Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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INTRODUCTION


The tuck shop


The college tuck shop is situated at the school’s hostel campus. I t is a small shop which opens about five times a week for an average of two hours per each opening day. It serves an average of thirty students per day. The shop was started in 15 and it has since, been expanding at quite an fast rate. Though the management processes of the shop are not complex, running the shop has some difficulties especially with the services offered. The shop is supposedly a non-profit making venture but however efforts must be made not to make losses.


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Over the past years running the shop has become increasing cumbersome, services being too slow and tiresome, loss of variable data and even loss of items. The management team has therefore seen the need to improve their running system. They have decided to change their manual system and use a more efficient method. Many solutions have been suggested as will be looked at later, but the introduction of a computerised system was favoured most. This project is aimed at developing that reliable efficient computer system that will be, an everlasting solutions to the numerous problems being faced by the shop now. The problems with the current system will be looked at in the next phase of the project.


STATEMENT AND ANALYSIS OF THE PROBLEM


When developing a good computer project, it is crucial to always first identify the problem you are trying to solve. Otherwise the project has no aim. To develop a good system for the shop, there is need to know what the managers of the shop want to improve and to know what kind of problems they are facing with their current management system. The following information about, how the shop is run was provided by the shop manager, Mr Ahiable in a direct interview with me.





Description of the shop’s current management system





The tuck shop is run as a CAS project with the students as the major doers of the shop. There are three management personnel with Mr. Ahiable as the top coordinator. Students serving in the shop make estimates of the costs of items and pass the list to him. Mr. Asumang is the financial controller. He requests and signs for the money to buy new items. Cost and sales records are kept in special notebooks in the accounts office. At the shop itself, students on duty record data on tally sheets. The tally sheets help as the stock control, and to record data on daily transactions such as items sold, and sales made. At the end of each month, the tally sheets are sent to Mr. Ahiable, the shop coordinator and then to the financial controller and later, they are transferred to the accounts office, for storage. These tally sheets are the only point of reference that shows the state of the shop at any point in time. They therefore have to be accurate and must be protected well.


Students on duty have quite an amount of work to do. They have to sell and record information in the process. Recording entails performing certain calculations concerning, sales and quantities sold. A calculator is provided for this.


Identification, description and analysis of the problems with the current manual system


From the study of the old system, a number of problems have been identified and will be addressed in this phase of the project. There are three major problems and these have to do with input, processing and output of data. Each problem is described broadly and analysed below.


1. Data input As described above, data is recorded manually on data sheets. The customer is served such as entering data about the customer’s purchase in to tally sheets and calculating total prices and balances, before he is given his purchase. All data is entered with a pen or pencil. Students normally have to stand in queues waiting, to be served and is frustrating to them and it also crowds the small place. Still looking at the input process, a lot of time is wasted recounting stock at the end of each sale and updating stock on tally sheets. This serves as the control stock system. This problem can easily be rectified by introducing a computerised system at the shop to carry out a lot of these activities. A computer system will have to be set up at the counter consisting of a PC with a scanner and a program to run the shop. When new stock is bought, bar codes will be stuck on each of the items and then stored. A scanner connected to the PC will be used to read the bar codes into a Database on the program. The system must be user-friendly, user-interactive. That is, it must be easy to use, appealing to the user and it must be fast enough to cope with the load of work that the attendant has to perform on each selling day. The system will have a database where data on the items sold and sales will be stored. A fuller description of the computer system will be given later.


. Processing data In the current system, processing includes calculations of sales and prices, which are usually done using a calculator. The use of calculators is slow and prone to human errors. Data recorded on tally sheets can not be manipulated. For example, sorting, deletion, searching or traversing cannot be formed on the tally sheets. This makes searching for historic data tiresome and sometimes impossible. As such some students who may have change with the shop, may lose it just because the balance record stored in books cannot be found. This is highly discouraging for the students. What is required is an efficient, fast and accurate system that will process the data easily. The computer-based solution designed in this project must therefore have a database file that will hold data and allow manipulation of data. It should also be able to generate reports from the data.


.Output process In the current manual system, what can be termed as output is the same tally sheets that are filled at the end of the end of each working day. The problem with these tally sheets, is that they there are always gaps in them ie some fields are left unfilled at the end of the day. For example, students find it hard to have to recount stock at the end of each day. Thus the field of “quantity unsold” on the tally sheets is always blank. This poses a problem to the shop managers when determining when and how much stock to buy for the shop. This means that either the shop gets overstocked or under-stocked. Another problem related to output is that of communication. At the end of each month, record of how the shop is running, are sent to the shop manager and financial controller in the form of tally sheets. A great deal of paper is wasted in preparing these tally sheets and their storage is also a problem. They take up so much space and they are prone to theft or destruction by humans or by natural means. A computer system will be required to reduce the use of paper and pen at the shop. Storage of Data will be done on hard disk rather than cabins. Security of data will be guaranteed to a larger extent through the use of passwords and privileges allocated to specific people. Communication between the ground servants in the shop and the shop managers will be improved with the use of e-mail. A printer connected to the PC will be used to print any reports that are required in hard copy.


In all, the computer system will help to increase the speed, ease, and accuracy of work at the shop. Maximum security of the shop’s data and good maintenance of the shop will be assured with the use of a computerised system.





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