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Mrs. Fields’s Cookies by Debbi Fields

Essay by   •  October 27, 2018  •  Case Study  •  1,150 Words (5 Pages)  •  506 Views

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Mrs. Fields’s Cookies

Brief synopsis

The company Mrs. Fields’s Cookies was created by Debbi Fields who opened their first of many stores in 1987 in Palo Alto, California, selling homemade-style cookies which luckily grew in popularity. The company appealed to customers through warm cookies, friendly service, and reasonable prices. An international company that has grown from just one small store to a huge organization with over 500 stores in 25 United States, and five countries on four continents.         Debbi Fields had created the business. Randy Fields devised a corporate structure fit to be wed to an information system. Debby believed in immersing herself whole-heartedly into her work while at the same, actively involving her employees in the process. Information System pioneered by the vision of the MIS director Paul Quinn enabled Mrs. Fields Cookies to have “Networked Organization Structure”.

In 1982, they went international with stores at Japan, Hongkong and Australia which was a promising avenue for expansion. Organization structure was designed to be flat but at the same time there was a hierarchy so that managers manage key business instead processes instead of managing people. Communication took place between people regardless of title or position. Compensation had two components, one was fixed salary and another being bonus linked to their monthly sales. It also had ‘promote from within’ policy which reflected that loyalty was highly valued.

To expand at larger scale, Randy saw information systems as way to accommodate growth without expanding staff. IT enabled network facilitated the Mrs. Fields Cookies in a way that every morning at 6:00 Utah time, a computer in Park City would know of every purchase made at more than 500 stores in five countries on four continents Goal of Information Systems was to put as much decision making and intelligence into the store level PC as is necessary to free the manager to do things that uniquely people do. MIS tracked the financial performances of each company-owned outlet and provided comprehensive scheduling of activities within stores, including marketing support, hourly sales projections, and even candidate interviewing for prospective employees.

Key issues

  • Competition, such as Frito-Lay, Nabisco, and 80% of Mrs. Fields outlets were in malls where competition was fierce.
  • Examine management philosophy that brought them to where they are. Debbi was resistant to delegate authority as they expanded as she was caring too much as she felt the point wasn’t to make money, the point was to bake great cookies.
  • Financial challenges to meet growth and expansion were there as banks were reluctant to lend money and the IPO in 1986, was not very successful and hence resolved to be funded by cash and debt, not by further public offerings.
  • Company thought that diversification was the way to go. But it precipitated changes in organizational and financial structure and caused a real-estate write down of $19.9 million which were recorded as losses by press in 1988.
  • With technological advancement they needed to upgrade infrastructure throughout the stores time and again

2. What were the dilemmas faced by Debbie while using technology? How did she address those?

The store controllers reviewed daily computerized reports summarizing sales overall and by product for each store. They monitored unusual conditions, problems, and trends, as well as cash under-ages and overages and contacted field managers for explanations. With advancement in technology computer hardware continues to double its performance about every 18 months. This presents a major challenge for information system developers. The functionalist viewpoint, which attempts to freeze and inhibit such change, has failed systems developers on numerous occasions. Development processes contain their own tacit and explicit practices which must often be adapted to incorporate organizational realities.

It is evident that the role of people within an organization cannot be discounted. Since a system is put in place by the people themselves within the purview of an organization and its objectives. The Information System can function efficiently only when there is a definite protocol that the members within the organization strictly adhere to.

With all significant corporate data residing in one database, disaster planning was of critical importance. The company had experienced several system failures, and had a simple disaster plan: if one of the Systems 38s failed, one of the remaining two would back it up for critical functions. Store PCs that had not transmitted their daily work would store the information locally and transmit later. If data had already been transmitted, but the nightly backup tapes had not been run, the information would be lost. Such problems hadn’t occurred, though there had been recoverable disk failures.

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