The last few decades have seen the invention of powerful technologies which when incorporated into our daily lives not only makes life easier but increases efficiency and productivity. The business world has especially been affected as organizations seek to harness the power of networking, cloud computing, and computer systems to enhance their business agenda. Such systems eliminate the need for physical interaction between the suppliers and consumers while ensuring that communication is available around the clock. They also provide an easy way for customers to order goods and for managers to manage organizations spread out across vast geographical locations. In light of these advancements, a print shop, Print-R-Us, wishes to automate its operations across the United States. Hein is a proposal for their new system detailing its functionality, advantages, drawbacks, and specifications required for the new system to be effective and help Print-R-Us's business agenda
The new Print-R-Us Automated system (PRUAS) will be designed to automate most of the companys operations hence allowing customers to enjoy its services from the convenience of their homes. The first major function will be to allow customers to place their orders through the internet, get billed and receive confirmation of their orders along with details of exactly when their goods will be ready for pick up or will be mailed. Additionally, the system will be able to track customer orders remotely. Consequently, the company can keep an updated inventory regarding the number of shipments in transit, yet to be completed, and those delivered. The customers will also be able to track their goods and ascertain when they can go pick them up or expect them at their doorsteps through mail delivery. Another function that PRUAS will fulfill will be to network all the organization's physical walk-in kiosks. Consequently, they can then be linked to the online payment platform and inventory database for conformity and easier management.
PRUAS will be divided into two parts. The first part will be the point of sales (POS) systems that will be located in all the 500 walk in stores and store branches. These systems will incorporate various ways of accepting payment such as credit card reader, and NFC swipes machines. Other equipment at these terminals will include touch screens, barcode scanners, cash registers, and printers. The POS will be manned by Print-R-Us personnel. Customers will be able to scan for available designs using touch screens provided or give personal designs to the personnel for scanning. The employee will then enter the customers details to create an account if the customer has none, together with the details of the customers orders such as mailing address and telephone number. After which the employee will take payment through the options provided(credit card, cash, or other) and print out a receipt whose number will be needed when the customer comes to collect, or wishes to track his/her goods through the online platform.
The second part will be an online platform where the customers can register, order, track, and pay for their goods. Customers will be required to create a simple account with a name, email, address, and password to discourage fictitious customers. Additionally, loyal customers can be tracked using this information and awarded. The website will incorporate a shopping cart feature and an upload section. Customers can shop for available designs and make orders on them, fill in forms about their design specifications or upload their sample designs. The organization will have to seek the services of a merchant account dealer who will incorporate online payment methods onto the website. In so doing, customers will be able to pay for their orders using credit cards or other methods that the merchant account dealer supports through the internet and at the stores POS. Once the customer orders and pays, the order can be confirmed automatically and a digital receipt issued. In the case of complications, the employees at the back offices can resolve it in a matter of minutes or hours depending on the time of day once the customer contacts them using the online chat platform, email, or telephone provided on the website. Moreover, the customer can log in later into the account, enter the receipt number, and see the progress of his/her order.
Apart from the POS hardware, software, and accompanying hardware tools, PRUAS will require server hardware and software to store customer data and billing information. Moreover, they will be the backbone of the whole system. All information on the servers can then be backed up on an independent cloud and synchronized in real-time such that in the case of a security breach on one (cloud server or local servers), the network can operate with the data on the other.
The most significant advantage of PRUAS will be the new market scope that it will enable the organization tap. As opposed to a manual system, the new system will have an unlimited market reach, as potential customers all over the country who have access to an internet connection will be able to enjoy the companys services. Moreover, the inception of the digital age has led people to lead a more sedentary lifestyle that does not require them to venture outdoors to physical stores. The new system will also tap into this market.
Another advantage will be in terms of overall efficiency and productivity in the organization. The manual system is prone to error and tedious workloads when sorting out customer information or verifying shipping information. Additionally, tracking errors using a manual system is tough owing to the number of people involved in the supply chain. However, PRUAS will make it easier to detect errors through online tracking and automatic calculations in the inventory and financial data hence increasing efficiency. Productivity will also improve the system can operate 24/7 without needing breaks, unlike the current manual system.
