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1.      Executive Summary

After evaluating the
existing Mary Kay Website for Independent Beauty Consultants (IBCs) and Sales
Directors, in addition to the assessing current business processes; it was
feasible to develop an inventory management database. Research showed that
other product inventory databases exists such as NetSuite and inflow, however
they were not specifically designed for Mary Kay and did not fully address the
business need of IBCs and Sales Directors. The existing inventory management
systems and the outcome of the requirements gathering techniques were carefully
critiqued to determine the feasibility of the project. After taking all of the previously
mentioned into consideration, a Mary Kay inventory management database that can
be accessed remotely was developed. This project is feasible and is the
solution to inventory tracking problem experienced by IBCs and Sales Directors
across the U.S

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2.      Introduction

The proposed Inventory Management System (IMS) for Mary Kay
(MK) Independent Beauty Consultants was designed in anticipation of curing the
businesses’ inventory needs, to have an effective customer response, save costs
while at the same time maximize profits and competition. The study project
seeks to achieve this by first conducting an analysis of the problem statement,
where it will explore how lack of an inventory management
database for Mary Kay Website for Independent Beauty Consultants has led to a
substantial amount of loss of time once an order or inquiry has been made. It
further seeks to determine howcustomer service has been negatively impacted as
IBCs may have to place a product order and follow-up with the customer in
addition to loss of revenue if an order is cancelled by a customer due to due
to untimely processing. The study project will also conduct an analysis of the
set objectives, which will entail developing a new inventory management system to offer many
conveniences to IBCs and Sales Directors. The system will assist in improving
cost and time efficiencies for the all stakeholders involved. It will be used
to track and manage MK inventory, customer lists and orders. The study also
identifies requirements gathering and deliverables.

3.      Statement of the problem

a)      Restatement of the problem

After evaluating the existing Mary Kay
Website for Independent Beauty Consultants (IBCs) and Sales Directors, in
addition to the assessing current business processes; it was feasible to
develop an inventory management database. Research showed that other product
inventory databases exists such as NetSuite and inflow, however they were not
specifically designed for Mary Kay and did not fully address the business need
of IBCs and Sales Directors. Mary Kay offer its consultants personal
websites  at a nominal fee that offers
customers virtual makeovers, round the clock shopping, e-brochures and even
make up application tips. However, the website contains one significant
deficit. The website does not offer an ability to virtualize and  track the current inventory. In this case, if
a customer contacts Mary Kay consultants in regards to a product order, the
consultants must physically confirm with the stock to ascertain whether that
product is available. This poses very serious business challenges for Mary Kay(Cohen & Roussel, 2005).
For example a substantial amount of loss of time once an order or inquiry has
been made, how customer service has been negatively impacted as IBCs may have
to place a product order and follow-up with the customer in addition to loss of
revenue if an order is cancelled by a customer due to due to untimely
processing.

b)     Is it the same problem identified in
the plan

During the planning
process, the lack of an inventory-tracking problem, a problem experienced by
IBCs and Sales Directors across the U.S did come up at the committee meeting.
During the meeting, it was brought to the attention of the committee that Mary
Kay’s IBC’s and Sales Directors  experienced losses when a customer makes an
order and the IBCs and Sales Directors are unable to confirm the availability
of the order product made. In this case, the IBCs and Sales Directors are
forced to physically go the inventory store and ascertain that order which
takes a monstrous amount of time and by the time the order is confirmed some
customers opt to cancel the order altogether or a reluctant to trade with the
company again. This aspect inhibits Mary Kay from maximizing its profits and
competing effectively. 

c)      Solutions or technique been used

Studies indicate that inventory
management systems are hardly a new concept. This idea of having inventory
management systems in businesses has been in use as long as people have engaged
in the commercial transaction of buying and selling goods. However, it has
taken different forms due to technological evolution. Until relatively
recently, inventory data was stored in hard copy form, where one has to
physically access the inventory to ascertain product orders. This is the form
of inventory data currently used by Mary Kay. If a customer contacts Mary Kay
consultants in regards to a product order, the consultants must physically
confirm with the stock to ascertain whether that product is available. This
poses very serious business challenges for Mary Kay. However, more recently,
computer spreadsheets have become the common technological form of inventory management
system where it controls and uses large amounts of data. The most modern
inventory system gives businesses an opportunity to track product shipments and
inventory (Stevenson
& Hojati, 2007). They also enable businesses to
facilitate communication between Independent Beauty Consultants (IBCs) and
Sales Directors and customers in real time. This will give Mary Kay’s inventory
management system the ability for the program to inform the Independent Beauty
Consultants (IBCs) and Sales Directors when it is time to restock supplies and
how much supplies to be purchased. The primary goal of the inventory management
system is to assist Mary Kay to meet its supply and demand needs. In this case,
if the company has shortages in regards to its inventory, it will struggle to
provide the products ordered in a manner that is timely.

