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Setting Up a Business – Tod’s Tyres Essay Sample

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Setting Up a Business – Tod’s Tyres Essay Sample

Tod’s tyres is a company which deals in fitting new sets of tyres to fleets of cars. Tod has to record the details of each car, and send the owners a letter when the cars are due for new tyres. Previously, this could all be done manually, but the growth of the company has meant there is a need for a more efficient system.

The existing system is all manual, with Tod or one of his clerks keeping a book containing all the details of cars he maintains, as well as the addresses of his clients. He writes out a letter on a basic word processor on his home computer, and changes the address manually.

A new design is needed to make the company more efficient, as

Well as increase the capacity for adding new customers in the future. Ideally, the system should be very easy to use, as Tod himself is not very experienced with computers.

Because Tod hold’s the details of his customers on this computer, it must be protected from unauthorised use. A good way to do this would be to protect either the entire computer or the database with a password

Specification of solution

The Solution, for it to be a complete success, must be capable of each of the following:

1. It must store each record in a way that it is easily visible, easily compared with similar records, and easily retrievable with a query

2. It has to be protectable with at least a password, to satisfy the requirements of the data protection act.

3. The database itself must be easy and intuitive to use for its users, and must be a stable and reliable program.

4. The data itself must be transferable to a common storage medium, like floppy disks or CDR’s, for cheap and compact back-up storage. However, these disks must be kept safe from unauthorised access, as per the data protection acts.

5. The programme must update the file in real-time; e.g. a change to the database at one workstation will register at the others with immediately after.

The solution, as a secondary objective, should be relatively cheap and easy to upgrade in the future. For instance, a few spare RAM sockets would be useful, as data flow increases and extra memory is needed.

The program developed to solve the problem should be widely compatible with most widely available platforms, so that the records can be viewed on other computers, in case the office computer is inaccessible, so that backups can be used. It is recommended the whole database be backup as often as possible, but every week or so would be sufficient, depending on the rate of data transfer in and out of the database.

The new system should also be easy to use and straightforward to operate. This will mean that Tod and the clerks can use the system quickly and easily, and so reduce operating time and shop stress. Therefore, I think a windows 98 system (stable, basic, and needs a modest spec to run) with Access XP or 2000, whichever is cheaper.

After a fitting of a tyre is completed, the quantity of the appropriate tyre available is reduced by the appropriate amount, and the ‘last tyre date’ of the car data table is updated manually. This way we can easily find how many tyres of each type are in stock, and how long each car has before it is due in again.

The solution program must be:

1. Easy and intuitive to use

2. Able to operate on a low spec – The firm will want to keep the spending on hardware to a minimum.

3. Able to search for records, for quick access to data.

4. Protected by a password + anti-virus software, under the data protection act.

5. Easy to backup:

i. Must support floppy disk backups

ii. Must be a commonly used format (e.g. must be able to be read on most machines, etc.)

Feasibility study

Although the computerised process would save time in the long term, there is the short-term cost of buying and setting up the computer equipment. However, I think this would save the company time and money in the middle/ long term. To keep the firm efficient whilst it expands, computerising the administration system would free up staff time, making the workforce bigger than it needs to be. This computerised system means the firm will not need to employ a secretary or any other manual filing system, until the database grows too large to manage. This is all part of the process of mechanisation, and can’t be helped. If the firm expands too much without checks being made on efficiency, a diseconomy of scale may well result. This would increase running costs, and decrease profits over time.

In all, I think the middle- and long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term costs. There is the possible problem of Tod having to personally fill in all the records himself, since he is the only one with the knowledge of who gets the 5% discount or not.

The system would result in a much better ‘reminder’ system, so that more customers will potentially come back to the firm. The only cost would be the cost of the computer equipment, and the cost in time and money of maintenance in the future. The system runs basic hardware and common software, so technicians able to deal with the system would be common.

Why use a database?

Databases are very practical methods of data storage, because they provide a very simple, uncluttered GUI for a novice user, but can prove very powerful tools for searching and the like for the advanced user. This is why I decided not to use Excel; the interface is comparatively complex in relation, and may confuse the first-time user.

Also, databases allow for many more types of record to be shown – there is the option to publish the results in an individual record card, which Excel cannot do.

Excel is not totally useless for this project; Tod might be able to make use of its graph-making and accounting features, especially as the company grows and needs to be more in control of its productivity and expenses.

Hardware Specification Required

At the moment, we are going for a very cheap, reliable system, because of the low system requirements of the programs involved. Following the recent leaps in processor speed, and the advent of new technology like the Pentium 4 series, you can purchase new Pentium 3/ duron processors at very low prices. Because of rapid increases in new CPU speeds, we can now set up a very competent system very cheaply. RAM has also become cheaper, which is just as well, because we’re going to need 128 Meg in each machine in order to maintain a good level of stability, and safely clear the minimum requirements of Windows 98. A 128 Meg RAM chip costs about �20. We won’t bother with DDR Ram; SDR is cheaper and has no noticeable downgrade in performance, as well as the added cost of getting a compatible motherboard, since the technology is relatively recent. I would recommend buying the parts from a registered computer fair, rather than a large- scale retailer, because larger shops are only interested in �700 home systems and upwards. The older parts used in these systems enable a complete computer to be built for under 180.

CPU: 450-mhz p3 – Less than 25 if used.

Hard Disk: 10-gig ATA 133 – Surpassed, but cheap and plenty of room for OS and database.

RAM: 128 MEG, SDR.

Motherboard: Old ABIT models have legendary reliability. About 50 used.

Case: Minitower case. They’re cheap (ish) and save space on the desk. About 15.

Graphics card: Cheap, low-end versions cost about �10, or some motherboards carry one on-board.

For this sort of application, we really have no choice but to use a database/ spreadsheet program, because they have a better capacity to index and sort data by name, price etc. more easily than having each record on paper, for instance, or even entering the information in a word-processing application. For example, it’s a lot easier to add a record in-between two others, because a Database program like Access will automatically update other fields, like the “Autonumber” field, for example. It’s also a lot easier to move the records down in the first place, because the database program has many spreadsheet features. The screenshot here shows the option clearly visible. However, performing the same operation in word can send records all over the page.

Entity Relationship diagram

This illustrates the relationships the solution will need to take into account. The relationships should ideally be linked in real time, so that changing the record in one table will automatically update the fields in another table.

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