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You are to prepare a submission to satisfy your client's requirements as outlined below. You are required to investigate the issues at Pressure Hydraulics and provide a feasibility study into the improvement to their current business processes. You will need to conduct an investigation into the client's problems and evaluate a solution to meet their business needs.
Overview - Pressure Hydraulics
Pressure Hydraulics is a locally owned business that currently has three service centres; Newcastle, Toronto and Maitland. Each service centre provides maintenance and specialised servicing of hydraulic systems as used in cars, trucks and earth moving equipment. The Maitland service centre also provides a specialty service to the mining industry where two purpose built trucks go onsite to service a range of mining equipment.
The business has become quite profitable in the past years and its owner, Allan Taylor, has devised plans to expand by opening service centres at Coffs Harbour and Gosford. Allan has future plans for other service centres along the east coast of NSW. He also feels that the time is right to look at how IT can support the existing business and enable his future business plans.
Currently, Allan spends a portion of each day at each service centre to monitor its operations. This is leaving little time to continue developing his business and he realises he will not be able to spend the same sort of time in the Coffs Harbour and Gosford service centres.
Each service centre operates as an independent business, with eight technicians in the workshop (one of whom is a workshop foreman) and one office assistant. The office assistant takes phone calls from people requesting quotes for work or to have work done. For requests on quotes, the office assistant looks up a hard copy of a price book (known as The Price Book) and gives a verbal quote. Allan is unhappy with the time being taken to update the Price Book as the office assistant is often too busy to update the prices from the supplier invoices. Sometimes, this time delay results in either lost sales if the price has gone down or lost income if the price has gone up.
If a customer phones to make a booking for work to be done, the office staff assistant writes down the details in a journal (Works Book). Any variations to the Works Book by a customer requesting to change a date/time results in crossed out entries. There have been times when this has been the cause of misinterpretation as to when a job is booked in. Other problems with the system include occasional overbooking or slack periods for the workshop staff.
When a customer arrives at a service centre for work to be done, the office staff member writes out a Job Card with the customer details along with the price from The Price Book for the job. There is sometimes a discrepancy between what the Price Book shows and what the customer says they were quoted for that particular work. When completed, the Job Card is passed to the workshop foreman who assigns the job to a technician. When the job is completed, the technician initials the Job Card and gives it back to the workshop foreman, who returns it to the office. The office assistant writes out an invoice and collects payment from the customer; cash, EFTPOS and credit card are acceptable forms of payment. Once per week, the office assistant uses the Job Cards to prepare an order for stock replacement.
Allan has developed a business relationship with several transport companies where two technicians will go to the transport companies' central site and service the hydraulics on a truck. As the parts required to perform the service can be varied, a special van equipped with basic workshop equipment and a full range of component parts is used. The time taken for these jobs can be varied and unpredictable. Upon
returning from such a job, the technicians will alert the workshop foreman that the job has been completed. The office assistant is then informed and an invoice written out and mailed to the transport company. Carbon copies are used to track such invoices. The Maitland service centre provides a service to the mining industry and there have been a few repeated issues with the incorrect component parts being taken onsite for servicing the machinery. Such mistakes not only costs a loss in terms of travel time back to the service centre to collect the correct part, but the mining companies have very tight maintenance schedules. Machinery has to be available and delays are not tolerated.
Each fortnight, Allan contacts the workshop foremen and checks the hours worked by staff at the service centre. He then prepares the payroll and writes cheques for each employee.
Each day, the office assistant banks the day's takings and gives the bank receipt to Allan when he makes his daily call. Usually this will be the following day from the bank deposit. Allan then does a reconciliation of money banked with the previous day's takings.
Apart from the issues identified above, Allan wants to achieve the following:
- Ensuring repeat business from mining companies.
- Improve control over stock ordering. A new system is required to manage this aspect of the business. The ability to order stock for the three businesses instead of individual ordering would ensure economies not being realised at the moment.
- Ability to quickly determine if a required component part is in stock.
- Ability to generate an invoice off data held within the system.
- Improved payroll process to reduce the need to contact staff for details. Allan would prefer a system that recorded the working hours daily and also supported staff being paid directly through his bank system.
- Tracking customers for repeat business. Allan wants a system that will track customers and contact them at specified times with special offers.
- Price Book issues. A system to have timely production of price variations to arrive at all service centres on the same day.
- Technology to support these changes.
After an initial investigation, Allan has asked your group to develop a feasibility report on providing a suitable solution for the accounting and payroll problems. At a minimum level, your feasibility report should contain the following generic sections:
You are required to submit a feasibility report.
At a minimum level, your feasibility report should contain the following generic sections:
- Executive Summary
- Description of the problem
- Solution objectives
- Development plans
- Potential solutions
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The feasibility report will discuss in detail about the range of issues which Allan Taylor is facing in Pressure Hydraulics which provides specialised and maintenance service to hydraulic system used in cars, trucks or earth moving machineries (Haberl et al, 2009).
The organisation has three service centres in different part of Canada which are Newcastle, Toronto and Maitland. In Maitland there is one more specialty service given to mining industry (Haberl et al, 2009).
Allan wanted to expand his business. However, he is unable to make time for it since all his time is eaten up in managing the operational issues at three centres (Haberl et al, 2009). The bandwidth is all gone in handling day to day work which makes it impossible for him to work on expansion.