The Fitness Centre has always exceeded its customers expectations. Its five branches provide various sporting facilities including free weights, yoga, aerobics, stair climbing and volleyball. Keeping in line with the company’s overall objectives of superior customer service and innovation, The Fitness Centre has decided to implement a software system which will help manage and complement its ongoing business processes.
The system will help manage customer profiles and memberships. By doing so, it will keep track of the various activities each customer is interested in and tailor its services offered accordingly. The system will primarily accomplish two aims:
Assist customers design fitness programs to their own liking and needs.
Help The Fitness Centre make facilities required by the customer available through better scheduling.
Thus The Fitness Centre will provide scheduling services for both customer and managerial functions along with expert advice from its in-house fitness coaches through this new system. The people involved in the design and implementation of the system will be the key to its success. A lot of co-operation on their behalf will be required by the team of professionals responsible for designing the system and its maintenance at Fitness Centre. First of all, the fitness specialists at the centre will be responsible for giving their input regarding the physical and health levels of each customer. Then these experts will be required to assess the various activities and determine how much of which is required at which levels of customer health. Finally, these experts will be required to design new schedules for customers and inform about the existing schedule of customers so that this information can be incorporated into the system.
People concerned with the system will be expected to inform he team of the best layout and interface of the system regarding ease of usage and understandability. Since the system will also be used by customers, the input for layout will also be taken from them. Information regarding the managerial side of the operations will be taken by the employees that will be responsible for operating the system.
The plan to be followed for the system design and launch will be as follows:
§ Problem Specifications
§ Feasibility Study
The initial stage regarding the specifications of the problems that the system will address will be the most critical to the overall success of the system. The whole system and its subsequent design will be tailored around the problems it has to solve (or objectives it has to achieve) and thus the decisions taken at this stage will have a trickle down effect on the outcome of this project and subsequently the whole organizations functions. Requirements and objectives of the system will be determined from crucial input gathered by employees. Major roles will be played by the operators of the system and the fitness experts in the centre. Input needed for this stage will be as follows:
§ Customer data
§ Customer preferences
§ Current fitness programs being followed by customers
§ Fitness program options
§ Layout of new system
Most of this information (customer data, current fitness programs) already exists and can be gathered from existing records that are currently being maintained at the centre. These records will be fed into the system in a standard format and then manipulated as required. Assistance of record keeping staff and clerks will be needed in this regard to provide all the data that is necessary for this stage. The customer’s current fitness programs will also be inputted from these very records. The fitness experts will then tailor make new programs based on the services being offered, popularity of services and customer preferences. The layout of the overall system will be decided by the end users of the system which include system operators, fitness experts and customers. This will help the team arrive at a list of objectives that the system will be expected to achieve.
After the first stage, a feasibility study will be conducted regarding what all the system requires and what all is possible to achieve considering the various, economic, financial, technological and time constraints. Once the final list of objectives is obtained as to what will go into the system, it will proceed into the analysis stage.
This stage is the part of the software development process concerned with defining the requirements for the product. This is the stage where the actual system takes shape. Analysis is conducted on the current needs of the system and how to go about designing it. Requirements regarding input of information, flow of this information, the outputs it will produce in terms of documents, forms etc., database model, processes that the information will e subjected to and the storage of this information all come under the analysis stage. Firstly, information will be gathered as to how the current system is being used; the usage of the system in different areas of the organization and its effects on the business processes. The main criterion here is to determine the scope of the system and its overall effects. This will help determine the criticality of the business processes that the new system will address and give an idea of the information flow of the resulting system the points of input of information into the system and the type of outputs that the system is expected to give. This would mean that apart from the actual design of the system, every instruction regarding the type of data fields to be used down to the data flow and design of forms to be implemented in the system are decided here based on end user input. The software development team will thus conduct interviews and surveys, observe the current workings and decide whether the current processes are in peak condition or need to be revamped in order to be done in a more efficient and cost optimal manner. The data gained will be mapped into different tables and data dictionary which will be the basis for the actual database to be used in the eventual system. For the Fitness Centre, the database will have the following tables and relationships:
§ Customer table: this table will be maintained using unique Customer ID’s. This primary key will also be used in other tables as foreign keys to maintain further details of a customer. The table will include information regarding the customer such as name, address, contact details, age, occupation, timings, fitness level, program ID, type of subscription, trainer ID, preferred services etc. Each customer might also have a unique username and password depending on whether The Fitness Centre allows for customers to use the system and set their own fitness programs or not. In doing so, customers will be provided access to the system through networked PC’s located throughout the facility.
