer periods are revealed to be the boom cycle, while during winters the restaurant experiences less customer turnover.

The purpose of study

The study analyses the current information systems used in Notini’s and various challenges the restaurant poses. It also considers problems facing the restaurant and how they are solved, as well as, recommending for the alternatives that the management can consider for better performance and financial growth.

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Research methodology

The study adopted the use of a survey questionnaire to answer the pre-set survey questions that were intended to collect data regarding the Notini’s restaurant. The information focused on its information systems that are currently used by the management and different bottlenecks that are undermining the business, as well as, survival techniques that the management uses to sustain the business.
Major findings

Type of product, service, and employees’ duties

Notini’s have ventured in the Italian food service industry, and it offers a number of foodstuffs including spaghetti, Muffuletta, Papas salad, lasagne, Chicken Fettuccini, Erika special Pizza, and cheese, among other varieties. Its service quality is based on the number of orders per day as it is revealed that food is made fresh daily from scratch. Three attendants stand at the counter, where customers place their orders from the first attendant. The second attendant offers the customers a cup of drink as they wait for the third attendant to call their names to pick their orders.

Consequently, cash is paid to the attendant at the cash register and proceed with the above ordering procedure. Other duties include order preparation, dishwashing, kitchen chefs, and bussers. However, they do not have waiters or waitress at the dining rooms. The table bussers pick the dishes for washing and clean the tables. Lastly, the manager and his assistant supervise the running of daily chores jointly to ensure the business flows efficiently.

Information system structures used in Notini’s restaurant

To gain the maximum benefits from any company’s activities, its management has to exploit all the capacities of information systems used in the company. Information system gains its rationale and importance by processing raw information and data from the company’s inputs that aim at generating useful information for operations management. Therefore, any information system in an organization relies on data for its effectiveness. Interestingly, information systems help in recording information, operation, effective communication, and making wise corporate decisions. Notini’s current information systems in various sectors seem to be flawed – an aspect that has led to a number of challenges in its operation.

Record keeping in Notini’s

Notini’s managers have traditional and temporal record keeping systems. The managers have receipts for their previous years kept in cabins for a referral. The receipts help the managers to compare with current receipts for any variations so that they can make their financial or operational decisions. The points of sale receipts are printed on an hourly basis from the cash register. The management argues that they can keep a track of profits or losses made on an hourly basis. These records help the managers to schedule their employees accordingly depending on the amount of money that is made from these points of sale receipts. The managers also keep informal records regarding how the business makes money in different seasons, and this helps the management to keep stocks according to the past history. Therefore, it can be deduced from it that Notini’s recordings keeping and stock keeping rely on the traditional techniques, which do not consider stochastic customer preferences and perceptions.

Ordering system in the restaurant

The ordering system in this scenario entails how Notini’s management communicates with its suppliers. Orders are placed daily on the produce, food supplies, and refrigerated food and drinks. The ordering process does not make use of any system tracking technology as the management claims to have 36 years of experience. They rely much on business memories, and just fill in the order forms. There are three main suppliers whose information is recorded on an excel sheet for the orders required. The form is printed or just emailed to suppliers. Thereafter, the suppliers collect the payment on the same day. Therefore, no electronic payment is done.

Inventory system used in Notini’s

The management has no inventory tracking system, and the report reveals that they do not track old order forms. They just make orders for the goods that they need, and rely on their memories for the rest. They have learnt business cycles as the management is seen to make more orders during the summer season. The only information tracked in the business line is human stock – the employees’ files, which are kept in the file cabinets. Additionally, the night shift manager has a small TV connected to a store camera that shows four sections of the store to monitor the stock. For calculations relating to the stock management, the managers use simple calculators.

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Customer recording

The management uses an automated machine for people to make use of time cards, which once placed in the machine have stamps of the time customers clock in. This system prints daily and weekly totals and managers can use these reports. Additionally, the system is set to lock when a person is late. These aspects help with supervision and cutting down on tardiness.

Product promotion and customer feedback

Notini’s restaurant management uses limited or no advertisement for its products and services. The management is convinced that the restaurant’s services are satisfactory and focuses on cleanliness of its food stuff and services to maintain its loyal customers. Therefore, the management trusts that what it gives the customers is of high quality and that customers will surely come back.

Bottlenecks undermining the business

Notini’s has both technical and non-technical problems that are currently undermining its business operations. Technical problems are brought by insufficient modern tech equipment that can be used for better control and supervision of business. On the other hand, non-technical problems entail part of inefficiencies brought by management pertinent issues including poor employee-employer communication among others.

