I will be basing my project on a car company; the name of the company which my project will focus on is RRS Motors Ltd and is situated on North Hyde Road, Hayes. The owner of the business is Mr. Sharma and he is also its managing director. RRS Motors was established on March 19, 1999. RRS Motors currently has 5 employees. The business has faced many difficulties throughout the years but has somehow managed to save itself from termination, nowadays it is doing relatively well with profits margins increasing day by day. The main problem which they have faced over the years is that of a paper database which is extremely inconvenient because the data has to be manually entered onto paper and then filed.
RRS Motors specialises mainly in Mercedes and BMW cars and parts. When a customer visits a showroom of RRS Motors, they are asked whether they are here for a car or just to buy some parts for their car. If the customer replies in favour of buying a car, they are asked if they are looking for a second hand or brand new car and what make and model they are looking for and if they would be interested in any extra features such alloy wheels etc.
When the customer has made up his/her mind on what car to buy s/he needs to tell one of the employees so that they can fill in a form with all the customer’s details (if they’re a first time buyer from RRS Motors) as well as that details of the car that is being bought by that customer. If the customer replies in favour of buying car parts then he enquired about the make and model of his/her car so that an apt car part is installed to prevent spoiling the relationship with the customer by installing an inappropriate car part. If the customer is short of time, they can enquire about the car/car part they need by telephone, this prevents the customer’s time being wasted resulting a happier customer more likely to return.
However this creates a problem for the employees because they have to work their way through an enormous amount of filing to find out if the car/part that the customer is asking for is actually in stock, this would obviously take some time and the customer experiencing boredom and frustration, to prevent this the employee would try to hurry up s/he could be under the misconception that a car/part is in stock when it isn’t.
They face various problems on a day to day basis such as having to enter registration numbers of cars onto databases to find out their sales history such as number of the previous owners, the number of accidents it has had and it’s MOT etc. This is frustratingly boring and unnecessarily time consuming. This becomes even more problematic when some of the new employees are not familiar with the technique of filing information for that purpose, which also leads to mistakes and by extension lack of accuracy to their cars’ (paper) database.
Another problem has arisen over time which is that fact that over the years as their customer database has increased, so has the amount of filing which needs to be done to keep track of all their customers. This leads to an enormous paper database which can be very badly organised and attention diverting so they get less time to concentrate on the actual business.
There is also a serious deficiency of security because records of customer details can easily be stolen after closing times and if this data was on a computer, serious security measures could be put into place to insure that the data remains safe.
Installing an ICT based system also has another advantage; it will prevent employees with little or no experience from making wrong decisions on how much is worth after it has been sold twice or has had a numerous number of re-sprays for example because a computer system can be set up to calculate these automatically.
The task I am going to provide a solution for is decreasing the workload for the employees and overall reducing the amount of headache for Mr. Sharma by introducing a computer based system which can eliminate the problem of human error. If there is a computer based system it will help keep the records accurate and therefore prevent loss.
Installing this computer based will prove extremely useful to RRS Motors because it will remove all the hassle of the previous system, leaving the employees more time and concentration for the actual business and therefore increasing the turnover.
Judging from my interview with him, I can infer that he is very eager to introduce a computer based system which will help him expand his business and take it to new heights which before he believed to be unreachable because of the extremely impotent paper based system which had many serious flaws mentioned above. There are two main reasons for him wanting to install a new computer based system: the first being that as his customer database is increasing a rapid rate, it is extremely hard to manage using a paper based system whereas on a computer based system this would take significantly less time. The second reason being that he has noticed a surge in the amount of business he is getting from outside his area, probably because of his reasonable prices and seemingly able staff, he has realised that with a computer based system he could expand his business by maybe opening another showroom in the area wherefrom he is getting a good response.
I construe that the current paper based system is no match for the scale at which Mr. Sharma is planning to expand his business and the computer based system will also eliminate the treacherous task of having to manually update databases of customer details or stock etc. Based on these two factors I will design an automated computer-based system which can record and manage large amounts of information in the form of databases and update these automatically.
To continue I need to know the process by which a car/part is purchased at RRS Motors. My observations have led me to the following cycle:
1. The customer chooses the car/part which s/he is interested in buying.
2. He informs an employee of his choice and the employee fills out a form containing his personal details (if s/he is a first time buyer from RRS Motors) and the details of the car/parts s/he wants to buy.
3. The stock is checked to confirm if what the customer is looking for is available or not.
4. The payment is made via the three payments methods available: Cash, Cheque or by Debit/Credit card.
5. The order a processed and two receipts are printed, one for the customer to keep and one for the firm to keep as a back-up record and the forms are also photocopied.
6. Stock updated in register.
Here is the overall process represented visually via a diagram:
While examining this diagram I have noticed one thing time and time again which is the fact that a huge amount of time is wasted filling out forms and manually updating stock. Before I suggest a suitable computer based system, I need to know the budget available.
The hardware and software available is limited but luckily is enough to surpass the old paper based system. RRS Motors has in its office four desktop computers. All four of these computers have identical specifications:
* 120 GB HDD
* 512 Mb RAM
* Intel Pentium 3 processor @ 3.2 GHz
* 15 Inch LCD Panels
* Brother MFC-410CN Multi-purpose Printer
* Internet Connection: Dial-up
* Windows XP Home Edition SP2
* Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003
* Anti-Virus Software: None
The specifications on these computers are sufficient to start a computer based system because:
* 120 GB HDD: Seeing as only document files will be stored on these computers, 120 GB is more than enough as the average document file barely reaches between 1-2 Mb.
* 512 Mb RAM: This amount of RAM is once again more than enough because only applications such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel will be running, these applications do not take up much RAM at all therefore it is definitely the computer will not run slowly if this RAM is used only to run applications mentioned above.
* 15 Inch LCD Panels: Because the monitors are LCD, they will give strain to the eyes, even if one of the employees is working on them for a long time as well as that 15 Inch is relatively large size screen so that’s no problem either.
* Printer: The printer, although it is multi-purpose, is a DeskJet printer which cannot print a lot of information in a short span of time so a Laser Jet printer might have to purchased, these are quite affordable so I don’t think this will be a problem.
* Internet Connection: For the scope at which MR. Sharma is thinking of expending his business Dial-up Internet is extremely slow and out-dated so he will definitely have to get broadband, preferably a wireless router as well so the hassle of wires is eliminated. The reason for needing an internet connection is that it is essential for effective communication via e-mail to customers especially as well as employees.
* Windows XP SP2: This is one of the latest operating systems and also the most common therefore I don’t think the customers will have any problems with it and neither will the employees because they are probably already used to using these at home.
* Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003: Once again I don’t think this will be a problem because it is the most common software package used for the purpose of word processing etc.
* Anti-Virus Software: Anti-Virus software is essential if the computers are to remain in good working order because since the turn of the century, there has been a surge in the amount of viruses sent via emails and also on certain websites. I suggest Norton Anti-Virus as it is one of the renowned names in anti-virus software.
Now that I know that the equipment available is sufficient, I need to make sure that the end user is able to make use of the system’s complete potential.