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Machine Shack Management System Essay Sample

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Machine Shack Management System Essay Sample

1 Analysis

1.1 Background Information

Machine Shack in Streatham is a small independent shop which sells a variety of electric products from electric heaters, digital camera to phones. The owner Mr Robertson currently runs it and is starting to find it increasingly hard to manage sales, due to increasing number of customers. Since business is running well he has decided to invest in a computer system to help run business more smoothly and give a better service to his customers.

1.2 Problems with current System

Currently Mr Robertson handles every thing manually, from how much stock is available using a notebook and pen to producing receipts for customers by writing it out on paper. When dealing with customers Mr Robertson has to rely on his memory a lot for managing stock quantities and previous sales made. Thus making the service he provides very slow, difficult and not very reliable since human error usually occurs.

1.3 Manager Interview

I prepared a few questions for the Mr Robertson the owner of the shop to get a better idea of what exactly, he wants and a bit of background about the prospective user(s). When writing out the questions I aimed to make them short, informative and less time consuming.

Q1. How many people will be using the system?

A. I (Mr Robertson) will be the only person using the system since I’m the only one that runs the shop.

Q2. How would you describe the user(s) for the system as being computer user(s)?

Well I have a computer at home which I use for word processing and surfing the internet but I’m not very good when it comes to using advanced stuff.

Q3. What do you expect from the new system?

I hope the new system can really do most of the work I do so it makes my job easier. I would also like it to be able to manage the items I have in stock and let me know when I need new ones, it should keep track of sales and print receipts, I would also l protect and keep my sales information in a separate place every month. I would also like the system to order stock that is low automatically from the suppliers using something like the internet.

Q4. How would you like the new system to behave and interact?

I would like it to be easy to use as well as fast, I wouldn’t like one with an extremely high learning curve, but one which is straight to the point, simply and effective.

Q5. How much are you willing to spend on developing the new system?

I was hoping that the computer that I already have in that shop will be enough and will be able to handle the system, else I wouldn’t mind spending in the region of about �150 on upgrades to bring the system up to scratch.

Notes:- after examining the computer I have concluded it is pretty old but will be able to handle the new system easily.

1.4 Identification of prospective user(s)?

Mr Robertson being the owner of the shop and only worker will be the only person using the new system. He claims to be fairly familiar with the basic operations of a Computer system, and has a computer in his shop, which he can use fairly comfortably. So he won’t need much training as I will try to aim to make the new system fairly easy to use.

1.5 User Requirements and acceptable limitations

Specifically Mr Robertson would like a system which will:

* Posses the ability to store details about stock that is available.

* Log every sale that is made.

* Have the capability to identify items using a code.

* A method of alerting when certain type of stock is running low and needs reordering.

* Allow items which have been sold to be returned and re-added to the stock if possible.

* Produce a receipt after every sale.

* At the end of every week the sales can be backed up on an external source.

* System must be easy to use and have a clean interface.

* Be hard if not impossible to make changes that will cause the system to not function or cause any type disruption.

* Have a secure protection system so no one except Mr Robertson can access the system.

* Be able to run on basic computer hardware.


I think I am pretty capable of performing most of the features that Mr Robertson would like for the new system, but I will have to leave out feature like automatically order stock from suppliers, as this will make the system to complex and is an extremely difficult task for a computer to handle when considering the security and hardware requirements. But nonetheless the system will produce a list so Mr Robertson can Manually order Items which need reordering easily.

1.6 Potential Solution

1.6.1 Technical feasibility


There are a number of possible solutions that can be used to handle such a problem but since this will have to be solved using a basic computer system There are Two main software categories that can be used, Ready Made Software (Off-the-shelf) or Bespoke Software (individually tailored software).

The easiest way to handle such a problem would be to use a flat database program (such as spreadsheet) this would work but it would make it difficult to perform some of the advanced features which are required. Second and the most practical way to handle a problem like this is using a relational database. Since relational database software is specially designing to handle problems involving complex relationships, it would be idle. The solutions discussed so far use Ready Made Software.

The advantages of using Ready Made software are :-

* Pretty secure and tested against bugs.

* Can be Bought and installed straight away.

* Affordable Price.

* Usually has strong technical support and software are well documented.

The other way to handle the problem is using bespoke software, this will have to be written from scratch using a programming language which requires firm knowledge of a programming language.

