Business Process for Improvement:
Myra, the owner of UMUC’s Haircuts has to receive appointments and mostly does this using the phone. She also takes in walk-in customers who come in whenever they are available. The expansion of UMUC’s Haircuts has led to increased customers (Burgess 2002). It has caused increased difficulty in assigning the employees certain days on which to attend to the customers following the appointments. The process of matching the employees with the appointments at hand has, therefore, become close to unmanageable. It is not until recently that Myra becomes a little more comfortable with the idea of her employees deciding the time and days they can work, since a majority of them are part time employees. The high number of customers calls for more staff, but there is barely time to find replacements. Myra came to terms with the fact that a large number of walk-in customers are turned away on the days when the business is very busy while in fact, her employees are idle at other times. It calls for a way that will help Myra with the scheduling of customers and staff.
UMUC Haircuts has at least six half-time stylists, four half-time barbers, two half-time shampoo girls and is thinking of making an addition of two manicurists at least. Myra also requires to maintain a steady stock of supplies. It has, however, become difficult for her to maintain and keep track of the supplies that have been used and those that have been exhausted. Despite her making notes on all the stock that has been exhausted, she has to keep on being reminded by her employees about it. Sometimes, her business is so busy to an extent that the employees forget to tell her. The fact that her business is growing is good news, but its growth comes with a great deal of stress (Burgess 2002).
Even after following up all the used up supplies, Myra fails to keep aside time that she will use to place the orders to her suppliers. Myra has noticed the fluctuating prices of the supplies, but is short of time to check if she can order her supplies at reduced costs. It leaves her wondering if she can save funds by looking for suppliers who offer lower costs and offer free transportation of the goods. It is, therefore, very necessary that UMUC Haircuts takes up an improved process that will ease the ordering of supplies. Myra also needs to take into account the preferences of her customers. She will often recognize her customers, but will not remember their preferences. A number of her customers have also called, the business to make appointments with their preferred barbers and stylists, but Myra is usually uncertain about the possibility of fulfilling the appointments (Burgess 2002). For this, Myra requires better ways to put down the categories of her customers’ preferences.
Proposed Technology Solution, its Components and Benefits to the Business:
For a business like this one of Myra, at least two desktop computers are needed. Myra can use one of the computers to document useful information about her customers and supplies. Basically, she can use the computer to store all the information about her business. She can make use of applications such as the memo to make reminders of all the appointments she has with the customers. Moreover, the computer can be used to set alarms, which can be used as reminders for the activities that she is supposed to undertake such as the ordering of supplies. Myra can also use the internet on the computer to check on the price of commodities so as to compare the cheapest and highest quality products. The internet can also help her learn about the latest products in the market. The second computer can be used by an employee to file all the appointments and supplies that have run short when Myra is absent. The information can later be sent to her computer by the use of an external hard drive or a USB storage device (Burgess 2002).
An information system can help in the management of inventories. It can be done by keeping track of the costs and profitability. In consideration of UMUC’s Haircuts, the appointments with the customers as well as the supplies required are important aspects that can be included in the inventories in the computers. For the personal communications with her customers, Myra can share her contacts with the customers and make use of her cell phone when they need to reach her to book or confirm appointments. She should also ensure the presence of a cell phone in her business that will help her reach her employees whenever she needs anyone of them to attend to a customer. If the use of a cell phone ends up too tricky, she can set up a form of communication with her computer, such as the use of mail which will enable her customers to reach her (Burgess 2002). The fact that storage devices such as cell phones or laptops are easily lost requires Myra to be cautious while storing personal data. For extra safety, Myra can purchase a hard drive to store all her information since she can easily carry it around and can rest assured of the safety of her information.
Burgess, Stephen. Managing Information Technology in Small Business: Challenges and
Solutions, Idea Group (IGI), Pennsylvania, 2002.