For small business owner Jeannie Belew, manually managing the inventory of her Maumelle-based competitive swim store, Splashwear Aquatics, can be a hassle for herself, family members, and employees.
“We do everything by hand,” Belew said. “We write out a sales receipt, and we don’t have a scanner to scan UPC codes. We have several different areas where we sell: online, Amazon, in the store, and swim meets. In order to keep track, it would be great to scan the codes and have our inventory automatically updated.”
When the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Centeroffered Belew an opportunity for students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to assist her, she jumped at it.
Both Belew and her daughter, Chelsea Churchill Murphy, graduated from UA Little Rock and competed on the swimming and diving team. Belew is also a long-time client of the center, part of the university’s College of Business.
A team of students from Dr. Vess Johnson’s Information Systems Development Project course developed a customized inventory management system for Splashwear Aquatics during the fall 2017 term. The course is the capstone for business information systems majors.
Led by Salem Jamell, who graduated in December, the team included Casey Foster, Subhana Kamran, and Jonathon Turchi.
“The system really gives Splashwear control over their inventory,” Jamell said. “They can see what items sell faster, what items are going out of stock, what is not selling. It’s really about saving money. If they don’t know what they have in stock, they are making reorders based only on what they see, not on data.”
The project was a part of ASBTDC’s Real World Classroom program, which utilizes local businesses as learning labs where students gain real-world experience.
The center recruits local businesses to participate. With support from their instructors and ASBTDC, students team up with business owners to tackle a specific business question or need. At the conclusion of each project, the businesses get concrete ideas and innovative insights they can apply to their operations.
Johnson, assistant professor of business information systems, said that he runs his class as if he were the CEO of a company and his students are the employees. They hand in weekly reports and manage all communication with the client through the length of the project.
“The objective of the course is to give the student an opportunity to work on a ‘real-world’ project with an external client. We ultimately want the students to have an experience that will closely mimic what they will do in their post-graduation job,” Johnson said.
Jamell’s experience as class leader has taught him valuable programming skills as well as skills that will help him in his professional career.
“Doing this project gave me the confidence in my ability to create a product from an idea and a need from a client. That is something I have wanted to do for a very long time,” Jamell said. “I did not go into the project thinking I would be the team leader, but I learned a lot about time management, making sure every team member had a proper role, and getting everybody to communicate. I learned a lot about being a team player and a leader.”
To learn more about the UA Little Rock Business Information Systems program, please visit: https://ualr.edu/bis/