The advantages of using Bespoke software are :-

* The software can be designed exactly to the users needs.

* Can be written for specific hardware.

* Extra unneeded complex features won’t be installed therefore making it simpler.

* Can provide a solution to problems that software packages can not.


After viewing the Computer system Mr Robertson has I have decided to use it, instead of buying a new one since I feel that it is capable of running most if not all the possible software solutions, the system specifications are:-

* Intel Pentium 133MHz

* 2000mb Hard disk

* 32MB Ram

* 4MB Graphics card

* 1.44mb Floppy drive

* 8X CD-Rom drive

* Standard Keyboard and Mouse

As can been seen the system is capable of running perfectly with most applications what is missing are a printer, monitor and software to run on it.

1.6.2 Economical Feasibility

Since there is a budget of �100 for the system any new hardware and software purchased must total with in that sum. Luckily in this case the system will not need much expensive upgrades, just a monitor, printer and operating system.

Hardware and Justification

For the Monitor I have chosen:-

15″ 510A HANSOL SVGA CRT Monitor which costs �49, I think this is excellent value money for a monitor which will run perfectly on the system.

For the Printer I have decided to choose a black and white laser printer because I think it is most suited for this type of problem as it is fast, the toner lasts long and overall are pretty reliable I have chosen:-

Hewlett Packard LaserJet 6L which costs �80

It is a good value printer with a speed of 8 pages per minute.


For the software I have decided just to purchase MS-DOS as if making the project in Turbo Pascal, it will not require any other type of software.

MS-DOS 6.22 which costs �15

Using MS-DOS has saved in my estimations saved a lot more money then if we purchased Microsoft Windows and MS Access.

Total spent on some very nice upgrades �144 which is within the available fund.

1.7 Justification of Chosen Solution

After carefully reviewing all the solutions I have decided to use bespoke software to tackle this problem. The main reason being I am fairly familiar with Borland Turbo Pascal 7.0 and have sufficient knowledge in that region to deal with this problem. Another reason for this decision is that I genuinely believe that the final product will be the simplest and fastest solution since other packages will required large libraries and expensive operating systems, while if made in Turbo Pascal will simply require a basic operating system like Dos and much less things have the probability of going wrong. Not only using dos will it be economically better for the system but due to DOS’s simple nature unauthorised access can be made harder then if say you used windows because in windows there are a larger array of tools and feature which can be used.

1.8 Data source(s) and destinations(s)

The data I will need is basically the Items Mr. Robertson has in stock, these can easily be taken from the register he keeps and double checked manually in the shop, Once the necessary data has been collected it will be placed in a Stock Table.

1.9 Dataflow Diagram (level 1) for new system

1.10 Entity-Relationship diagram

There will be 2 main entities in this system

1.11 Targets of New System

Clearly the Objectives of the New system will have to be :-

* Overall performance of the new system must be faster then the previous system.

* Must be more efficient and less mistake prune then the previous system. This will be done using validation rules and checks.

* Unlike the previous system data redundancy must not occur.

* Must require less effort to use then the previous system.

* The cost of running the system must be less or at least equal to the previous system.

* New system must be easy for the user to use and require minimal training to use.

* Must be stable and contain measures to prevent it from crashing or stop functioning in any way that will affect business.

* The previous system had a way of delaying customers wishing to purchase items the new system aims to making the service fast, easy and reliable for the customer.

* Posses the ability to store details about stock that is available.

* Log every sale that is made.

* Have the capability to identify items using a code.

* A method of alerting when certain type of stock is running low and needs reordering.

* Allow items which have been sold to be returned and re-added to the stock if possible.

* Produce a receipt after every sale.

* At the end of every week the sales can be backed up on an external source.

* System must be easy to use and have a clean interface.

* Be hard if not impossible to make changes that will cause the system to not function or cause any type disruption.

* Have a secure protection system so no one except Mr Robertson can access the system.

* Be able to run on basic computer hardware.


2.1 Structure Diagram

2.2 System Flow Chart

2.3 Data Storage and Organisation

2.3.1 Definition of data requirements

The Data I will be using in this project will come from the Items which are available in stock at the shop. These will be obtained from the register that is kept in the shop.

2.3.2 Identification of Storage Media and Format

The data will be stored in text files on the hard drive of the computer, the files can be read and modified by Pascal.

