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Implementing an Attendance System in 3AAA

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 5418 words Published: 20th Sep 2017

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  • Henry Brown

Carry out a systems investigation on implementing an attendance system in 3AAA:

Brief:

Pyus Pyxidis have taken on a project to investigate the possible attendance systems to be used by 3AAA academy staff. The investigation should allow myself as an employee of PP, to research possible service providers, programs and ways of implementing a new attendance system for 3AAA.

What is currently used?     

Before starting my research into different products and services I needed to first find out what current media/service is used by 3AAA to conduct their attendance checks for pupils in their colleges across the country.

 

The use of a hard copy may also limit the speed of passing the information along to the next representative in the company which you may not get with an online based system.

When researching the new alternative I shall keep in mind the simplicity factor as well as the effective layout used.

End User Investigation:

The first stage to my investigation was to interview Andrew Maddison, the Leading Member in I.T. at 3AAA. I approached the interview in an organised way by using a question sheet which was prepared earlier. I highlighted important questions to ask Andrew so that I could make the most of my time with him.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/t1fv-_XydK0VfEo0l1KuwvxL1f4B8ft2w8ufpDNaZr04mOITzQKw5P4SMIqr0mF3Wm8c9bV5EaCk5xtZJ_pQcllQPGSr808DqaGspCZaNOOcumw35xnDg-uvao9OUYMw_8eBSu62q9pLNZX2_A

Fig.1. shows an image of the first page of the completed question paper. Below is a manuscript of the interview paper.

Q: What would be your most valued feature in your current of documenting attendances?

A:Needs to be simple and easy to understand. Keep the current format.

Q: How much time is required to input your data into the document?

A: Around 20 minutes. However, data has to sit around for up to 4 days before it is sent away to head office. Due to this no immediate action can be taken if there is a problem.

Q: Does the time taken need to be addressed and or shortened?

A: This could be dealt with by bringing in an online system. Possibly cloud based. This could be used with many different administrative rights to allow the right people to view the data. This could be achieved by using an independent online service.

Conclusion:

There was a lot of useful information gathered from the interview. Some of the main points drawn suggested that a cloud based service may be the best way to go with the project. This would also aid product function and efficiency in communication as well as speed and ease of implementation across the whole of 3AAA.

Investigation of Services:

This section of the investigation focuses on the service that would best suit the project. I will take into consideration price, ease of use and reliability of the service.

In this section I looked at 5 of the top cloud based services which all had their positives and negatives. I worked the 5 down into the two best services to further compare which will aid in choosing the best option. The two options which I narrowed down where Microsoft’s Azure service and Amazon’s AWS.

Microsoft Azure:

Positives:

Negatives:

-Control: MA allows you to have access and Active Directory on the service. This allows more freedom and control. The service also allows for multiple administrative users who can all create amendments and have an input into the system.

-The long-term trajectory is not very clear. There are possibilities of Microsoft not fully committing to the service down the road.

-Platforms: Rival platforms and operating systems are supported on this system.

-Microsoft are not innovators in the industry for this service.

-Lifespan: Annual upgrades are in effect and will allow the service to work and run for a prolonged amount of time. The system should be supported for the next 10 years if not longer.

-Open source applications do not have the same amount of support as Microsoft applications which can make it difficult in fault finding.

Pricing:

Microsoft Azure has been the cheapest option with both quoted prices being lower than AWS. The drop in prices over a two-year period shows how Microsoft are finding more efficient and cost effect ways to run their service.

Amazon AWS:

Positives

Negatives

-Features: The service offers very similar things to Microsoft Azure.

-Outages: This service has a history of outages and can be unreliable.

-Scalable: The service will allow for expansion very easily as it is like paying for water or gas. The Service can expand with the business’s needs.

Speed: The download speeds from the service can sometimes be slow unless extra amounts are paid.

-Costs: Can eliminate large IT overheads and be more cost effective by using this service.

Transactions: These can become expensive and the user may even need to pay for activity as well as additional storage.

Pricing:

Conclusion:

After an in-depth comparison of the two services I have decided to choose Microsoft Azure as my service provider for this investigation. I have based my choice on both features of Azure, the cost and the prospect of prolonged support. Azure offers a more competitive pricing package as well as offering better support for the site. The uptime and SLA packages are far superior to AWS making MS AZURE the right choice for the Register platform.

