Luton Town Residence (LTR) is a housing association operating in Luton with the mission to provide appropriate housing for local community. The organization operates from a central office and operates other distinct housing blocks. Every housing block has an individual management office. Each department is run via separate distinct functional team. Also, each team uses a separate system to retain and track information using email requests. However, the use of emails has been ineffective due to the backlog in data and the slowed processing capacity. The data silos in LTR are both deliberate and harmful. This report examines the impact of data silos in the organization and their impacts in the first section. The second section analyzes how the use of email as described in the case study is a problem to internal communication within the organization. After identifying the problems, the section also offers alternatives to email for LTR. Finally, the paper gives a succinct procedure for email replacement, which will lead to effective data management.
Paper 1: Data Silos in LTR – Data Sharing and Digital Collaboration
Data silos have become a subject interests in information and data management. According to Patel (2019, p. 1), “data silos refers to a segregated group of data stored in multiple enterprise applications.” The applications store both raw and processed data. The applications, which store the data are specific and thus their visibility is highly limited and the other parties within the organization will only be privy to partial information. Hence, stakeholders in the organization will not manage to utilize the data to optimum levels. This is because the data silos restrict information sharing and collaboration among the teams. Without efficient data sharing decision making is negatively impacted. Information sharing within the organization is the root to the growth (Patel, 2019). The efficient running of any organization mainly depends with its capacity to share, manage, and disseminate information. Often, it is inevitable for organizations to have data silos. Usually, the organization will have various departments and each of them has its own data. However, the data is useful to the organization. Unless it is shared and disseminated efficiently it becomes costly to the organization whereas information is supposed to be power.
Therefore, data silos are an impediment to the efficient utilization of information. With data silos, organizations are unable to maintain and retain a competitive advantage. The data silos lead to the development of barriers. As data ages and becomes clogged, it becomes useless to an organization. Essentially, the silos lead to insulation of information, which makes it impossible for the subsystems of the organization to work harmoniously (Schmaltz & Aziz, 2012). While complementary data should benefit an organization, with the existence of data silos it becomes impossible for an organization to link up its information. Data silos emanate when there exist various data sets within an organization, which in one way or another become impossible to link. However, it is imperative to appreciate that the formation of data silos can be attributed to the organization. When an organization fails to remain vigilant and integrate information amongst its teams, it will eventually have silos piling up (Venolia, 2005). The individuals working within the organization will eventually become unproductive as inter-office politics ensues. Furthermore, the workers can end up hoarding information as sharing becomes nearly impossible. With data silos, development is impeded.
Nonetheless, it is imperative to appreciate that data silos formation can be deliberate. Big organizations, which have numerous departments, will deliberately create data silos for minimizing data overload. Organizations will have discrete information domains, and they will deliberately create data silos to prevent information overload (Wibowo, Sulaiman, & Shamsuddin, 2017). That happens with the knowledge of the importance of information sharing and the prevention of the risk of isolation. With data silos, it becomes possible to prevent information traffic jams. Organization will have silos if the information available is not necessarily for use in all the departments (Venolia, 2005). The essence of deliberately erecting data silos is to prevent departmental sharing of information, which is not of any value to the organization. Ideally, information sharing is essential within an organization, but when such information is not related to one of the departments, it ends up being redundant as it creates increased traffic jamming the information (Wibowo etal. 2017). Therefore, in multi-departmental organizations, data silos are not usually accidental occurrences due to mismanagement of information; instead, they can be deliberate actions of the management. The outcome is what matters most.
Data silos in the LTR
The case presented shows there are various data silos in LTR. The organization relies on email communication. It has different departments, which serve various purposes. Communication within the organization is important. While the systems are interlinked, they do not have a free flow of information. The emails contain old data that is not useful to the organization. Besides, there is a difficulty in sharing information among the departments. The organization stores its data in different forms depending on the department. They use word document, spreadsheets, and accounting programs. The customer care department is the most affected by data silos. It has to utilize all the information available within the organization but it becomes increasingly difficult due to sorting issues. Another form of data silo emanates on the reason that the organization has a Sharepoint server, which has restricted access to some of the employees. Therefore, the sharing of information within the organization is inefficient since the channels are incompatible. Besides, only the maintenance team has access to the cloud facility, which is a deliberate data silo.
Paper 2: Internal Communications Analysis of LTR – Alternatives to Email
Although emails are not silos, they can often lead to the development of data silos. Ideally, emails are just a package of data. Data silos will emerge when the sets of information and data is accessible only to a small group of people (Wibowo et al. 2017). Emails have become one of the most essential forms of modern communication within the business environment. It has become the most popular primary forms of communication within most of the organizations. For proper utilization of the emails, it is imperative for the email communication to be visible across the organization. That calls for a single shared Email workspace in a cloud (Suominen & Hyvönen, 2017). The cloud should be accessible to both internal and channel representatives. With a shared email platform, it becomes possible for the staff within the organization to share assignments through a dashboard, which is accessible through the gadgets such as desktops, tablets, and even smart phones. Nonetheless, emails have the potential of creating data silos as has been the case with LTR. Emails create data silos when departments are siloed from each other.
