The following report is abstracted from a case study which is based on spreadsheets and databases. Fred's Emporium PLC is a company that designs and creates modern furniture and has been trading for 19 years. They have been keeping paper records and would like to move forward and incorporate a spreadsheet and database within the company. In this report I will be stating what software should be purchased and why I think it will benefit the organisation.
Task 1 - Benefits of Using Spreadsheet & Database
Fred's Emporium PLC is aware that a spreadsheet and database could be used. They want to know how they will benefit from using these applications.
The first important benefit of using a spreadsheet and database is security. Until now the company have kept paper records of customer details, suppliers, invoices, employee details, payroll and accounts. Keeping paper records is very insecure due to a possible accidental loss or theft. For any business keeping customer and employee details safe is very important. By not doing so is a breach of the Data Protection Act.
The Data Protection Act was developed to protect how data about people can be used. The 1998 Act covers data stored on a computer or an paper filing system about people.
HMRC were criticised for breaching data security. They wrongly sent out thousands of taxpayer's details to wrong people. (HMRC criticised for data security breach, 2010). A database and spreadsheet can prevent any accidental loss or theft of data by using a password so only authorised people have access to it.
Data can be saved and stored in electronic folders on computers and the folders can be password protected as well. Having electronic folders can save space and costs of keeping data in a paper filing system.
Spreadsheets can help the company with managing employee details such as payrolls, absences and holidays. For example if the company need to check an employees pay 5 months back the spreadsheet will have it stored and is easy to amend details.
Recently the company's orders have reduced. A good way to improve this could be to store all the customer details into a database and use the database for target marketing purposes for example send out promotions etc to previous buying customers. This will also provide a good customer relationship. Using the internet to sell products directly to the customer's can be used with a database. The database can print out invoices and store customer's details for future reference.
Keeping track of the revenues and expenses is very important for the company. Spreadsheets can store data about purchasing expenses as well as any other expenses. Using the revenue data in spreadsheets can determine which products are making the business the most money and which products are declining. Spreadsheets use specific formulas to work out revenues and expenses.
A database can be used to carry out tasks related with keeping track of supplies. Spreadsheets have formulas and functions that can show the company when supplies reach a critical level. This will determine you need to order more supplies.
Task 2 - Any other software:
Fred's Emporium PLC want to know what other software may be required. Specific software that could be required is design software such as Microsoft Adobe Creative Design. It is more flexible for the designers using Adobe Creative Design because errors can be edited whereas it is less flexible if hand drawing.
Another benefit is speed. Using software is a lot faster than hand drawing because there are graphics, icons and images already created and available to use.
Adobe Creative Design can save data of drawings the designers create and can be password protected.
It is more reliable and accurate for example the designers develop measurements by hand which sometimes cannot be less accurate. Drawings created using the software, the dimensions are calculated with accuracy.
Adobe Creative Design is cheaper and most importantly more environmentally friendly. Designing by hand can go through a lot of paper drafting designs. Drafting designs can take up more human power, and cost of, paper, templates and a drafting machine.
Fred's Emporium PLC mentions selling their products onto the internet. I would then recommend on purchasing website design software such as Adobe Dreamweaver. With this the company can create a website advertising their products for sale. There are many benefits of having a website for a business. Number one benefit of having a website is further selling the company's products. This will increase the company's sales.
A website can be easily updated so if the designers create new products they can be easily added to the website.
Selling directly to the customer rather than selling to High Street furniture shops can save money and increase sales because when selling to shops you make less profit due to the shop selling it at a higher rate.
It can be easier for customers to do business with for example a customer might want a custom made design, this will create a friendly customer relationship. These customers can be locally or global.
Also another benefit you can compete with other design furniture companies.
Task 3 - Off the shelf Vs Bespoke Software:
Off the shelf applications such as Microsoft Excel, Access is software that is not specifically designed for the user. Custom made software known as Bespoke is software that has been specifically written for the user.
Advantages of bespoke applications:
The software can be specifically designed to fit the company's needs.
Functions and icons can be specifically created to make running tasks faster.
It will be easier for the company to use as it will not contain unnecessary facilities and functions. Also will operate in the way that the company wants it to.
It is much more flexible than off the shelf software because changes can be made to it over time. This is useful as requirements of the company may change over time.
There are no licensing costs involved for using bespoke software. There is just a one off payment to the developers. This will save costs.
Disadvantages of bespoke applications:
Bespoke software will be more expensive than off the shelf software.
The development of bespoke software can take time to complete. It may involve Fred's Emporium PLC spending a lot of your time to the development process.
Getting support for bespoke software can be an issue, as the developers may not offer support services.
If the company do not get access to the source code they will be dependent on the developer's continuation.
The software may be unstable and not run on the system the company owns.
Advantages of off the shelf applications:
It is cheaper to purchase an off the shelf application than it is to purchase a custom made application. This will save costs.
The company will be able to share files produced by the software such as Microsoft Excel.
The company do not have to spend time in the development process. This can save time and costs.
It is easy to get support from other users that also have the same software for example guides on the internet etc.
Off the shelf software has most functions because it is made as general software.
Disadvantages of off the shelf applications:
The software may have functions on that the company may not need.
The company may have to make changes to fit with how the company works. This is because the software is designed for a multipurpose use.
They may be certain actions that you need to do that the software cannot support it.
No changes can be made to the software except for updates from the developers.
It may take longer to learn properly with the software been too large. Whereas custom made software is shortened down to the user's needs.
In conclusion to this report I recommend purchasing a custom made software. The reason for my recommendation is it can be designed in a way the company need it for example have only functions that are needed. By having custom made software it can be easier to use because it will be designed to how the company want it. There can be large icons to press which can make it easier. Also if any changes to the company or anything that needs adding to the software. It can be edited. It can be cost effective because there is no licensing, just a one off payment.