The current architecture that is implemented within the company

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Before looking at the alternative architectures available, we first need to look at the current architecture that is implemented within the company. By upgrading the mainframe first it ensures that the backbone of the system will be current and can manage the entire system. New equipment can be purchased or the old equipment simply upgraded to meet the current industry specifications. New equipment can be purchased and added to the current mainframe to keep all machines running at the top specifications.

The 25 machines that are currently used as standalone machines need to be connected into the mainframe. The accounts department can be joined as a private LAN to the mainframe to ensure that only they can access the materials. The mainframe should be connected to the ‘outside world’ to take advantage of the Internet. This will allow staff to keep in contact via emails and obtain the best deals through Internet research. By using the Web to search for cheaper materials the company may be able to save money and increase the overall performance of the company.

A simple web based front end can be created so that each of the shops can enter their orders for the day without having to phone the head office. This will also increase the speed of the orders and the delivery dates, hence improving customer satisfaction. This database can be linked directly into the stock control and order processing areas on the mainframe. This can be done using a Transaction Processing System, which collects the data, verifies it and then validates it. A member of staff with knowledge of databases and web based front ends can be utilised to save money or this can be outsourced to another company to create.

One or two shops need to be selected as a test pilot for the new systems to iron out all the potential problems that may be faced. It would be best to pick the pilot shops from the 5 shops that currently have a computer system in place. The computers in the shops need to be upgraded and the latest software installed to match the machines in the head office. A single modem needs to be purchased to connect the PC to the Internet through the phone line and the web based database saved as a shortcut on the desktop for easy access.

An individual logon needs to be created for the shops so that it can securely access the orders website. The staff should be trained on how to use the new ordering system and then the pilot should run for a number of weeks to ensure that all the problems encountered can be resolved. The remaining shops with computers that didn’t take part in the pilot need to be upgraded to match the current specifications within the head office, and a modem installed so they can access the Internet.

The remaining 15 shops need to be supplied with a computer. This can either be a brand new machine bought for them or the new machines can be given to the accounts department and their old machines given to the shops. As the shops will only being using the machines to access the order database it would be more economically viable to give them the older upgraded machines and the accounts department who use the machines on a regular basis the new ones. Each individual staff member at the head office should have a logon to access the system.

This will ensure that any unauthorised user cannot gain access to private information about customers and the accounts. All 20 of the shops should be given a generic logon that only staff members know to access the web based font end orders database. The database should be created with controls to ensure the data entered by the shops is as accurate as possible. One way to do this would be to create forms that only allow certain data types to be entered. The web based front end should also be encrypted to help prevent unauthorised hackers gaining access to the information.

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