The Animal Lane Cattery, a privately owned small business, needs an efficient, updateable, expandable, easily accessible information system to track and document clients’ needs for boarding/grooming services. The objective is to design and develop a system that fulfils the needs of the Cattery. An effective electronic filing system will eliminate lost paperwork, minimize errors, and provide a method for quality customer service. I will be designing and making the system that we choose for the Cattery.
As the Cattery has expanded its boarding and grooming services to accommodate a total of 15 cats in separate pens, an increase in customer complaints have been received concerning the Cattery’s inaccurate and time-consuming tracking of specific client information. This inefficiency means that clients have to give an update of their feline’s information to the Cattery’s staff and has resulted in service errors. At the moment, they use a flatbed database, which only allows you to work with one table open at any time. The Cattery has considered using a “pen and paper” system, writing things out manually and storing information on paper, but a more efficient system would be a relational database. Their ideal system is a relational database, and this will allow them to have macros, reports, queries, and searches based on the information needed. This, therefore, is the system that I will be developing for the Cattery’s usage.
There are many relational database packages I could have chosen to work with, but I have decided to use the database package Microsoft Access because I have great respect for Bill Gates and also, Microsoft Access is an older program, therefore any bugs in the system will hopefully have been fixed and the package improved. I could have used Microsoft Works, but there cannot be any more than one table open at a time, and it is necessary that I have multiple tables.
The users of this database will be the Cattery’s staff- full and part-time employees responsible for the care and grooming of the cats. The Office Staff will be able to view and edit the data, whereas the Grooming Staff will only view the information they need. ANALYSIS The software I decided to use here is Microsoft Access to create and view the database. The hardware needed is a keyboard to enter data, a mouse, a printer to print out the receipts, and the computer monitor. All data will be output using the printer.
I will need to ensure that there is enough memory for a relational database to function. This should not be a problem, as Microsoft Access (which I have chosen to use) does not require that much memory space, and there will be plenty of space available on their office computer, which, other than the necessary software components, will be used solely for the database used for the storing of data and the running of the Cattery.
Backup copies of data will be stored on tape. The tape needs to be clearly labeled and stored in a water-tight case inside a fire-proof storage box away from the initial source of data, in case of fire or flood that may damage the computer that contains the original data. Using floppy disks as a form of backup was considered, but the database is relatively large and updated on a daily basis, so the floppy disks will not have a capacity large enough to adequately store the data.
Data collection: The data will be collected from the clients using a form that they will fill in giving the information needed by the Cattery. The fields required will be on the data capture form given to clients. These will be in the form of questions, such as the ones below: What is the cat’s name and owner’s contact information? There will doubtless be other questions that the staff will need to know the answers to.
To update the data, I will need to remove certain clients’ information and replace it with new data when the first cats are collected. The printed data will be the reports when a search is started, and a second report to give as a receipt to customers when they collect their pet. DESIGN Two tables will be developed: owner information and services. The link between the two tables is the owner code. Each owner has only one address, but multiple cats may reside at the same address. Each cat has personal service needs even if it shares the same owner as another. The client names and cat names will not be used as key fields because there might be multiple clients with the same names or cat names. Office staff at the Cattery may view and modify the data in both tables, and the grooming staff may view data.
Following are the hand-drawn designs of the database. First are the initial rough designs to show the basic layout of the database. I will then give a data capture form (next page) to one of the users (an office staff person) asking what things they think could be done better and how the design of the database could be improved to make using it easier. The user’s comments will then be taken into account when making the final designs of the database, detailed so that anybody could create the same database that I will be making for the Cattery. Final User’s Comments (after having reviewed the initial designs) How effective do you think the designs will be? What do you think could be improved, from what you have seen of the initial designs? What is lacking from the database (if anything)? Other comments:
On the following pages are the print screens of the way the Cattery’s database was created (tables, forms, queries, reports, macro code etc). EVALUATION The original objectives outlined in my Identification stage were met. The Cattery now has a useful and fast system to find and store their clients’ information, to view and search for specific information, and to print out things like receipts for clients. After having reviewed the owner’s comments and compared to the things I have changed, I feel I have improved the database enough for him to be comfortable with using it. I took in to account the things he mentioned about needing designs for reports and queries, and lessening vagueness of some designs. I feel I have achieved my objective in making the Cattery an effective, easy system to hold all their information.