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Preparing a Technology Solution for a Restaurant Supply Business Startup

Hardware Recommendations

Business Startup Proposal Bill, a close friend of your parents, wants to start a business. Your parents refer him to you since you are presently working on a technology-related degree. In your first discussion, you discover the following facts:

Bill has been a sales representative for a major restaurant supply company for many years. His current skills are very low tech. He drives from city to city, visiting restaurants. He either provides his customers with supplies or visits new restaurants to try and convince them to purchase supplies from him exclusively. He phones his orders in to the manufacturer, and, other than accounting for his expenses while on the road, he does no record keeping. Other than basic email skills and a vague familiarization with Microsoft Word Bill has little or no experience with existing communications technologies or software applications.

Bill’s business plan is to start a new restaurant supply business in his home. He wishes to spend more time at home and travel much less than he did in the past. He knows he will sometimes be required to travel to negotiate deals or meet with clients, but he would prefer to be able to do all this at home whenever possible. Bill has already implemented the following actions: He has found an accountant who has agreed to help him set up his accounting system. (Do not consider any accounting software for this assignment. The accountant will provide that.) He has contacted six different restaurant supply companies and negotiated a fee and commission arrangement that will allow him to represent them and sell their products. He has found a local training and certification company that has classes in all the major software packages (Apple OS, Windows 7/8, Word, Excel, etc.) that will allow Bill to start classes immediately. Although Bill has minimal technical skills, he does know what he wants.

As the discussion proceeds, the following items are added to the plan: Budget:

Bill has funds for the startup, but the budget has some limits. He doesn’t want the fastest, biggest, or best, but he will spend what it takes to have equipment that will suit his needs.

Security: Bill has heard horror stories about computer information being hacked, and he wants your assurance that his business information will be secure, if he follows your suggestions.

Hardware: Bill knows of no special requirements for hardware, but he does know he will need to store somewhere between 2 and 3 terabytes of catalog information from the companies with whom he will be working. He needs to be able to access this info at all times from any location. He has no knowledge or preferences about hardware and says he will go with what you recommend.

Operating System and Software: Bill feels comfortable with the Windows environment, and prefers not to learn another operating system.

The Cloud, Wi-Fi, Mobile Computing: Bill has no idea how these technologies tie in to his business, but he does know he needs to be able to do the following from his home office, from his car, or from any remote location: check his email and compose/send emails at any time, place a supplies order via the Internet to any of his suppliers, be able to answer phone calls, and be able to set up video conferencing phone calls.

The Proposal: Prepare and submit a proposal to Bill that gives your suggested solution to his business plan. Provide Bill with the details of what he needs to purchase in order to have what he needs to conduct his business using today’s technology.

Make sure you include the following items in your report:

Hardware: What items of hardware (computer, laptop, tablet device, telephone, etc.) should Bill purchase? For items like a computer, include minimum specifications for all major internal components. Justify the need for any major hardware items recommended.

Operating System: With the recommended hardware, what operating system choices are available and which would be best? Why?

Other Technologies: Include the details on any peripheral devices and technologies that you propose (“The Cloud,” mobile computing devices, Bluetooth, wireless networking, etc.) and explain how they fit into the business plan. Software and Training: List the security and software applications that should be purchased. Include the training courses that Bill should attend to gain basic skills in the software packages you recommend.

Cost: Provide Bill with an estimated cost for him to implement all of your suggestions.

Make sure you read the rubric and have a clear idea of what is expected. If there are any additional questions that you would have asked Bill, be sure to note them as you explain to Bill what networking options he has so that you can explain what additional information could change your suggestion, if any.

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