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Whitbread PLC (Whitbreads) is the leading hospitality company in the United Kingdom (UK), with its headquarters in London. The company employs over 40,000 people worldwide and serves more than 11 million customers every month in the UK alone.
As part of Whitbread's personnel development strategy, employees are eligible to be sent for suitable courses/conferences once a year. Employees can find or nominate the courses/conferences themselves or they could be asked by their superiors to attend. Some of the courses or conferences may be in other parts of the UK or overseas and will require travel and accommodation bookings (flight or train/coach and hotel). All costs are borne by Whitbreads and where travel and accommodation are involved, employees are eligible for travel advances, and flights/train/coach and accommodation bookings will be made for them. The
process is as follows:
The employee fills in a 'Request to attend Course/Conference form' and a 'Booking Form' and sends these together with the journey itinerary to the administration clerk in his/her hotel or restaurant. The forms will contain course/conference details (name/cost of course, place to be held), estimated cost of transport (if any), other relevant costs, accommodation costs, meal and other incidental costs (on a per day basis), days to be absent from work etc. The administration clerk logs the request in a register. He/she checks a copy of the employee's human resource (HR) records to determine eligibility for travel advance and travel class allowed. If the employee is eligible, the forms and related documentation are sent to the supervisor for approval; if not, the request is cancelled and the employee is informed. If the supervisor approves the request, the administration clerk purchases the tickets, makes the accommodation bookings and arranges for the advance. If not, the request is cancelled and the employee is informed. Once the tickets are received, the administration clerk will forward them together with the advance and any other documentation to the employee. The clerk will then update the register.
Q1. Model the process above using BPMN notations and swim lanes. Show activities, data and process flows. (Use the figures provided under the Assessment>Labs/Tutorial Questions & Material to draw)
There have been complaints about delays with the current process. Employees who are frequent travellers have problems with delays in claiming advances and receipt of tickets (sometimes supervisors are not around, or there are last minute changes). Often, employees are made to wait for payment and tickets till the last few hours before their travel. There are cases where hotel bookings are not made for the right dates, especially where the itinerary undergoes changes.
Q2. How could information systems (IS) play a role in the improvement of the process? (one paragraph for Q2)
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Information systems can play an important role in such cases. It can automatically check submitted requests, add the request to a system and check the details of the past HR records of the employee to determine whether the employee is eligible or not. It the employee is eligible then the system will send an automated request to the supervisor. The supervisor needs to approve the request or just reject. If it is approved, then the system will trigger a booking request for online travel and accommodation. All booking will be done online and the employees need to confirm those. Tickets and details will be made available to the employee directly (Shelly & Rosenblatt, 2011).
This solution will automate the tasks of the administrative clerk. Hence, time will be saved significantly. But it will require,