Designing an new IT system.
Section 1 – Analysis
LKS Electronics sells household electronic goods such as televisions and DVD players, mainly through mail order. The business is owner by Mr LK Smith. The company has been around for 2 years and it is starting to rapidly expand, it currently has a customer base of around 2500. It currently has one office in South Croydon; they do not require a very large site or many locations as items are sold mainly by phone. The company has 8 telephone sales staff, 3 packaging staff, 1 stock controller, 1 finance and credit control, 1 transport person, 1 caretaker and the manager. The good are sold to almost anywhere in the United Kingdom, they hope to expand…
The customers phone up the company to make an order, a member of staff answers the phone and writes down the details on a form. The company obtains the different items it sells from different warehouses. They always keep most popular and common products in stock and when the stock falls to a certain level/something that is not in stock is ordered, they order the number of units required from the warehouse. A delivery company is hired to deliver the orders to the customers. At a certain point in each day, for all the transaction not yet completed yet, the order forms are processes, item(s) ordered from warehouse, delivery company found and finally invoice made. The company advertises itself through advertisements in newspapers and magazines and it show what products they have on offer though catalogues.
Each transaction needs to be recorded down. When an employee records down an order on a form, the details required are a unique number for the transaction, the customer’s ID number and their own staff ID number, the date and the delivery address. Afterwards, a suitable delivery company (depends on delivery address) will be selected. When a driver has been allocated for the delivery, he/she will be recorded down. Other Information that they recorded is details of the warehouses, staff, delivery companies and items they sell. The forms are stored in a filing cabinet system, which is arranged in order of transaction date. When the company needs an item/items, the staff orders them from the appropriate warehouse.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Mr Smith has decided to invest in a computerised database to hold information that they currently store mainly on paper in a filing cabinet
To find out information on the background of the company (used in introduction)
Q. What is the name of the company?
A. LKS Electronics
Q. What does the business involve?
A. Our business involves the selling of electronic goods though mail order. This involves the ordering of the items from warehouses and delivering the items to the customers through a suitable delivery company. The most common/popular products are kept on site.
Q. How many people does the organisation employ?
A. We have 8 telephone sales staff, 3 packaging staff, 1 stock controller, 1 finance and credit control, 1 transport person, 1 caretaker and the manager – me
Q. How many customers do you have?
A. We have a about 2500 customers, although because of the nature of our products, the majority are not regular, regular customers (10 – 15% of all customers) make a purchase over 3 times a year.
Q. What areas do you sell your products to?
A. We sell to sell our products to anywhere in the UK
Q. Does the company have branches in more than just one location?
A. No, currently we only have one branch in the UK, in South Croydon, as mail order only requires one location in which customers phone to. As the company expands, we may have branches in more countries. I believe that a new system may help achieve this.
Preparing for the interview
An interview had to be conducted with the owner of the business, Mr Smith; this is required to find out:
- How the current system works
- Input – data entry
- Processing – analysis, sorting of the data
- Information storage – what types and volume
- Output – screen base/paper based
- The problems with the current manual system
- The objectives of the new system, the way in which the new system will handle input, processing, information storage and output, as above
- Hardware and software that would be needed for the new system – do they already have any of the hardware software that that would be useful/necessary for the new system, do they need to buy anything new?
Q. How are transactions dealt with in the current system?
A. When a customer calls us, a member of the sales team answers the call and fills in a form according to the item(s) the customer orders. During this, the employee checks whether there is any in stock and if not, whether there is any in stock in the warehouses. This is done by checking which warehouse(s) stocks the item(s) required by the customer and then phoning them and finding out if they have any of the required item(s) in stock. There is only one copy of the completed form (it is tedious and time consuming to create duplicates) and it may be lost.
Q. How is this information stored?
A. We have a filing cabinet system and the forms containing the details of the transactions in order of the date of order. However, forms may be placed in the wrong section of the filing cabinet by accident easily. The information can only be accessed from one location. It is also very difficult to analyse the information.
Q. How do you show what products you have on offer?
A. We send catalogues containing information on all the products we sell to all our customers every time a new one is produced (usually, once a month). We advertise though magazines, there is a small list of what products we sell in the advert and the customer phones us up to receive a full list (the catalogue). The problem with this is that the customer may not be interested in many of the products and they may want more information on particular products that interest them, analysis of information would be useful. Another company produced the catalogues for us.
Q. How many computers do you have onsite?
A. We have 7 Pentium 4 PCs in the office, mainly for word processing, accounts and other simple jobs.
Q. Are they networked?
A. No, they are not networked.
Q. Do you have a computer onsite that has Microsoft Access running?
A. Yes, we have Microsoft Access 2000, which came with the Microsoft Office package we bought a long time ago.
Q. Do you have a computer onsite that has Microsoft Visual Basic running?
A. Yes, we have Microsoft Visual Basic 6, one of my staff knows a bit of Visual Basic programming, we originally intended to use it to help develop a simple system ourselves but it proved to be too difficult for us.
Q. Does you have a computer onsite have a printer?
A. Yes, we have a dot-matrix printer. Which we use for printing off the transaction forms, letters, etc.
Q. Do you require the information of the system to be very secure?
A. Yes, much of the information such as customer details are confidential.
Summary of the interview
Through the interview, I have found that there are a few problems in the current manual system.
The business has PCs that are suitable to run the software I intend to use to develop and run the new system with. They also have the software that I plan to use already purchased and installed (Microsoft Access and Visual Basic). I recommended they buy a cheap colour laser printer (explained later). The current dot-matrix printer is useful for printing invoices.
3. Problems with the current system
- Checking stock takes a long time
To check whether a product is in stock, firstly, the telephone sales staff must check if there is any stock held locally. The warehouse which stocks the particular item(s) the customer wants is then found. This requires looking though a list of items each warehouse supplies and checking which warehouse stocks the items. Most of this is done manually.
A printing company is paid to produce a catalogue every month; the information is given to them a few days beforehand, the printing company charge relatively high prices. The catalogue contains nearly all the products that LKS Electronics offers; a lot of the information will not interest the customer at all. If something needs to be produced, printed and sent customers on short notice it is very difficult to do, as the printing company may not be able to do it.
- Analysis of data
It is very difficult and time consuming to perform analysis involving calculations and processing of information using a manual system. This could be useful to find out which products are most popular at a certain time.
4. Objectives of the new system
Through analysis of the current problems and I have made some objectives that should be achieved by the new system to improve the old one.
- It should take less than 20 seconds to find which warehouse stocks a particular item.
5. Data flow
A data flow diagram of the proposed system has been drawn up (most of the processes, entities, etc. relate to the current system as well).
6. Constraints and limitations
System boundaries (scope of proposed system)
The business already have Microsoft Access installed on all their machines with the Microsoft Office package and all the users have familiarised themselves with it slightly so it would be the best choice, buying another database program would be pointless as the users would have to familiarise themselves with it and it would add to the cost. Mail merge could be done with Microsoft Word, which is another advantage of using Access.
The business already has enough PCs that are more than capable of running the new system. 100Mbps Ethernet cables will be required to network all the PCs together so that the system and the data can be shared and identical on all the machines. The printers can also be shared; anything that needs printed can be done directly from any machine rather than through just one machine. A relatively cheap colour laser printer such as the HP Colour LaserJet 1500L will be bought to for fast printing needed to produce the monthly catalogues. The current dot-matrix printer can be used for printing off invoices.
User’s level of information technology skills
The users have the keyboard skills required to use the new system and are as said before, familiar with Access and also with Word, which will be used with mail merge. The new system will have an easy to navigate interface so will not require much training or familiarisation to use.