This Video Shop is based in South London, called ‘GoggleBox’. At the moment, the manager has three assistants. The shop has been established for over three years now and is looking for a way to improve its business with new technologies. GoggleBox currently uses a large manual filing system to store all information about customers, videos and loans. Customers need to become members to rent videos. Each video is catalogued and its details are stored in a filing cabinet. Each customer fills out a form to become a member. A membership number is then assigned to them and this form is filed in a filing cabinet – alphabetical order by surname.
These forms are taken out if member details need to be changed or when their address is needed to send out an overdue notice. All the rental information is written down in a logbook. Overdue items are checked daily and details are cross-referenced with member and video files. Calculators are used to work out the overdue fees. Sales assistants are often asked about whether particular films are in stock, or when new releases come out. The assistant either answers these from memory or retrieves the information from files. The current system has a lot of problems.
GoggleBox uses a large manual filing system which is a very time consuming way to enter and retrieve information. The extensive use of paper has a damaging effect on the environment as a lot of paper is wasted. It takes a lot of time to fill in forms and create records by hand for new members. Mistakes are often made, records easily get lost if they are put back in the wrong place and they can also get damaged. Large filing cabinets need to be bought to store all these records – these take up a lot of room – room that could be put to better use as video storage.
The business would save space and money if there was no need to buy these large cabinets. Because everything is on paper, it takes ages to make backups. This way, lost or damaged records are not easily replaced. Checking for overdue videos is another time consuming task. A single assistant has to go through each logbook, and check the dates to see what is overdue and whether or not the item has been returned. The fee then has to be calculated… all of this takes time. Mistakes are often made, and letters have even been known to be sent to the wrong people! There are a number of possible solutions that could be considered:
The first one is to simply improve as far as possible their existing manual filing system. One improvement is to make a log book of backup details incase any records are lost. These could include minimal detail – simply information such as name and address, or telephone no. and if need be further details could be taken later, should the record disappear! Another solution could be to computerize the Logbooks – This way, the system would be partially computerized, partially manual. Loans would be recorded on a computer application such as excel, word or access so that it would be a less tedious job to check for overdue items.
The records of members and video info would remain in their filing cabinets. The advantage of this is that overdue items are easier to identify and fees can be automatically calculated (if the right software is used). The disadvantage: the problem of office space still has not been solved. This is the same disadvantage of the first solution. The only advantage there, is the information backup. The third solution is to create an entirely computerized data storage system. All the records of members, video information and loans taken out will be recorded on one single database.
Queries and forms can be made to find specific information, such as overdue items and also print out the information as a form to be sent out to an address. With a system like this, it is simple to make a backup of the whole file instead of individual records and records cannot be lost or damaged in any way. A lot of space is saved which can now go to better use because a single computer is needed to make this system work. One disadvantage is that computers can break down, in which case the database cannot be reached. However, as long as there is more than one computer to use, the consequences of this won’t be so disastrous.
My final choice of solution is to use the ICT method because it has many more advantages over disadvantages. It seems to solve all the current problems that have occurred through the manual filing system, including no backup strategy, loss or damage to records, time consuming methods, extensive use of paper and storage space. One more disadvantage of this solution is that some of the staff are likely to be computer-illiterate, however as long as the system is simple to use, it won’t take long to train the staff so that they get to know the basics.