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Context

I am currently a full-time student and therefore, will concentrate this paper on my last place of employment.

Prior to coming to Fordham Business School, I was a Project Manager at the Office of the Consul General, a unit of the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York. The Consulate General of the Philippines is one of over 70 diplomatic posts of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs which employs over 4,000 individuals in the home office and the diplomatic posts.

Our post was fairly large compared to others. Some of our installations are as small as two people: composed of an ambassador or consul general and an administrator covering the primary activities (consular) and support activities (finance, administrative, etc.). The Philippine Consulate General in New York, at the time of my resignation, employed 24 persons. At its peak in 1994, the personnel pattern totaled 27.

In addition to the Passport, Visa, Legal, and Community sections (primary activities), the Consulate General also has the Finance, Administrative, Information, Investments Promotions Unit (IPU), and the Office of the Consul General.

APPLICATIONS

The applications used at the Consulate General of the Philippines are fairly simple and quite "low-tech." These were limited to individual components of business suites, internet packages, and only two specialized software programs. Depending on the activity, the operating systems in use were Windows 95, 3.1, and DOS.

PowerPoint
& Wisemand/MacMillan’s Matrix

PowerPoint, is an important technology supporting our investments promotions and is highly-used in investments roadshows and meetings with different commercial chambers. It is the favorite application of the IPU and serves as an example of differentiation as it provides the Philippines with a competitive advantage over its competitors (other countries trying to win investors over) that may use more rudimentary presentation visuals such as slide projectors or transparencies.

Netscape Mail
&
Bullen & Johansen’s
Groupware Scenarios

Netscape Mail, an email application, is one of the applications I used daily as Project Manager and Assistant to the Consul General. It is an application that fits the Bullen & Johansen Groupware scenario because it is used to connect our post to other foreign service posts and the home office and our clients (different-time/different-place). In addition to our post’s ability to send and receive editable formatted documents to and from other posts and provide answer to client queries, it also saves the organization money that would have gone otherwise to long-distance service providers, shipping companies, and organizational payroll.

Passport and Visa
Databases
&
Porter’s
Value Chain Model

The passport (Passport Information Support System) and visa (Visa Information System Application) databases, the only DOS-based

Applications used by the post, are applications used daily by the Passport and Visa sections. It fits Porter’s Value Chain Model as these serve as support mechanisms to the primary functions of issuing passports to Philippine nationals and visas to foreign visitors.

Quattro Pro
&
Gorry & Scott Morton’s
DSS Framework

Quattro Pro, an excellent spreadsheet application, is used by officers in their decision-making process. Quattro Pro falls under Gorry & Scott Morton’s DSS Framework as a semi-structured decision type and managerial control. Specifically, the program aids the post in preparing budget scenarios for our special projects such as visits of high-ranking officials and annual activities such as projections and budgeting. Indeed, Quattro Pro is indispensable because with its proper use, the post improves the quality of the information on which their decisions are based through the identification of several alternatives versus a single solution.

IMPLICATIONS

In my opinion, the applications used at the Philippine Consulate General in New York albeit basic, are quite effective. I do however, feel that there is much room for improvement in certain areas such as more sophisticated groupware applications under the different-time/different-place and same-time/different-place frameworks.

In the different-time/different-place scenario for example, there is no system which handles distribution of memoranda or reminders to all staff members. Instead, the system used is very rudimentary: an administrative assistant goes to each person and personally gives them a memo. The recipient then signs-off on a distribution sheet acknowledging receipt of the memo. In terms of reminders, all personnel have to be called to remind them of meetings. These approaches certainly waste a person’s time and waste’s the organization’s human resources. Groupware such as Lotus Notes or even providing email to everyone should at the very least, address this problem utilizing personnel’s time more productively.

Under the same-time/different-place framework, teleconferencing and videoconferencing could provide better means for communications thereby cutting time in making decisions. For example, some activities require meetings among heads of different posts and the home office. Instead of drafting several documents and exchanging these via fax or email just to ensure more accurate materials, teleconferencing and videoconferencing could be utilized so that suggestions, feedback, and decisions could be made immediately or simultaneously. These tools should result immediately in more effective use of time and will prove cost effective in the long run.

Lastly, I would like to praise the passport and visa databases. Though rudimentary and not too user-friendly (DOS-based), these are the most useful applications in use at the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York. By having an extensive database of persons who are on the "look-out" list, a list which identifies persons who have pending cases with the government or those who are "flagged" for other reasons, the post has a more efficient and effective operations issuing passports and visas. Indeed, these need solid information technology since they are a bulk of the Consulate General’s primary activities.

 

 

 

 



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