ICT AS Level Coursework Essay
My project will be based upon a business run by Mrs Lynn Bloodworth, called ‘Florabunda Nurseries’. This business operates primarily, a landscape gardening service and secondly, a nursery-style operation of cultivating then selling young plants. My project however, will focus on the nursery business, The business totally relies on a paper-based database, and stock checking and reordering are totally manual operations. This means extra hassle for the owner, having to go around the grounds each day to see what stock to order for the next. The orders are usually sent by fax or email, which can be integrated in my solution.
The stock levels are kept day-to-day, but obviously change with whatever is in season. Resources/constraints The business has a computer in the office, but is only used to send emails and to create business logos and headed paper etc. The computer is a standalone PC which has a Pentium III 750mhz processor, 256Mb of Ram, a 20Gb hard disk and a 56k modem with internet connection. The software it uses is Microsoft Office ’97 which includes Excel, Word, Access and Publisher. The business has a colour inkjet printer and a high-resolution scanner. This computer is therefore faster than the computer
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My computer has an AMD 500mhz processor, 192Mb of ram and a 4Gb hard disk, but still I should have no problems using MS Office on my computer and transferring the files to the end-user. Mrs Bloodworth is not very computer literate, so the user interface of my project must be very user friendly and easy to understand. Investigation Before implementing my design, and finalising my specification, I interviewed the end user to decide what they require from the solution, and asked them to what extent they already used ICT in their business. A copy of the transcript is as follows:
Question: What are ‘Florabunda Nurseries’ main areas of business? Answer: The main focus of our business is landscape gardening, but we also operate a nursery business, where we bring in seeds or young plants and cultivate them before selling them on. We grow most of our own stock and sometimes sell at the local market. Question: To what extent do you use a ICT in your business? Answer: We have a computer in the office, which is mainly used to print headed paper, to email our suppliers with orders, and just for general word-processing. Question: How is the stock checked/ re-ordered? Answer: We do not do much stock checking at all.
We usually go around the suppliers and select what we need from there, so we have no real way of checking what we need and when we need it. Question: How do you currently place orders with suppliers? Answer: Most of our orders are sent by fax to suppliers, but some are emailed. Question: What hardware/software does your computer have? Answer: Well, we have 2 inkjet printers, a scanner, Windows ’98 OS, Microsoft Office, a Pentium processor and a 20Gb hard drive with 256Mb of memory. Question: What would you like to see improved in the new system that you currently find difficult with your currents system?
Answer: The biggest area that can be improved on it the current stock checking and re-ordering system. It would be a great help if the stock levels could be automatically calculated and if we could be notified of when to re-order stock. A model for the landscape gardening would also be very useful in deciding quotes for the customer. I will go back to the end user after I have implemented my project, and will ask them to evaluate the new system for me. The Current System As established in the interview, the current system for stock checking and reordering stock is not very organised.
The owners/employees go around to the suppliers and basically guess at what they need, which is not a very efficient way of keeping track of stock, as it is easy to forget which items have ran out of stock. The main data flows through the system are as follows: As you can see, there are lots of manual operations included in this data flow diagram. The aim of my project is to cut out these manual operations, and to make the whole system computerised, including the process of stock checking, reordering and sales reports. The new revised data flow diagram that I aim to complete is shown on the next page.