After successfully completing the CAT 2016 sprint series and the SNAP 2016 sprint series, we are back with the XAT 2017 sprint preparation series – Decision making 4 to boost your prep. This series will consist of 10 sets of questions from past year XAT papers, leading to XAT 2017 and covered almost all the question types that you needed to know come the 8th of January.

XAT 2017 sprint preparation series – Decision making 4

 

Answer question nos. 1 – 6 on the basis of the information given in the following case.

Teknik Group of industries had businesses in different sectors ranging from manufacturing, construction, fish farming and hotels. These different businesses operated as semi-independent units managed by the unit level managers. Teknik’s management had an internal consultancy group called as Business Advisory Group (known internally as BAG). The 15 experts in BAG were hired personally by Mr. Teknikwala, the owner of Teknik, who wanted this core group of experts to help his organization grow fast without facing the typical growth hurdles. Most of them were specialists in fields like law, information technology, human resource management, and operations management. Almost all of them had experience spanning decades in the industry. Whenever any of the units faced any significant problems, the unit level managers would put up a request for help to BAG. The problems ranged from installation of internal MIS systems, to financial advice related to leasing of equipment, to handling of employee grievances.

Over a period of 20 years, Teknik’s revenues grew from Rs. 100 crore Rs. 10,000 crore with guidance of BAG and due to Mr. Tekinwala’s vision. Given its reputation in the industry, many people wanted to start their careers in BAG. Often young MBAs fresh out of business schools would apply. However their applications used to be rejected by Mr. Teknikwala, who had a preference for people with extensive industry experience.

Things changed after the unfortunate demise of Mr. Teknikwala. His daughter Ms. Teknikwali took up the family business. She was an MBA from one of the premier business schools, and was working in a different company when Mr. Tekinwala passed away. She preferred that BAG developed new ideas and therefore inducted freshly graduated MBAs from premier business schools. She personally supervised the recruitment and selection process. Now the entire group constituted of 50 specialists, out of which 35 were the old time members. She also changed the reporting relationships in the BAG group with some of the older members being made to report to the new members. In IT team, Mr. Shiv, a newly recruited MBA, was made in-charge.

For the older members it was a shock. However, as most of them were on the verge of retirement, and it would be challenging to search for new jobs while competing with younger professionals, they decided to play along. After one month, all business units were caught up in the ERP fever. This was an idea pushed by Ms. Teknikwali who needed to replace the old legacy systems with latest ERP system integrating all the units of Teknik. This was heavily influenced by her experience in her previous organization where an ERP system was already up and running. Therefore she was not aware of the difference between installing an ERP system and working on an already installed one.

The ERP implementation in Teknik Group required extensive coordination with senior level managers of all units and it represented an extra work for those who were involved. This coordination was required to understand the different work processes and the users’ requirements. This coordination activity was being extensively managed by the old timers as they were familiar with internal processes and people in the different units. An external consultant was also hired for customization and implementation.

After two months, BAG teams had to fortnightly present their progress to Ms. Teknikwali’s team. In the last meeting Ms. Teknikwali was dissatisfied. She explained her thinking that since ERP impacted every aspect of the business, the roll out had to be done faster. She wanted Mr. Shiv to get the implementation completed ahead of schedule. In the meeting she asked Mr. Shiv to get the people in IT team to be more productive. Not willing to disagree, Mr. Shiv committed to a roll-out schedule of complete ERP system in 6 months instead of earlier decided 14 months.

Next day, Mr. Shiv presented the revised project milestone to BAG members. He told them that in order to meet the deadline, the members were expected to work on week-ends till the completion of the project. Along with that, they were also expected to maintain their earlier standards of delivery time and quality for the normal trouble-shooting and internal advisory work. Mr. Shiv also pointed out that anyone whose performance did not meet the expectations would be subjected to formal disciplinary action.

The meeting ended without any member commenting on Shiv’s ideas, although Mr. Shiv heard a lot of mumbling in the corridor. Over the week, Shiv noticed that the members seemed to avoid him and he had to make extra effort to get ideas from them. After a fortnight Shiv reviewed the attendance register and found the Mr. Lal, an old time member, had not come during the week-ends and certain decisions were held up due to lack of inputs from Mr. Lal. Mr. Shiv issued a written reprimand to Mr. Lal. He was speechless on receiving the reprimand but kept silent.

