You are required to investigate the issues at “Marcia’s IT Development and Support” and provide a feasibility study into the improvement of their current business processes. You will need to conduct an investigation into the client’s problems and evaluate a solution to meet their business needs.
Marcia’s requirements are summarized below. The detail provided is incomplete and may in some aspects be inaccurate. If you have any questions you may ask for clarification from your lecturer, who is Marcia’s representative.
Overview – Marcia’s IT Development and Support
Marcia’s is a locally owned business, it currently has four branches; Lithgow, Eastwood, Fairfield and Wollongong. The head office is in Kogarah. At the head office they develop and maintain a sophisticated stock management system, specifically tailored for small retail businesses (this system is called StockItWell). The branches (with support from Head Office) market, implement and support StockItWell for clients in their local area.
The branches also provide a full range of IT infrastructure support services to their clients including;
• hardware and networking installation, monitoring and maintenance,
• Server software configuration and support,
• Desktop software configuration and support.
The business has become quite profitable in the past years and its owner, Marcia Norris has devised plans to expand by opening additional branches, initially in the regional centres of Coffs Harbour and Orange. Marcia has longer term plans for other service centres along the east coast of NSW and eventually nationally. Surprisingly the business, even though it produces and supports IT systems, uses almost completely manual processing (supplemented by a series of EXCEL spreadsheets) to support it’s internal administrative systems. Marcia accepts that these systems are antiquated, and inefficient.
Currently, Marcia spends a portion of each week at each branch to monitor its operations and update the manual records they keep. This is leaving little time to continue developing StockItWell, which should be her main focus. She realises she will not be able to spend the same sort of time in the Coffs Harbour and Orange branches.

It seems that the time is right to look at how IT can be used to modernise her internal business processes which she hopes will enable her future business plans. You have been asked to carry out an initial analysis of the company’s needs.
Basic details of the existing system
Each branch operates largely independently, with one salesman/manager, between 2 and 6 support staff and an office assistant.
The office assistant takes phone calls from customers requesting support. The assistant fills out a spreadsheet based form called a “Support Sheet” for each call.
• The fields completed at this time include the customer name, telephone number, address and support contract number (this information is extracted from another spreadsheet – The Customer Master file).
• A brief description of the support being requested and urgency of the request is then also added.
• The request is then categorised as “Hardware”, “Networking”, “Software” or “Stock system” (where the stock system is the system Marcia’s developed and sells.
• The support sheet is then saved and printed (with most of the fields on it still blank) and the printed copy placed in a tray labelled “outstanding jobs”.
When they finish their existing job, support staff pick up one or more support sheets from the “outstanding jobs” tray. They must ensure that they only pick requests that they feel confident to handle (for example not all staff can handle networking requests). The support staff member then contacts the customer and arranges a convenient time to do the work.
Each branch has supplies of replacement parts for the equipment they service. Details of this stock are maintained on the StockItWell system. The tracking of stock useage, re-ordering and so on is handled very efficiently and accurately. If the support person thinks they are likely to need a replacement part for a job they check that part out from StockItWell and take it with them to the customer. (If the part does not get used it will be checked back in to StockItWell when the support person returns.
As the job is completed the support staff person records (on the support sheet) details of the hours spent on the tasks (categorised into areas such as travel, training, troubleshooting, repair and so on). Details of parts used are also entered onto the support sheet. When the job is complete the support sheet is placed in a tray labelled “awaiting invoicing”. Marica refers to the complete process described above as “Call Management”

The next process is described by Marcia as “Accounts Receivable”. The office assistant takes the completed support sheets from the “awaiting invoicing” file at the end of every month and creates invoices for each customer (by manually entering the details into an EXCEL template). To create the invoice the assistant also has to;
• Calculate the cost of the hours spent on the job (hourly costs vary for different types of customers as well as for different types of work – details of costs are stored in a Spreadsheet called “Price Book”.
• Add the costs of any parts used (determined by accessing StockItWell).
Completed invoices are printed and sent to the client (the original spreadsheet is of course retained on the computer).
After payment for an invoice is received the original invoice spreadsheet is retrieved, marked as paid and emailed to head office. A receipt for the payment is also created and emailed to the customer. The invoice spreadsheet is then renamed by adding the prefix “paid-yy-mm-dd-” added to its name. Head office is also emailed details of all payments received at the end of each week.
Reminder notices are sent for any invoices not paid within 14 days after sent date.
The Stock Management process is (as previously described) implemented using StockItWell. Marcia tells you that it runs extremely well, but will need to be integrated into any new system you might suggest. This subsystem records details of all stock items, including the supplier(s) of the item, price, delivery time, re-order points and so on. It automatically generates orders to suppliers as needed and, when stock is received, it calculates the payments to be sent to the supplier – this information is automatically updated to the head office computer.
The work of the Sales Manager is not considered to be within the scope of this project.
Each week, during her visit to the branch, Marcia reviews the hours worked by all staff at the Branch with the Sales Manager. She finds the unavailability of accurate and up to date information from the present systems an extremely frustrating barrier seriously compromising their capability to complete this extremely important task.
Each day, the office assistant banks the day’s takings and gives the bank receipts to Marcia when she makes her weekly visit. Marcia takes these back to Head Office and gives them to her accountant who reconciles bank transactions against invoices paid and stock used.
Apart from the instances mentioned above the operation of the Head Office is not to be considered as a part of this exercise.
Changes Required
Marcia hopes to achieve the following:
– A modern computer based “Call Management” system identified and installed within the branches. This system should include entry of support requests, allocation of staff to requests efficiently and effectively, tracking of work allocated to staff. While she has not looked at their offerings in any detail she has heard “good things” about a firm called “Atlassian” who works on systems of this type.
– Management of all invoicing from a computer based “Accounts Receivable” module (also to be identified and implemented as a part of the project.
– Improved accuracy in recording of stock usage and at least 50% productivity gains in all other administrative tasks.
– Identification and implementation of a single Financial and Payroll System to be run for all of the branches from Head Office would be highly regarded if feasible..
The computerised systems implemented must be well interfaced to each other so that data sharing occurs seamlessly wherever necessary.
The ability to order combined stock for multiple branches would be valuable. The functionality is already available in StockItWell but not yet implemented because the data on stock usage recorded in the present manual systems is both out of date and inaccurate.
Finally consolidated reporting on all activities at the branches to head office is an essential requirement of the planned expansions are to be successful.
Some other smaller things that would be nice:
– Ability to quickly determine if a required part is in stock at any branch.
– Ability to generate invoices automatically entirely from data held within the system.
– Tracking customer requests and monitoring the level of service they are receiving.

Marcia has asked your group to develop a feasibility report examining suitable solutions.
Your feasibility report should contain at least the following generic sections:
 Executive Summary
 Description of the existing system (preferably including overview DFD’s and ER diagrams)
 Overview of the problems/opportunities
 Project objectives
 Constraints
 Potential solutions
 Preliminary feasibility studies for each option.
 Possible Development strategies
 Recommendations
Your appendix should also contain
• a cost/benefit analysis for two possible solutions showing NPV(Net Present Value) and ROI (Return On Investment) for each.

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