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TO: Mr. Vincent Marino and the Family Support Network
FROM: Group C
SUBJECT: Project Report
DATE: May 8, 2006
Group C has designed a project for the Family Support Network that will allow the stakeholders
to input and restore data in a more efficient and timely manor. With their extra time, therapists will be
able to give more attention to the client. Per our interview with Mr. Marino, some of the major concerns
include seven therapist using one Alpha4 system to input information, no capabilit y to query by specified
characteristics, and employees are not able to generate an excel report without having to manually create
As you review our proposed recommendations you will see how the system that we designed will
allow you to enter case information in a more timely and user friendly fashion, therapists will have the
capability to enter data from a remote location, query by zip code, race, age, and gender and generate an
excel report from what has been previously entered. This system will also be secured via password
protection on the database and the data will remain consistent through built-in error checking during data
entry. These changes will allow the therapist to reduce the time used on paper work and focus more on
This report will also show the beneficial cost factors that lie within the boundaries of your annual
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The purpose of this report is to recommend a new and improved database system to Mr. Marino
and the staff of the Family Support Network. The Alpha4 system that is presently being used has the
effectiveness of data entry and data stores, however it does not meet the full specifications for generating
and revising reports. Through our research of other companies that uses the Alpha4 Software
Application, such as Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, Kenne Systems, Inc. and Call
Center Technology Network System, they have expressed the need for an improved application that
would better serve their employment needs.
Through out this report you will observe the essential benefits in accepting our proposed system
for the Family Support Network Center. This new and improved system will not only speed up the data
entry process, but will also improve the entire facilitated organization of the Family Support Network
Center. More families will be serviced, more child abuse cases of vandalism will be reduced, there will be
more community involvement, and an increased desire for financial contribution by outside donors. One
financial donor in particular is seeking to finance existing child related organizations that are seeking
grants for expansion.
After gathering and analyzing the data on FSN's current system we recommend going with a new
system that is up to date and will last the company for a long time; easily being upgradeable year after
year. Microsoft Access is user friendly and reasonably priced when compared to competitor applications.
Other options will be provided, but we feel that our Semi-Paperless option is the best avenue for FSNs
new Management Information System (MIS). Advantages include error checking on input, easy queries
and additional data fields. Furthermore, we would like to see a computer at each workstation in the office
and laptops for the remote employees who work on the school site(s). If you look at the cost benefit
analysis you will see this option is significantly more than upgrading to Alpha5; we want to optimize your
business with the smartest choice.
Family Support Network Description
The Family Support Network (FSN) is a stand alone not-for-profit agency. The various
individuals that it brings on board are characterized by the three Ts; Time, Talent, and Treasurer. Talent
refers to legal skills, fund raising, and personnel; as a Treasurer, the persons must have money and
knowledge of other resources that will allocate money. Not-for-profit agencies always see the community
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as a stakeholder (grants, donations, and individual contributions). FSN also see its clients, staff, and board
of directors as stakeholders.
Mr. Marino and Staffs Perception of Problems
The client believes that the current system is becoming outdated and unable to sufficiently cope
with the demands of the growing company. It is currently inhibiting work efficiency, functionality and
data storage. The client also thinks that the current system is unable to be updated or modified to fulfill
the requirements of FSN.
Mr. Marino and Staffs Perception of Solutions
The client foresees an ideal system that will allow many of the therapists to enter information
from the ir desktop. Remote therapists, the employees that work in the school system, should have the
capabilities to enter data by laptop and other computer terminals that are away from the FSN office. Mr.
Marino would like the system to later lead to become completely paperless. The Staff that we spoke with
said any solutions to the data entry would be better than what they currently use.
Deficiencies of this system include its method for entering data into the system; which is time
consuming, inconvenient and has no means of error checking. Report generation is also very limited and
is poorly organized. Additionally, the overall data is not able to be re-organized or sorted by categories.
The data is not secured and not conveniently backed up. FSNs outdated system is slowing the progress
of data entry and query capabilities.
Problems and Opportunities
From our analysis of the information gathered from the client, this project allows for great
opportunities for the Family Support Network. It also allows for some downfalls or problems along the
way. Some problems that the FSN may come across during the implementation of a new system include:
Knowledge of the new system
Transfer of old information
Knowledge of the new system can be easily remedied with proper training of the personnel who
will be using the system. Transferring of information can become a painstaking task to assure quality.
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Matching fields, data structures and the ability to convert one system to another are all major factors in
the information transfer. Budgetary limitations can prevent the implementation of required or optional
devices which would further facilitate the client and the system.
There exist many obvious advantages to implementing a new system for FSN, Opportunities
Flexibility includes custom sorting of data, custom queries or reports specific to certain
contributors (e.g. United Way), and analysis and retrieval of more data than the current system can offer.
Efficiency increases come from the added (secure) accessibility of the system, and the increased ease of
entering information. Accessibility will be expanded to persons within the specified network who
provide the correct login credentials to access the system. Security will increase by means of an added
login and password system, and restricted user rights depending on the persons specified role.
Clients Goals, Requirements and Expectations
FSN needs a system that is adaptive to change without a great expense. This includes the ability
to edit records without having to completely remove and re-enter the entire record. There is a need for
timely data entry; decreasing this time will increase time spent on counseling families. It also needs a
system with more flexibility to sort by all categories; many donors request information that the current
system cannot provide. Being able to securely back up the data with ease is necessary for FSN. Finally it
needs a system that is able to be queried to retrieve accurate, complete information.
Review of Systems, Manuals, Forms and Material
According to Mr. Marino there are no formal manuals on how to use this system. The system is
DOS based with Alpha Four v6 loaded as the database and runs very slow. It has three low quality
screens where a user inputs information. The computer which the system runs on is outdated and slow.
The amount of information that is kept electronically is very limited and there is a strong need to add a
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safe system back up. With the current system only one person can access it at a time. The computer the
system is on is a stand alone machine; it is not connected to the network. One needs to come to the office
to work on the system; remote access is not possible. The ability to search with in the system is also not
possible. To get to the last case record one needs to scroll through all the records, until the last one is
reached. No error checking is done during data entry either. One of the biggest deficiencies of the
current system is that it is outdated. Alpha Four is not a widely used database, and it is very hard to find
someone to support it.
Most of the case information is kept in paper form in a secured location. Therapists fill the forms