It has been three days since that incident. Some of the senior members had put in request for transfer to other business units. It was rumoured that four senior legal experts had agreed to an offer from a law firm. Other senior members would sporadically come in late to work, citing health reasons. Almost all senior members now wanted a weekly work-routine to be prepared and given to them in advance so that they could deliver as per the schedule. This insistence on written communication was a problem as urgent problems or ad-hoc requests could not be foreseen and included. Also normal services to other business units were being unattended to, and there were complaints coming from the unit heads.

1. Which of the following could have been a better response of Mr. Shiv to Ms. Teknikwali’s request to re-schedule the ERP implementation?

A. Look at industry best practices regarding fast-tracking of ERP projects and then commit to a new deadline.

B. Consult the external consultant who was involved with ERP customization and implementation.

C. Create a smaller team of all the new recruits of BAG and present the idea to them alone.

D. Eliminate the reliance on external consultants as they would be slow.

E. Present the idea to BAG members and ask them to look at the feasibility of the entire plan.

2. Which of the following can be identified as the immediate cause for the problems in BAG?

A. Ms. Teknikwali’s decision to appoint Mr. Shiv as project lead for ERP implementation.

B. The incompetence of the consultant who was implementing the ERP project.

C. Lack of information about what was happening in the ERP project.

D. Infighting between new recruits and the older members of BAG group.

E. Unilateral decision making by Shiv.

3. How should Mr. Shiv cope with the situation now? Choose the best option, considering Mr. Shiv’s career would be at stake if the ERP project fails, and assuming that for carrying out the options, he has the necessary authority to do so.

A. Resign from BAG. The project cannot be done as per the re-scheduled time-table. Get a job in another company based on BAG’s brand-name.

B. Inform Ms. Teknikwali about the situation and get help from her to deal with the old time members. Some old members need to be fired so that others are also disciplined.

C. Align the new members of the BAG group to his side by promising them rewards at end of the project. Obtain approval from Ms. Teknikwali for the same.

D. Develop work-routines aligned to the ERP project requirements. Hire extra resources for dealing with other ad-hoc requirements and for the ERP project requirements.

E. Create a joint team of old members and new members within BAG to take care of ad-hoc requirements. They would be socialized in out-bound programmes like mountaineering etc., which will be conducted during weekends.

4. Of all the problems being faced in BAG, which of the following is neither discussed nor hinted at?

A. Ms. Teknikwali’s lack of faith on older members to implement new ideas.

B. The inability of the younger members to work along with the older members of BAG.

C. Mr. Shiv’s intention to impress Ms. Teknikwali by agreeing to a tougher deadline.

D. Ms. Teknikwali’s lack of understanding of the complexity of an ERP implementation.

E. Mr. Shiv’s lack of understanding of the sensitivities of the older members of BAG.

5. After her father’s demise, the best way Ms. Teknikwali could have gone about dealing with BAG group would have been to:

A. Discuss with the members as to what their views were about the company and solicit ideas on how to make it grow further.

B. Retire the entire team and hire a fresh team according to her criteria and her requirements.

C. Hire an external consultant who would have interacted with the BAG members on her behalf.

D. Ask the unit managers about the performance of the BAG group’s performance and productivity. After that have discussion with BAG members about unit managers’ performance.

E. Break down BAG into different sub-groups. It would be easy to tackle one sub-group at a time and do what she wanted to achieve.

6. It can be inferred from the above case that implementation of an ERP package in an organization requires creation of a team that has:

A. a mixture of experienced employees and newly graduated employees

B. only young people with education in top schools and colleges

C. sufficient number of people who are networked with powerful stakeholders in the organization

D. right amount of problem solvers along with those who are abreast of the latest ERP technology

E. people who have been involved with operations for a long duration of time along with people who are aware of the latest in ERP technology

Answer question nos. 7 – 8 on the basis of the information given in the following case.

Vivekananda Memorial Elocution Competition (VMEC) in Viswavijay Public School (VPS) has a history of forty years. Apart from the founder’s day and annual day celebrations, it is the most important event of the school.

In recent times, due to the increased popularity of reality shows on television channels, and for various other reasons, the elocution competition lost its appeal. Interest of both students and parents has been eroding over a period of time. To ensure sufficient audience, Mr. Ivan, Head of English Department, introduced choral recitation for junior section as a part of elocution competition. Three classes, each consisting of forty students, get shortlisted for the final performance of choral singing on the day of VMEC. Most of the parents and family members of these students attend the function to encourage them. This initiative increased the number of people attending the elocution competition.

