DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A COMPUTERISED
INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR A SMALL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE
(CASE STUDY OF TEXACO FILLING STATION)
This study was conducted on the premise that if quality business information is provided to small business enterprises, socio-economic transformation could be achieved. The study emanated from the problem where business enterprises were found to depend on “word of mouth” and “Pen/paper method” rather than any meaningful formal mechanism for accessing information efficiently. The aim of this study was, therefore, to design an information system for small business enterprises using Texaco Filling Station as the case study. Using interviews, information about business flow was collected from business policy-makers in Texaco Company. The main findings indicate that Texaco Filling Station is lagging behind in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). There is lack of familiarity with changing technology – especially the Internet. Although the company is making a fundamental contribution to Nigeria’s economy, they face serious challenges, such as insecurity of data, lack of trained information professionals and appropriate technology to access electronic information.
The study concludes that the company need an efficient, effective mechanism to provide the required business information flow. Hence, a computerised information system (CIS) was designed to address their needs. The developed system uses web-based technologies to provide smooth business flow in terms of finance management, staff management and economic information as well as contact information. PHP programming language was used for the system front-end design while MySQL database was used for data storage. Information are processed by means any internet enabled device.
1.1 Background of the Study
The last two decades of the twentieth century saw the creation of a completely new global marketplace which established a new foundation for the twenty-first century global economy (Javalgi and White 2012). This economy has not only accelerated global trade competition, but it has also increased the need to access relevant business information. As a backdrop to the broader theme of this thesis – and in order to provide sufficient background for this study – it is important to examine the contemporary business trends in a global context.
For millions of companies throughout the world, whether large or small, conducting business, globally, is now imperative. In this era of globalisation, the international marketing of services has become a topic of discourse for various constituencies, including governments, private enterprises, academics, and individuals, alike. According to Sharma and Bhagwat (2016), recent research findings suggest that information flow is the bloodline of any business-operating unit irrespective of its size and the scope of its operation. In the present customised and globalised business environment, where geographical distances are of no consequence to customer-supplier relationships, an organisation’s competency in information systems (IS) has become one of the key measures of its survival (Sharma and Bhagwat 2016). There is emerging consensus that, globally, businesses are growing faster than ever before. Rising trade and investments are creating national wealth and consumer affluence especially in developing countries. A convergence of tastes and preferences of consumers across the globe is increasing demand for global brands and services. Technological advancement especially in information technology is making the world more and more borderless and increasingly competitive.
Access to quality business information is essential for conducting business. However, access to quality business information, to a large extent, is dictated by the existence and exploitation of effective business information systems and services by business entrepreneurs. China for instance, provides a lesson and success story of the effective exploitation of a business information system and service. In China, the development of BOTIS (British Overseas Trade Intelligence Services) and other interventions has resulted in an efficient provision of information related to companies, products, markets, business opportunities and technical data for business communities, worldwide (Drew 2015:57). The provision of business information has facilitated trade and business operations and created multiple employment opportunities. Undeniably, different nations’ economies are becoming more and more economically interdependent creating a dominant, powerful economic force in which individual nations might not be as potent as they are collectively.
There are a vast number of information services available, today, and it is a recognised fact that information is a crucial element in any successful market economy (De Lange, Britz, Boon and 2013). Information is a major resource that businesses require for monitoring environmental trends, products, services, markets, regulations, customers; for forecasting future events; for countering competitors’ strategies; and for developing new products (Ikoja-Odongo 2012:5). The success or failure of business activities depends on how information is handled and utilised (Nigeria, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development 2018:18). For company like Texaco Filling Station, this implies that for progress, there calls for the timely provision and use of quality information.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
According to Shokane (2013), information is a crucial resource in gaining a sustainable, competitive advantage for modern business enterprises. Despite this importance and the structural changes in economic development in Nigeria, Texaco Filling Station operates in a business environment characterised by fragmented and incomplete information where an awareness of markets, technology, policies, regulations and finance is limited. There is no meaningful information system in place to facilitate efficient and effective access to business information by business enterprises. Traders and other small companies are simply “out of the loop” in developing strategic business relationships that occur more frequently.
An interview with the boards of the company established that the majority of business enterprises depended on “word of mouth” and “paper/pen method”. They did not have any meaningful mechanism for accessing relevant information on business resources without hassles. The problem of access to quality business information is, generally, attributed to poor information systems. These poor information systems and services have necessitated a study to investigate and to propose an appropriate business information system design for Texaco business enterprises. The proposed system curbs the problem of data management, storage and finance management.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The main aim of this study is to design a computerised system for small business enterprise using Texaco Filling Station as the case study. To achieve the stated aim, the following specific objectives were laid out:
i. Design using web based technologies an information system to manage the sales of Texaco Filling Station
ii. Make the system interfaces easy to use with proper navigation and search tool for easy search of sales history information
iii. Implement a financial management system to analyse profit and loss of the company
iv. The system should be secured enough and be able to give information to only authorised users irrespective of their location
1.4 Scope of the Study
The study focuses on the main aspects that contribute to a business information system in Texaco Filling Station by investigating the business activities; the business information needs; the sources of business information; the means used by business enterprises to access business information; and the problems being faced in accessing business information. The study was restricted to the senior management level of the company which includes; Warehouse and Port Operations, Audit, Accounts, Marketing, Human Resource and Administration and Security Departments. This study, however, does not attempt to establish how business information is utilised by the said company.
1.5 Significance of the Study
Although most companies have a sort of CIS in place, most of them have not invested time into ensuring that the system is robust and able to provide
management with the information needed for decision making. This study therefore encourages companies with CIS systems to upgrade and those without to go for a robust system thereby gaining benefits, which will help to improve their business.
For business enterprise like Texaco, an information system would provide the required information that would assist in
· Establishing sources and costs of inputs.
· Determining the nature of which staff to employ.
· Monitoring changes in exchange rates.
· Forecasting sales.
· Pump sales management.
Finally, the study would serve as a source of reference to the general public and academia, and stimulate interest in further research into this area.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
This study is intended to provide simple software which helps the company to automate management processes like pump management, petrol purchase and staff management. This software does not provide a full automation as the Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) software available in the market. It is beyond the scope of the project to provide real time tracking of fuel purchase processes in the company and provide the tools to analyze the finance.