The Password details will be kept in a file called “Password.dat” and will be accessed and edited by a record type called “FiveChar” this will simply be an ‘type Fivechar = array[1..5] of char;’.

The stock details will be kept in a file called “Stock.dat” this will be accessed and edited by a record type called “StockDetail” the variables are displayed in the table below:-

Stock Table Format

Attribute Name

Data Type




This will be the unique identification code



Name of Item and description



Cost of Item



The Amount Available in Stock



The Minimum Stock level of Item there should be.

The sales details will be kept in a file called “Sales.dat” this will be accessed and edited by a record type called “SalesDetail” the variables are displayed in the table below:-

Sales Table Format

Attribute Name

Data Type




This will be the unique identification code



This will specify if the item has been returned or not.



Date, will keep the year



Date, will keep the month



Date, will keep the day



Time, will keep the hour



Time, will keep the Minute(s)



Time, will keep the Second



Will keep the total price of the sale


array[1..18] of Integer

This will keep a list of items code of the items that where sold in this sale, it can keep up to 18 items which have been sold

For Backup Purposes the systems will have an option where it archives all the data files to floppy disk, from this the system can resume a state at which the last back up was made in case of data lose.

2.4 Algorithms for data transformation

Data will be processed at a number of places in this project, most notably it will be processed in the check out where once all the Items have been entered a total price will be calculated, this will be done simply with a single variable called ‘total’ every time a new item is added price will be added to the total like :-

Total := total + price;

Another place where data will be processed is to check when items need reordering here a simple comparison will be made with the minimum stock level of data and current stock level like:-

If InStock <= MinStock

then reorder

else nothing;

2.5 Identification Validations

The main way of validating data and maintaining the integrity of data will be with the variables I will be setting at the start of the program. For example

Variable Validations

ItemName in the stock table will be a string[20] so it will only accept 20 characters.

ItemCode in the stock table will be an integer so entering a character will bring up an error message, same applies to all integer fields.

Input Validations

I will also set validations so that the same Item code can not be entered twice, every time you enter an item code the program will search through the entire stock table using a sequential search, to see if it finds the item code, if it does it will give you an error message and you will have to enter a different Item Code.

2.6 User Interface (design of input and output forms)

2.6.1 Password

The system will be protected by a simple but effective password, which will protect unauthorised access to the system. The password will be stored in an external text file, the system will initially read the password from the text file into memory, Then it will prompt the user to enter a password into the input box below:-

When entering the password the characters entered will not show, instead asterisks will show in there place. After receiving the password the system will compare the password read from the file and the user entered password and using IF statements will grant access to system if they are the same or will prompt the user to re-enter password if incorrect. Re-entry of password will be allowed 3 times before the program exits.

If the password has been entered 3 times incorrectly the system will freeze and will require a restart, this will be achieved by a simple infinite loop.

2.6.2 Menu System

The Menu system will have a list of options which when selected will help you navigate thorough different parts of the program which will bring up the different input and output forms used. The different options which will be displayed will be shown on screen, and one of them will be highlighted to select a option the user will uses the up, down keys to scroll between different options and click enter to select the desired option.

2.6.3 Menu select function

2.6.4 Main Menu diagram

Main Menu

The Main Menu is the menu which is bought up when the system starts after password validation from here all parts of the system can be reached.

* Check Out – Clicking the check out option will take you to the checkout here Item codes can be entered, total price is calculated and receipt is printed, basically it’s the cashier part for the shop.

* Stock Table – This will take you to another menu, here all the stock table related options will be shown

* Sales Table – This will take you to the sales table menu here all the sales related options will be shown.

* Options – This will take you to the options menu where additional features of the system will be shown.

Stock Table Menu

The Stock Table Menu has options relating to the stock table.

* Add Record – This will take you to a screen where you can add records to you database.

* View Edit Delete – This will take you to a screen where you can view the records using the up and down keys as well as let you delete or edit records.

* Search Record – This will take you to a screen where you can search for records, once found it will display the record.

* Items Needing Reordering – This will take you to a screen which will display only the items which need reordering.

* Back to Main Menu – This will take you back to the main menu.

Sales Table Menu

The Sales Table Menu has options relating to the stock table.

* View or Delete Sale – This will take you to a screen where you can view all the sales and delete sales, using the down key to scroll through records and the ‘d’ key to delete sales.

