Database Coursework Identify the User's Needs Essay

The name of the company I work for at the moment is “HMV” - Database Coursework Identify the User's Needs Essay introduction. The person who owns the company is a man called Raj Bir. He works at the game rental office making sure that everything is satisfactory. The owner is known to me as he is an old school friend of my father. The company is a game rental service. They lend games out to customers for a small charge and fine them if they are overdue. The company I work for has existed for three years.

The company is not a huge company; it’s just not very small either. The rent we pay for the office we work at, where “HMV” is run proves to be a huge financial demand. The address is 2 Clifford gardens, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 1NX. The company at present has seven employees, including the staff and the cleaners. The company has a reasonable amount of members although more finances would help them to expand this clientele. The company is successful; it brings in enough money to pay off all the employees and allows the manager to make a profit. It is just not as extensive as the manager has hoped yet.

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The company is a local game renting service providing members with all the latest and up to date games to rent. We have a variety of members from all from all ethnic communities and for this reason we have every genre of game there is. We make most of our money from our rental service, however we also make a bit from fining for overdue games.

At the moment it is a very time consuming effort to run our game service. It currently takes about twice as long as needed and hopefully with shorter wait times we will get more customers. Also with it taking a long time to take place the staff do not get as much work as they can done with a faster system.

I have been asked to create a game rental service on the computer. It should be made so people who use it know what to do and it is clear. It should a lot less time consuming and a lot more attractive. Hopefully this new system will attract a lot more members to join and make their time in store a lot less time consuming. Also it will remind staff if anyone has overdue games so we can send them a fine and ask them to return it a.s.a.p.

The current system

The Manager or the employees complete the basic functions of the store everyday. These include; renting out games, putting returned games backs and checking for any overdue games.

To rent a game out at the moment this is what the staff/manager has to do. Inside every game cover there will be a piece of paper stuck on it with a red envelope. The piece of paper will be where we stamp on when to bring it back and inside the red envelope is a green card. That green card has the name of the game, the manufacture, the genre and the game number on it. When a game is loaned from ‘HMV’ the employee/manager removes the green card and writes the name and address of the person who borrows it. They also write down the date it is borrowed and the due date. Currently you have the game for three weeks. These green cards and then stored in a box in the managers office. The oldest loans will be at the back of the pile and the newer loans will be at the front. The employee/manager then stamps the piece of paper inside when the game should be due back. Then the member takes the game away and plays it.

When someone returns the game they give it to the employee/manager. He/she then searches through the green cards to find the find the matching card. Then the employee/manager removes the details of the loan by scribbling it out or by using tippex. When the green card has been placed back into the game the employee/manager puts that game on a trolley with games to be put back. Every hour the games are placed back on the shelves.

The overdue loans for the games are worked at the end of the day by the employee/manager. He/she looks through every card starting at the back of the box. He/she will flick through the cards at the back looking and checking if any games are overdue e.g. back yesterday or back today etc. Once that card is taken out it is then placed into an overdue box. The employee/manager then fills out a form with the member’s details and when the game was due back. This from is sent to the members address via post. This process is repeated every day and can be very time consuming. If after 1 week the member has still not returned the game then the employee/manager writes another letter to the same person.

Problems with the current system:

Our company operates functional at the moment however there are a lot of problems with our system. Our first and most important problem is that it takes too long. When someone wants to take a game out we have to have to take the card out of the games case. Then we write all the appropriate information on it and store it away. When someone returns a game they bring back the game to the counter. We then ask for their name and look through all of the cards till we find theirs. Seeing as there are approximately seventy cards in at all time, it takes a long time to find it. Once we have the card we have to cross there details out of it either using a pen or tippex. Finally we put the card back into the game case and leave it on the trolley to be put back. If we can speed this process up then we may be able to attract more people to join as it will not waste much of their time.

