On Online Integration Catalogue of Sales for Ben Foods

Introduction

Ben Food(s) Pte is a major food distribution company in Pacific Asia majoring in Animal and poultry products as well as wines and beverages. With a business history of over half a century, the company has grown and expanded with a wide supply chain and shop outlets across the globe. The company has several leading brands which it delivers to supermarkets, retail outlets, wholesalers, and distributors in Asia Europe, and some parts of the Americas. The company’s Trade-vine Division is a leading supplier of wines and beverages in Pacifica Asia, Australia, California, France, Italy, and Spain. Ben Food Co. Also provides shipment services to clients whose delivery involves overseas transportation.

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To sustain its competitive advantage, Ben Foods values innovation and development in all its divisions. The company was awarded the Superbrand status on its products, which highlights its high-quality goods. Ben Food’s mission is to meet the customers’ culinary needs and champion employee welfare.

Ben Foods Co. understands the important role of Information Technology in meeting its business objectives as well as streamlining its operations. Because the company makes sales across the globe, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a necessary tool for the management of information systems in the company. An online ERP integration sales catalog as the Products Data Website will, therefore, be instrumental in enhancing efficiency in the company’s sales and products records. Implementation of this solution by generating web pages with MSXML and MySQL will help keep track of sales and stock delivery in the company (Brown & Vessey 2003).

Problem Statement

As a busy multinational Food supplies enterprise, Ben Foods Company needs to keep track of its products and sales in all regions where it operates. The company, therefore, needs an up-to-date Enterprise Resource Planning program to help monitor its operations to guide production and supplies. An online ERP integration sales catalog is, therefore, a viable solution for the company to be in touch with its global operations.

Aims and Objectives

This project aims to:-

  • Analyse the requirements for web development using MSXML and MySQL.
  • Design and implement an online ERP integration sales catalog to meet these requirements.
  • Test and evaluate the Products Data website for Ben Foods Pte.

Rationale

To meet these aims I will have to:-

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  • A1. Describe the format of the ERP required by Ben Foods Co.
  • A2. Obtain background information on the statistical techniques used at Ben Foods Co.
  • A3. Produce a specification for the Products Data Website
  • B1. Identify an appropriate language or system in which to develop the software
  • B2. Produce designs for database, input screen, and output reports
  • B3. Implement these designs in the chosen language
  • C1. Generate test data to prove the correctness of the software
  • C2. Evaluate the system from the point of view of Ben Food requirements.
  • C3. Review the process by which the system was developed and make recommendations for future work

Project Scope and Limitations

The project will involve the development of a Product Data Website using MSXML and MySQL. The online ERP integration sales catalog developed will be critical in monitoring stock levels of their products, which include beverages, dairy products, meat products, and confectionaries. This solution is important for real-time monitoring and ordering of their products and also keeping track of their stock level. The catalog brings to record all the products and sales made by the company in its business engagements. It will guide the company’s management in decision-making on the next course of action as well as setting up future strategies and plans.

The online ERP integration catalog is expected to work properly on the company’s website. Given the ease of internet access in this globalization era, the website will encounter few challenges upon implementation. Online purchases and arrangements for delivery will help improve company operation and keep track of stocks.

Expected Outcome

On completion of this project, I will have produced:-

  1. A written report containing a full description of the requirements, design, and evaluation of the online ERP integration sales catalog.
  2. A set of verified test results that can be used to test the software if changes are made to it. The results take various scenarios expected in Ben Foods Company.
  3. An annotated listing of the source code of the program or programs used.
  4. A copy of the source code and executable programs on a compact disc.
  5. A user guide on how to operate the software.

Additionally, I undertake to give a demonstration of the final software product to my supervisor before the report hand-in date.

Literature Review

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Following the progressive automation of business and organizational functions, information systems such as ERP have been advanced. The Enterprise resource planning (ERP) incorporates internal and external information needed for running an organization or enterprise (Shahbaz 2010). It is designed to synchronize the business functions of an organization such as supplies management, finance, and customer relations. The information system makes use of a common unified database to integrate with the various business functions. A typical integrated resource planning software is consistent with a database that supports its applications operating in real-time and can easily be installed in the system (Green 2010).

