Design And Implementation Of Computerized Information System For Small Business Enterprise

Computer Science Project Material with Source Code Included

Computer Science Project Material with Source Code Included


Abstract


This study was conducted on the premise that if quality business information is provided to small business enterprises, socio-economic transformation could be achieved. The study emanated from the problem where business enterprises were found to depend on “word of mouth” and “Pen/paper method” rather than any meaningful formal mechanism for accessing information efficiently. The aim of this study was, therefore, to design an information system for small business enterprises using Texaco Filling Station as the case study. Using interviews, information about business flow was collected from business policy-makers in Texaco Company. The main findings indicate that Texaco Filling Station is lagging behind in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). There is lack of familiarity with changing technology – especially the Internet. Although the company is making a fundamental contribution to Nigeria’s economy, they face serious challenges, such as insecurity of data, lack of trained information professionals and appropriate technology to access electronic information.

The study concludes that the company need an efficient, effective mechanism to provide the required business information flow. Hence, a computerised information system (CIS) was designed to address their needs. The developed system uses web-based technologies to provide smooth business flow in terms of finance management, staff management and economic information as well as contact information. PHP programming language was used for the system front-end design while MySQL database was used for data storage. Information are processed by means any internet enabled device.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The last two decades of the twentieth century saw the creation of a completely new global marketplace which established a new foundation for the twenty-first century global economy (Javalgi and White 2012). This economy has not only accelerated global trade competition, but it has also increased the need to access relevant business information. As a backdrop to the broader theme of this thesis – and in order to provide sufficient background for this study – it is important to examine the contemporary business trends in a global context.
For millions of companies throughout the world, whether large or small, conducting business, globally, is now imperative. In this era of globalisation, the international marketing of services has become a topic of discourse for various constituencies, including governments, private enterprises, academics, and individuals, alike. According to Sharma and Bhagwat (2016), recent research findings suggest that information flow is the bloodline of any business-operating unit irrespective of its size and the scope of its operation. In the present customised and globalised business environment, where geographical distances are of no consequence to customer-supplier relationships, an organisation’s competency in information systems (IS) has become one of the key measures of its survival (Sharma and Bhagwat 2016). There is emerging consensus that, globally, businesses are growing faster than ever before. Rising trade and investments are creating national wealth and consumer affluence especially in developing countries. A convergence of tastes and preferences of consumers across the globe is increasing demand for global brands and services. Technological advancement especially in information technology is making the world more and more borderless and increasingly competitive.

Access to quality business information is essential for conducting business. However, access to quality business information, to a large extent, is dictated by the existence and exploitation of effective business information systems and services by business entrepreneurs. China for instance, provides a lesson and success story of the effective exploitation of a business information system and service. In China, the development of BOTIS (British Overseas Trade Intelligence Services) and other interventions has resulted in an efficient provision of information related to companies, products, markets, business opportunities and technical data for business communities, worldwide (Drew2015:57). The provision of business information has facilitated trade and business operations and created multiple employment opportunities. Undeniably, differentiations’ economies are becoming more and more economically interdependent creating a dominant, powerful economic force in which individual nations might not be as potent as they are collectively.

There are a vast number of information services available, today, and it is a recognised fact that information is a crucial element in any successful market economy (De Lange, Britz, Boon and 2013). Information is a major resource that businesses require for monitoring environmental trends, products, services, markets, regulations, customers; for forecasting future events; for countering competitors’ strategies; and for developing new products (Ikoja-Odongo 2012:5). The success or failure of business activities depends on how information is handled and utilised (Nigeria, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development 2018:18). For company like Texaco Filling Station, this implies that for progress, there calls for the timely provision and use of quality information.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

According to Shokane (2013), information is a crucial resource in gaining a sustainable, competitive advantage for modern business enterprises. Despite this importance and the structural changes in economic development in Nigeria, Texaco Filling Station operates in a business environment characterised by fragmented and incomplete information where an awareness of markets, technology, policies, regulations and finance is limited. There is no meaningful information system in place to facilitate efficient and effective access to business information by business enterprises. Traders and other small companies are simply “out of the loop” in developing strategic business relationships that occur more frequently.