§ Fitness trainer table: this table will maintain the current fitness experts working at The Fitness Center’s five branches using a unique Fitness Trainer ID. This table will list their area of expertise and the customers they cater to. Many trainers are of different types and at times hold expertise in various disciples. This too will also be maintained here. Each fitness trainer will also have a unique username and password which will enable them to log on to the system and monitor their client’s progress. The access to data however will be restrictive in the sense that only those customers will be visible to the trainer who are being assisted by them
§ Activities table: this table will maintain the activities offered by The Fitness Center to its customers. This will include details of the various facilities such as yoga, aerobics etc., their schedules regarding timings and days, durations and prerequisites required to take an activity (subscription, fitness level etc.).
§ Subscription table: will list the types of subscriptions that the center offers to its customers. These ID’s will again be unique and a customer’s ability to access facilities will depend on the type of subscription he/she has.
§ Customer fitness program: this is the intermediary table between the customer table and the activities table. The programs currently being followed by customers and any other future program that they either opt or are advised to follow will go in here. The program will include customer ID, trainer ID, Activity ID, total duration, days to be followed, days left to be followed etc.
Design is usually considered to be the phase of software development following analysis, and concerned with how the problem is to be solved. At this part of the systems development life cycle, the knowledge gained in the Analysis stage is taken to design a computer system based on it. Everything from designing of the forms to data flow and storage is done over here. First ofall, the data dictionary for the database will be designed here. Based on the ERD (Entity Relationship Diagram) produced in the Analysis phase, a dictionary stating the fields of data, their data type, description and size will be stated in this dictionary. After this is done, the team will then move forward to actually designing the database system. Whichever vendor is used, the physical database will reflect the ERD diagram and incorporate elements as stated in the data dictionary. Once this is done is done, the foundation of the system to be will have been laid. From here onwards, the Data Flow Diagrams (DFD’s) developed in the Analysis phase will be mapped into the system using programming languages. The actual manipulation of the data is what will be decided and coded here. After this the outputs will be dealt with. The forms designed after inputs from the users taken at the analysis stage again will be the ones mapped into the actual system using language software’s. Here the team will have the choice to use a slightly different approach by developing a prototype of the system and showing it to the end users so that any changes, if required are hardwired into the system then and there. Once this is done, the system will be completed and ready for testing.
The quality of every system depends on two factors, performance and reliability. Issues like data accuracy, running time of system, security, errors, troubleshooting etc. will all be tested and implemented here. All the work done here will be properly documented so as to have a reference guide for any future problems faced while running the system. Requirements other than the workings of the system that were discovered during the analysis stage will also be incorporated and tested here (non functional requirements). After this, the system will enter into the implementation and maintenance stage.