Notini’s directive leadership style and employee engagement

Notini’s leadership style is revealed to be directive rather than participative. In such a scenario, the owners and their secretary are the bosses of the business and they issue orders. The employees are answerable to them. Such a style has demotivated the restaurant’s staff members who have been currently reported with misconduct behavior, such as being under influence of drugs and alcohol, lateness in work and conflicts among the workers. It, therefore, indicates that the employee engagement has deteriorated as a result of an inappropriate leadership style.

Ineffective service system

Some of the customers have been reported to pick wrong orders when their numbers are called. Consequently, some senior customers forget what their order numbers are when they are called. Such an aspect gives people an opportunity to redeem themselves after they find that they are in troubles with the law, which seemingly backfires. The assistant manager explains that sometimes the restaurant runs short of products as a result of poor delivery or items not included during the ordering process. Such an aspect makes the product to be deleted from the menu for customers not to order it.

Implication of the findings

The bottlenecks in regards to the operation of Notini’s pose a threat to its future growth. Furthermore, some of its current systems that the management uses are obstacles to the growth of Notini’s performance in future. The traditional recording system for its activities is ineffective in the provision of evidence in future, as well as, in evaluating its business growth. Failure to have inventory tracking system translates to the losses within the premises as the flow of products is not monitored. On the other hand, the ordering procedure needs to be upgraded for efficiency of operations. Lack of electronic payment may bring issues of suppliers claiming not to have been paid.

Additionally, the directive leadership style that is adopted by the management discourages workers’ engagement. Consequently, this indicates that employer-employee communication is a one-way communication (Medlin, & Green, 2014). Such an aspect makes employees ignore most of their duties because they feel unsupported, and may resign their positions. Regarding its security of stock in the premises, the current system is not the best. The system cannot offer effective control over the stock. Losses may occur that may not be easily to account for. Moreover, the use of a calculator to make calculations may be subjected to erroneous stock calculations. Such errors may lead to making wrong decisions.

Lastly, the use of business memories may be limited by the loss of information, especially where the managers cannot recall what happened. Meanwhile, because of the failure to advertise the product, the management cannot get feedback on how customers perceive their projects. Such a scenario may be explained through the tradeoff that entails advertisement decision and price discounting for most managers (Sethuraman, & Tellis, 1991). It, therefore, can be deduced that Notini’s has a poor management information system. All these facets interact together to influence Notini’s business adversely. They are the key indicators of losses, an unsuccessful business, and failure of attaining business goals. With the constant changes in customer tastes and preferences, it may become hard for the business to forecast its demand during the summer and winter periods. An effective marketing strategy will communicate the organizational value, as well as educating and sharing the value of the restaurant and its loyal customers.

Solutions

Implementing a management information system (MIS)

MIS entails computer-based systems that provide the organizational managers with a package of tools to help them evaluate, organize, and efficiently determine, which strategies they can use within their departments. The system entails software that helps in decision-making; various hardware components that serve as resources for the system; decision support system, and project management computerized applications. MIS offers a basic platform to collect information from sales systems, purchasing systems, call centers system, financial and logistics systems, as well as inventory management systems (Benemati, & Laderer, 2001).

Huwe (2015) argued that with the advancement of technology changes in customer taste trends and the increased competition for business on a global scale, MIS system is the only solution to such phenomena. Notini’s restaurant is revealed to be in the service industry, whose trends can be characterized by changes in customer perceptions towards some food stuff, such as junk foods and significant changes in their targeted market segments. MIS can be integrated with the marketing line to support all its marketing decisions involving advertising and product promotion. Marketing information system also feeds the management with customer respond to the perception of a certain product or service (Lou, 2015). Therefore, Notini’s management has to consider such a platform.

What MIS can solve within Notini’s?

MIS will handle inventory challenges that are facing Notini’s. As the restaurant uses traditional inventory control techniques, implementing of MIS indicates efficient control over its inventory in and out of its stores. It, therefore, indicates that the management cannot run out of its stock even if it is during the summer time, when it experiences high sales turnover. Reports on its inventory costs are made easier as MIS ties sales to the inventory costs through assigning specific prices to the units sold in a certain period. Additionally, Notini’s will experience easier techniques on how to conduct stock taking, determining stock order points and value of its inventory at any given time. Accuracy and retrieval of past data are easily realized using a proper MIS system. For instance, a financial MIS system handles all the financial related information in collecting necessary data and modifying them to the desired outcome for better decision-making by Notini’s management.

