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Design and Implementation of an Online Based Virtual Office Management System

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2 Materials and Methods

2.1 The Virtual office

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From the literature review, the definition of VO is not a single point. Odgers et al [14] define VO in such way “A new form of organization is evolving that uses information technologies in where virtual workers are people that work at home or away from the workplace by using computer, smart phone and data communication devices”. Therefore, a virtual organization is a platform where people work from outside the wall of a traditional office by using computer networks.

2.2 Different Model of Virtual Organization

According Lews et al [15] there are three virtual organization (VO) model namely, partial virtual organization and completely virtual organization. In partial VO model, only workers interact with the workplace via personal computer or smart phone by internet connection. Completely VO model, company is tightly linked to a large net-work of Manager, workers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers. In this study, a completely VO model has been developed for any type of business organiza-tions.

2.3 Methods

In this study, some most used project management software has been analyzed and compared with our proposed management software. The proposed virtual office management system is an integrated module that has everything inside a package. Even there have some software, which are available at internet which is also used for project management but they have different features and not applicable to all type of industry. And the other thing is all of that software requires high cost to use, so those are commercial tools and not free for everyone. In countries like Bangladesh, it is not possible for use highly paid software for every type of industry where the virtu-al industry model open for all. Table 1 shows the comparison information about some most used project management software and proposed virtual office manage-ment software.

Table 1. Comparison information about some most used project management software and proposed virtual office management software.

Factor Conventional virtual office Software [29-39] Virtual Industry Model

Price 95% of conventional software has a good price, that’s why people get discouraged to use highly paid software. Virtual Industry Model Will be a freeware to use, it will be opened for all to use without any payment.

Application Sector Not Applicable for all type of organ-izations, most of them are special-ized for software industry or specific industry Global platform for all type of organ-izations.

Functionalities Limited functionality, need several software to perform as a virtual organization Virtual industry model has several functionalities in a single software, it is an integrated system

User Friendly More difficult to use for general user. Easy user interface and user friendly to use.

Hardware Requirements Conventional system requires many network devices. The system needs only internet con-nection and a general computer. It is accessible from any location using internet so it requires very less hard-ware.

Upgrade and Maintenance Conventional system requires high payment to upgrade. It is also diffi-cult to maintain due to large network environment. Virtual industry model will be a freeware and open source software so users will be able to upgrade the system by changing its code accord-ing to their requirements. It only requires internet connectivity but not a complex LAN/WAN network. Now a days, managing a LAN is much expensive than have an internet connection.

2.5 Elements of the proposed Virtual Office Model

The major elements of this model are shown in figure 1. From this figure it can be seen that Clients, virtual office and physical production are the major elements of this proposed industry model. In this model, these three elements have been synchro-nized for a smooth operation in any industry. The elements of this virtual industry model are briefly described below.

For an industry, most of case clients are buyer groups/companies from local or foreign market (export). In this proposed model, online customers are a big market. Buyers will be able to access and order directly from their place via “Virtual office software”, the software will count, calculate the production plan from some given inputs from clients and mangers.

Virtual office segment

Virtual office segment is the focal point and backbone to establish a virtual indus-try. A virtual office setup allows business owners and employees to work from any location by using technology such as laptop computers, cell phones and internet ac-cess. Virtual office can provide significant savings and flexibility compared to renting a traditional office space. Virtual office needs only a single room to setup some tech-nical equipment. Mangers and owner of the industry can monitor the whole working process from anywhere around the world. A web based application has been devel-oped which will fulfill the coordination between all elements of virtual industry mod-el.

Managers

Mangers are the key persons for an industry to manage the man, machine materi-al in an industry. Though this model skips physical workplace but manager will play the key role in this model. He will organize and synchronize among all part. This model will make it very easy for manger as he is going to perform any task, monitor the progress using software and other tools.

Engineers (R&D)

In this model, the industry or company has no need to hire a full time engineer to perform research and development. An industry/company can hire part-time exper-tise, for that the salary related cost will be reduced. As it will reduce cost, the entrepre-neur can hire several part time experts.

Employee

An industry needs different employees for different purpose, for example ac-counts, marketing, advertising etc. All of such employees will also work through a network accessing the virtual industry software system and complete their assign task without any delay. In this system, there are no opportunities to claim wages without working because of the software system.

Network Connectivity

Network connectivity means physical (wired or wireless) and logical (protocol) connection of a computer network or an individual device to a network, such as the Internet or a LAN. In web hosting this can be referring to how the company receives its bandwidth and how it is connected to the provider. In this model it is first needs to have a fast network connectivity to connect all the functional blocks. The system can use internet, mobile networks and other fast internet service for connecting re-mote human resources to login to the software and work. Internet will be used to communicate among employees, clients and rental industry via virtual office soft-ware, If the industry locates near the virtual office network area it can use LAN. Be-cause it needs very high speed fulltime network to observe, communicate and moni-tor that industry’s working progress due to virtual industry’s order. The functional blocks that shown in figure3.1 are connected through various network which are very important in the proposed model.

3 Development process of “Virtual Office” software

The development process done by following some steps that shown in develop-ment process flowchart in figure 2. First step was selecting appropriate development tools, then design the database, design user interface. After the end of designing pro-cess, it required to hire skilled software engineer thus the system needed sophisticated programming. The next step was developing the programs modules of the software’s and tests the output. Bug fixing process was done until the programs performed ac-cording to design. End of bug fixing process, the software was hosted at web server to make it globally accessible.

