Statement of the problem:
I am producing a system to send out letters, asking customers to confirm what they have ordered from the company shop, for a new company called Clown Town.
Clown Town is a new business made by Mrs Carol Smiley, she knows how to make a business work but unfortunately she knows nothing about ICT, and the business has now become too demanding for her to handwrite all the confirmation letters.
Possible Solutions for Mrs. Smiley’s problem would include:
1. Creating a single letter, which can be printed out multiple times with an empty space for the product, reference number, name of the customer, and address.
2. Creating a mail merge document that would be updated just by updating the database of customers as they buy something.
The end user should be able to send letters to all customers through only 1 document.
The products brought by each customer should be displayed in letter without being word processed in the word processor.
There should automatically be a passage in each letter informing customers who will not receive their products in time that they are to be discounted.
The recipients of the letters should be able to be changed by just adjusting the data source’s content.
Hardware and Software:
I will need a pc and a screen as well as the input devices: a mouse and keyboard. I will need a printer to print out test data and for my end user to print the letters off with.
I will need Microsoft Word in order to make use of its mail merge facilities. I will also need Microsoft Excel to use in order to make data source for my end user to create her letters from.
Data collection and input:
I will not need data such as customer names as they are protected under the ‘Data Protection Act,’ instead I will use test data just to make sure the system would work with valid information. However I will need a list of what the end user wants included in the reminder letters such as colour and reference number. I will also need information bout the shop including the company logo and address.
I will collect this information from the previous letters my end user used to send out manually, but I will verify with her to make sure there is nothing else she needs, and if there is I will get it directly from her.
I will collect this data manually by inspecting a previous letter and by asking the end user to write down anything else needed manually.
This information will be entered manually using a keyboard, this is as for text, any alterations can be made, or a fresh new look can be created. However for the logo I will use a scanner to input the data. I will then check that the content and formatting is acceptable to the end user.
The scanned logo will be cropped to fit with the address lines. Also any information needed to be included in the letter will be formatted so that it makes sense, for example if the product is a bike it will be entered so that it reads well for example: your bike is ready. Rather than: the product that is read is a: bike. All information will also be put into the necessary categories, for example bike; will go into the product type category. And red will go into the product colour category.
I will check for errors primarily by using Microsoft words spell check function, as well as reading through it manually for any grammatical mistakes or spelling mistakes that were not noticed.
I will use an excel file in order to create a data source which will be used to fill in any fields included within the letter for instance <product type>. This will take the necessary information from the excel file and import it into the word file.
Flow of Data:
1. Firstly I shall create a database using Microsoft Excel in which customer details such as Title, Name, Initial, Surname, Colour, Design of product, Reference number, Arrival day, arrival month, arrival year, address 1st line, address second line, and postcode.
2. I shall then create a letter as requested by the end user using mail merge to combine information in the data source into certain places in a personalised letter. Asking the customer to confirm their order from the business with all the personalised details that have been recorded within the data source. This means the letter would be able to greet the user by name, and ask them to confirm the exact product they ordered.
3. I would then be able to use the advanced feature of mail merge, if…then…else… so that the customer will be able to be told about a discount if they’re order will not arrive within the year.
Output and Alternative Forms of Output:
The letters shall be formatted to contain the company logo in the top right corner, so that the customer knows immediately whom the letter is from. The letter shall be A4 so that it fits easily into the most common type of business envelope, and through an average letterbox easily. The letter shall be portrait orientation, to look professional and for the same reason the text shall be black and white with a colourful logo only. This will also reduce the cost of sending many letters, as black ink is less expensive than coloured ink.
I have chosen to use a colourful logo over a black and white logo, colourful will be more professional despite the loss of the ability to photocopy. However has the whole point in the new system is to upgrade the manual photocopying method, this decision is definite. Some users will require an extra paragraph to inform them of extra circumstances. For instance if their product will not arrive within the year, they will need to be informed of the discount they will receive.
I have chosen to use a black and white text system, as this will make the letters more business like, and save costs due to the less amount of coloured, expensive ink used per letter.
The layout will consist on a letterhead containing the company logo, the shops address, the recipients address and a personalised greeting line, followed by the common message that all customers shall receive tailored to what they have brought from the shop. After this if there is any extra information needed such as a special discount that customer shall receive the will receive an extra paragraph informing them of this, and then a polite ‘thank you’ line shall end the letter.
The main choice for this system was whether to make thee final copy be sent out in emails or in letters. Emails cost nothing to send and are received quicker. They are also digital meaning later on systems could be installed to make the system even faster and automatic. However as my end user is not very computer competent, I have opted for letters, as not all customers who shop at clown town necessarily own a computer or have an email address.
Backup and Security Strategy’s:
The end user would need to back up the work in case she had a hard drive failure or any other kind of error that would result in the loss on the file I created for her.
The data would only need to be backed up once for the letter, as it would not change, however the database of addresses would need backing up as often as possible. I would recommend that this be done every time a new data was added. If possible I will create a macro, which will do this with 1 click of a button for my end user.
I would recommend that the data be backed up onto a data key. This is as it is the most accessible storage medium, and is quickly out dating other storage mediums. Amongst other advantages, it holds the data more securely, as there is far less opportunity for scratching and therefore loss of data through use.
The data source will need to be password protected to protect the customer’s information. I would recommend that the password be updated once a month at least.