The main problem that the project is addressing is record keeping in businesses. Business has become a major source of livelihood for many people in the world. The biggest challenge that these people encounter is poor management and poor record keeping. As we know, in business, record keeping is the foundation of management, and when there is no proper strategy to go about it, everything is bound to go astray. The traditional manual methods of keeping records have been outdated all thanks to the rapid growth of the technological era. If by 2013 the mobile phone usage was estimated to be around seven billion worldwide then it means that mobile phones are our next big step in digitization of business. It is projected as of 2018, there will be more mobile devices in the world than the actual population. Every business is striving to utilize technology to their advantage making digital record keeping solutions a wonderful option to invest. This project will mainly focus on offering an efficient way of keeping business records to help in the business management process.
The target audience for this particular project is small-scale business functions. The reason this audience is of great interest is that they are the ones that face many challenges in regards to record keeping. Other big businesses have the capital to invest in complex computer systems to keep and run business records. As for small businesses, there is a limitation to access computers due to high costs involved and the space required. This is why they need a more portable solution such as mobile phones apps that can be cheaper as compared to desktop computers and related accessories. The development of a mobile phone application will be beneficial to the small-scale businesspersons.
Competitive solutions and deficiencies
As stipulated earlier, there are some solutions to record keeping problems in business, but they are too costly to install and run. The complexity of the record keeping applications makes them expensive and out of reach of the small business owners. Installing several computers and servers to run a business requires a lot of resources and additional labor.
Other systems run on mobile platforms such as Android and IOS and are helping small businesses in record keeping. However, the systems are platform dependent meaning that businesses must acquire the expensive gadgets to run them.
The solution described in this project is coming to change the record keeping landscape for small businesses. Mobile application for small-scale business is a convenient way of record keeping that will allow business owners to monitor various aspects of their business such as sales, stock, and price per unit on a daily basis. First, the project is geared towards responding to a more specialized service to the community using superior web development, programming, and interface design. I will develop a native app that is platform independent meaning that it can run on any device that can be accessed by even the people of the lowest class for efficiency.
The application development will follow the same typical procedure, but I will use a given programming language. The language I will choose will incorporate the user interface to allow users interact with the application effectively. The first place will be the search area button that will be updated with the business keywords for easier access. The application will also be able to calculate profits made y deducting the purchasing costs from the sales made. This will be made possible by the data that the users will have to feed the system after each transaction by the touch of a button.
The application will also be very useful in calculating the remaining stock by deducting the sold items from purchased items. This will be made possible through the calculate button from the remaining stock. Once the user clicks in the box, a drop-down menu will appear containing all the remaining stock to determine which goods need to be restocked.
The application will ensure the safety of the business records by using a centralized database that will be accessible by a unique password. The password will be given to the superuser who has all the privileges of the application. The superuser will be responsible for the deletion of a fired staff or add a new entrant into the system.
The application has a secure instant digital backup after each sale is made. However, the backup system for the application will be manual. This might make the whole process slow, but it is a good option to save data in case the database malfunctions. On top of that, the user can store the information in a computer.
The reason why I chose the above approach is that such applications are easy to design and very effective to apply. The search and calculate buttons will make the staff job easier. The use of a database and SQL commands makes it easier to access and retrieve data. The application can support multiple users with different passwords. There can be a maximum of ten users since it is specifically designed for small-scale businesses. The language used in the application is also easy to understand even with people without vast computer knowledge. For instance, in this application, I will Java that allows the use of functions to call for the creation of buttons or the use of drag and drop. The application also being platform independent means that it is more flexible than any other competitors in the market. With all these aspects, the application will a be a complete solution for business record keeping.