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An operational ERP system is comprised of various components with each performing a specific function. The main components include a Business Intelligence (BI) system, a management portal, a transactional database, and a link to the external through a website. Other important components include the search function, documentation, and workflow management. The ERP system can be implemented in modules meaning that different functions of the system can be run without interfering with other sections of the system (Shahbaz 2010).

Preparation and implementation of the ERP software are done systematically by ensuring that it addresses all the requirements. Its merits include order and stock tracking, which helps in the optimization of the inventory. It also helps in forecasting sales, centralization of enterprise data, and coordination of production and purchases (Green 2010). On the loop side, the system can lead sharing of classified business data, which may jeopardize the competitiveness of the business. Further, ERP implementation requires well-founded software expertise, and assembling the modules and components can be very costly (Shahbaz 2010).

MSXML

Microsoft XML is an essential tool for developing web pages and works well with the current script programming languages such as VBScript and Jscript. Web development can also be achieved from C++ programming objects. A distinct feature of MSXML is that all its products operate on a Component Object Model (COM). The MSXML versions are all compatible with Microsoft’s products. The current versions include MSXML 6.0, MSXML 4.0 and MSXML 3.0, all of which are Microsoft supported. The use of MSXML in web development is preferred due to compatibility and object use (Jacobson 2002).

MySQL

MySQL is a well-preferred Relational Database Management System (RDMS) that provides a platform for multiple users to access different sets of data contained in it. Owing to this fact as well as its simplicity, MySQL enjoys preference among a wide range of web products that are in use worldwide. Google and Wikipedia are some of the frequently accessed websites that use MySQL. It uses Structured Query Language (SQL) to develop the source code for the database. Written in the C++ language, the software can be integrated iintoVisual Studio (VB) and is compatible with universal operating systems, which include Windows and Linux operating systems (Harrison 2006).

The database management system is distinguished by its compound storage engines that allow multiple user access. Distinct features of the system include independent storage engines, cross-platform support, updatable views, embedded database library, query caching, subsets, stored procedures and partitioned tables. MySQL workbench has been developed to improve and customize database design and modeling as well as a database administration in a simplified manner (Bennet 1999).

Methodology

Once the data has been collected and categorized accordingly, the process of developing the website starts in a structured manner as reflected in the flow chart shown below. The central assignment is to develop the catalog and web pages to post the system online for inventory monitoring and customer interaction in making orders and requesting delivery. (Blofeld 2008).

Flow chart

Design

The online Enterprise Resource Planning catalog will be designed in stages and modules in a structure that is relatively easy to interpret and implement. This starts by gathering the data from Ben Foods Company and all its shopping outlets. Once the data has been gathered, it is sorted out into the required categories, each of which can be developed as an independent module that will be integrated into the entire system upon completion.

Customer considerations and Ben Foods preferences are factored in the design. Products Database Website is developed in the specific categories as earlier outlined in data classification. The Enterprise Resource Planning software is customized to meet the needs of Ben Foods Company (Sheilds 2001).

In designing the products’ database, MySQL, which is a highly effective and simplistic relational database management system, is applied. The choice of this is informed from the MySQL merits as stated in the literature review. Web development, therefore, takes center stage in which MSXML and MySQL are applied. The database on which the web pages are developed is designed such that it offers an elaborate tracking platform of Ben Foods transactions.

This design allows for the monitoring of sales and products as well as a feedback mechanism between a company’s central point and its outlets across the world. Further, the design provides for a customer to log in where he can place an order, and the transaction is carried out online. The developed source code will be designed to give room for modifications to suit the company’s dynamic situations with time. The system will undergo various test procedures in the design phase to ensure that the system does not malfunction in the implementation phase.

Project Evaluation

Once the project is complete, there a is need to evaluate its workability. A logbook can be designed so that the technicians enter the details of any problems they encounter when running the program. I will use a questionnaire to find out what management and customers think of the product. Knowledge of questionnaire application will be essential in this (Khosrow–Puor 2006).