Productivity in any context can be defined as the amount of output per unit of time. The current Manual customer handling involves personnel taking a lot of time interacting with a customer while delivering one or two units of the product/order. PRUAS will increase productivity concerning customer handling in that the amount of time customers will spend interacting with the system will reduce significantly while increasing the number of overall orders or measurable output (monies received). Additionally, an online platform means that more customers can interact with the system concurrently as opposed to the current manual system.
Financial transactions will also increase tremendously as the system will utilize the computer's and other hardware's powerful processing capabilities to process, confirm, give feedback, and append the necessary files to the database. Further, transcription, transposition, and computational errors that are commonplace in a manual system will be significantly reduced hence increasing productivity in all things financial. The current system involves customers having to wait for personnel to answer their queries or receive their calls. However, PRUAS will increase customer service productivity by being available to reply automatically to FAQ's (frequently asked questions) without manual intervention.
The workload on the employees will be significantly reduced as their work cycle will be reduced to back office positions, menial maintenance works, and operating the POS. Consequently, their productivity will increase as it is proven that the best way to maintain employee efficiency is to segment the workload into small repetitive tasks. Therefore, employees will only bear a small burden of the small operation while the new system bears the biggest burden hence increasing the general efficiency and productivity of the employees. However, employee interaction will be reduced, as most of the tasks involved in the supply chain will be carried out through the system. An employee in the printing shop will only have to log into their computer, get the latest orders, work on them, attach identifying markers, and send them to the shipping department. The earlier need for an employee to deliver such specifications and orders will have been eliminated hence less interaction and communication among the employees. Moreover, the manager will not have to go to the various departments to check on inventory or records but rather sit at his workstation, log into his computer and monitor all the necessary data from there. This will consequently curtail employee interaction as opposed to the current manual system where physical interaction between employees is imperative for effective communication.
It is always critical that Customers information especially that which concerns finances is kept confidential from third parties. Additionally, some customers may not wish to disclose their mailing addresses and phone numbers hence the need to keep such information private. Financial data once disclosed to third parties can be used by unscrupulous individuals to steal money from the customers bank accounts or defraud other people through fictitious products purported to be sold online. Personal credentials such as social security number, name, phone numbers, and mailing address can additionally be used by fraudsters in identity theft schemes to steal the victims financial resources or purchase items in their names. Companies that are desperate to reach a wider market can also use personal information email addresses, and telephone numbers) to send out mass telemarketing texts to customers who find it annoying. It is, therefore, important that all these information is kept private and only disclosed on a need to know basis.
PRUAS although not vulnerable to breaching will be compartmentalized such that only top management employees have access to all the crucial data. Other employees will only have access to information that pertains to their work in the supply chain. For example, POS staff will only have information about the customers order, as the personal details will be embedded in the customers card and system. The employees working on the order will only have information regarding the order number. The employees in the shipping department will only have a name and address without knowing the particulars. Through such compartmentalization, no low-level employee who is at a higher risk of divulging information will have access to crucial data.
Additionally, the company can sensitize the employees on the need to keep all customer information private to enhance security. The company can also keep logs on the user system usage and passwords to monitor suspicious traffic.
Recent technological advances have emerged that have made server systems as secure as cloud computing. However, due to the sensitivity and performance requirements of the system, cloud computing will have to be implemented. Critical information such as customers financial data(credit card numbers) that is required for verification and real-time processing of orders will be stored in the cloud. This will ensure that the clouds powerful processing resources are utilized to tackle the heavy transactions processing requirements. Additionally, the cloud will provide a lesser likelihood of a security breach. The company can also keep its financial records in the cloud to avoid hacking and disaster in case such records were lost. However, inventory records, employee, and customer shipping records can be stored on the local servers, as they will be regularly needed by both the company and customers. Firewalls software and hardware will have to be installed within the company's network infrastructu...
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