The Smiths’ estate agents are not a technologically advanced company which own a shop on Weston high street. They only sell houses in the local area. They have their agents to fill in forms on the properties they see along with a picture of the property. This is then given a unique number and filled in a cabinet. The details are then copied up and put on a card in the shop window
Identifying the problem
The problem with their system is that it takes a long time to find the correct file. As the business is expanding it is becoming increasingly harder to find files and some have even been mislaid. This method is also taking up space as each file is put in a large filing cabinet which takes up a lot of space. They have asked me to make a database on which all of the houses can be stored.
The advantages of using computers
It is better to use a computer based system because it takes up less space than a paper based system. It is also easier to find files as you can automatically search by price, ID, location and others. It also takes up practically no space as all files are stored on the hard drive so there is no need for filing cabinets. It will also be cheaper in the long run as no paper will need to be used except for advertising properties. The program I could use could be a spreadsheet. This can organise the data and easily move through out it. Also I could use a presentation package. This could make the records look good for the window and show them individually on the screen. I have decided on a database program because this can organise the data and display the records individually and corporately.
The employees may need to be trained to use the system.
My objectives for the new computer system are:
1. To create an easy to use, working database
2. To create a more efficient system for staff to search through for relevant properties for customers.
3. To create a stylish and corporate looking database
The data input will be collected by the estate agent surveying the house. It will be put into the main system and then can be accessed by all estate agents. The agents can also take a digital camera to take a photograph of the property and can then be uploaded into the database.
For the input into my database I will need to put in several field names such as price, address, number of bedrooms ID number etc.
The database will organise the information alphabetically, numerically or by specific ID number. It can also search by a customer’s specific requirements e.g. price band, bedrooms. If this was made on a paper based system then it would take a long time to find a relative house as they would have to manually search.
It is better to make the system electronically than by paper because sheets of paper would be easily lost or destroyed. A computer database would be more efficient because it can be shown on screen and searched or printed out to requirement to be put in a window display.
A database can organise the data so that it is easier to view and search for. It is better to use a database rather than a spreadsheet because a spreadsheet works better with numerical data and formulae whereas a database can include pictures of the houses and key fields. A key field is needed to put the records in order and therefore to search through. This is usually in the form of an I.D. number. I will use Microsoft Access.
The Hardware Requirements
To do my database I will need a PC with an internet connection. This is so that I can find out about properties. The PC will need to have a large RAM because Access files have a lot of background files running which could slow down the process. I will also use a digital camera to take pictures of the properties. I will also need access to a colour LaserJet printer so as to be able to print of the records for the shop window.
I will keep the system secure by having a password on the file so as to stop it being opened by unauthorised users. I could back the file up on a C.D. because a floppy disk has too small a storage space, but I will use a portal system through the internet to keep it secure and to access it elsewhere. A portal would also be useful if the company expanded as different stores could be instantly told about sales and the data would not have to be stored on every PC.
Data Flow diagrams
This is my first idea of what the table will look like and what technical information will be needed. It will also be shown to the estate agents for their views on it.
House number/Street name
Field size 15
Field size 15
Pull down menu
Row source: (Detached, Semi-Detached, Terrace, End Terrace, Apartment, Bungalow, Mansion, Maisonette)
Default value: Weston-super-Mare
No. of bedrooms
2 decimal place
I will have the screen as a calm neutral colour for the user and include the Smiths Estate Agent logo. All of the information will be together so that there is no need to scroll down. Most of the information will be on one side of the screen with the picture and price on the other so as to stand out.
For simplicity for the user, I will use a blank version of the screen form, as a data capture form so that it is easier to transfer from the estate agent, to computer.
“The initial detail of this project appears to deliver the needs of the business. The use of the same form for data capture and viewing will be beneficial. I am concerned that the amount of data allowed in the address field will be insufficient due to some long addresses in this area.”
I have taken this into consideration and have lengthened the address field.
On the next page is my first hand sketch of the screen form:
The final stage of the design is to add macros to make the program easier to use.
Macro 1- I will have a macro button on the form page which when selected will automatically add a new record to the end of the file. The button will only be visible on the screen so that it will not show up when printed.
Macro 2- This will also be an invisible button on the form which will print out the selected record for display in the store window and save the file.
1. Open “Properties” file and see if it asks for a password.
2. Insert letters into the numeric spaces to check validation.
3. Insert incorrect date (ie.99/99/9999) to check validation.
4. Click macro 1 and check that it adds a new form and takes the viewer to it.
5. Click macro 2 and check that it prints off the correct form.
Now all of the designs are completed I have to transfer them into a working database.
Firstly I opened the design view and inserted the field names specified in my design. I then added the correct data types and made the ID field the key field.
I modified the ‘house type’ field so that it was a pull down menu and created the default 00/00/0000 date field.
I then filled in the data in the table view from the CJHole website.
I then went into design view wizard and inserted the data fields and chose the design.
This gave me the basic form view which I rearranged to resemble by original drawings and added the company logo.
Next I set up the macros (Add new record and Print record)
Lastly I set up a password for protection and backed up my file on a internet portal system
My original objectives were:
1. To create an easy to use, working database
2. To create a more efficient system for customers and staff to search through for relevant properties.
3. To create a stylish and corporate looking database.
I achieved my first objective. I tested a worker on the database and he found that it was easy to use and straight forward. It was made easier by having macros in the form so that there was no need for workers to try and understand the menus and so that it was quicker. It also allows them to print of the forms so that they can be displayed in the window
I achieved my second objective. The computer system is a lot faster and less space consuming than the old system. It is also better for customers as they can search for groups of similar properties together to compare them.
I achieved my third objective. The forms look professional and include the company logo. They are well enough made so that they are able to be on show for the customers.
“This project meets its criteria. It opens new positions for marketing. I would like to extend this project so that customers can access the information in the office but also at home via the internet.”
The database has been made to suit its task but I think that in the future it could be improved upon to suit their needs even better such as extending the database to a website as suggested in the user feedback. This would make it easier for people with children, for instance, as they cannot spend time viewing houses. Despite this I think that the database was made as good as the extent of my current knowledge and professionally enough to be used in day to day retail use.