Problem Solving (Computing and IT)

109. Problem Solving (Computing and IT)

Intended Learning Outcomes:
1. Identify inputs, outputs and processing required to solve a given problem
2. Create a design for a computer program from given specifications
3. Write a specification for a computer program to perform a given task
4. Evaluate own work within an appropriate context
Brief:
You are a Software Engineer working for SuperSound Software. You have been assigned to the project team that is developing a program for a client. Some of the documentation from the analysis phase of the project is appended. Your job is to develop the Software Requirements Specification and design the program.
1. From the analysis create a formal Software Requirements Specification – include examples of Use Cases.
2. Using your SRS, design the program using JSP. Develop the design to the stage where you feel that no more decomposition is possible without writing individual lines of code or developing detailed algorithms – i.e. to module level. For every module in the design write a manual page for the C function that will implement it. You are not required to fully design individual data structures at this point but you are required to identify any data inputs and outputs (parameters and return values) for the C functions. Feel free to invent data types to suit your needs, but you will need to describe these where they are used.
NOTE: You are not required to produce detailed algorithms of the lowest level modules in the system. You are required to develop the structure of the system showing any control structures (iterations, selections) that are required and identify the program code units down to function level. You are not required to write any program code.
Assessment Requirements:
You should produce a report which includes:
1. A Software Requirements Specification for the system, including Use Cases
2. Design documentation including JSP diagrams
3. Manual pages for the C functions laid out in the accepted style.
4. A critical evaluation of your solution.
Transcript of Interview with Mr. Howe of Dewy, Cheatham and Howe commercial vehicle brokers.
Me: Describe your day-to-day business please.
Mr. H: We receive enquiries from both vendors and potential purchasers of all kinds of commercial vehicles. We try to match what we have on our books to what potential purchasers need. We recently chopped the top off a 1937 double decker bus, for example, and converted it into a coffee bar for an overseas customer. Coffee?
Me: (Mutters: Philistines!) No, no coffee, thanks. Can you describe those needs?
Mr H: yes – things like whether it’s a van or lorry, diesel or petrol, articulated or rigid, pulls a trailer, got wheelchair lift if it’s a bus, that sort of thing. Doughnut?
Me: No, thanks. How do you do this at the moment?
Mr. H: We keep a set of record cards that hold the vehicles details. We sort them into different drawers according to whether, for example, the vehicle is an articulated lorry, rigid lorry or van. Cigar?
Me: No, thanks. Can you tell me how a transaction takes place?
Mr. H: ooh, that’s complicated. Depends if we are buying or selling.
Me: OK, start with buying.
Mr. H: Right. Well, assuming we have been offered a vehicle, we send someone to inspect it. If it looks a viable proposition, we make an offer. If the offer is accepted we buy it, bring it back here and get it ready for sale.
Me: What does “Get it ready for sale” imply?
Mr. H: Well, if the MOT certificate is within a month of expiry then we bring it up to standard and book it in for a test. We don’t sell anything without at least 2 months MOT on it. We will also do any minor repair works, mechanical, bodywork, lights, paint etc. and thoroughly clean it inside and out. If its up for an MOT then we have to steam clean the chassis and spray it silver, red or black. Then when it’s ready we mark its card as “Ready for sale” and put a price on it. Chocolate?
Me: Mmm… OK, thanks. Now tell me about selling.
Mr. H: OK, yes, if a vehicle is ready for sale we need to put it in our adverts.
Me: How does that work?
Mr. H: Well we have some fixed contracts with trade magazines, newspapers, websites etc. we just send them details of what to add and what to remove from our adverts.
Me: How often do you do that?
Mr. H: Once a week unless nothing’s changed.
Me: So then what happens?
Mr. H: Well then we just sit back and wait for people to phone up about vehicles being advertised. Then they come and see them and if they like them they buy them.
Me: Do potential purchasers contact you to see if you have a particular type of vehicle in stock?
Mr.H: Oh, yes, that’s a good 50% of our business actually.
ME: How does that work?
Mr.H: We get enquiries by telephone mostly, sometimes by email but that’s a bit hit or miss at the moment, and very occasionally by letter. When we get an enquiry we try to look through the cards to see if we have anything that matches what the customer is looking for. If not, we file the enquiry details then when a vehicle comes in we check and see if anyone wants it before we advertise it.
Me: So you keep a waiting list.
Mr. H: yes.
Me: How long?
Mr. H: It varies… it can be 20 or 30 customers…
Me: No, sorry, I mean how long does a customer stay on the waiting list?
Mr. H: Oh, I see, well, if it looks like its been there a while, say 6 weeks or more, then we might check back to see if the customer is still looking for something.
Me: OK, thanks. Do you do anything else in your business?
Mr. H: no, not really; no.
Me: So how do you see the computer system helping your business?
Mr. H: Really we want to automate the whole thing. Get rid of the cards, were always losing them or misreading them, automatically advertise unsold vehicles, remove sold vehicles from the adverts, store customer enquiries and match them up to what we have or put them on a waiting list which is checked regularly against new stock. Book MOT tests, or tell us that we need to book MOT tests for vehicles brought in, alert us to any work that needs doing.
Me: So who will need to use the system?
Mr. H: The inspector who buys in vehicles, the person who takes a customer’s call, the person who organises the adverts and the appointments to view.
Me: Appointments to view?
Mr. H: Oh, yes, when people come to look at a vehicle we have to ensure its roadworthy and insured so they can test drive it. So we need to know when they are coming!Me: OK, thanks. Anything else you think I need to know?
Mr. H: Yes, talking of appointments, we need to know where our inspector is going to go to look at a potential purchase and when.
Me: Right, got that. So, appointments for both buying and selling.
Mr. H: Yes.
Me: OK, thanks. Anything else you think I need to know?
Mr. H: No, I think that’s the lot. You know the way out?
Me: Erm, yes, thanks. Goodbye!
Proposal
This document does not constitute a contract in law between SuperSound Software and any other party.
SuperSound Software proposes to develop a computer system on behalf of Dewey, Cheetham & Howe Commercial Vehicle Brokers of Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The main business of the client is the purchase and resale of used commercial vehicles of all types including lorries, vans, buses and coaches.
The proposed system will do the following:
Automate where possible the processes and events associated with buying used commercial vehicles. Automate where possible the processes and events associated with selling used commercial vehicles. The system will provide alerts for the operators when it is necessary for the operator to perform some action – e.g. book a MOT test, send an update list to advertisers. Alerts will be repeated at useful intervals until cancelled by the operators. Provision will be made for future upgrades to allow advertising updates to be automatically emailed to advertisers and to process incoming email enquiries. The system will log via an operator enquiries for both

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