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System architecture design
Company Background:

Waterfront Development is a provincial crown corporation in charge of developing the strategic potential of waterfronts in Bedford, Dartmouth, Halifax and Lunenburg. The company is focused on tourism, and has an invested interest in operating the Halifax Waterfront as a fully functional Marina. The Halifax waterfront offers more than 1 kilometre (.6 mile) of public berth space including over 457 metres (1500 feet) of floating docks. The berthing spaces are free to daytime boaters. All that is asked of the free daytime boaters is that they register with the Marina Office so they can be included in the marina database. Boaters who want to stay one night or more are charged. The marina is operational from May-October every year and sees visitors from all areas of the globe. This project will focus solely on the Marina Services sector of the Waterfront Development Corporation.

Problems/Opportunity:

Inefficient/complex web site design:

The current website for this company is very inconvenient. For example if a customer wants to book a place on the marina from the website, he/she have to go through multiple clicks and numerous webpages until he/she is directed to the online reservation form. As a result, more than half of the customers preferred to call the office and make a reservation rather than doing it online. Moreover, taking the customer information (Name, Address, Boat etc.) over the phone can often lead to a typing mistake and is more time consuming. Due to this inefficient web design the company is incurring more expenses over time.

Inefficient Online Booking System:

The current online system takes all of the necessary information from the customer via an online forum. That form is then sent to the Marina Office e-mail address where it is manually entered into the database by an employee. This is incredibly inefficient, it makes more sense to have the database update automatically whenever a customer registers for a booking online.

Security:

Security is a large issue with the current system. Many customers leave without paying. Some expect that they can simply pay over the phone at a later date. For customers that leave the country, this ends up being their only option. The Marina office cannot accept credit cards over the phone and therefore the transaction must be carried out by Management. An online payment system could solve this problem easily. Customers could then pay in advance with a credit card to ensure that their space is reserved.

Mapping:

There are multiple berthing locations on the Halifax Waterfront and it can be very confusing for visitors to understand exactly where their reserved space is. It is also confusing for the employee to try and keep track of all the boats on the property at any given time. There is software available that plots all of the berthing spaces on a map, showing which ones are available and which ones are booked at any given time. No such system is currently used by the Marina Office.

Multiple Programs updating concurrently:

Two programs are used to keep track of bookings. ICal is used for time management while Filemaker Pro is used to manage the Marina database. When one gets changed, the other must be updated as well. This is done manually. It can be very confusing since management also has access to both programs. Often the programs will not be consistent with one another. This makes it difficult to figure out which customers have paid and which ones have not. This ties in with security as it enables customers to periodically get away without paying.

Project Objective:

The objective of this project is to analyze the System that Waterfront Development is currently using to operate the Halifax Marina. Numerous issues are apparent with the current system as described above. The focus of this project is systems acquisition, therefore software solutions will be explored and compared to the current system in order to identify the best possible alternative to the current system. The goal is to solve as many of the above issues as possible as well as any others that become apparent over the duration of this project.

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