Introduction and project description
Bench Fitness Centers (BFC) is a chain of eight fitness centers located separately in one area. Majority of the centers operate using similar equipment and also provide similar services. Some centers operate using different equipment and have specialized trainers (case study). The challenges facing BFC include an inefficient website that does not attract as many customers as they would wish, networking of computers and internet accessibility by customers, and client tracking. Having identified the challenges Bench Fitness Centers is facing in Information Technology (IT), a website makeover has been recommended, the creation of a network as well as the updating of computers. In addition, the McCall Southern has also been approached to create a client tracking software.
McCall Southern has successfully completed the implementation of the website makeover, upgrading the computers and the networking as well as creating the data tracking software. The challenge for BFC is to hire IT employees who shall be required to maintain these new systems. The IT Employee Recommendations team comprises of a web site designer, a network administrator, computer technical support team, a programmer to support the client tracking system. The IT Employee Recommendations team is tasked with the responsibility of creating a report for BFC. The considerations made in selecting each of these employee categories are job responsibilities, the skills required, the salary range, duties, decisions on whether to outsource or hire the employees and the numbers of each category of employees needed.
The web designer shall be tasked with checking and updating the look, features and layout of the website to suit changing demands and improve the functionality of BFC website. The specific duties of the web designer include writing and editing content, determining technical requirements, updating the website, determining the webpage layout, creating back up files and solving back up problems (Bainey, 2004). The designers shall ensure that the website is effective in online memberships, recruitments and payment, has accessible articles and journals and exercise demos, has free “trainer chats” for members only among other features.
The web designer should be sufficiently qualified and skilled in his/her work. The ideal candidate should hold at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer technology. An associate degree in web design such as an Associate of Applied Science in Web Design provides the web designers with hands-on skills in web design and web maintenance. The most important skills required are database maintenance, content management, programming and webpage scripting (Bainey, 2004).
Web design and maintenance is a core competency for any organization. It is the primary way of communicating with customers and it takes a role that is beyond any form of advertising. The website is tasked with the role of implementing the business model for BFC. It is therefore advisable for BFC to build organizational knowledge in this area by employing a web designer on a fulltime basis rather than outsourcing for web maintenance services. A web designer employed on a full time basis gains a deep understanding of the website and therefore vital competence to help improve the site and ward off competition. Outsourcing opens up the business to the possibility of increases competition due to duplication of services from the outsourced company (Bainey, 2004). A fully engaged web designer helps in giving the website uniqueness which will attract customers. Two web designers are satisfactory in maintaining BFC’s website to ensure that they share ideas adequately and arrive at decisions quickly. The number also reduces the company’s expenditure on labor.
The median hourly wage for web computer specialists was $37 or $77,000 annually in 2009. Graphic designers earned an average of $43,180 in the same year (bls.gov, 2011). One web designer for BFC could be paid an average of $60,000.
Having networked its computers in all the eight centers in order to enhance client service, BFC needs to recruit a network administrator among its team of IT employees to maintain its network. The network administrator shall basically ensure an effective Local Area Network (LAN) and the Wide Area Network (WAN). Since the network for BFC has already been put in place by McCall Southern, the duties of the network administrator shall include administering network security, troubleshooting network problems, adding new host machines to an existing network, administering network services such as name services and electronic mails (Bainey, 2004). In particular the network administrator shall be tasked with the responsibility of filtering e-mails and the internet to protect the company’s network from viral attacks (Bainey, 2004).
An ideal network administrator for the company should have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer technology. Qualification in courses on CISCO systems on networking hardware and software is an important aspect on the ideal network administrator. According to Bainey, (2004) the network administrator should fully understand the application and installation of routers, catalyst switches, LAN controllers, adaptors, Wireless LAN Solutions Engines (WLSE) among others. Moreover, s/he should understand the applicability and usage of softwares such as Intranetwork Operating System (IOS), Catalyst Switch Operating System (CatOS) among others. Skills in the usage of voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), wireless technology, internet firewalls, database management such as Structured Query Language (SQL) adds to the competence of a network administrator (Bainey, 2004). A network administrator who is skilled in networking computers to wireless internet connections is vital. It is the goal of BFC to ensure that its clients can access internet in a variety of places including the lounge area so help increase clients’ use of the center and also lengthen the time they spend at the centers.
Just like in the case of web designers, it is more efficient for BFC to hire and retain its own network administrators as opposed to outsourcing. Two network administrators are also satisfactory in ensuring a technologically sound and effective network for the company. The compensation averages for the network administrators are $50,000-$55,500 but in most cases the salary scale is based on experience and the qualifications of the candidate (bls.gov, 2011).
Computer Technical Support
BFC shall need a team of Computer Technical Support specialists to assist in addressing software and hardware problems. The support specialists also help in the use of computer peripherals such as scanners and printers. BFC could opt for computer technical support from in-house employees or it can be outsourced. Some of the commonest technical support companies offer the services over phones, or via online chats and emails. These ones are called help desk technicians.
The qualifications and skills required of support technicians are quite varied. An ideal candidate for BFC should have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer technology. An associate degree in computer courses as well as qualifications in aspects of networking, programming among others increases the competence of the support specialist. The ideal candidate should have very strong analytic, communication and problem-solving skills.
It is advisable for BFC to outsource for technical support. As opposed to employing an IT specialist, outsourcing gives companies an opportunity to obtain solutions to an array of complex challenges that may otherwise overwhelm the in-house technical support team. Moreover, it is a cheaper option since the company could only end up incurring higher telephone bill as compared to paying high salaries to employees! According to the Bureau of labor statistics, technical support specialists average lower than web designers and network administrators. The average annual salary for computer technical support specialists is $44,300 or $21.30 per hour (bls.gov, 2011).
BFC enlisted the services of McCall Southern to develop software to tack clients. The software maintains client data and track usage of the centers by clients in a secure manner. The programmer shall be tasked with ensuring the efficient and secure use of the software. S/he needs to monitor the database to ensure correspondence with actual client attendance and enrollments no matter the center used by a given client. It will be the responsibility of the programmer to monitor the tracking software and modify the codes where necessary to ensure efficient usage of the software (Bainey, 2004).
The ideal programmer should have the following skills; general programming skills in a variety of programming languages such as C++, java, html among others. In particular s/he should be highly skilled in the programming language used for the tracking software. S/he should also have the ability to analyse complex information, perform software tuning, perform software debugging as well as the documentation and testing of softwares. To cap it all, an ideal programmer should be meticulous, have the ability to think logically, be resourceful, and possess excellent analytical and problem-solving skills (Bainey, 2004).
In comparison to other computer specialists, programmers are highly paid individuals. The lowest paid programmers earned an average of $40,640 while the highest paid ones earned $113, 380 in 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for programmers was $35.91 in May 2009 which translates to an average of $74,690 per year (bls.gov, 2011). In spite of this high wage demand it is imperative for BFC to employ one programmer on a fulltime basis to ensure that its key software application performs optimally at all times.
The successful implementation of the goals of BFC is hinged upon the cooperation of the IT team and McCall Southern which set up the website, networked the computers in all the eight centers and developed software to track clients. While the IT team is tasked with maintaining BFC’s systems they can obtain vital information from Mc Call Southern whenever any of the systems fails.
Bainey, K. R. (2004). Integrated IT project management: A model-centric approach. Boston, Mass. [u.a.: Artech House.
Month. (n.d.). May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#15-0000
Information about McCall Southern; On the field Analysis and the application of the project.