Another common problem we have is making mistakes with overdue fines. Sometimes when we flick through the cards two of them get stuck to each other so they look like one card. This can cause huge problems as when we discover the two cards next to each other someone can get a huge hefty fine. This is not good for our reputation as the member will think we did this on purpose as we gave him no warning.

We also have problem with storage. Currently there are cards all over the place and they take up a lot of space. It is also a messy process and there is not a lot of organisation. Also all the members details are on printed papers and take up a lot space. In the case if a fire we will lose all our files and card as we have no backup.

There is also a bit of crime that goes on in `HMV`. Some people come into shop with the intention of stealing a game. They walk over to the game and take the envelope out of the front case. Once this is done they chuck that envelope away so there is no proof that they did it. Then they walk out and if a staff member questions them they say that it is there game that they brought from home and get away with it. This is costing the company a lot of money to pay for all these lost games.

Sometimes when a staff member has messy hand writing then it is hard for anyone else use information that he/she has written down. For example if a staff member writes down a members address on a card and that person has an overdue game we need to send a reminder to their house. However if they have very messy writing on the card we will not be able to get the address to send the reminder. This means that when they do bring it back we have a big fine for them.

Possible Solutions

Non ICT Solution 1.

A non ICT solution for making sure that people don’t steal the games is that you could use a stronger more efficient glue to stick the envelopes. Currently we use a cheap glue to stick it on and it is easy to rip it off. If we use a stronger one hopefully people won’t be able to rip it off. However this will cost the company a lot more money to buy it.

Non ICT Solution 2.

A non ICT solution for storing the cards away is that you could store all of these documents in a closet or in a filing cabinet instead of the computers memory. The problem with this though is that it will take up a lot of space whereas if you keep it saved on the computer it wont take up much space at all.

ICT Solution 1.

An ICT solution for creating the Game Rental Service is that you create it on Microsoft word. Word specialises in inputting text, making tables and formatting it to make it look nice. It contains many tools like Mail Merge, Templates, and Fill-in fields with promote boxes, macro fill-in fields and an auto date.

They also have basis features such as changing the colour and font of text, inserting word art and clip art, making tables, inserting shapes and having a spelling and grammar checker.

A mail merge is useful for writing letters or invitations to people. All you have to do is write the letter you want and then type a list of recipients. The list of recipients is stored in your computer where you choose to save it. In the list you can put their details and whatever information about them you want. Once you have finished writing the letter and recipients list all you have to do is insert a field e.g. “firstname” and if you press preview results you can see the name you typed in the list. You can change the person by clicking an arrow on the toolbar. This is very useful as you only need to click an arrow to change the information instead of changing the text by deleting the old one and typing a new one in. You can use this tool to send letters to people when they have an overdue game.

If you want to open a document and edit it but keep the original the same, you just open a template and it will make a new copy by itself. All you have to do is choose what you want to call it. This saves you opening a word document, changing it and then pressing save as. If your document is not a template and you save it, it will overwrite the current document.

The automatic date and time field tool allows you to automatically update the date and time, if you click the update automatically tick box. Every time you open the document the date and time will have been updated. This is very useful if used on a template as a template opens a new copy every time so it will always keep updating the time.

Fill-in fields with promote boxes saves you a lot of time. If you open a document, boxes will appear at you saying type of subject. Once you type it in and press ok, it will insert the text into your document where you chose it to be while you were creating it.

Macro fill-in fields allow you to type something in, for example, “Type here”. When you click the “type here” it will highlight all the text for you so it will save you highlighting the text and pressing delete. This tool can be used for when someone is renting out a game and you can easily enter their details.

However Word does not have some of the crucial things needed in making the game rental service e.g. being able to check if a game is overdue and being able to import data.

ICT Solution 2.

Another possible is that you create it on Microsoft Excel. It contains many tools that would assist in realising making the game rental service. The spreadsheet application is used for working out calculations and various sums. Also it is excellent for formatting and creating as it as many tools that makes this possible. Some of the tools that are in it are templates, auto date, auto sum, if statements, V look up and cell protection.