An interview with the boards of the company established that the majority of business enterprises depended on “word of mouth” and “paper/pen method”. They did not have any meaningful mechanism for accessing relevant information on business resources without hassles. The problem of access to quality business information is, generally, attributed to poor information systems. These poor information systems and services have necessitated a study to investigate and to propose an appropriate business information system design for Texaco business enterprises. The proposed system curbs the problem of data management, storage and finance management.


1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The main aim of this study is to design a computerised system for small business enterprise using Texaco Filling Station as the case study. To achieve the stated aim, the following specific objectives were laid out:

  1. Design using web based technologies an information system to manage the sales of Texaco Filling Station
  2. Make the system interfaces easy to use with proper navigation and search tool for easy search of sales history information
  3. Implement a financial management system to analyse profit and loss of the company
  4. The system should be secured enough and be able to give information to only authorised users irrespective of their location

1.4 Scope of the Study

The study focuses on the main aspects that contribute to a business information system in Texaco Filling Station by investigating the business activities; the business information needs; the sources of business information; the means used by business enterprises to access business information; and the problems being faced in accessing business information. The study was restricted to the senior management level of the company which includes; Warehouse and Port Operations, Audit, Accounts, Marketing, Human Resource and Administration and Security Departments. This study, however, does not attempt to establish how business information is utilised by the said company.


1.5 Significance of the Study

Although most companies have a sort of CIS in place, most of them have not invested time into ensuring that the system is robust and able to provide management with the information needed for decision making. This study therefore encourages companies with CIS systems to upgrade and those without to go for a robust system thereby gaining benefits, which will help to improve their business.

For business enterprise like Texaco, an information system would provide the required information that would assist in

  • Decision-making.
  • Establishing sources and costs of inputs.
  • Determining the nature of which staff to employ.
  • Monitoring changes in exchange rates.
  • Forecasting sales.
  • Pump sales management.

Finally, the study would serve as a source of reference to the general public and academia, and stimulate interest in further research into this area.


1.6 Limitation of the Study

This study is intended to provide simple software which helps the company to automate management processes like pump management, petrol purchase and staff management. This software does not provide a full automation as the Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) software available in the market. It is beyond the scope of the project to provide real time tracking of fuel purchase processes in the company and provide the tools to analyze the finance.


1.7 Project Organisation

This study is developed under five chapters. The first chapter introduces the research topic, stating the background of the intended project, statement of the problems, project objectives, its significance to the society and overall scope. The second chapter reviews related literature on ICT in small business enterprise. It analysis previous research works, their limitations and need for the development of better computerized information management system. The third chapter discusses the methodology used for the project development, the limitations of the currently used CIS and reasons the intended system should be chosen over the current system. It also showcases the design processes of the new system using UML diagrams. Chapter four showcases the actual running of the developed system. Here proper tests are done to check the strength of the developed system. The developed system is analyzed to determine its conformation with the stated objectives. Chapter five gives the summary of the project, gives the conclusion and recommends approaches for better system.


1.8 Definition OF Terms

System Prototype

Prototype is a working model of the system which helps to communicate a new product’s design and functionality (Cooper, 2001).

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Electronic data interchange is the way of transferring information via electronic means (Businessdictionary.com, 2010)

Computerised Business information System

Is the use of computer technologies to profitably increase the production of goods and services for financial transactions; guard against business risks; and promote the economic development of a country.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion And Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The architecture consists of a UML system design. The adoption of SQL server for data and services interfaces and Web service application which is PHP framework for implementing the data services, allows the users to create and manage work flows and data analysis. This architecture has a potential use for managing fuel in rapid response systems. The current monitoring and tracking models of Texaco fuel stations has been a manual system. Fuel tanks are measured with Dip sticks to check the level of fuel in the tanks. Theft and fraud sometimes takes place among fuel attendants leading to numerous complaints by station managers. Daily sales are recorded in sales books which can lead to inaccurate data recorded. Replenishing stocks at Texaco Petroleum fuel stations takes 48 hours. Station managers fill an order forms to order for products. If there is no supply at the fuel 65 stations after 48 hours, the station managers or supervisors follow up at the head office.