 

MoSCoW Method:

The MoSCoW method is a prioritisation technique used in business, project, web, analysis and a much larger array of management. The Method is very effective at helping the project leaders/managers in prioritising the most important factors. The work of prioritising the most important sections will help in the success of the project. For example if the priority of a project is to create a simple and effective design of a website that chooses function over aesthetic, then this can be easily highlighted in the MoSCoW method to make it easier to follow. So the project would show ‘Must have: A well-functioning engine on the website to insure that the system functions to a high standard’. ‘Should have: A budget of £200,000 or less’. ‘Could have: Offline features’. ‘Won’t have: An instant messaging service’. E.g.

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This method is good for working with time constraints as it allows the project manage to pick the most important aspects which MUST be completed. This then allows for other important but not as pivotal factors to be added to the other sections such as SHOULD and COULD. Many projects will say that they would like to have at least 60% effort put into the project as a minimum. (Even if time and resources are short the effort cannot drop below 60%) As the scale moves down to lesser priorities then 100% effort would be needed to achieve the lower options.

MoSCoW.png

Fig.7 (2017). 4.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 January 2017

(M) Must Have:

These will be the fundamental requirements needed to ensure that the project can be a success. These areas have been highlighted by the client as important and integral functions.

Priority

Requirements

Specification

1

Simple and easy to use

Keep design simple yet still stylish as well as keep the tools/buttons as clear as possible.

2

Permissions for different staff

This is to prevent unauthorised access to certain files, settings and other areas which can be effected.

3

Encryption and Security

SSL level encryption will be used to protect the student’s data and the system will be locked down to prevent an unauthorised access or hacking.

4

Homepage and Dashboard

This will be used to make it easier to navigate the website and improve the function

(S) Should Have:

These requirements are not as important or as critical as the ones previous. They are still an important part of the project however they are not critical. Due to tight time frames ‘Should’ specifications can be held back till another time or fit in after the ‘Must’ have been completed.

Priority

Requirements

Specification

1

The budget of the project should be £200,000

Keep costs down where possible and meet deadlines to ensure no further costs are added due to delays. (Client specified to keep below £200,000 if possible)

2

The project will have a 6 month timeline

The client needs the system to be up and running by the end of August 2017.

3

The system will use both off the shelf products and custom made services

The blend of custom and off the shelf will ensure that the system will suit the specific needs of the client as well as help to keep the cost down at the same time.

4

Colour coding system will be used for ‘present’, ‘Absent and ‘Late’ etc.

This will show an easy to understand visual representation as well as written e.g. ‘P,A and L’ will be used to represent the different options as well as the colours.

(C) Could Have:

Requirements in this section are to be done if the right resources are available and if the client decides for more options. These are not as important as the other two sections above and are only to be attempted once the two previous sections have been completed.

Priority

Requirements

Specification

1

Vibrant colour scheme

Colour scheme will make it easier to navigate and add a more aesthetic feel to the site.

2

Colour coding

Colour coding within the register itself will make it easier to read and understand.

3

Dropdown menus

This would make it easier to navigate the site and reach the different areas faster.

4

Flag inactive users

The administrator can be informed of inactivity of users.

(W) Won’t Have:

This requirement is something that is not necessarily needed for this project and will ultimately be decided by the client stakeholders in the future to see if it is needed in an extension of the same project.

Priority

Requirements

Specification

1

Instant messaging service

This is an expensive and time consuming service to create and set up. 3AAA already have ways of communicating so this won’t be needed.

Lifecycle:

I have chosen to use the Agile Lifecycle model for this investigation as it has many useful features which would insure a successful implementation of the service to 3AAA. This project would need a tailored plan to correctly implement successfully, the iteration feature in this lifecycle model would allow for safe checks and various demo releases to be tested before the system in launched. Fig.6. shows a detailed diagram of the Agile Lifecycle Model with the relevant sections and detailed iterations.

The Agile development cycle would work extremely well to meet the needs of the project. The multiple iterations of the cycle will allow the development process to be as effective as possible. The cycle will be very effective for the projects timescale of 6 months as it allows the developers plenty of time and iterations to get the system working as effectively as possible. The agile cycle allows the project managers to break the project down itself into smaller and more manageable areas. This works hand in hand with the MoSCoW project and will make the project more scalable to the team creating it. The different sections of the MoSCoW theory will work very well with the cycles iterations to ensure each stage ‘Must, Should, Could’ etc. are completed in the correct order and to a level which will meet the clients expectations.

Design & Function:

I have designed the website to run on an array of ‘Internet Browsers‘ however I have used screenshots from Google Chrome as the service works best on the specific browser.