Some teachers are unhappy with the emphasis given on the elocution competition, since they are expected to be present at the school on the day of competition, which normally happens on a weekend to accommodate the working parents. The teachers were not granted leave on the day of VMEC and they used to be unhappy regarding this aspect.

7. Ms Shabina, the principal of VPS, is aware that some of her teachers are unhappy. She wants to be seen as fair and just. Which option is the best one that she should exercise?

A. introduce separate music and dance competitions in same format as the elocution competition.

B. appropriately compensate those teachers who volunteer to come for the extra day

C. appoint a committee of teachers, parents and management representatives to come up with possible suggestions within a deadline

D. appoint a committee of teachers to come up with possible suggestions, and ensure that majority of committee members are staunch supporters of the current practices.

E. exercise the authority of the principal because she wants to retain all traditions.

8. A group of unhappy teachers have come up with a list of action plans for the consideration of their colleagues. The action plans are listed below.

I. Exposing Mr. Ivan’s intentions behind the inclusion of choral recitation.

II. Conduct an open house discussion to gauge the unhappiness and to identify possible solutions.

III. Introduce music and dance competition in same format as elocution competition

IV. Demand compensation for their work on the day of VMEC.

Mr. Zacharia, one of the senior teachers and a well-wisher of VPS, is asked to go through the action plans and make recommendations that benefits VPS the most. He would recommend:

A. Options I and II

B. Options II and IV

C. Options I and III

D. Options I and IV

E. Options I, II, and IV

Answer question nos. 9 – 10 on the basis of the information given in the following case.

Saral Co. is operating in seven north-eastern states of the country. The organization has a history of participative decision making, wherein people deliberate openly about pros and cons of every important decision, and a broad consensus is taken before taking the final decision. In Saral Co. every employee gets a salary proportional to the sales achieved. A new General Manager (GM) joined during the beginning of this month and challenged the organization’s sole focus on sales to determine salaries. He urged the top management to include two more additional parameters in determining the salaries of the employees, viz. collection of information about competitors and the quality of relationship with the retailers.

9. Manohar, the highest earning employee for the last three years, vehemently opposes the GM’s proposal. Which of the following could be most likely reason for him to oppose the proposal?

A. He considers the proposal as a serious threat to his favourable position in Saral Co.

B. He is not interested in collecting the information regarding competitors.

C. No clarity regarding the relative importance of the three parameters.

D. He is not interested in maintaining quality relationship with retailers.

E. He may need to work harder to earn the highest salary.

10. The top management of Saral Co. refused to implement the proposal of new GM from the beginning of next month, which of the following could be the most justified reason for the management’s refusal?

A. To ensure that no manager will get credit for a major change soon after joining.

B. To avoid attracting criticism for their failure to implement a similar scheme.

C. His past experience is limited to seven north-eastern states only.

D. The GM is new to the organization and he would require some time to implement the new plan.

E. The top management would need time to deliberate and get consensus.

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Solutions:

1. Option a simply speaks about the possibility of industrial practice being such that it will take longer and is based on a big if. If the industry practice is such that the implementation is to be finished in 6 months, it would mean big trouble. Option b is again based on the same logic as that of option a. Option c and d are not the best courses of action. Option e is the best response. Observe here that when it comes to XAT, discussing and setting up meetings is the better course of action than taking a call all by oneself.

2. Option e is the best choice.

3. Option d.

4. Option b has not been mentioned at all.

5. Option a is the most balanced option.

6. Option e is the best option. Options a, b and c are not fair representations of the required work force. Option d talks about problem solving ability when there shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place. Option e talks about experienced individuals helping the ERP implementation process because of their knowledge within the organization and people who are aware of the latest technology.

7. Option b is the best option among the ones given. A and E are pretty stupid and superficial. D will be unethical as the formation of the committee is unfair. C involves teachers and management which seems needless. It is understandable that the gap is with regard to working for an extra day and not with the remuneration per se. But, among the options, b sounds the best.

8. Option b.

9. Option e.

10. Option e is the obvious choice.

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You can follow the entire sprint series here: XAT 2017 Sprint Preparation Series by Learningroots

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