Business Information System

Project description

The Case

Through Thick & Thin Sauces

Through Thick & Thin Sauces is a family business having started 40 years ago. The business specialises in the manufacture of food products for the catering industry. The business mainly manufactures sauces such as curry, chilli, various pasta sauces, in fact almost any type of sauce which restaurants and cafes would use.

The company has grown from small family run operation based in a small inner city shop/kitchen (employing only 2 people) to a mass manufacturing operation based in a much larger purpose built premises.

Through Thick & Thin Sauces currently employs 80 -110 people. The employees are roughly split into the following departments

The Board (5)

1. 1x Managing Director

2. 1x Manufacturing

3. 1x Logistics (warehousing and distribution)

4. 1x Support & Administration (HR, Finance, reception and other ancillaries)

5. 1x Sales & marketing (sales team, recipe team, marketing)

Warehousing (5)

The warehousing accepts all deliveries from the suppliers of ingredients as well as suppliers of par manufactured goods (e.g. goods such as frozen vegetables which require only reheating before being used.)

Manufacturing (47)

The process is labour intensive and requires industrial equipment including large cookers, fridges and freezers as well as other supplementary items such as mixers, sterilisers and deep clean cleaning equipment. The manufacturing department places orders with the suppliers for ingredients based on tried and tested recipes.


2 x maintenance people

25 “ 55 manufacturing people depending on the required order fulfilment.

HR (2)

The office runs with 2 FTE (full time equivalent) however, due to childcare one of the jobs is shared between two.

Finance (4)

Has four people involved and they have been present for what seems an eternity. In fact the newest recruit joined 15 years ago. Despite the time this department have been working together there is poor communication based on some argument 10 years ago, the argument has long been forgotten but the general frostiness has not.

Sales (7)

The sales director is based in the main office whilst the 5 representatives are field based. Currently at the end of each day they phone through their orders to a sales admin person. The sales admin also gathers a weekly spread sheet of the representatives’ activity.

Marketing (2)

Two people who are responsible for design, exhibitions, tasting groups (they are also expected to generate campaigns) They work a great deal with third part specialists who are considered trusted business partners

Distribution (4)

The distribution department has 4 people and as well as ensuring that all of the orders are delivered to the correct customer at the right time they also take responsibility for the storage of the freshly manufactured stock. Due to the nature of the business the logistics department are aware that the most important factor is that the goods are delivered with plenty of time to the customers to maximise the use by dates.


Recipe Team

There is recipe team which work to invent new recipes for consideration. The team varies from 2 “ 6 people and all work from home, they are paid a œretainer and receive a bonus as a very small percentage of final product sales.

The recipe team report directly to the sales director.

All current, old, and failed recipes are stored as paper copies within head office and are made available to the team upon request.


The reception desk is managed by two people job sharing. They have a desk diary and visitor book. Appointments can be made by any employee.

There is additionally a number of support staff including secretaries, drivers and cleaners.

Over the years the company has adopted IT systems, with various departments gaining Information Systems to support functional activities. The purchase of each Information system has been œorganic i.e. bought when deemed necessary and budgets allowed. For instance HR gained the first IS, to assist in payroll. The rest of the departments purchased systems with the needs of that department being the main priority for the final choice. Currently few of the systems are related

All of the company’s IT is maintained by third parties.

Current Situation

The MD is concerned that the profits of the company are reducing, as is turnover. Recent board meetings spend a lot of time dealing with solving avoidable problems, including late payment to suppliers, fines from HMRC for late filing of NIC and VAT returns etc.

The MD is unsure (why?), but feels that there are other problems, so has called in a management consultancy firm to see if any improvements can be made.


As part of the Management Consultancy team you are a specialist in Enterprise Applications and using Information Systems to assist in Decision Making.

Your initial inspection of the company has confirmed the MD’s concerns and you have identified further areas for immediate investigation.


Including but not limited to:

Over ordering of stock from suppliers; who in turn seem to be constantly sending poor quality goods.

Far too often the manufacturing team is either over staffed or understaffed and there seems to be little reflection of the staff levels being relevant to the amount of work being undertaken.

The pipeline from the recipe team is poor, with many recipes repeatedly being failed despite having being tried and failed before.

There seems to be lack of direction from the sales force and any customer order that they bring in seems a œsurprise to manufacturing which has led to some large orders causing a panic.

The company is unsure of customer feedback, and therefore marketing has gone ahead and created campaigns which have been overshadowed by their competition.

Whilst there is a vast amount of knowledge and skills in HR and Finance, the company still fails to submit required tasks on time, with staff complaining that they are not gaining the required information or advice from colleagues and line management.

Dispatch often has to hire vehicles and drivers at short notice which is expensive and stressful, when they have decided to take a longer lease the vehicles and drivers are either sitting around or running with small payloads.

The Assessment

It is your task to write a report identifying how your expertise in Enterprise Applications may be able assist Through Thick & Thin Sauces.

You will be required to discuss the merits of various Enterprise Solutions (You are not expected to name specific commercial applications that are currently available) and how they will all work together identifying where information can be shared and streamlined. Additionally identify where decision making can be improved, discussing the types of decisions and the various decision making applications that could be used across the company.

You will find it useful to map the supply chain, and additionally create a simple flow diagram representing a couple of processes. You will not be expected to create a flow diagram for every process in the organisation, however, you should choose at least one.

The report should contain academic research which is relevant to the scenario (referenced correctly).

Please make assumptions about the business, but they must be made clear within your report where you have made these assumptions.

Reports are enhanced by diagrams, graphs, images etc, and I would recommend that they are used, however, ensure they are relevant.