Risk Analysis and Contingency Planning

  • The ERP catalog with all specifications cannot be implemented on time. This can be attributed to a several actors: –
    • Ben Foods Co. management is unclear on the scope of the catalogue given the sensitivity of data to be posted. If this happens then I will either have to make up a general report of my own or just produce a report to the main customer’s requirements. In any case, this is not likely to be a major problem as I can design the report stage to be independent of the rest of the program and thus will be able to start design and implementation, even if this information is incomplete.
  • The online ERP sales catalog development faces some setbacks. The possible causes of this happening are:-
    • The programming skills required to turn out to be too complex for developing the system. In which case I will try to use fewer complicated versions of MSXML and MySQL for the web and produce the reports (Glass et al. 2004).
    • I am unable to get my program to interface with Ben Foods’ website. This might occur if the technical specification is missing or the language used in the original site does not function well with MSXML and MySQL.
  • I am unable to get enough information to evaluate the product. This might happen because:-
    • Variations in the data provided for developing the ERP catalog. This is due to the nature of Ben foods businesses spread across the continents.
    • The Ben Foods IT technicians take along to respond to the bug and record it in the provided logbook. I will need to undertake interviews with the technicians to fill in the missing information.
    • The questionnaire does not produce enough results. I will need to have the questionnaire checked before it goes out. I will need to do phone interviews if the results do not come back in time.

The main risk with this project is failing to complete the system within the given period. I will need to ensure that the specification phase does not overrun, as this will have a knock-on effect. I have also described how I would deal with some of the problems that might occur within the web development phase. I must try to set a realistic set of milestones for this phase and seek early advice from my supervisor if problems arise (Shields 2001).

Required Resources

Sufficient product data from Ben Foods company which includes dairy products, meat products, wine,s and beverages from all its outlets.

An up-to-date Enterprise resource planning software to develop the catalog is required.

The latest versions of MSXML and MySQL will be widely used in web development with the data provided.

Books, journals, internet resources, and ERP experts will be very instrumental in the development and implementation of this project.

An elaborate time plan to keep track of project progress and a budget to guide the expenditure of the entire project is necessary.

References

Bennet, G., 1999. Developing database applications in Visual basic 5 Qube Publications. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.

Blofeld, J., 2008. Real-time software engineering techniques. Boston: Shambala.

Brown, C. & Vessey, I., 2003. Managing the Next Wave of Enterprise Systems: Leveraging Lessons from ERP. MIS Quarterly Executive, 2(1), pp.65-77.

Glass, M. et al., 2004. Beginning PHP, Apache, and MySQL Web Development. Norfolk: Wrox.

Green, 2010. Enterprise Resource Planning and Its Applications. Web.

Harrison, G., 2006. MySQL Stored Procedure Programming. Boston: Sage Publications.

Jacobson, J., 2002. Flash and XML, a Developers Guide. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Khosrow–Puor, M., 2006. Emerging Trends and Challenges in Information Technology Management. Hershey: Idea Group, Inc.

Shahbaz, A.N., 2010. Enterprise Resource Planning. Web.

Sheilds, G., 2001. E-Business and ERP: Rapid Implementation and Project Planning. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Appendix 1

Timeplan.

Activity Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
1. Confirm arrangements with Ben Foods company X…
2. Modify project proposal .X.
3. Get information on ERP, MSXML, and MySQL XXX.
4. Establish all data and web requirements from Ben Foods .XXX X…
5. Draw up output report spec .XXX
6. Produce ERD and DFDs XX.
7. Test programs .XXX X…
8. Design screen layout ..XX
9. Write an interim report .XX
10. Implement database ..XX XX. EE.
11. Write application code ..X EEX X…
12. Write user guide X..H H…
13. Hand over the system …H X…
14. Write a draft report …H XXX
15. Demo software to supervisor …H H..X
16. Supervisor review draft X…
17. Edit final report .XX.
18. Report handed in …X

Notes:

X = activity lasting 1 week

H= Holiday period (University and RI on closed over Xmas and new year period)

E = Examination period

. = Marker for unused weeks.

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