4 System Requirements

4.1 Tools & Technology Used in Virtual Office software

Following tools and technologies has been used to develop the software:

1. MySQL Database (PHPMyAdmin)

2. Adobe Photoshop for graphical design.

3. HTML, CSS for graphical User Interface design.

4. PHP programming language for logical web programming.

5. Java Script, Jquerry, Ajax for on page functionalities.

6. Apache web server.

7. Notepad++ for edit source code.

4.2 Key Components of Virtual Industry Model Software

In this proposed office software system has four basic components, they are

1. Database.

2. Web Application (Logical Programming).

3. Web Server.

4. Presentation (GUI)/User Interface.

5 Result/Output of Virtual Model Software

5.1 Home Page of virtual model software

The system’s graphical user interface has been developed using “HTML” and “CSS”. The virtual system has a nice and interactive graphical user interface. It is very user friendly and visually clear to understand the operation. In the home page of the system user will see a simple interface where it has four different areas. In the left side on top (figure 3), it has two data entry field available for user ID and password to get access into software. If user lost his password there has a button to retrieve pass-word. The system has two more data entry options to create new company account and new user bottom of the page. From there a new company will enter their name, administrator name, email id, and password to start using “virtual office” as new industry. Similarly new employee can start using first time the system from same page by filling the “Join as New Employee” section’s required data. As usually it has password recovery option, if any user forgets his username or password he can re-cover that using his email address that he used during registration process. When user clicks the “I forgot my password” button the system sends an email with a recovery link. User has to login his email and click on that link, the link will redirects the system into a page where he will be able to set his new password. In cyber world, it is very important issue to ensure system security from hacker. All traditional security option and modern security policy has been used in this system that should be available in such virtual work space. The system will contain vital information regarding many industries and their management, employee, their ongoing project. So it has to be a secure system that will have secure data processing algorithm.

5.3 Task management interface

In task management interface, there have four different panels shown in figure 5. In left-top it has a list of task named “My Task List”, this list is the queue of tasks that assigned to user by other. This list has four headings, they are “Title, Assigned By, Day, and Action”. The title means short description of the task, assigned by col-umn show the respective co-worker name who assigned the task. Column “Day” shows the remaining days to finish that job. In column “Action” there have an op-tion list where user can set the current status that is he is doing the task, or he finished the task. According to his option settings, the corresponding user who assigned the task will be able to track the task status by observing this status option. Similarly there have another list in the left-bottom side. The list shows the task that assigned my user to his co-workers. This list also has four heading column named “Title, As-signed to, Day, Status”. Title stands for the job’s short description as mentioned in previous list. The column “Assigned To” shows the mane of co-worker who will re-sponsible to finish that task. Status column indicate the status the set by responsible co-worker who is doing the job, if respective worker start work with the task it will show “Working” if co-worker didn’t start the task it will show “Pending” as task sta-tus. In the top of this list there have a button named “Create New Task”, by clicking on this button user can go the page for creating new task. Right side of the page has also two blocks, in right-top there have a list which consist of finished task name and the co-worker name who assigned. Gradually this list will be long so it would be diffi-cult to show them in single page, due to the problem there have a page numbering system where only five items will be in a single page, user will see all tasks in slotted into page by selecting every page. When it will be huge data then it will become diffi-cult to find any specific task, to solve the problem the software has strong wildcard searching option that can find any of matching task from the large data record.

5.4 Create new task

Figure 4.4 is showing a form which will get input to create a new task. It has three text fields. The first one for “Task Title”, here user will enter the specific short details in a sentence that could be understood by the respective person who will do the task. The task title must contain a summarized sentence about the task. The next field is details of task, in this field user will write down the details about task, that infor-mation should be very clear to understand the job, what to do and the process. User can write unlimited test and other instruction here. These two fields are mandatory to assign a new task/job to others. In next field user will select the user who will do the job, it is a dropdown list. Name of all employee of an organization will appear in this list. From the list user will select the desired employee name who will be responsible for the job, this is also a mandatory data field. The next field is a file selection and uploading option, using this feature user can send the necessary file that will be used to working on the task/job. Most of time employee needs to work with soft copy of various documents. For example a civil engineer can send a layout plan of a building to an electrical engineer to work on it for electrical wiring diagram. In the software, user will be able to upload any type of file and any size. When the respective user who was assigned the job will open the task he will see the attachment and will be able to download the file for working. Normally organizations use typical mailing system, over the third party mailing system the virtual office has a strong facility to handle file. This is not a mandatory option to attach a file, because sometimes some tasks couldn’t’ have any such file. The final field is deadline. When user will click on the field a calendar will appear in front of user and he will select the date when the task must be finished. In task management and tracking process it is very important to have a specific deadline.

5.5 Personal Organizer

By the end of the 20th century, paper-and-binder personal organizers started to be replaced by electronic devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs), personal infor-mation manager software, and online organizers. This process has accelerated in the beginning of the 21st century with the advent of smartphones and tablet computers and a variety of mobile apps. So it is clear to us that organizer is very important to maintain daily busy life efficiently. To make the virtual working environment more efficient the system has an organizer attached with the virtual office software. When user goes to the organizer option he will be shown the user interface in figure 7. There have two blocks in the user page, in the top portion it has the necessary data field to create a new do-to item and save it into database. To save a new item in database, user have to enter the new to-do item’s title, details of the item, due date, set its cur-rent status, set the notification method and attach related file. The system used the option “status” to set the item status that it should be done or done. It has another useful function that is, if user wishes he can set email notification method, which will send an email to user if user forgets the item in organizer. In the bottom of the page, it has a list with the same heading that user entered during saving a new to-do item. The list show all to-do items in short order according to due time. If there have any change at any to-do item in organizer, user can edit that item by clicking the “edit” icon at the end of item name. Normally after saving a new item in organizer the list get updated simultaneously. There have a button to refresh the list manually by click-ing on “Refresh To Do” button in the top-right side of list. When some to-do item will be expired, user will delete that item by clicking the “Delete” marked icon.

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