d)     Current technology and its
effectiveness

Scholars attribute that there
are various technological forms of inventory management systems with varying
effectiveness. These advantages in regards to the inventory management systems are
instrumental for a company, as they will provide lower costs to Mary Kay, which
will in turn be translated to reduced costs to the consumer thereby leading to
higher sales.  In this case, Mary Kay
will use the CoreIMS™ inventory management program that will offer the company
a huge number of advantages for Mary Kay. The program will have a virtual private network
(VPN) which is the most common solution to satisfy your remote access
needs.  With today’s latest VPN,
technology will require user authentication, uses different protocols to ensure
data accessed is encrypted, and secure(Stevenson & Hojati, 2007).  A complete systems
analysis is the project deliverable. The virtual private network
will provide a unique access to each of the IBCs and Sales Directors where each sale or order they
facilitate will be directly attributed to them. This will enable the customer
to track the inventory shipment from the time it was ordered until when the
delivery is made.

The program will contain an integration of
QuickBooks and Sage Accounting System where the sales made by Mary Kay’s IBC’s
and Sales Directors will be accurately reflected in the programs dashboard. In addition,
this form of inventory management system will offer Mary Kay the ability to
customize their website. In this case, Mary Kay will be enabled to modify their
logo if the need be arises or develop a complete new model that specifically
meets its needs. In addition, this form of inventory management system has an
ability to automatically generate the report development. The report contains broad
spectra of information that covers all the inventory management operations.
This includes, the specific number of orders made in a particular period for
each product, the cost incurred, the shipment, stock left in the inventory,
amount of time each order took during shipment and the accounting procedures. In
addition, this form of inventory management system will enable Mary Kay an
ability to have product integration(Cohen & Roussel, 2005). This integration
will include barcode scanning and option to print to enable Mary Kay to have
highly specialized inventory solutions. This integration can also be used in
other systems used by Mary Kay such as data collection and shipping services.

4.      Objectives

a)      Present project objectives

The main objective was to develop a new inventory management
system to offer many conveniences to IBCs and Sales Directors. The system
assists in improving cost and time efficiencies for the all stakeholders
involved. Specifically, the database will track and manage MK inventory,
customer lists and orders. The technology required to support the new software
application includes the computing devices, operating systems, communication
protocols for the system. This will enable Mary Kay to
facilitate communication between Independent Beauty Consultants (IBCs) and
Sales Directors and customers in real time.

b)     Project deliverables

The projected
deliverables in the study is the creation of a website that allows customers to
make order and automatically track their inventory details from the time when
the order is made until when the delivery is made. The other projected
deliverable is the creation of a website where customers are able to browse
stocks and place orders while at the same time fully addressing the business
needs of IBCs and Sales Directors. This will entail having a website that
allows IBCs and Sales Directors to automatically follow up on their inventory thereby
increasing responsiveness to clients.

c)      Requirements gathering

The user interface will be simplistic in
its design and usability. The users of the new system will be front end users
consisting of Independent Beauty Consultants and Sales Directors. Stakeholders
are very familiar with the products and therefore minimal training is required
for the database. To gather information in regards to how the inventory
management system will constituted, the study team will develop a set of
questions to set forward to IBCs and Sales Directors, the customers and the
stakeholders(Cohen
, 2005). The IBCs and Sales Directors and the
customers will have a higher leverage in regards to the development and
constitution of the inventory management system. This is because the IBCs,
Sales Directors and the customers will highly rely on the inventory management
system to communicate and facilitate orders. In this case, for the IBCs and
Sales Directors, the company will rely on emails where they will be asked to
submit any feedback or opinion regarding how they would like the inventory
management interface to be. On the other hand, the IBCs and Sales Directors
will be asked to state any other additional features they may be necessary to
be included in the inventory management system interface. In regards to
customers, the company will rely on the use of emails and follow up by
telephone calls where they will be asked to state any additional features they
may want to be included in the new company’s website that will be integrated
will the inventory management system.

