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About the Business
I’ll use ‘Ki for hair’ as a basis of my project. This is a hairdressing salon in Camden Town, where Myra Ferreira keeps her own business. She is the manager of the salon, although there are two more workers (hairdressers). I worked there last summer (2002) and I know how they manage their entire budget on paper base. She started with a small business two years ago and still keeps all her income and expenses manually. Every hairdresser has a minimum of three clients per day usually, which means about 270-300 clients per month.
The situation now
To keep all the paper work, safe and in order they need a separate room. It takes a day for two people to produce the monthly reports, which means they lose about 6 clients a day (12 clients every month). The monthly report itself is working out the income and expenses and therefore the profit and producing it clearly for every single month. Although it is going fine, the business is getting bigger and needs a system, which makes the budget more accessible, produces clear reports for the tax purposes and takes less time to be done.
How the ICT can help
Computers have many applications in the 21st century. Specific software such as databases and spreadsheets are designed to help, improve, speed up and reduce the workload of certain tasks. In order to help them I’ll use the ICT (Information Communication Technology) to create a system, which will work out the budget easily, will be more accessible and will take less place, as well as time to be managed. ICT develops every day and replaces more and more the manual work. As everything else it has its advantages: takes less space, time (one person will need about half an hour to do all the work, which means more clients and more income) and effort to be accessed. The disadvantages are that only people with certain skills can do the work. I’ll try to transfer this disadvantage into advantage for the users, as they will learn how to manage a computer system.
One of the solutions is using just a word processor for producing the information, and calculating the budget separately. That’s is going to work perfectly fine, but will take much time.
Other solution is to use just Microsoft Excel to work out the budget quicker, although it cannot present the literal data, as well as the numerated one.
So my solution is to use Microsoft Excel for the ‘main job’, which is to work out the budget and then to transfer the data to Microsoft Word to produce the reports.
I think this is the most efficient way of doing this project, because it will satisfy the needs of the potential users and I’ll prove it at the end. I chose Microsoft Excel because I believe tools such as macros, “what if” statements and pivot tables would ease the use of the system and will make it more understandable and user friendly.
What are the user’s requirements?
In order to consider the user’s requirements I did a questionnaire (see below):
1.) What is wrong with the current system and why do you need a new computer-based system?
2.) What do you expect from the system?
3.) What IT skills do you think you have? (e.g. can you work with the operating system, do you know how to use Microsoft Office, etc.)
4.) What do you want the system to look like?
I also asked the manager what her expectations were …
“As we are not familiar with ICT our main requirement is that the system should be user friendly and easy to follow. The only data that will have to be entered into the new system will be the assigned item number. When more than one of an item is required it will be entered twice, as this will be quicker. The rest of the information will be worked out by the system. Good luck!”
Myra Ferreira Manager of Ki for Hair
What do I expect from the system?
The system must be easy to understand and use, so that any user with no computer knowledge could easily make use of the system. Much time will be saved as the computer will automatically set up the layout and the users will only have to input the required data.
* First every user is going to have his/her own ID and password;
* Once the user’s logged on, he/she is going to have access to the main directories, which are: the prices, the customer accounts and the monthly reports;
* Every user will have the priority to edit information, excluding editing the prices;
* The change (editing) of the prices can only be done by the manager;
* The design of the system is going to match the colours of the salon.
* To ease the use of the system I’ll use different tools such as macros (program that stores Microsoft Excel commands and eliminates the need of repeating series of calculations), pivot tables (allow you to easily sort and view data), “what if” statements (test cell contents and help you make decisions based upon them) and data filters (a method of sorting which hides information that does not match your criteria).
* It must also be easy to update and edit, and most importantly easy to use.
To make my project easier to read and understand, I’ll use different fonts and sizes as well as colours. In order to use the system as much as possible, the user’s system must include:
The hardware requirements must meet those set by Excel and Windows 95+
* IBM compatible PC
* Pentium 100, K6-2 100 or above
* 32Mb of RAM
* 1GB Hard Drive space
The above requirements or those required by both Excel and Windows 95 or above. The printer is required when a hard copy of the programs output is required.
* Windows 95/98/98SE/2000/XP
* Microsoft Office (depends on the operating system, e.g. Microsoft Office 97/2000/XP)
The system itself will be developed in MS Excel. Excel will also be required to run and use the system. The developer/user must have running a version of Microsoft Windows 95 or later. As Microsoft dominates the software market and MS-Excel will not run on other operating systems such as Linux, Unix, and Solaris etc. However in this case the system is aimed at the average user who will only be using a MS Windows environment.
What skills and knowledge will be needed for the user to manage working with the system?
* First, he/she will need to know how to work with the operating system
* He/she should have basic knowledge of how to use Microsoft Office and particularly Microsoft Excel.
* He/she should have basic thinking skills such as knowing how to learn and seeing things in the mind’s eye and personal qualities such as self-management and integrity
To make my system work and be more efficient, I will:
* Consider the user’s requirements very carefully, e.g. the layout, appearance, colour restrictions and the paper size, while I’m carrying out the design
* Prepare a test strategy and test plan
* Evaluate the final solution
* Write user manuals on how to use the system I’d have created.
Input, Process and Output
Input-Process-Output. These are the basic functions of a computer. Data must be fed into the computer (input), which is then analysed and reorganised (process), and then it is displayed or printed (output).
Input- it’s the data the user will be putting in, in my case the number of haircuts, blow-dries, etc. In order to make my system work more efficiently I’ll use data validation such as putting certain letters or numbers in certain cells.
The process- it’s the processing of the initial data put by the user and done by the system.
The output- this is the final result of the input and the process; in my case the output is going to be a hard copy of the monthly reports.