Prototype Design navigation screens
So far I have worked out a lot regarding the navigation of the application. Because of the high tech database utilized in the design, the application is very easy to use. In designing the prototype, flowcharts were used to set a sequence of actions. All thanks to Java, the application can easily use buttons to navigate. The major buttons available include search, sales calculation, profit calculation, remaining stock calculation. The buttons are easy to use because they are adequately labeled with words and icons. The icons not only make the interface look beautiful but also they provide a visual language to help the user interpret the expected actions easily. Using PhoneGap as a development framework was mainly so that the application can run on any mobile platform. I also used Xampp server to host the database and to implement the manual backup file.
The whole process of using the application is very easy. On launching the app, the first screen to appear is the login interface. In this screen, the user is required to enter their unique login details to access various privileges. The login page has been assigned different access levels depending on the specific users privileges.
However, for the superuser, the first screen to appear is the add or delete interface. From this page, they can easily add a user or delete using a button. The user can press the home icon to go to the normal login page if he/she does not intend to carry out any of the two actions.
If the superuser wishes to add a new user, he/she has the responsibility to manually add the details such as the phone number and full name. The system will then generate an automatic username, and the user will choose a password to help in subsequent logging.
If the user wishes to delete a user from the system, he/she has to press the delete button. After clicking, a prompt box will appear where the superuser will be required to enter the recognized user email and press OK to remove the account. After carrying out this action, the user details permanently disappear from the system.
After a user is logged in, the next screen offers three options, i.e., search option, enter new stock, and sales. The user can type the product name in the search button to access it instantly. Entry of new sales can also be accomplished from this point. The sales operation is easily accessible from the second screen.
Clicking on +Add new stock will bring the user to this screen where he/she will have to enter the details such as item ID, name, price, and available stock before submitting.
If the user wants to know the sales records, he/she will have to enter in the following screen the item ID, name, price, and quantity and then click on calculate profit to instantly get the figures. Pressing the submit button will automatically save the sales details into the sales table.
Pressing the remaining stock button brings the user to a final screen where a dropdown box containing the available stock appears.
The application has so far proved that it can help business people solve record-keeping problems. The application has been rolled out for trials to several shopkeepers who have given positive feedback so far. The usability survey was conducted among small-scale holders exclusively, and the sample was randomly chosen. The participants were given the application free, and they were later interviewed on their experience. For instance, Mrs. Benham white is a 35-year-old businessperson who has experienced trouble in keeping records that threatened closure of her shop. After using the application, she reported improvements in record keeping. She now needs no assistance from her husband anymore. Another interview was with Nickson Bill, a 22-year-old student who hawks smokies and ice creams. Since his work involves moving from one place to another, the application has helped him keep records thus increasing his stock and profits drastically. Finally, Mr., Furguson Howard, a 41-year-old garage owner needed to keep huge amounts of data. He had to employ his brother to calculate stocks for him, but ever since he found out about the app, his business has been booming, and he is thinking of investing in the transport industry.
From the interviews, it is clear that the app can help business people to capture sales, records items sold, calculate the total daily sales, and determine the remaining stock. The initial users suggested that improvements should be made to include the time each sale was made. Two respondents, a 29-year-old woman, and another 33 old man reported the same experience after using the application. They said that the application is very efficient except for the storage mode. We then had to revise the prototype and included features such as capture time each transaction was made, keeping profit made/loss incurred on a daily basis, and keeping track of stock by recording items sold, their price per unit, and quantity sold. Regarding the number of users, the app worked just fine since there were no deletion suggestions made.
The application was satisfactory to the people who used it. The only recommendations that they suggested include:
Inclusion of prices of similar products all over the state to help in setting prices
Inclusion of a hiding feature to hide any unused columns
We are currently working on including the improvements, but since the application satisfies all its functions, the adjustments can be carried out towards the future.
This development of this application is primarily focused on reducing record keeping that business people have been having for a very long time now. The application is very efficient since it can be used on any device. Technology is changing modern business, and applications like this are the main achievement of innovation. The application has minimal mistakes and future improvements to improve user experience are recommended. The fact is that it is a solution for small-scale business data keeping problem.
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