Fictitious Case Study


Curriculum: general use

1. Purpose and use of the case.

For a number of learning lines, the final integral assignment requires a case study, on the basis of which the assignment is made. In case you do not have your own case, it is possible in consultation with and after approval of the teacher to use the fictitious case of Wire Solutions.

2. Wire Solutions: products and services

Wire Solutions develops and manages its own payment administration through its own payment system. That system is built by hired software designers and software developers. Some proprietary hardware devices have also been developed to allow transactions to be reviewed for accuracy in a secure manner, at Wire Solutions' offices.

The payment system is set up in a dual implementation. Each payment is offered and processed through two different paths. This means that all payments are executed twice and the results of these two processes are compared. If there is a difference between the results, an administrator is called in who can look along with the transactions via hardware developed in-house and adjust them to reality. Naturally, this is noted and worked out. Depending on the difference, even the entire payment system can be stopped, in order to guarantee the quality that the customers count on. A product agreement and a Service Level Agreement are drawn up with each customer.

Wire Solutions has grown rapidly and not all activities can be carried out within the company due to a lack of knowledge and capacity. This means that for some activities (such as building management and payroll) external companies and external employees are brought in.

Wire Solutions has thousands of clients worldwide. The method of payment varies by country and type of customer. See below for a visual    representation of WS's products, services and clients:

customer = webshop (B2B)

end customer = customer of the web shop (B2C)

end customer = customer of the web shop (B2C)

The        operation of Wire Solutions' payment service works as follows:

a.    The client enters into an agreement with Wire Solutions.

b.    The web shop or other location where payments are made is assigned exclusively to Wire Solutions. c.     When an end customer enters an order through the payment site, Wire Solutions collects the money

directly from the end customer's account. This is why WS has agreements with all the major banks in the world.

d.    The customer does not receive the entire amount immediately, but the entire amount minus a handling fee. This fee amounts to 0,25%. For payments over € 100k the fee is 0.19%, above € 1M it is 0.16%.

e.    If desired, the customer can choose that payment of taxes (VAT) is done directly in the country by WS.

To do so, WS will charge an additional 0.03% of the total amount.

f.      Daily, weekly and monthly statements are made available to each client with all transactions and fees processed on them.

g.     WS has an agreement with the relevant tax authorities in several countries regarding the automatic remittances.

h.                  Exchange payments are made by WS at current sales/purchase rates (of exchange rates). If the customer uses the same currency as the end customer, then of course no exchange will take place.

3. Organization

3.1.          Numbers and functions.

Wire Solutions operates worldwide. The company employs approximately 5,000 people in 8 locations on 5 continents. Each location is located in a major city in a country. Preferably the capital city has been chosen. The head office of Wire Solutions is located in Berlin.

The organization includes a board of directors (5 people) who manage the entire company. In addition, a branch manager per branch is active. The organization of the head office is twofold. The board of directors directs a small central organization, which includes the finance department, a central HRM department and a central architect (enterprise architect). Furthermore, 1 of the 8 branch offices is also set up at the head office. This branch office is formally in contact with the head office, but is led by its own board of directors and staff.

In addition, a Supervisory Board is active. It is chaired by Melanie Mnebe. The two founders are also active within it.

The branches vary greatly in size. The smallest branch has 20 employees, the largest has 900 employees. Each of the branches has a similar organization, namely:

•     1 director

•     Management team consisting of: HR manager, finance manager, facilities manager, IT manager, commercial manager, marketing manager, architect, secretariat

•     The departments fall directly under these managers

•     Each of the managers is accountable to the director as well as to the line manager at headquarters

In 2017, an existing company was acquired, namely Nolly. Nolly administers webshop payments for consumers and was previously part of a large Dutch bank. With the acquisition of this company, a license was also obtained to offer new financial services (especially insurance). The integration of the acquired company Nolly has only been completed in terms of HR. Organizationally and in terms of IT, Nolly is still independent. The Benelux department manager has been made responsible for Nolly.

3.2.          People and methods.

The HRM department is in charge of the inflow, advancement and outflow of employees. The department is also responsible for providing salary information, employment contracts, hiring agreements and lease cars. Other resources such as phones and laptops are issued directly by the IT department, at the request of HRM.

In the various branches, HR representation is as small as possible. All work is automated as much as possible and recorded in the ERP system.

The organization is "flat. There are a maximum of 2 management layers per branch. The holding company has 1 management layer. This ensures a large span-of-control and requires good and clear communication between managers and employees. Every employee is able to reach everyone within WS via email, cell phone and a chat application. The latter is called the 'city square'. Weekly coordination takes place within a branch between the various managers and the director.