Maintenance is concerned with keeping the system up to date with the changes in the organization and ensuring it meets the goals of the organization. Once a system is rolled out properly, a team has to constantly monitor its performance and upgrade it accordingly. In more complicated systems which are sued in dynamic environments, this process is of a major concern to a business. For this system, the rate of obsolescence will be slower and if proper testing is done at the previous stage, a lot of maintenance work and costs will be eliminated. One issue however is that of creating backups of data regularly. This will have to be done at all costs because data is very sensitive and crucial for the effective running of any system. If the system crashes for some unforeseen reason, it can always resume operating by using the latest data backup taken of the database. Backups will have to be located at a geographic location other than the current branches of The Fitness Centre. Thus regular backups will be taken and stored accordingly. Performance measure will depend on the running time of the server and the reliability of the network to be implemented. Since the system will not be running for all twenty four hours of the day, it will be easier to maintain a peak performance for the hours of day it is required. Apart from this, standby power sources might also have to be arranged for incase of a power outage. The maintenance team will thus have to conduct regular checkups of the system to measure the following criteria:
§ Network requirements
This will be the final step in the completion of the system. A sequence of activities which the team will follow can be stated as follows (this will also be the basis upon which the final documentation of the system will be based):
§ Background: the rationale of designing and implementing a new system. This could be anything from better service to customers or problems being faced by the current system in achieving business objectives.
§ Purpose: the purpose of what the system that is to be designed will aim to achieve in terms of functional requirements, no-functional requirements, technical requirements and otherwise. The purpose could be anything from cost optimization to better service.
§ Scope: the scope will define the extent to which the system will ultimately affect the organization and its operations. Here however, it will be limited to the processes it will aim at changing and computerizing. The scope can be given in terms of functions affected, departments, processes etc. The main rationale behind stating a scope is to state a span of control and the environment in which the system will be functional. Too big a scope will spell disaster due to too much workload and too narrow a scope will result in a system which does not achieve much.
§ Applicability: how the system will be applied in the business context. This can be related to the feasibility of the system; whether it is within the budget, technologically possible and justifies the cost and effort of building one.
§ Initiation Phase: this is the phase where the first meeting between the development team and the upper management of a firm takes place. System requirements are defined and a deal si worked around which is beneficial to both parties.
§ System Concept Development Phase: here the actual system and what it will eventually be is conceptualized and thought of. There are many ways to solve any given problem; the key is to choose the single best way weighing all the pros, cons and limitations. The system concept will help establish the requirements upon which further information will be gained and the system analyzed and then designed.
§ Planning Phase: this phase will determine the set of activities to be done and how they will be done in the most efficient manner. Parallel activities will be done simultaneously and the dependant ones will be done one after the other. This stage will be crucial in determining the final roll out of the system. This stage will also determine the responsibilities and tasks allotted to team members for the project. More time always results in extra costs and the aim of this stage is to minimize this cost and the risks that the project might face
§ Requirements Analysis Phase: this, as already explained will be the key data gathering stage upon which all the analysis will be based on. The design of the system on paper will also be done here and aspects such as data, database relations, data flow, process flow, input output methods etc. will all be decided here.
§ Design Phase: the design phase here relates to the designing of the system architecture.
§ Development Phase: the actual programming and coding of the system will be done here.
§ Integration and Test Phase: all components of the system will be integrated into oen whole and tested here. Any problems will be debugged and rectified here before the final roll out of the system.
§ Implementation Phase: the system is actually implemented in the environment. Many strategies can be taken here from parallel to pashed implementation. The workings of the business will determine what strategy will be best suited.
§ Operations and Maintenance Phase: this will include the training of personnel and the maintenance of the system in terms of regular checks, backups etc.
§ Controls/Assumptions: controls will be set to monitor the system which will help in its proper maintenance and security.
§ Documentation: this will be done throughout the system development life cycle. The critical documents however will be produced at the end and will serve as a troubleshooting and operational guide for the system.
Thus a new system is to be developed and will be implemented soon. This will offer a new way of working with customers and vast opportunities to serve them in a better manner. Customer relationships are the most important thing for any business and the retention of these customers is what ever business should strive. This system will not only help to conduct operations in a better manner but will also give an edge over the existing competition and help serve customers in the best way possible. This unique system will also interact directly with the customer and give them an experience which goes beyond a simple daily and dull exercise regime; it will give them a planning tool and help them achieve what they long for in terms of health, fitness and self esteem.