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Small Business Technology Upgrade: Recommendations and Costs


You’ve just shown up for work at Smede’s Antique Furniture Emporium and are carrying your first cup of
coffee back to your office when you hear a commotion coming from the computer room. You wander by to
see what is going on.
“Well, I guess we’ll have to break down and get some new ones”, says your boss Sam Smede, as the
smoke comes out of the back of the network server. “It is just as well”, he adds, “since we haven’t been
able to install the last three upgrades to our accounting software because our operating system couldn’t
support it.”
You couldn’t help but be happy that the network server had fried. You’ve felt that the company’s entire
system upgrade was 10 years overdue. After all, using Windows 3.1 on a bunch of old 80286 machines
has been like working in the ice age as far as you were concerned.
Just as you turn to go back to your office, Mr. Smede calls out to you. “You are the smart business
graduate. I want you in my office in 5 minutes. It’s going to be your job to figure out what we should get to
replace this pile of junk. They say they can get this thing going but it is only a temporary fix. We have to
get some new stuff in here as soon as possible.”
Your feelings are a little mixed between pleasure, that you can make sure the next system will be good,
and fear, that if you screw up you may be looking for a new job. Regardless, you do as you’re told and
report to Mr. Smede’s office in 5 minutes.
Smede’s Antique Furniture Emporium is a small business. Total full time staff includes Mr. Sam Smede as
Owner/Manager, his wife Shirley as the bookkeeper, long time employee George as the sales manager,
you as the purchasing agent along with a variety of sales clerks and part time staff. The company brings
into Canada all sorts of antique furniture, largely from England and sells it through their store in Brandon
as well as to other antique stores across Canada and the United States.
As you walk into Mr. Smede’s office you realize that the meeting isn’t just between you and Mr. Smede.
Already in the room is his wife, Shirley, and George.
“Sit down and take good notes” growls Mr. Smede. “O.K. everyone let’s get it on the table. What do you
Shirley Smede smiles and starts first. “Well Sam, we’ve been using QuickBooks for our accounting but we
haven’t bothered to upgrade for quite some time since our systems couldn’t handle it. So we really need
the latest version of the software along with a system that can run it.”
“Fine, but I want to be able to call things up from my desk. I don’t want to be running into your office every
time a customer calls just to see how much they owe us,” Smede replies.
“That’s fine dear,” Shirley continues. “And this time let’s make sure we can back the system up every day
so we don’t lose any data like the last time.”
“Are you getting all this?” Mr. Smede asks.
“Ummm, I think so”, you squeak.
“Anything else, Shirley?”
“Well, the dot matrix printers are going to have to go. We need something that is pretty fast for all of our
accounting reports, but it would be nice to be able to print some color once in a while for other stuff. I
need some software that will help me summarize accounting information for our banker and send letters
to our suppliers overseas.”
“And …”, Smede asks.
“That’s about it”, smiles Shirley.
“What about you George?”
“Well,” George starts. “I am having a heck of a time keeping up to date with all of our customers,
especially those out of town. They have been asking me to email them color pictures of our high end
products and I’ve been faxing them photocopies of black and white pictures. I don’t know what we need,
but I would like to be able to do what they ask somehow. I agree with Shirley, I need a color printer to
make flyers and signage for inside the store. We’re spending a lot at the printer right now.”
“Are you talking about 2 color printers?” Smede asks as his face begins to turn red.
“No honey,” Shirley says. “I can use George’s whenever I might need it. Although, I would want to be able
to print from my desk and not have to go upstairs to George’s office each time.”
“I also need some way to stay on top of the inventory when I am on the road. I’m often asked about what
we have and what we have coming in, and I spend a lot of time calling the store to see what hasn’t been
sold and what has arrived since I left.” George pleads.
“Well, I don’t see how we can do that, do you?” Mr. Smede asks you.
“I’ll look into it” you announce.
“Good. And while you’re at it I’ve got another one for you. Some of my buddies in the business are
starting to talk about using this Internet thing to show their stuff and sell it directly to customers. I don’t
know what it is all about, but I’m telling you one thing. My achy knee tells me that whoever figures it out
first is going to have a big advantage and the rest of us will be in big trouble. Imagine, people buying
furniture over their computer! What will we need stores for? And if there are no stores, who are we going
to sell all of the stuff to that we bring in? It certainly won’t be in Brandon.”
“Anything else?” Smede asks.
George looks at you and smiles. “It would be nice if the sales clerks could enter the sales right into the
system rather than the paper system we currently have. The old cash register hasn’t worked properly for
years anyways.”
"That would save me a lot of time and ensure that our financial statements are much more timely" adds
“Alright, but I’m not spending a fortune on all this stuff. I’ve only got another five years in me and then it is
someone else’s problem,” Smede announces.
You know whose problem you would like it to be. You can see huge potential for this business and would
love to buy it from Smede when the time is right. He has almost adopted you since he has no children of
his own and you and George would be the obvious choice. George has already told you he isn’t
“What about your side of things,” Smede asks you.
“Well, I have the same problems as George with long distance relationships. Our suppliers are ahead of
us in the use of the Internet and they have all sorts of stuff they want to send us. They have color photos
of the furniture we could buy and we could be more selective if we could get their photos faster and in
color. Also, they are hard to get hold of by phone and the long distance charges are getting out of
control,” you state.
“Well, Shirley and I are going to be gone until the end of the month. That should give you a lot of time to
do some research, run around and get some prices and put together a preliminary report with some
recommendations along with what you think this is probably going to cost. I want some options
too. Don’t just give me one solution!”
“No problem,” you say confidently as you get up and head back to your office.
Do the necessary research and prepare the preliminary report Mr. Smede has asked for. Prepare the
report and submit it online by the due date using MOODLE.
Be sure to include a written report using Microsoft Word along with an Excel spreadsheet of your
recommended hardware and software solutions. Rather than including a detailed dump of information
gathered or a simple copy and paste from internet sites, provide a written report that has web links to
more detailed information. Provide costs for both individual items and the total project along with the
source of the prices. Make it easy for Mr. Smede to understand the decisions he needs to make and the
options he should consider.

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