The problem with the existing system include lack of provisions of protected and secured system to fall on in case of natural disaster such as fires, flood and earth quake. Delay in locating and retrieving records during audit to ensure integrity of records. With the fuel station management system developed, the head office tracks and monitor products of all their fuel stations and replenishes them depending on how fast stock reaches its desk-top level at each fuel station site. An overview of a fuel management system has been tested at Texaco Filling Station and the results of the test run can be found in the appendix reports. The benefits of fuel station management system if adopted by Texaco Limited ensures that sales reports, stock reports and supply reports can be generated quickly without demanding it from any fuel station. The quickness in generation of the reports is due to the fact that through the use of the fuel management system, data processing and analysis are faster and more accurate, hence Managers can instantly access different information which leads to easy and quick decision making. This is evidence during the test-run of the fuel management system Texaco Filling Station to generate reports needed for decision making. The fuel management system has the ability to perform sales entry, data processing, data security, reports such as sales report, supply report and stock report. All these functions of the system will enable Texaco Petroleum Limited to run its operations smoothly in a much more effective and efficient manner. The result from the research confirms that fuel management system performs several tasks at the fuel station which are satisfactory.


5.2 Conclusion

Using the computerised information system by Texaco Limited will enable its fuel stations run its financial operations right from sales, stock taking, replenishing stocks, supply reports and data processing to security of sales and stocks. The developed system will enhance the company confidence to track products of its service stations so as to get value for money. It will also eliminate shortfall declaration of amount generated by station managers. Also, the system will offer a user friendly interaction, enabling the company to achieve its objectives in managing fuel stations. It was found out during the test stage that using fuel station management system, sales reports, stock reports, stock level of the fuel in tanks, supply reports can be generated quickly. Texaco Petroleum Limited can use the fuel station management system to analyse the fuel stations performance in terms of sales and in doing this, the company can always monitor the performance of its fuel stations. It was also observed that the fuel management system is quicker in generating reports due to the fact that reconciliation between the fuel stations and the head office can be done simply, faster and more accurate hence managers and the head office representative can access information from the fuel stations which will lead to easy and quicker decision making. The fuel management system developed can handle large volumes of data with ease. Training of staff at all levels of the organization is critical to fully utilizing the capabilities of the fuel station management system. In addition, because deploying such a system represents a new way of providing customer service, training Texaco fuel station staff in how best to use the developed system.

Finally, the company will have the advantage to monitor and manage site operations in real-time since the operation is supported by a web-based application so that stock figures are always viewable, current and fuel deliveries can be identified immediately. It is therefore viable to advice that Texaco Limited actually adapt the use of fuel station management system.


5.3 Recommendations

The use of fuel station management system will solve the limitation problems in the manual processes of fuel station management system, therefore the need for Texaco Petroleum and the rest of the oil marketing companies to use this system is recommended. The system has the potential of meeting the needs and objectives of the comapny which will play a vital role in monitoring the strategic progress of all Total fuel stations through a feedback information system. I strongly recommend that the company and the other oil marketing companies in the country should adopt the utilization of fuel station management system that provide enormous tasks and provide the comapny with accurate, efficient and timely reports. However, the fuel management system developed will actually serve as an asset than a liability to business operations and it would therefore be of great necessity to recommend to Texaco Petroleum Limited the fuel station management system to implement this system and embrace the quality idea of establishing it so as to improve on its operations in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.


5.4 Future Work

In developed countries like Germany, United Kingdom and other European countries, they use Franklin Instrument systems for monitoring of fuel stations. An equally developed system like the fuel station management system has been developed, which is user friendly and web-based. More research should be carried out about fuel station management system to eliminate the manual system of managing fuel at Texaco Petroleum Limited. Further research studies also needs to be conducted to establish and enhance automation in measuring stocks in tanks to eliminate the manual system of measuring stocks using dip-sticks. Fuel management system will enhance complete fuel inventory reconciliation by providing automatic tank gauges to the fuel site underground tank to serve as a complete sensor detection tool. Tank gauge measures can help you begin physical inventory of stocks underground using the gauge sensors which can appear on your personal computer without using dip-sticks to measure the volume of fuel underground. With the tank gauge installed in the underground tank, which is a hardware component, these will enable fuel reconciliation to be done with ease eliminating the manual process of measuring. The fuel reconciliation enables you to know what is coming in and what is being dispensed by combining dispensing data with the underground tank inventory data. Fuel tank gauges will improve fuel security, accountability and control for fuel sites and eliminate errors in the manual systems thereby improving accuracy, efficiency and productivity. Above all, it will also improve fuel tracking and elimination of theft.


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