Use the Case Study presented here to answer the questions below. Your answers should be long enough to answer each question fully and completely and typed below the individual question in this document. Follow the instructions in the questions to determine the appropriate length of your responses. Your answers should demonstrate an understanding of the concept(s), should apply critical thinking, and should provide analysis of the Case Study in light of the concepts(s). You should not just re-iterate what has been presented in class, but integrate the information and relate it to the Case Study. Proper APA style must be used for any citations and references that you use. Your exam will be graded on the completeness and accuracy of your responses and whether you have appropriately tied your responses to the Case Study. Responses that do not mention the Case Study will receive very few points, if any. Each question is worth 10 points.
In 1985 Bill Thomas took $6,000 of his savings, borrowed another $4,000 from his best friend, and opened a bike rental business in Vienna, VA. The rental shop is adjacent to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) that goes from Purcellville to Old Town Alexandria (45 miles), connects to the Mt Vernon Trail (18 miles) and ends at George Washington’s Mt Vernon Estate. Bill, bought 10 bikes for his first store. The location has parking, and is near the historic Vienna Inn and a number of food and drink establishments. He has since opened stores in Old Town Alexandria and Reston, VA, where he sells, rents and repairs bicycles.
The Vienna store is now Bill’s anchor store, and at 5,000 square feet, it is three to five times larger than his other stores. Bill estimates he sells around 3,000 new bikes a year. Because of the high use of the W&OD trail, especially on weekends, he also provides tune up and maintenance services at all of his stores for the many riders from up and down the trail.
In 2012, Bill leased a store in the heart of D.C., near the Smithsonian Museums and other tourist attractions. He uses this store to rent bikes to tourists and residents of the city, and does some repairs to his rental bicycle inventory in the back of the shop.
Although he has always made money, or he would not be in business, Bill has seen a decline in bikes sales of about 20 percent since 2008. He attributes this to the downturn in the economy and the growth in Internet sales. However, his rental, tune up and repair business has increased dramatically. Over the past few years, he realized that he must be more aware of expenses and decrease them wherever practical in order to preserve profits.
Bill thinks that the one of the most important factors is the weather, but has no data to support that thinking. On rainy days, there are few customers in the stores, while on sunny weekends all of his locations are extremely busy. From spring through fall, Bill keeps all his stores open seven days a week, while in the winter months he opens his stores on the weekend when the weather is good for riding. Through observation, Bill figures his highest sales occur in May, and that June and September are his best months for rentals. He also sells many bikes during the holiday season in December, but in January and February, he often wonders if he should close shop and go to Florida for a couple of months.
Virginia Bikes grosses between $5 and $8 million annually and earns Bill a comfortable six-figure income. Each year, he leaves a considerable amount of cash in the business so that he does not have to borrow money to keep his business going. He sells a wide variety of bikes (from tricycles for toddlers to sophisticated racing bikes) and accessories such as helmets, speedometers, bike racks, repair kits, and clothing. Bicycle sales have decreased to account for 25 percent of revenues. Accessories such as helmets, bike racks, gloves, and locks amount to another 5 percent. Rentals make up about 35 percent, and repairs make up the remaining 35 percent.
In recent years, he has noted that customers are less likely to purchase the high-end road and triathlon bikes, and are purchasing bikes in the range of $400 to $1,000. The lower-priced bikes are also easier to sell and to keep the inventory moving.
Most of the rental business is concentrated in the downtown D.C. and Alexandria stores, due to the tourists and university students located near those stores. Bill is excited about rentals, as they have a huge profit margin. He can charge as much as $50 a day, which means the bikes pay for themselves after just a few rentals.
Bill’s expenses include such costs as new bikes, parts and accessories, rent and payroll. He negotiates leases for all his locations except the Alexandria store, which he owns outright. Bill has 15 full-time employees and usually hires another 15 part-time employees during the busy months and weekends.
Until two years ago, he was spending about $30,000 a year on advertising in local papers. Now he uses a simple website and has links on many of the local biking trail sites to provide information about his various locations, and his advertising budget is close to zero.
In the late 1990s, Bill over-expanded to six stores, including a store in Purcellville, VA, and one in Bethesda, MD. The expansion necessitated a warehouse in Springfield, VA, the hiring of a general manager and considerable overhead expenses. In a subsequent cost-reduction effort, Bill closed the Bethesda store, gave up the warehouse and moved his inventory to the Vienna store, and let the general manager go. Now, he handles all the general management tasks himself, which affects the time that he has available to plan and develop strategies.
Bill further reduces his expenses by working in the Vienna store two days a week. Since he has only one staff person in some of his stores, he has to make special arrangements if that person does not come to work, or takes a day (or week) off.