In addition, the company
will also conduct an analysis process of the company operations, which will
enable one to understand the business processes, events, system activities and
requirements. In this case, this form of analysis will provide the company an
ability to integrate business process, which will be easier for new IBCs and
Sales Directors to understand the operation of the business. Under this process,
the IBCs and Sales Directors will be able to learn by themselves how to use and
operate the website including the inventory management system. In addition, it
will enable customers to be able to understand how to use the website such as
making an order and making payment. The analysis was performed by using various
techniques, resources and tools to develop the right system according to the
business requirements

5.      Results and conclusion

a)      What the project did to achieve
objectives

To achieve the stated objectives in the
study, the project conducted an analysis of the systems. The analysis was
instrumental in understanding the business processes, events, system activities
and requirements. This was achieved via formulating a set of questions to set
forward to IBCs and Sales Directors, the customers and the stakeholders. The
study relied on emails where the where IBCs and Sales Directors were asked to
submit any feedback or opinion regarding how they would like the inventory
management interface to be. Further, they were asked to state any other
additional features they may be necessary to be included in the inventory
management system interface(Cohen
&Roussel, 2005). Customers were also contacted via emails
and telephone calls where they were asked to state any additional features they
may want to be included in the new company’s website that will be integrated
will the inventory management system.

b)     Anticipated deliverables

The projected
deliverables in the study is the creation of a website that allows customers to
make order and automatically track their inventory details from the time when
the order is made until when the delivery is made. The other projected
deliverable is the creation of a website where customers are able to browse
stocks and place orders while at the same time fully addressing the business
needs of IBCs and Sales Directors. However, there further exists anticipated
deliverables such as integration of an accounting system. Further, the other
anticipated deliverable includes logo modification capabilities. In this case,
Mary Kay will be enabled to modify their logo if the need be arises or develop
a complete new model that specifically meets its needs. In addition, this form
of inventory management system has an ability to automatically generate the
report development. The other anticipated deliverable is the development of
operation reports. This willinclude, the specific number of orders made in a
particular period for each product, the cost incurred, the shipment, stock left
in the inventory, amount of time each order took during shipment and the
accounting procedures. In addition, this form of inventory management system
will enable Mary Kay an ability to have product integration.

c)      Lessons learnt

During conducting of this
study, there are various lessons that were learnt. The first lesson learned is
that due to technological innovation, it is essential for any business to
embrace technology to maintain competitiveness. In this case, Mary Kay was not
maximizing its profits due to use an outdated inventory system where IBCs and
Sales Directors had to physically confirm with the stock to ascertain whether a
product is available in the event a customer made an order. Another lesson
learned was to have an inclusive contribution of all the company stakeholders.
Generally, many companies opt to centralize key decision making to the
management without including key stakeholders such as employees or suppliers.
In Mary Kay’s case, the company sought the feedback of all the employees where
they were instrumental in devising the constitution of the inventory management
system (Stevenson & Hojati, 2007).
In this case, the company leaned that it is imperative to seek the feedback of
the employee when making key decisions. This will make it easier for the
employees to embrace any form of organizational change and support it.It will
also lead to high employee motivation and performance. When employees are
included in the decision making process, they feel appreciated and valued by
the company, which in turn increases their motivation leading to increased
sales.

d)     Future or additional work

However, despite the
company achieving the set objectives, there remains future additional work. The
most important one is implementing a system of measures that protect clients
privacy at all times. When the customers use their credit cards to make
payments, they in return expect the company will protect their privacy at all
times. The other additional work is product integration. This integration will
include barcode scanning and option to print to enable Mary Kay to have highly
specialized inventory solutions. This integration can also be used in other
systems used by Mary Kay such as data collection and shipping services, In addition,
there will also require website customization to meet the company needs. In addition,
this form of inventory management system will offer Mary Kay the ability to
customize their website. In this case, Mary Kay will be enabled to modify their
logo if the need be arises or develop a complete new model that specifically
meets its needs. In addition, this form of inventory management system has an
ability to automatically generate the report development.

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