In this assignment, a scenario is presented in the form of a description of a security company.
Based on your understanding on the scenario, you are asked to write a report answering the
questions at the end of this assignment. Your report should be approximately 1800-2000 words
long and needs to be uploaded in Moodle by the due date as mentioned in Teaching and
Assessment Plan or as per Lecturer’s instruction.
Case Study: Security Services Limited (SSL)
The case study ‘Security Services Limited’ (SSL) provides the basis for the questions that follow.
SSL have grown over the last 30 years to be one of the main providers of private security services
in the UK. Turnover for the financial year ended April 1995 was up 17% to £98.4 million from the
previous year. Profitability has remained steady at around 9.2% of turnover for three successive
financial years. SSL provides a wide range of services to companies, individuals and the public
sector. The company has grown owing to a combination of factors including organic growth from
the original core business, start-ups in associated areas of security and finally takeover of and
merger with companies providing related services. The range of services offered include:
• Armoured transport for conveying substantial amounts of cash and cheques between
businesses and banks, cash from banks to businesses for wages, and conveyance of highvalue
items between various parties;
• Provision of security services for businesses – these will include security guards (day
and/or night-time cover), analysis and installation of security devices and regular security
sweeps of business premises;
• Provision of domestic security services – this includes the analysis of domestic security
needs and the installation of appropriate security devices. The most recent addition to
the range of services has been the transfer of prisoners between police cells, the courts
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and prison. This is a contracted-out service sanctioned by the Home Office and carried
out to Home Office standards.
2. COMPANY ORGANISATION
Because of the way in which SSL has evolved, the present company structure does not necessarily
represent the most effective or efficient way of doing business.
SSL has its corporate headquarters in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. It also has four discrete
divisions each of which represents a key area of the business. The divisions are geographically
separate from the corporate headquarters and are organised as follows:
• The Private Transport Division (PTD) – based in Bedford, they also have offices in the
county town of every county in England and Wales.
• The Business Security Division (BSD) – based in Leicester, they too have offices in the
county town of every county in England and Wales.
• The Domestic Security Division (DSD) – based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, they have similar
provision of offices to the above two divisions.
• The Home Office Services Division (HOSD) – this is based in Central London; the precise
organisation of this division will be covered later. None of the divisions shares its premises
with any of the other divisions. This is in part due to the way in which the business has
evolved (including takeovers and mergers). However, it is also due the very separate
operation of each division.
2.1 Divisional Responsibilities
The autonomous nature of the PTD, BSD and DSD divisions means that in effect it carries out all
the activities associated with an individual business. The ways in which each division carries out
its business activities varies from division to division.
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2.1.1 Private transport division (PTD)
Sales section – these are charged for in two ways: (1) contract sales – these are negotiated for
various periods and typically relate to regular transport of specific items between two or more
locations; (2) one-off sales – these will be for single transportation tasks arranged by customers
on an ad-hoc basis. The sales area is headed by a senior sales manager based at the divisional
headquarters. Each area office also has a sales coordinator, together with a number of sales
executives. Marketing section – this is performed by a small marketing department of two
persons based at the divisional headquarters. Annual marketing spend is small – this division
carries out core, well-established business operations, with limited scope for growth. Transport
section – this is the key area for this division: the business operations depend on scheduling the
appropriate vehicle for the appropriate route and with the right security team. In addition,
activities such as vehicle maintenance and staff duty rostering have to be managed. Information
Systems section – this is a subpart of the Transport section; the division operates a network of
three PCs running the following applications:
• Financial ledgers (Sage Sovereign)
• Route planning (Autoroute)
• Duty rostering (end-user developed spreadsheet). Payroll processing is contracted out to
Midwest Bank Business Services.
Job costing for new and renewed contracts is performed manually, as is one-off business. This is
an area where a new information system may be useful.
The IS function in this division is managed by an ex-policeman who gained some IT experience
while in the force but who is not an IT specialist. However, he has made judicious use of
consultant support since his appointment.
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2.1.2 Business security division (BSD)
This part of the business has experienced steady growth over the past 5 years. Recent
developments have included a response to increased levels of computer theft in small to medium
hi-tech companies. An objective of this division is to continue with this organic growth, while at
the same time increase its profile in the hi-tech marketplace. The management structure is well
established and comprises the following:
• Sales – these are managed by a team of sales consultants based at each office. At office
level, they are managed by a senior sales consultant. The senior sales consultants report
to the Sales Director in Leicester. Sales data is recorded on a PC-based sales ledger and
monthly sales figures are sent to Milton Keynes on floppy disk. This department also runs
a separate stand- alone PC-based sales tracking and marketing system. A subsection of
this department is an installations section that is responsible for supplying and fitting
security equipment as ordered by the customers.