He is trying to expand the bicycle repair work, especially on the weekends, so he will be able to increase revenue from this profitable aspect of his business. He needs to have repair capability at each store to maintain the rentals, prepare the new bikes for sale, and perform the periodic maintenance for the bikes that he has sold, as well as provide the breakdown repairs and adjustments for the riders on the trail.
In an effort to increase profits, Bill tries to get good deals from his suppliers so he can realize a good margin on bike and accessory sales and repairs. He looks for situations where suppliers have more bikes in a line than they need and buys those bikes at a discount for rentals and low-end sales, while maintaining a rapport with high-end suppliers so that he can offer his customers the best at reasonable prices. By doing so, he can sell bikes at a lower retail price with on-the-spot delivery while still realizing a nice profit.
Bill has no bank debt and has long since repaid the $4,000 he borrowed from his friend to start the business. He feels that, because he has a diverse business strategy that addresses the many different aspects of the local bike business, he will do well in the many different economic climates as long as he is able to manage his varied business. He also feels that he is insulated from “substitutes” from the electronic world, due to the rental and repair aspects of his business.
Bill is seeking your help to analyze his business and identify areas where information systems could help him better manage and grow his business.
1. Analyze the Virginia Bikes business using Porter’s Five Forces Analysis to complete the table below.
List Porter’s Five Forces IMPACT (POSITIVE, NEGATIVE, or NEUTRAL)
This must have an entry JUSTIFICATION of your selected impact
Minimum 2 good sentences that explain the impact of the force on Virginia Bikes to demonstrate understanding of the force.
Refer to specific details from the business in the case study to support your explanations.
2. Identify which of Porter’s Generic Strategies is most appropriate to Virginia Bikes and explain why you selected it in light of your Five Forces Analysis.
3. Bill uses the three business processes listed below, and each of them could be improved using technology. Explain in general how an information technology system solution could improve each one of the processes without naming a specific solution.
Selling bicycles – how technology could improve the process:
Repairing bicycles – how technology could improve the process:
Managing inventory – how technology could improve the process:
4. Using the three business processes listed in question #3, list one input and one output that would be part of that process. (These are for the entire process, and are not limited to any particular step in the process.)
Information/data item entered into the system as part of this process
(input needed for the system) Processing
Processing or action the system must perform for this process
(what the system will do with the input) Output
Information/data item displayed or printed out for the user in this process
(what the system will output/display)
5. Bill has decided to use technology to improve one of business processes identified in question #4 above. Select one of the processes and analyze the IT requirements as they apply to that process using the table below.
Name the business process that you selected from #4 here: ¬¬__________
Low, or Not Applicable (N/A)
(each must have a ranking) Explanation for Ranking
(Write a minimum of 3 good sentences for each. Use the name of the business and the selected process in each answer. Identify the data or type of data used in your explanation, where it applies.)
6. List and briefly explain three specific quantifiable (measurable) business benefits that Virginia Bikes would get from using a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. Your explanations should include references to the Virginia Bikes business in the case study.
Business Benefit #1 and explanation:
Business Benefit #2 and explanation:
Business Benefit #3 and explanation:
7. Bill has decided to implement a cloud-based SaaS solution to improve the bike repair process for his business. Identify one important activity that Bill would need to do during each of the following phases of the system development life cycle to implement his solution (an example answer is provided for the Programming phase):
b. Analysis and Design:
c. Programming: Since the system has already been developed by the SaaS vendor, Bill is not required to take any action regarding the Programming Phase.
f. Implementation and Use:
8. Bill would like to increase repair work and rentals as they are the highest profit aspects of his business. He wants to analyze the data he will be collecting in his new information system to help him do this. Identify three questions that Bill would want answers to in order to determine ways to increase repairs and rentals. Then, identify what information Bill would need to answer each question. Finally, explain how that information and the answers to the questions would help Bill increase repair work and rentals.
Question, information and explanation #1:
Question, information and explanation #2:
Question, information and explanation #3:
9. Bill has set up a website with information about his stores, and he wants to expand this website to conduct e-commerce. Identify two different categories of e-commerce (as defined in the Week 2 Learning Resource “Categories of Electronic Commerce”) that Bill could use to improve his business. Explain how each e-commerce category would be used. Your explanations should include the name of Bill’s business and demonstrate your understanding of each of the two e-commerce categories.
E-Commerce category #1 and how it would be used:
E-Commerce category #2 and how it would be used:
10. Explain how each of the following could benefit Bill’s Virginia Bikes business. Use 2-3 sentences for each and be sure your explanations mention Virginia Bikes and show that you understand each of the types of systems.
a. Supply Chain Management System
b. Customer Relationship Management System
c. Enterprise Resource Planning System