* Search Record – This will take you to a screen where you can search for Sales records, once found it will display the record.

* Return Item – This allow you to return an Item which has been sold.

* Back to Main Menu – This will take you back to the main menu.

2.7 Data Capture

2.7.1 Input Forms and Output Forms

Add Record

Add record will bring up the form used to add items to the stock table.

The add record form will look like the illustration below:

View, Amend and Delete a Record

This Form will be used to view, amend and delete records, you simply use the up and down keys to scroll available records, if you would like to delete a record you press ‘d’ and it will be deleted or if you would like to amend a record you press the ‘e’ key and it will ask you which part of the record you want to amend.

Search Records for sales and stock

This feature will be used to search through the database to find a specific record, it will work by asking for a item code, then searching for the item code, using an IF statement in a loop to compare ever item code with the entered value until the record is found, else if it reaches the end of the file and has not found any matching record it will display a message saying ‘record not found’.

View Items which Need reordering

Here items will be compared that are available in stock with the minimum stock level, if the values are the same or the value of items available is smaller then that record will show up in this output form.

View or Delete Sales Record

Here you can view all sales that have taken place using the up and down keys, to delete a sale you simply press the ‘d’ key and that record will be deleted.

Return Item from Sales Record

Here you scroll down to the sale which you want to take back and it will delete the record and if the item is still in good condition it will add it back to the stock table.

Check Out

The Check out is the main form used and the most complex which uses the most types of file manipulation. Here you enter Items the customer wants, it will then calculate a total for the customer and print a receipt. It will also subtract items sold from the stock table and put them into the sales table. When entering items it will display the description of the item to validate if the code it correct.

2.8 Sample of planned data validation

An Example of where I will use data validation can be taken from when you will enter an Item Code, in the add stock form, when you enter a code, the system will check the entire stock table to see if that Item Code exist if it does you will be given an error message.

2.9 Description of record or database structure

The Database structure is mainly two files one which holds the stock details “Stock.dat” and the other which holds the Sales information “Sales.dat”, the structure and formats of these files can be found in the “Definition of data requirements” section. Details can be added to the stock file through the stock options. The Check Out will read items codes display the Name and Price of the items, you enter into it and calculate a total. Then it will subtract the items from the stock table and add them to the sales table.

2.10 Sample of Planned data entry

An example of data entered into the add stock form.

2.11 Sample of planned valid output

An Example of Data output in the View Edit Delete Stock Form.

2.12 File Organisation and Processing

The file organisation used in the database will be a serial organisations, so when a record is added to a file it will add it to the end of the file. Searches will be preformed using a serial search, basically it will go through each record using a repeat loop and an if statement will be used to check for valid results.

2.13 Database design including E-R Model

There are be 2 main entities in this system, a one to many relationship

2.14 Security and Integrity of Data

Firstly physical access to the computer will be pretty hard since, the end user will always be at the shop, when it is open, and the shop is locked when it is closed. The data that will be stored in this database is just mainly data about stock and sales so methods like encryption are a little too extreme. The data stored in files can really only be made sense out of if read by the database, opening them up using a text editor like notepad will give, just you lots of jumbled data.

Integrity of the data will be mainly maintained by the validation rules present in the database, another way integrity is maintained is most of the complex procedures have been simplified to entering minimal data, for example entering an item into the check out just required the item code, which after entering displays the name to further make sure it is the correct information entered.

2.15 System Security

A number of steps will been taken to ensure that the system is secure and maintains the integrity of data.

For security purposes the system will have a password at the start up, this will prevent unauthorised access to the system, the password and system will automatically activate at computer start up, this will be achieved by modifying the computer boot files (autoexec.bat) adding the program path and executable location. In this case like:-

Since with this modification the system password will start instantly on the computer booting, It makes it harder for anyone to access the data of the system in other ways, like notepad, edit, etc.

Another Security feature will be that the password can only be entered 3 times after which the computer will halt (freeze), and the only way to get back is to restart the computer, which again will take you to the password, the freeze process will be achieved by using a simple endless loop like:-

Repeat Until restart;

Since the Boolean variable restart is set to false and will never equal true in this case it will just keep looping. Thus making it extremely hard for the computer to be accessed in any way other then through the system, which will require a password.

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