Also it has loads of basic features which are changing the colour and font of text, inserting word art and clip art, making tables, inserting shapes, page backgrounds, formatting cells and having a spelling and grammar checker.

If you want to open a document and edit it but keep the original the same, you just open a template and it will make a new copy by itself. All you have to do is choose what you want to call it. This saves you opening an excel document, changing it and then pressing save as. If you forget to press save as and your document is not a template it will just override the current document.

The auto sum tool is very useful for working out calculations but the again very simple to use at the same time. You should highlight all of the cells that you want it to include and then click auto sum. It is that easy. Also you can do all different things with it not just addition but subtraction, multiplication, division and average. This tool will become very helpful in working out overdue fines.

The automatic date and time field tool allows you to automatically update the date and time, if you click the update automatically tick box. Every time you open the document the date and time will have been updated. This is very useful if used on a template as a template opens a new copy every time so it will always keep updating the time.

If statements allow you to create scenarios, for example in the game rental service you can say ‘if’ the game becomes overdue then say overdue. This can save a lot of time as you will not need to go through everyone checking if someone has an overdue game.

V look up is used to look up from other cells into the selected cell. In the Game rental service you can use it so when you enter the member number then all their details appear or when you enter the game number all of the games details appear. This can be very useful and quick as all you need to do is enter a number and all their details appear instead of typing out all of their details.

Cell protection is a tool that used to block people typing in to certain cell. In the Game Rental Service you could use it on the important formula cells so a staff member does not accidently delete it.

However Excel does not have some critical features in making the Game rental \service e.g. being able to create reports and being able create queries.

Chosen Method

A Database application would appear appropriate. It contains many tools that would assist in realising many of the end-user’s wishes. Some of these are:

It has a lot of basic features that can be used to make the system easier to use and to make it look more presentable. Some of these features are Formatting cells, fonts, text, background colour, style and creating tables.

They also have an advanced feature called queries. Queries are questions asked to the database and you can create them to do certain tasks. For our game renting service we can create a query to check who has taken a game out on what day or if anyone has got an overdue games. These can be very useful as they can shorten the time needed to work something else.

There is also another type of query called Parameter Queries. These are queries that make it easier as they come up with a pop up box that asks for information and once entered it enters it into the database automatically. These can be used to easily search for a member and find out information about them.

You are also able to create reports. You can use reports like letters and send them to people. In our rental game case it will be very useful as you can use it to send to people with overdue games.

Combo boxes allow you to save a lot of time and are very useful. You click on the combo box and then the all the membership or game numbers come up. When you find the one you want, click it and all the other details come up automatically. This can be very helpful in the rental form as it saves you a lot of time.

Macro buttons can be used to either add a new record, delete a record, go forward one record or go backwards one record. These can be useful when navigating through the records. This will be helpful on the game issue form as they allow you to go through the records with ease.

Filtering is used so you can choose how your table results appear e.g. having overdue games at the top of the list. This can be helpful as you can set the table out how you want it.

End User Requirements

The system should look very appealing to and it should be very easy for anybody to use.

It should have a feature that works out automatically if anyone has an overdue game.

Every document in the system should have the same house style.

The system should have buttons in it that do certain commands. Once the button is clicked the command should be done straight away without the end user having to do anything else.

There should be a charge used to calculate the fee for overdue games.

The drop down menus should show the right information for its specific task.

From the drop down menus when the membership or game number is picked or the rest of the appropriate details should appear.

There needs to be a query made that has popup windows with commands e.g. type first name here. When you type it in it should be inserted into the document in the correct place.

Objectives

There needs to be a complex query which is made that shows who is overdue and that works.

A report needs to be made based on the query to show overdue games and who is overdue.

A game issue form needs to be made with combo boxes and command buttons that work.

A parameter query needs to be made that works that uses post code to search for members

There needs to be a charge field that works out a fee for overdue games.

There needs to be three tables, one members table, one games table and one loans table.

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