An Investigation into communications systems in a real business or organisation
Scenario: Choose an existing business or organisation & investigate the system of communication already in place:
I am to assess & evaluate how good this system is & highlight any problems that present themselves. I am then to make recommendations as to how they can improve their system by using more ICT.Introduction
In this report, I am to investigate into a business & the business communications systems that they employ. This will include internal business communications (i.e. between management & employees) as well as their external communications methods.
From this, I must evaluate how good the current communications systems are before suggesting problems with it and how to overcome them. Then I will make recommendations to how they could improve their current systems. This may include changing the ways in which they use the equipment they have, or suggesting other communications medium.
I have chosen to research into a manufacturing company, Handles & Fittings Ltd. (HAF). They are leaders in the designing, manufacturing, and distribution of architectural ironmongery, bathroom accessories & electrical fittings. Although UK-based, they market worldwide.
Stephen George founded handles & Fittings Ltd. in 1980, and it has grown considerably in the last 20 years, incorporating offices in Hertford, and clientele all over the world.
I predict that HAF will use a variety of communications, both internally & externally. The communications medium will often be used for more than one purpose. For example, the telephone & e-mail can both be used internally & externally. Also, they should be easy to use, so as little training as possible is needed to use them.
I think that the communications systems in place should be of reasonable quality, as the company seems to run quite smoothly & effectively. There should have been a reasonable amount of money spent on communications. However, I do not think that they will have very high-tech communications media – video conferencing for example.
I acknowledge that people occupying different roles within the business will use different communication methods to other people. I predict that people in office-based jobs will use a lot of written communication – using email in particular, though the telephone will also apply to them. On the other side of the spectrum, I think that those working in the factory will use a range of oral communication – from conversations to the telephone.
There are two different methods of research, primary & secondary research. Secondary research involves a range of sources:
- Published statistics: census, social security data etc
- Published texts: theoretical work, secondary analyses by ‘experts’ and reports
- Media: documentaries for example, as a source of information
- Personal documents: diaries
Advantages of secondary research are that they are cheap and accessible, and are often the only available resource (like historical documents). Also, they are the only way to examine trends on a large-scale basis.
Disadvantages are that they can lack consistency of perspective, and biases or inaccuracies cannot be checked.
Primary research resources are:
- surveys: questionnaires, interviews
- observation: overt or covert
Advantages of primary research are it is quick & cheap if you do not have to interview many people. It allows generalisation to a larger population. Also, you can verify the information by re-questioning the interviewees or respondents.
However, if you have to interview a lot of people it can be time-consuming. Respondents to the questions may interpret the questions differently, making comparison of the answers difficult. You are not able to check whether the people are responding the questions honestly.
I will be doing most of this report using primary research techniques. This will mean producing questionnaires for employees to answer, and interviewing various members of the business.
I will still be using secondary research skills to research the company on the Internet in order to get base details.
I think that the business will use various methods of communication. As they are a medium sized business; I think that HAF will use the ‘usual’ methods of communication; email, telephone, facsimile, memos. Having seen their website, I know that they have an ordering page already set up, as well as general information on the company and products.
On the next page, there is a sample of the questionnaire I sent to HAF. I have outlined questions to find out more about the company’s communication systems.
Part A: The need for communication in business
In business, communication is essential without a doubt. Without it, the business could not function properly. In fact, all people have the need to communication. Communication is not just emailing and posting letters, it can be as basic as just conversation. In fact, even in the most sophisticated businesses, the same form of communication is used as it would be a thousand years ago. The postal system, although readily available, cheap and (relatively) fast would have had a primitive equal in the last millennium. Also, no business can function without face-to-face conversations. Of course, new innovative technology has been introduced, such as the telephone and facsimile. There are even newer additions to these, such as emailing and video conferencing.
- Theory: purpose of communications, benefits, barriers, types of media
- What happens if the communications systems break down?
Part B: Communications Media
Businesses use a whole range of communications media, whether for inter-house communication (internal), or communicating to other companies (external). Within these two groups, there are more subdivisions: whether written or done orally going on to whether the communication media is personal, to a personalised wider distribution or to the widest division. All of these are outlined in the table above. You will notice that some of these will be used in more than one category.