Below are a series of screenshots from the Beta copy of the proposed ‘Attendance System’.

Login Prompt:

This would be the primary interface for the users to gain access to the service. The 3AAA member of staff would simply need to search for ‘https://www.3aaa.co.uk/login/attendance-register‘ in their browser to reach this page.

The member of staff would use a unique login name such as ‘J_Smith‘ for example to login. The password would be customisable by the user to best insure security for that user’s online profile. (The password change feature can be found in the settings tab on the drop down menu at the top of the page.)

Particular members of staff would have Admin rights to the service to allow for editing, new menus and features to be added. This means that the webpage can be maintained correctly and work as it should. Staff with Administrative rights will have a slightly different colour scheme to indicate the user’s rights on the page so that it would be easily to identify the different users. For example, an Administrative user would have a red band at the top of the page just above the drop down menu.

Overview:

Once the user has successfully gained access to the service they would usually navigate from the home page to the ‘Register‘ area via the drop down menu. Once in the ‘Register‘ area the page will default to the ‘Overview‘ section.

The ‘Overview‘ section shows a detailed overview of the students in the staff members selected class. The data provided is the student’s ID number, Name, Days present as well as a chart to the far right showing how many days absent, present and if they were present in the Am and or PM sessions.

Register:

This section allows the staff member to input the data to the online system. It is easy to follow and use as the user can simply place a ‘Y’ to present a tick and an ‘N’ to show a cross in the wanted box.

This service allows a real time update to 3AAA’s records which will be stored on Microsoft Azure protected servers. The live update allows 3AAA staff members to receive updates from all of the colleges across the UK at the same time to keep their records up to date.

Report:

The Report section shows a detailed report of a specifically chosen learner from the academy/college. A full term for the learner can be viewed and displayed with further options to edit from certain staff members.

This section shows a column with how many days have been missed by the pupil as well as days present.

Different students can be selected easily and various information can be seen about the learner such as guardians, student ID numbers and DOB.

Student List:

This section shows the current pupils of the staff member. Much like the report section, details and information about students are displayed.

Information about students can be altered in the ‘Edit‘ tab as well as new students can be added through this feature.

Other sections are available such as Download, Comments and Edit, however they are relevant to this investigation and a normal feature which is seen on many different sites.

Conclusion:

The Beta is still a work in progress however I believe I have achieved the desired design, functional and usability features requested by 3AAA. I have followed a 3AAA colour scheme to fit in with other websites and products promoted by the company.

The prototype/demo of the online system can be seen above. Below is a further update to the online system after the Agile cycle was followed again. The project was cycled another three times to refine the sites functionality and aesthetics. The site has maintained many of the positive aspects of the beta and prototype however the site has been created to appear more user friendly and more professional. See shots of the site below.

Mobile Access:

The site can also be accessed via mobile devices. This is to make the function and use as simple as possible for the users and students. The teachers can use this feature too however it is primarily created so that the students can access it whilst in break out rooms or when they are first entering the college so that the register times are as accurate as physically possible. This will allow for reports to be sent back to head office as soon as possible so that there are no delays.  The mobile site uses a very similar layout to the browser version however it is slightly adapted to best fit the mobile browsers and thus make the function and design more accessible to the users and students. Below is screenshots from a mobile device showing the site loaded into a browser.

HOME M.jpg

fRONT fm.jpg

dROP DOWN m.jpg

rEPORT m.jpg

Implementation:

In this section I will look at the ways I can implement this service across the company. I must investigate the ways 3AAA currently distribute data and follow a similar path. Due to fact I have based the attendance system on a cloud based service there will be no need for software packs to distributed around which many attendance systems are based on. This process can be fairly expensive and the problem of 3AAA’s hardware in their sites could cause a problem. The auditing process would also be very lengthy.

This confirms that the cloud based platform may be the best way to go for the system. The service is well looked after by Microsoft as it is part of package. Another added perk in the service is that more server space can be purchased easily if the site ever needed expanding.

Conclusion:

This concludes this investigation into a new attendance system for 3AAA. I have covered the customers’ requirements, researched a service provider, developed a function able webpage to use as an attendance system and described the implementation procedure I plan to follow. The system has been designed to make the day to day function of signing in/marking the register easier for both the teachers and students. The website can be reached by both computer and mobile devices to make it as simple as possible for the students to access the site to sign in and use it.

The register will be implemented gradually by using both Medias at the same time to ensure that it is working correctly before finishing with the paper and pen copies. This will ensure that accurate registers are still sent to head office and the users and students can be integrated into the system effectively.

