Field Office Automation And Evaluation
Date of Award
Doctor of Science in Information Science
Center for Computer and Information Sciences
Marlyn Kemper Littman
Pinkerton Security services has offices throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom from which security guards are dispatched to client sites. Only a few of the offices are semi-automated with the rest dependent upon the manual collection and transmission of the data to corporate Headquarters in Van Nuys, California. Headquarters processes the data and disburses the payroll checks and invoices.
The manual effort of dispatching security guards and recording timekeeping in the field offices has resulted in poor quality and untimely data. Competing firms that have automated these processes have a distinct marketing edge over Pinkerton.
The procedure to develop an automated system for Pinkerton began with a comprehensive review of Pinkerton's information processes. The review included visits to several offices and the formation of an operation's committee responsible for the detailed design of the new system. Several meetings were held to define field and corporate data requirements. The efforts produced a comprehensive relational data base system called PARS (Pinkerton Automated Resource System). The new Pinkerton security system is a state- of-the-art software system for the security industry. The plan was to install the system in 130 Pinkerton security offices nationwide. Once implementation began, the problem facing Pinkerton was whether Pinkerton was realizing the full benefits of automation and whether PARS was meeting the company's goals and objectives.
The purpose of this study was to conduct an investigation into the impact of PARS upon information processes in the first three offices that received the system to determine if PARS was functioning as expected. System deficiencies were to be identified and a list of recommended improvements developed to ensure Pinkerton received the full benefits of automation.
The first phase of the evaluation consisted of a detailed review of Pinkerton, the company's information problems, and the proposed solutions through automation. Using the three offices as a case study, a complete methodology was developed to formally address the information requirements of Pinkerton. Problems the offices had prior to PARS were identified, the automated methods that were proposed and implemented to solve the problems were discussed, and the effect of automation upon office operations was analyzed.
The second component of this study consisted of questionnaires that were directed toward the users of the system. The questionnaires were structured to capture the users' perceptions of the effectiveness of the PARS system. Results were summarized by function, by question, and by objective and the findings analyzed. Statistics of various field and corporate processes before and after PARS were also captured to provide an objective measure of the impact of PARS.
The results of the case study analysis indicated that through PARS the three offices had resolved their prior information processing problems. The implementation of PARS forced procedural standards and data integrity controls into each office. Further analysis of the findings indicated PARS had achieved the field offices goals of reducing the incorrect payment of wages, reducing unbillable overtime, improving payroll accuracy, improving billing accuracy, and improving client service. PARS had also permitted staff reductions in the case study offices. The potential savings to Pinkerton in this area alone could approach $3.2 million per year. The results from the questionnaires indicated a high acceptance level by users of the system. Ninety-two percent of the users said PARS provided useful and timely reports and 100% felt PARS supported the company's business objectives. The users returned an 85% positive response when asked if the system handled changing information requirements effectively and 83% agreed that the system improved the productivity of the office. All offices reported a reduction in paper flow and every user felt they could use PARS effectively in 30 to 60 days.
The recommendations derived from the study were to continue the implementation of PARS in the other security offices, upgrade the system documentation, and to resolve the outstanding hardware and software issues. Also, data transmission problems between the field offices and corporate should be corrected so the data could be received and processed in a more reliable and timely manner. Other system features were also requested that would provide the users with additional capabilities.
In summary, the results indicated that PARS had been successful in meeting the system's goals and objectives and automation had solved many of the problems in the field offices. Pinkerton should receive the full benefits of automating the field offices through the use of PARS.
Bernard J. Kovach. 1992. Field Office Automation And Evaluation. Doctoral dissertation. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, Center for Computer and Information Sciences. (646)