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IT Helps Keep Frito-Lay in the Chips

This paper’s intent is to answer the questions found at the end of the case study “IT Helps Keep Frito-Lay in the Chips. ” We plan to identify the key input and output devices used in Frito-Lay’s information system. Also, the steps that the IT professionals at Frito-Lay took to create a system that would be easy to use as well as what steps we would take as  managers to introduce the employees to the information system that will be discussed. The question of “how will Frito-Lay’s information system help it achieve its goals” will be explored.

At Frito-Lay they use a variety of input devices, among those are keyboards, mice, terminals, trackballs and bar coded scanners. To understand fully the extent they have gone to at Frito-Lay, the types of input devices needs to be examined. One of their key input devices is the “brick. ” The “brick” is a handheld computer, which will be discussed at greater length in the next paragraph. The next important piece of input hardware is the receiving end of the “uplink. ” The “uplink” transfers data from the truck to the mainframe where the data can is inputted. Once the mainframe has the data, it can be analyzed.

Analyzing the data includes determining the order replacement stock and calculating replacement stock. The “user friendly graphical interface” is another important input device that Frito-Lay uses. This device allows employees with very little computer experience to work with computers. The bar code scanners are optical code readers. These devices read the universal product code (UPC) from the package. Output devices include visual displays (monitors), printers and transmission devices linked to satellites. The monitors are found on various computers, from the handheld to the to the typical

PC that most of us are familiar with. Monitors probably provide the most visible output device for Frito- Lay. The monitors undoubtably come in a wide range of sizes, colors, graphics standards, resolution and bit mapping capabilities. Like the monitors, the printers are found in various roles and places. In the truck there is a printer that is used for a localized effort producing an itemized sales ticket. This specially designed printout is geared toward spotting problems and targeting sales. These are two very important business activities, where success is calculated “bag by bag.

Throughout the company their are printers of a more conventional nature. It would be expected to find impact printers as well as nonimpact printers. The nonimpact variety is more common today, however you might find the impact variety in the truck where multiple copies might lend itself to be! ing preferred. Of the Impact printers you might encounter consider dot matrix, character, and line. The nonimpact devices include laser, ink jet and thermal printers. The company may also include plotters, which are handy for charts and graphs, line drawing and blueprints. Another device that the company uses is the uplink.

The uplink allows the truck to transmit real time information back to the mainframe for evaluation. The IT professionals at Frito-Lay created a system that would be easy to use. First they created a color-coded chart for all region of the country. When a region showed red, it meant a loss of sales. This helped them track down their problems when sales were eroded in specific areas. They also made it easy to input the raw information. The information came from two sources. The primary source came from the hand held computer, the “brick. ” This device is carried by 12,000 employees who sell and deliver Frito-Lay products o the stores.

Once inside the store they log inventory, determine replacement stock, and determine promotional discounts. At the truck the computer is plugged into a printer that produces an itemized sales ticket. All the sales information is transmitted at the same time via satellite to the mainframe. The second way that the raw data is collected is by the bar code scanners that they have in 400,000 stores. Within a week they can break down sales of corn chips by brand in a region or specific store. They can also judge other products or review promotional events.

Frito-Lay has teamed up with Lotus and designed a graphical nterface that is easy to use, even for employees who are not computer literate. If we were managers in charge of training at Frito-Lay, we would introduce new employees to the handheld computers on site, in order for them to see firsthand how the system works. After this demonstration, we would show the new employees how the system reports the information to headquarters so they will understand the importance of the data they will be gathering. For employees using the graphical interface, we would show them the ease of the system and let them practice in a real workstation.

It would be necessary for them to understand how to prepare reports, using the system, and how to interpret that information. If the employee has limited computer skills, then a class introducing them to basic computer skills would be implemented. Understanding how the computer works, the importance of having the right hardware and software and a basic overview of haw the computer uses random access memory (RAM), hard drive, external devices, modems, printers, etc. Frito-Lay should have no trouble in securing a position in the chip arena. They have developed a ystem which reacts quickly to an ever changing marketplace.

Frito-Lay will achieve and maintain its goal of creating an entrepreneurial atmosphere that allows employees to act swiftly and react to changing market conditions. From the color-coded maps to user-friendly graphical interfaces and hand held computers Frito- Lay has created such an atmosphere. The managers are able to quickly react  to the analyzed data. The sales people have the latitude to apply price cuts when necessary. All this quick assimilation of data and the appropriate response will assure that Frito-Lay will remain a ough competitor.

Like many corporations, Frito-Lay wants to create an entrepreneurial atmosphere that allows employees to take charge and react swiftly to changing market conditions. How will Frito-Lay information systems help it achieve this goal? Frito-Lay’s system is perfect for an entrepreneurial atmosphere. An example is Frito-Lay will be able to offer price cuts if the reported information shows that cutting into Frito-Lay profits. Also, Frito-Lay’s sales managers have access to the system’s “Briefing Book” and use maps and charts to show grocers why their brands offer more profit potential.

This up-to-date information will let grocery managers see that Frito-Lay is “doing their homework” on the competition and is willing to give the grocers price breaks if necessary. The new system has helped Frito-Lay reduce the amount of returned products by preventing overstock which can be frustrating for grocers and causes greater costs to Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay has developed a system through todays technology that allows it to be successful and profitable. While the handheld “bricks” cost the company $40 million to develop, the company claims that it saves that much or more every year in “stales. “

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