• Marketing – there is no specific section dealing with this: marketing is perceived as being
little more than advertising and leaflet drops in each geographic area and it is left to the
sales force to accomplish this.
• Finance section – this division has a separate finance function that runs a range of standalone
PC-based financial ledgers. Purchase and General Ledger information is
communicated to head office on hard copy – this is because the ledgers are incompatible
with the systems used at head office. Payroll processing is also carried out in-house using
the Pegasus payroll package on a stand-alone PC.
• Purchasing section – this is a subset of the finance section that deals with equipment
procurement for the installations section. Manual purchase data is passed to the finance
section for processing.
The IS function is now managed by a 24-year-old graduate in Business Computing who has just
replaced a recently retired senior accountant.
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2.1.3 Domestic security division (DSD)
This is the most recently established division, having been created by the acquisition from the
receivers of a nationwide chain of domestic security specialists within the last 6 months. They
have inherited a sound infrastructure of local offices and a reasonable customer base and have
been concentrating on turning around a business operation that failed principally because of
inadequate financial controls.
The key issues for this division are to expand the customer base by (1) increasing the number of
customers; (2) marketing new services (e.g. security audits); and (3) emphasising the need for
ongoing maintenance of existing security systems.
This division is devolved down to area office level, with each office responsible for the local
management of the sales activity, materials procurement and installation. Costs and revenues
are, therefore, managed at the local level with little current coordination by the divisional head
office in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Currently, the divisional head office is responsible only for
collecting financial data from each of the branches (provided by them manually and in a variety
of different formats), which it then collates and then passes to SSL Headquarters, again in manual
paper form. SSL realises that it has to do something about the whole set-up in order to establish
a strategic and operational direction for this division.
There is no IS investment and no specialist IS staff in this division.
2.1.4 Home office services division (HOSD)
This division was set up some 3 years ago as a result of a successful tender to manage the
transportation of prisoners between police cells, the courts and the prison service. In addition to
the divisional headquarters in Central London, there are six regional offices throughout England
and Wales. From these offices, the transport of prisoners and deployment of staff is coordinated.
In addition to staff in the transportation vehicles, a number of staffs are stationed permanently
at police stations in each county.
The divisional headquarters is responsible for:
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• the coordination of the regional offices;
• ensuring that the contractual arrangements are adhered to;
• accurately costing both the standard service provision plus any additional services
• processing the accounts payable and receivable, and providing financial and management
accounting information to SSL’s headquarters (manual hard copy only). This division is the
most well organised in computing terms: the divisional headquarters runs an IBM AS/400
minicomputer on which has a set of financial ledgers, budgeting and costing software that
has been purchased from KCB Ltd (a specialist in AS/400 financial systems); each regional
office has a PC running routing and rostering software; each regional PC is linked to the
AS/400 over a WAN; the divisional headquarters also has a number of PCs running
business productivity-type packages (e.g., spreadsheet), which are also linked to the
AS/400 (thus allowing the download of data to the PCs for further analysis). The division’s
computing is managed by a ‘hybrid’ manager with both financial and IT expertise. There
is also one analyst/programmer and one operator/programmer.
3. SSL HEADQUARTERS
The company has yet to rise to the challenge represented by an increasingly diverse yet related
range of business operations. Similarly, an historic under-investment in IS has meant that the
divisional areas can only send information in manual form only where it is re-keyed into relatively
old mainframe-based financial systems. The divisional nature of SSL means that the activities at
headquarters are principally general and financial management orientated. The IT department is
somewhat old-fashioned and certainly less up to date than some of the divisions. In addition to
a DP manager, there are six data entry clerks who are responsible for re-keying financial data
from the divisions, three programmers, a systems analyst and two computer operator/systems
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programmers. The DP manager is about to retire, and SSL must consider how it wishes to manage
IS both at headquarters and divisional level.
Considering the above description of SSL, write a report by answering the following questions. It
is recommended that up to 1 hour should be spent on each question.
1. Analyse how SSL may identify the value that it obtains from its current portfolio of
information systems and evaluate the techniques that may be used in assessing future IS
2. In many parts of the company, it is clear that SSL do not have a coherent IS strategy.
Analyse how it may construct an IS strategy that is supportive of its business strategy and
the benefits that it would derive from this.
3. Analyse the strategic potential for greater investment in information systems and
technology at SSL both from a divisional and company-wide perspective. Could business
process re-engineering be a useful tool in maximising the potential of IS and IT within the
company? Explain and justify your answers.
4. Describe the current location of IS functions within SSL. Recommend the best location for
IT services in the future.
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