In the case of LTR, the organization has different departments. Each of the department uses email communication, but the platforms are disintegrated. Sometimes, emails become a source of data silos when the departments are separated or when they are in constant competition (Poltrack & Creighton, 2015). In the case of LTR, the departments are not necessarily in competition. However, they are semi-autonomous and separated. Each of the departments uses various sets of tools such as word, spreadsheets, and accounting packages. While it is important to have separation due to the specialized nature of each of the departments, it is also important to have the departments integrated since they have converging roles meant to promote the objectives of the organization (Poltrack & Creighton, 2015). When organizations use email systems, which are completely disintegrated the scenario of data silos become worst. Another case of data silo is when the organization uses a third party external email, which is not integrated to the whole system. Ultimately, the scenario leads to the development of email systems, which are isolated from the rest meaning that the information and data within the organization cannot be utilized maximumly.
While emails have become essential among the primary means of communication within an organization, the failure to utilize the platform properly can lead to negative issues in the organization. Firstly, the lack of a properly integrated email system leads to the development of silos, which hamper the sharing of information from one department to another. While the departments in an organization ought to be semi-autonomous, they have to have a system that is integrated since they have to work in tandem to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. When the systems are not properly integrated leading to the development of data silos, the visibility in terms of communication both horizontally and vertically becomes impossible (Suominen & Hyvönen, 2017). Data silos are detrimental to the organization since it leads to the decreased productivity. In the case of LTR all the departments in the organization are separate and when they need to communicate they cannot do it directly due to the data silos. The customer care for instance has to communicate with other departments when there is an issue. That makes collaboration difficult and the clients cannot interact with various departmental leaders in a timely manner.
Besides, the clients do not have a direct email through, which they can raise their issues with the concerned departments. In the current situation at LTR the communication model that the organization is using makes it impossible to have a complete view of the organization. LTR has a general purpose department, a finance department, maintenance team, and the customer care team. Each of the departments has a distinct email system that is not fully integrated with the rest of the system. The systems are separate and whenever an issue arises, it takes time for it to be resolved. Key information within the organization is also shared through email newsletters. The employees in the organization will usually fail to notice some of the notifications due to the huge backlog of data shared within the organization. Sharing vital information through the emails at times makes it impossible for the employees to notice since the emails are many (Suominen & Hyvönen, 2017). Therefore, it becomes difficult for decision makers to have a clear image of the organization and issues that needs resolution. Incomplete dataset leads to guesswork instead of making rational decisions.
Paper 3: Email Replacement Project – Project Management Business Case
Therefore, there is a need for the organization to find ways of eliminating data silos caused by the emails. That can happen through a variety of way, if the organization can put up systems that will lead to the development of an integrated system of communication. Firstly, the organization should find and implement a single email system and make it mandatory for use in all the departments (Patel, 2019). That can help in breaking the barriers created by the disintegrated system, which leads to the development of data silos. With a unified email solution, some of the hitches within the departmental communication can be avoided since all the employees can have access to vital information concerning the organization (Patel, 2019). Besides, with such an email, it becomes possible to integrate even third party emails for communication with the clients. Currently, the customer care department of the LTR is bureaucratic and the third parties cannot effectively communicate with the heads of various departments. Integration of the emails makes the organization visible as the information becomes searchable and accessible to all stakeholders (Patel, 2019). However, it is important to come up with email replacements using other platforms such as Skype, which will create an integrated system.
Replacement of emails as the primary form of communication within an organization takes various for effective results. The primary means of communication within an organization is tied to its culture (Wibowo et al. 2017). It replacement calls for a fundamental shift in the organizational culture. An organization such as LTR has different departments, which leads to the development of compartment as each department deals with its self-contained niche. That leads to minimal interaction with other departments. Changing the primary means of communication thus calls for the change in culture to break the silos (Wibowo et al. 2017). Employees within the organization regardless of the department must appreciate that they are working within the same body. The organization must tie the goals together and ensure that there is a working relationship between all the departments. One of the fundamental strategies is to create interdepartmental harmony (Patel, 2019). To achieve the cultural shift, the organization should implement a top-down approach. The leadership is responsible with moving the cultural shift. They must encourage openness and the sharing of information and data within the departments.
Therefore, LTR email system has been creating data silos. The main cause of the information barriers is due to the departmental problems. In the organization, most of the departments operate on a semi-autonomous mode. They are rarely interdependent. Besides, they use different forms of communication within the departments. Consequently, the information shared from one department to the other might be irrelevant. It leads to the reduced visibility of the organization. It becomes impossible for key players within the organization to make rational decisions. The organization has been struggling with email silos since the information from each of the departments is disintegrated. Email communication within the organization has been the main cause of the development of data silos, which means that it must put up strategies to shift the primary form of communication. That calls for the cultural shift in the organization where employees in every department should appreciate that they are interdependent. The organization’s leadership must lead by example to increase efficiency in terms of data and information sharing.
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