There are also weekly coordination meetings between the branches and headquarters. The rule of thumb is that consultations should not last longer than one hour. This rule is a relic from the start-up phase of Wire Solutions when IT projects were carried out quickly and agile. It ensures a pragmatic approach, leading to quick      decisions based on good preparation.

The culture within Nolly is very different from the culture at Wire Solutions. Whereas Wire Solutions mainly wants to respond and act quickly, Nolly is rather conservative and traditional in terms of processes and culture.

3.3.          IT and IV

The CIO is responsible for the provision of information within Wire Solutions. For this purpose, an Information Technology (IT) department and an Information Provision (IV) department have been established. The CIO himself is directly responsible for the IV department. The IT department falls under the CFO.

The IT department takes care of the management of all hardware and software within WS. This means that purchase, replacement, repair and maintenance is also arranged there. Within the IT department an implementation of Zendesk, an IT incident registration system, is used. A programmer who is now retired has built many modifications around it based on MS-Access and MS-Excel. The current employees of the department work with it, but nobody really knows how to do it. Also, no reports come out of it and the system crashes about twice a week (around 12 o'clock on Monday afternoon and around 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon). The central IT department has complained about this several times, but because of the focus on growth, there is no time to address it.

The department consists of 4 teams:

•     Service desk (9 people, including 1 team leader)

•     Wish Manager (2 people)

•     Experts (multiple disciplines, 12 people)

•     Physical management (16 people, 2 at each location)

Wire Solutions uses an ERP system developed in-house and a CRM system developed in-house and linked to it. The payment system was also built under the responsibility of WS.

The ERP system manages all the processes, but does not do the actual transactions. The CRM system contains all relationships (prospects, suspects, customers, suppliers), and is linked to the ERP system. Every hour the transactions of the production system are reported in the ERP system and therefore also in the CRM system. The three core systems (ERP/CRM/Transaction) were built in 2007. Due to the focus on e-commerce on the one hand and the integration between the systems on the other, the IT environment is fast and effective. It is a significant advantage over the competition who use older, traditional systems. However, due to the rapid growth in the various countries (and specific applications), more and more adjustments have been made to

the IT systems, not always in accordance with the architecture standard. This has an impact on the quality and

speed of new adaptations.

In addition, Zendesk, Microsoft Office 2016 (email and office) are used. All systems are hosted in a professional data center with good connections to the Internet.

Available hardware and networks:

•     Each branch has an internal network

•     Interconnection between the branches through a private cloud solution

•     Link with mobile applications (each employee has a smartphone with their own apps) through the same private cloud

•     Using global providers with VPN

•     Nolly is linked via a private network with the Dutch branch

3.4.          Risks and challenges within IT

1.        Outages and reports. There is no good record of how many failures there are, what causes them and what the connection is. There are also no plans for follow-up, for example if the entire network is down.

2.        Capacity. There is no overview of when more or less capacity is needed at the sites, or at the service desk.

3.        Growth. Wire Solutions wants to continue to grow in the coming years and wonders in what way that could be supported by using data.

4. Context: from 2 students to multinational

Wire Solutions was founded in 2001 by two students who wanted to operate a webshop. The webshop they wanted to build never came to be, because at the start of that startup project it turned out that it was difficult to get customers to pay for the products they wanted to provide. In fact, they wanted to sell participation in one-off events, for example, a one-off performance by a group of different musicians in New York or Berlin. This original idea was never implemented, but it was the starting point for the students' collaboration.

The different international rules that applied to webshops at that time aroused their interest, as this meant that a complex payment process was involved. Both students had just completed their studies in business administration, which gave them the necessary knowledge to start their own business in this field. And with success!

In the first four years, the company gradually grew to 50 employees, based locally in Berlin. As they also started to offer mortgages in Western Europe in 2005/2006, the company started to grow rapidly to about

800 employees in 2008. In 2008, due to the credit crisis, more than half of the staff was laid off. The second branch in New York was divested (350 employees). Due to this crisis, Wire Solutions also had to decide to stop doing mortgages.

After this crisis, Wire Solutions started to grow extremely fast from 2010, when a number of large web shops started to use their payment technology. This technology was a good fit for these webshops, precisely because there was a strong focus on the use of modern IT in the activities and processes, both in production and in development.

At the end of 2010 the Melbourne branch was opened, and in 2012 the Amsterdam branch. Growth has been fairly even from that point on. In 2015, the two founders withdrew from operational work and took a seat on the supervisory board.