That Blue Square Thing

Applied ICT A Level Unit 10 - Advanced Spreadsheets

Note: this page applies to the AQA Applied ICT A level specification. This exam was withdrawn in 2012, with final exams in 2013. The content will be retained as an archive and because it has some stuff that might be quite useful for someone or other

Circuit board imageSection B - The Client:

It is strongly suggested that you identify a real client. The client’s needs are very important in this unit and without a real client, it is difficult to establish any client’s needs.

Ideally your client would be a small organisation with limited ICT capabilities. Otherwise, wouldn't they already be using a bespoke ICT solution to do the job? There should be a fairly small number of potential users for the system you produce.

The client should have a clear need for a spreadsheet system. Invoice or quotation systems are effective, although there are other possibilities. The textbook can help you come up with ideas for this (the section starting on pg.145 is good).

The key question to consider in this section is “What is the problem the client has and how could a spreadsheet solution be used to address it”.

For example, a client may currently be producing invoices by hand. These take time, are prone to errors in working out costs, look scruffy and are an inefficient way of communicating with clients. As a result the business isn't doing as well as it could do and doesn't get paid the right amount of money on time. A spreadsheet solution could certainly solve these problems.

Clients and Customers:
You have a client. This is the person in an organisation who you are building the spreadsheet for. Whenever I use the term client on these pages that's who I'm talking about.
Your client has customers - people who their organisation provides goods and services to (or sells stuff to). Whenever I use the term customer on these pages that's who I'm talking about.

The Mark Grid:

There are four marks available in this section, but so much of what you need to do later is dependent on what you write now that it's a really important section to ace.

You need to:

  1. introduce the client
  2. say what their problem is and how it can be solved using a reusable spreadsheet system
  3. identify the users of the system - by name
  4. identify the skill levels of the users - using an interview
  5. suggest how you can adapt your solution to take these skill levels into account - making sure that this is based directly on the skill levels identified in 4, rather than simply a generic list of adaptations

PDF iconDetailed advice on structuring section B

Image iconSome ideas for justifying why a spreadsheet is an appropriate solution

Take care here. The January 2011 examiners report makes this point:

Most candidates could state the benefits of using ICT (no need to store volumes of paper, good quality print-outs, reliable, backup etc...) but not state why a spreadsheet was needed, e.g. ability to do calculations, graphical output, potential to use macros etc...

You need to explain the benefits to the client of a spreadsheet solution to get the 2nd mark in the first row of the markgrid.

Image iconSome further ideas of ways you can adapt your solution to take the client's skill levels into account

Don't worry too much about getting this section absolutely right straight away. Things might be a bit vague to start with, but you can always come back and make changes after you've identified client needs and started to design your system.

As always, I suggest you check the actual mark grid to make sure that you understand precisely what is required.

Markscheme grid section b
Note: this markscheme is a copy of one available freely on the AQA Applied ICT webpages. It is copyright AQA and reproduced here simply to make access easier for students. No attempt to claim copyright is being made, although I could have copied the text into my own interpretation...

A Last Word about Invoices:

The June 2010 examiners report for this module makes the following important point:

Many candidates submitted invoice systems. This is a very good application but only in a few cases did the output actually look like an invoice, with the client name, address, telephone number, date, invoice number, etc. Again this suggests no real client. A real client would insist on these items appearing on the invoice.

Candidates should pay attention to detail by, for example, examining the documents currently used. This is invaluable in designing the outputs required for the solution.

The same general point would hold for any other system - the output needs to look the part. It needs to be fit for purpose.

Arguably the best way to do this is to look at examples of actual outputs which are similar, preferably with your client. This also underlines the preference for a real client with real needs.

Some examples of invoices (for a bathroom I had done as it happens!) are included here to provide some inspiration and, perhaps, ideas:

Image iconInvoice 1 - a detailed invoice, although without a particularly attractive style.

Image iconQuotation 1 - a hand written quotation. This could be an example of the sort of way your client may produce their invoices/quotations before you develop your solution

Image iconQuotation 2 - an ICT solution, although lacking some of the detail which Invoice 1 provides (such as the cost per unit). The layout is probably more effective though - perhaps a good solution would be a mix of the two?

None of these are provided as examples of "perfect" solutions. The best solution for your client might, however, include some of the features found on these examples.

You should probably look at That Blue Square Blog for all the really good other A Level stuff.