3aaa have over 50+ academy sites around the UK with thousands of learners who attend on a frequent basis. This means that the system must be as full proof as possible to ensure an effective transition in the academies.

The ease of use of having the system on the student’s mobile devices will ensure that the sign in process is as accurate as possible due to the speed in which the students can access the site through a mobile web page and log on. This process will allow for an accurate time stamp as the learners arrive to site as opposed to waiting until they were behind their desks to log on to the desktop site which would not be until after college had started at around 9:15 and would give a false reading.

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The system would also have all the information needed for students to contact the academy and individuals inside the academy. The students can use options on the site to report illness or and general absences. This can also be done through their mobile devices as well as a desktop browser. This will allow for staff at the college to know if a learner will be attending or not as soon as possible and will avoid any delays for 3aaa.

Reference Screenshots:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/6px9aku7CUk12byXmspBMocfE-9acS_865aeTKL62fUnh91LqE1UifjfnPeu4FnhlzibNTzhbq0N27-Eev2Z9erANCFyt6CgqIbm9KYOKjidreHIr_V8-9esLQszOCNS8YvERPpG

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Spn3kx4duXS--TrXfbNd0K5bM564afzTvFrGSIBd3jrbG-XdYEuKrdiIdntEMK67t4RuFiDfbdRpIVvKSKx328QkDjIuplLCBrS_MmxXCesTfiSNjlKXfzXiC-l0qxlRzTaaYam

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/myRvkGIUpQmo35DYl9kuodQ33yQbcKuKHTnJ73pAm2s7Ar_IyA92Mk6sWkLyhc1ECiqw89nmqrT1JuhU4f6M6AjGRb7vcQXt71i_FnZ1Ou_JANiP3R5yBta171J3XoizGAfZ5SVe

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/E7uNPxyTQKa31F9JEWwgoM963Mew6GScOxKMUW-LmaqVFXtaoma50oi0oB1b9HPY5nrV1oEd58Ypc_4cChP488iYXEpPxdIl6kT2ehh49lnvwwHjro1R5shBSBDrd2W9MO7dHcTg

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/8hcmWKzGgAfuRT46ueAOhOPxit6_efqyCQRjiUdtEgVP9rZy3wHPpALyMxLYIsMvLpB5NdonNxqk73ZCvch8Wtu4YESAT8DJ9r4l7draji4b5XR438IAycjsIplvJPmMnHugFBQt

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/xd1G-Id7F-Lr4ecKyXBsplkNtU9CAu4y_qK7Jam10aUs3KIlf9cVslhek00WZUydpRsd23_dkuKyowRRWTXgz4mEjqY855qgOPELIEZMUK12s0OLLzBvlZ1EY02_mvKnKmAYduEx

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/ilCxx7ZJxIAqlGb-qKy8pfi4oLS50ay34IxkDqUKRFKUSjVrqnlxjlJzMOLHaOeGbkkR4TLaW8fAr4rjBzqYpVlDspqY-vv2ztxK8fQTwkhHxbD7mS90gzK6SHlJJfGYFhC8edwn

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https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/o8Z33K_bYiUv9qFuCNZNFaYrFfZ0qq9XacF7ZO5LlW4deI_17o1O-V4rV1ym4nBP0usU6ctg6WG9SRJVuuQMR8JSDNRvAXSJiWpd90zEBGJzuxh_hK_CrqFJ9pU1l2VneDS0m3xo

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Q3ptsaws_moR5Yss6sUFA96i-p97N1N8cg0qhOmLzpJZtqLuGxD_Ri4utaoC0xWEwpivHZryW2iAxh_3rGuMXk5u7hrCoLqTkdcDt5w92pliCTNjsydck3Ps6xXkgEO7PCjz6wG

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7DdBWYf2Fow43woqAuV_mshzfsdoyfKwgSK0qQNmb4hZvIhLHAaugywen-5rrSwOQ0y1Eums-P51eLupV1zX6N5tetMubq3kuxyzocmqFTf7iFy_iYQqJ7hBhX0H7BUz0PJgoMgX

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/jrVjc-4XpRBsBiBR2yP8OdFYoBFgwulZHMYJ8JGGOBOCrY8bpxDtQCmdz1pa6UvXE9gcZ7Uj_pdNtPvfEkPatCGf1f8V85LCFWguKGjAJaLFkCQ_1lLHq8oJ15ubqicK2aYCrlYt

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