Through marketing information system, an aspect of MIS, Notini’s will be in a position to manage its interaction with its current and future customers through efficient coordination, sales and marketing, as well as providing better and improved customer services within its premises (Lou, 2015). Such an aspect closely relates to the improvement of customer relations management. It, therefore, indicates that the implementation of MIS will allow Notini’s to consider the customer’s feedback regarding the quality and efficiency of services. Such an aspect solves the current challenges that are experienced with the ordering of meals and other food stuffs in the restaurant. Explicitly, this is an aspect of coping with the current IT to deliver customer value. Additionally, the marketing information system helps in drawing larger ethnic identities towards Notini’s culture (Brayton, & Millington, 2009).

Adopting an enterprise resource planning software

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software entails a multiple enterprise modules that are purchased and installed depending on the technical capabilities and specific needs of an organization. As it is revealed that Notini’s supply chain management depends on localized techniques, an ERP system can place an effective solution. Supply chain management, the ordering process, and improving their financial data and reporting can be well managed through the use of ERP. Instead of using the file cabinets regarding employee information, the ERP applications offer the best solution on how to handle such information effectively and efficiently. It reduces redundant tasks in computing payrolls for employees and accounts payables for suppliers. Information for all the payments and other resource-related costs can be well stored using this software for future use and decision-making processes.
Upgrading of security system or installing CCTV surveillance

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Notini’s management has to consider upgrading its security system to solve some of its non-technical problems associated with workers, store surveillance, and overall security within the premises. The current TV screen that shows four sections of its store is not sufficient. As it is revealed, some of its workers have been adversely influenced by drugs. Such an aspect poses risks in regards to the loss of items from the premises because of malicious workers. Installation of computerized CCTV cameras helps to combat such a risk. Additionally, as the restaurant has neither a waiter nor a waitress, it is possible for such a system to count on the quantity of customers who checked in during the day, as well as watching the customers who have finished with their meals for timely cleaning by bussers.
Updating the time card machine

Updating the time card machine is a necessary step that the management can use to solve the issue of employee lateness to the job. Since it assists to track the time that an individual checked into the restaurant, the system relies on the firmware that is installed in it. It is, therefore, a good idea to update the clock machine in the modern version firmware and connect it to a computer system for the efficient tracking system. As the current time card machine takes some time to clock in an individual, an updated one will take less time to handle that. Such an aspect also improves the customers experience, as they spend less time in the premises.

It, therefore, can be deduced that new investments are profitable since the ROI is positive and greater than 0%. A ROI of 55% indicates high efficiency in converting the dollar invested into profits.

Benefits of the implemented solutions

Implementing the above-recommended solutions is beneficial to Notini’s. An effective MIS ensures better and modern financial management techniques that help the managers to make better planning decisions. MIS provides sound information that is necessary for different departments for sound decisions. For instance, any decisions and plans regarding ordering and supplies are effectively executed. MIS can be used to measure success and performance of Notini’s financial growth. Consequently, it brings coordination and integration of specialized departmental activities. Therefore, it will encourage decentralization within Notini’s to eliminate the directive style. Moreover, the marketing information system gives an opportunity to listen to customers and improve value delivery and satisfaction (Rob, 2015).

The ERP improves the overall resource management and reduces costs in service delivery and supply purchases. The CCTV security system and the updated time card machine increase security within the premises and eliminate unnecessary costs that are incurred from either side: the customers and the management. All these aspects play together to determine the overall improved performance of Notini’s restaurant. They will positively influence the financial growth once implemented as there will be proper coordination of activities, efficient planning, sound financial decision-making, improved customer service, efficient supply chain management, as well as enhanced customer feedback and gaining of competitive advantage (Alaskar & Efthimios, 2015)

Conclusion

Notini’s restaurant has been faced with various managerial challenges that are rotating around its operations, sales, human resource, and supply chain management. The management uses traditional techniques in most of its activities ranging from inventory control to advertisement. Implementing an integrated MIS has been revealed to solve both technical and non-technical challenges. An effective MIS has been seen to improve financial information, inventory control, and marketing decisions for better performance. It helps in forecasting the changing needs of customers, therefore, making the rational decisions regarding the best product promotional technique to use. ERP software solves supply management problems, such as ordering and payments, as well as collecting, storing, and processing all necessary information regarding Notini’s resources for better managerial decisions.

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