Terms of Reference
The database proposed in this report is simply meant to improve the efficiency of the record keeping at the Wheels Deals Company.
Computerized database offers solutions to many problems that are associated with manual record keeping. For instance, it is not strenuous and thus requires only a few staff; it is easy to analyze figures and it reduces chances of errors. This simply means that it will reduce staff costs and, since computers are networked, tracking and correcting errors on entries will be facilitated.
The computerized database will simply replace the ineffective manual record keeping system. Therefore, conventional operations of the Wheels Deals Company will not be affected. In fact, they will only be enhanced.
In its current operation, the Wheels Deals Company has been keeping records of bicycle rental transactions manually. This has made obtaining the rental figures and revenues quite difficult. In addition, manual record keeping needs a lot of staff and is accompanied by many errors. There have been many bicycles that were abandoned or never returned, but went unrecorded. This is a particular problem associated with manual record keeping.
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Purpose of Report
This report aims to analyze how these problems can be tackled when the Wheels Deals Company replaces the manual system with a computerized database system.
The Wheels Deals Company is a private bicycle rental (for tourists) company that is located in Singapore. The company rents its bicycles to tourists visiting various parks in the country. Although, it started its operations in one park, it has managed to expand into many others in just five years. This has been due to government efforts that have led to an exponential increase in the number of tourists.
The Wheels Deals Company offers three types of bicycles for rent; children ($ 2 per hour), normal ($ 4 per hour) and racing bicycles ($ 6 per hour) on weekdays. Rates for weekends are $ 3, $ 6 and $ 8 per hour respectively. All potential users are required to deposit $ 20 (for children bicycles) and $ 40 (for adult bicycles), as well as to provide a proof of identity before they are offered a bicycle. The company has since started a loyalty program where regular customers can earn refunds of up to 20% of their total spending.
The company has been keeping manual records for all rentals. However, with the increasing in number of tourists, keeping these manual records has been problematic. An upgrade to a computerized database system is necessary.
Method of Investigation
The information obtained by this report was provided for by the company’s management following an interview.
Outline of Existing System
The rich picture above can be summarized into two main problems associated with the manual system;
- Too many employees and associated stationery facilities are needed;
- Difficulty in obtaining information (abandoned, not returned bicycles that were erroneously recorded or one- time, multi institutional transactional revenues).
The relevant system for problem 2 is a computerized networked database system.
For the Wheels Deals Company to generate profits, it has to reduce its costs. Thus, the number of employees should be minimal, stationery costs have to be reduced, while “human” errors have to be limited. In addition, management has to monitor operations closely for easier and timelier examination of the performance.
The computerized networked database system is aimed at replacing the current manual record keeping. Rather than the staff entering rental figures on pieces of paper, they will enter on the computer database that will be accessible, cheaper and less effort used. The database will solve all problems discussed in the last section (Karve, 2009).
- C – The Wheels Deals Company employees are main recipients of this transformation, since they are the ones using a lot of effort in writing down, tracking, calculating and doing all the stationery stuff related to the manual book keeping.
- A – Wheels Deals Company IT department (if there is one) and the HRM. If the IT people are not there, a team will have to be established to oversee the process.
- T – Buying computers and installing them with the database software, transferring the hard copy records to computers and networking computers.
- W – The database will improve the efficiency of the record keeping and monitoring.
- O – Wheels Deals Company Management
- E – Sacking and compensating employees (Pandey, 2011)
Registration – the potential renter is registered into the database and given a customer ID after the proof of identity. This ID will be used for subsequent rentals.
Deposit – the user has to deposit for the bicycle,
Selecting bicycle – the renter selects the bicycle from the category he/she has paid for.
Payment – the renter then pays for a bicycle selected.
Returning the bicycle – after completing his tour, he/she is to return the bicycle.
In all these cases, the staff will be required to enter all this information as it pertains to a particular customer into the database.
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Options for Solution and Recommendation
Three problems raised by management are typical of the manual record keeping. These were increased stationery costs, many employees required to manage book keeping, difficulties in monitoring performance and revenues and failure of the staff to record some missing bicycles. These problems can be addressed by adopting a computerized, networked database system or by raising fees so as to compensate for high costs. However, raising fees will not solve problems of monitoring difficulties or unrecorded bicycles. On the other hand, the computerized and networked database system is capable of solving all these problems.
The database will have a slot for the registration of a customer (gender, age, number of rentals) which will give them an ID, unique to the customer. In the database, information regarding payments, the bicycle selected, and the amount of time paid for will be filled. The customer will then be cleared after returning the bicycle. Since all computers and databases are networked, all customers will arguably be under the one system. Management will monitor all the proceedings from the super computer. Other details like the date and day of the transaction will also be filled by employees.
The database eliminates the need for facilities such as photocopying machines, printing, pens, paper sheets, calculators, books etc. and all employees that undertake these activities. The super computer enables management to monitor all entries made in the database, regardless of the location. Finally, all human errors are limited.
Draft Development Strategy
The database system software can be developed in three ways; bespoke software, as package software or commercial of the shelf software. This report analyzes three methods;
This is software that has been developed specifically to an organization, in this case, to Wheels Deals Company. This simply means that each and every detail that the company requires will be taken into consideration and incorporated into the system.
Advantages of bespoke software:
- It is specific and tailored to meet requirements of the Wheels Deals Company
- It will incorporate all business features and processes that are unique to the Wheels Deals Company.
- The software is flexible and, thus, can be modified in future.
- Since the Wheels Deals Company will be in a direct contact with the developer, it may receive the better custom support.
- Can give Fast Wheels a competitive advantage, assuming that its competitors use other software (Stanley, n.d).
- It is quite expensive.
- If the Wheels Deals Company does not have its own competent IT persons and the source code, it will have to rely on the developer fully. This is quite risky.
- Finding a competent bespoke software developer is quite challenging (Addex, n.d).
This is software already made for the general usage and purchase, such as Ms. Excel. It is not meant for a specific user.
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Advantages of packaged software:
- It is relatively cheaper.
- It is used widely and, thus, getting support is easy.
- Installing of it is easy.
- It is always complex, since it is meant for many users. It will, thus, include many sections that are unnecessary.
- The software cannot be modified to fit Wheels Deals Company requirements.
- It does not bring any competitive advantages (Addex, n.d)
Commercial off the Shelf Software
This is packaged software that can be modified to meet specific needs of a particular user. This simply means that it is a hybrid of two discussed software.
- Extensive programming is not required since it is not being built from scratch. This simply means that maintaining it is relatively easy.
- It is cheaper than bespoke software.
- The modifier assumes all the support services.
- The client will have to rely on the modifier at all times; this can be risky if the modifier is unreliable. (JSC Group)
Going for bespoke software is risky and quite expensive for a young company, such as Wheels Deals Company. On the other hand, off the shelf software may be too broad and unnecessary for Wheels Deals Company. For instance, Ms. Word has many features, yet only 10% of them are applied by users. Therefore, commercial off the shelf software is the most ideal type of the development strategy that the Wheels Deals Company has. It will take only useful parts of packaged software and discard the rest. This simply means that Fast Wheels will enjoy all advantages of bespoke and packaged software, while at the same time reducing risks.