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Question information system project : URGENT HELP

Question is :

Produce a comprehensive description of the problems with the current paper based system at Ray’s Rentals [20].

Below is the case study of Ray’s Rentals :

Ray’s Rentals, situated in a small town in an attractive part of the country, is a large shop which hires out bikes to the many tourists who flock to the area. The shop also sells bikes and cycling accessories, but this project is concerned only with the hire business, including the acquisition, maintenance and disposal of hire bikes. The shop owns approximately 150 bikes for the purpose of hiring. There is a Bike Record for every bike, an example is shown in appendix A. Ray allocates a unique number to each new bike and enters this on a new Bike Record. The Bike Record contains details of the model and manufacturer, the date that Ray bought the bike, how much he paid for it, and which of three classifications and five sizes the bike belongs to. Each bike is only kept for a couple of years, after which time Ray sells it, usually to one of a handful of local dealers, entering the disposal details on the Bike Record. The Bike Record is then kept for a further two years, because of the warranty which Ray’s Rentals gives. The Bike Record also holds details of the bike’s maintenance history. Sometimes a fault is noticed and corrective action taken. Other times, without a fault being noticed, a standard service is carried out on the bike. This includes things like a general strip-down and rebuild, with new tyres fitted, full lubrication of all moving parts, new brake blocks and cables fitted, etc.
The other key document in Rays Rentals is the Rental Record. Each bike has its own Rental Record, an example is shown in appendix B. This usually takes up several sheets of paper, which are pinned together. Everything on the Rental Record is entered by hand. This includes the date and times, customer details and amount paid for a hiring (determined by the period of hire: half day or full day). The way the manual system currently works is as follows: Customers enquire about hiring one or more bikes by either calling in, in person, or phoning, or writing. The Hirings Department, headed by Ray’s Deputy Manager, Pete, deals with enquiries. If it is a case that someone has called in, and wants to take away some bike(s) there and then, the transaction details are entered on the Rental Record(s) for the bike(s) being hired. Sometimes a visitor just wants information about bike hiring, in which case Hirings Department staff jot down a few hand-written notes on an odd piece of paper and hand them to him or her. If someone phones in, it is usually to make a general enquiry – in which case Ray’s Rentals can give the necessary information over the phone - or it is to reserve one or more bikes. Details of the requested reservation are jotted down on a piece of paper, along with the caller’s name and phone number. Once they have checked the Rental Records to see if there will be the right number of the right classification and size of bike available for hire when the customer wants them, the Hiring Department phone back to inform the customer. For a reservation, the details are entered on the Rental Record as much as possible (typically Rent Date, Customer Name, Customer Address, Post Code, Phone Number, Bike Class, and Size), and the rest of the data is entered when the hiring actually happens and/or when payment is received and/or when the bike is returned to the Hirings Department. One problem is that the reservation might be taken several days or weeks in advance of the actual hiring, and because the reservation is entered on the next available line on the Rental Record, there is always the possibility that the reservation gets “lost” among all the other reservations and hirings. This has caused embarrassment several times in the past, because sometimes bikes that had been reserved for someone were allowed to go out on hire, or were reserved by other customers for the same day.

If the customer has written in, it is usually to make a general enquiry, in which case the Hirings Department puts a copy of the “sample prices of bike hires” list in an envelope and posts it back to the enquirer (the rental rated are determined by the classification). Unfortunately, the list is occasionally out of date or inaccurate in some other way but copies of a new one have not yet been received from the printer. In these cases either Pete’s assistant, Sheila, or (usually) the Commercial Modern Apprentice, Megan, has to make hand-written corrections on the original before posting it off. Ray believes that too much potential business is being lost through the, sometimes haphazard, way in which enquiries are dealt with, and through failure to follow up customers who have expressed an interest in possible bike hire. Fortunately, a lot of the customers are loyal and hire bikes time after time. When customers make payment for a hiring, a hand-written receipt is given (or posted, for those customers who send a cheque through the post in advance). When the hire period is complete, and the bike is returned, the rental sheet is updated with the actual time back. Each Friday, Ray inspects Bike Records to identify which bikes have not been serviced for a month, and draws up a hand-written list of them. He gives this to Alf and Bert, the two Technicians, and they work through the list the following week. It’s easy for Ray to fail to spot when a bike is due for service, partly because the handwriting on the Maintenance History part of the Bike Record can be appalling. When Alf and Bert have serviced a bike, they update the Maintenance History. They also receive information from the Hirings Department about bike faults that have been reported by customers when collecting or returning bikes, and for which repairs are needed. Again, when the work has been carried out, Alf and Bert update the Maintenance History. There’s no real system of prioritising all this “service” and “repair” work, so that sometimes bikes which are in heavy demand are off the road awaiting work on them, while some other machines, which have been worked on and are available for hire, are very rarely hired. Another problem with the repair and service side of the business is the alarming frequency with which the necessary spare part is not in stock. This can lead to bikes being off the road for weeks. On the other hand, some parts are over-ordered, and some of them are left lying around in the workshop for so long that they either go rusty or become obsolete. There’s no real check that ordered parts are delivered, or that delivered parts have been ordered. Copies of parts orders and delivery notes are kept in a filing cabinet – but just in a pile and only if someone remembers to put them away. Ordering and receiving parts from suppliers is the job of Paul, the Parts Manager. A particular part can always be obtained from the original manufacturer of the bike, and maybe from one (and only one) of several other trusted suppliers.

bushra in Computing over 4 years ago
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