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Unit 8 - ICT Systems in Business
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This unit introduces candidates to the importance of business and communication systems which contribute to the success of a business, in achieving its objectives. In particular, candidates will consider how ICT systems affect the way people work and how they can potentially improve communication both internally and externally. Candidates will be encouraged to consider not only the benefits of ICT in the workplace, but also the potential risks relating to the health and safety of staff and the security of data.
 
1. Administration
 
This section introduces candidates to the importance of administration and how it supports the main functions of a business from its initial setting up to ensuring its continued survival and growth when faced with increasing competition.
 
1.1 The Business Environment
 
• aims and objectives of business
• the criteria for judging the success of a business
• the influence of stakeholders.
Candidates should be able to identify the principal aims and objectives of a business and understand how they are used to assess its success, eg profitability, job creation, market share, growth and ethics.
 
Candidates should be aware of the different stakeholders in a business and in particular the ways in which employees interact with customers.
 
Candidates should appreciate how the interests of different stakeholders can impose constraints on a business, eg the need for profitability, sustainability, customer satisfaction, government legislation and employee organisations.
1.2 Business Administration
 
• the role of administration
• how administration supports the main
business functions
• the importance of accuracy in the preparation, storage and retrieval of information
• job roles
• routine and non-routine tasks
• routine and non-routine decision-making
• prioritising and planning.
Candidates should understand that administration involves the storing, processing, retrieving and disseminating of information to support the business functions (ie human resources, finance, operations, marketing and sales, customer service and research and development).
 
Candidates should be aware of the importance of administration in ensuring the efficient running of a business, enabling it to respond to actual and potential competition. Candidates should be aware of the range of job roles (ie managers, supervisors and operatives)
and be able to identify appropriate titles and responsibilities within different management structures (eg flat or hierarchical).
 
Candidates should understand the difference between routine tasks (such as filing, inputting data) and non-routine tasks (such as dealing with new product development). Candidates should understand the difference between routine and non-routine decision-making and identify the appropriate decision-makers.
 
Candidates should understand the importance of planning, eg for a meeting, and the consequences of poor planning for a business. Candidates should understand the processes involved in planning and prioritising.
1.3 Workplace Organisation
 
• different kinds of working environment
• advantages and disadvantages of different
office layouts
• impact of modern developments on working
practices
• ergonomics
• sustainability.
Candidates should be able to describe the layout and organisation of open plan and cellular offices and how office layout is influenced by the needs of the business and the nature of the task.
 
Candidates should be able to assess the advantages and disadvantages of different office layouts.
 
Candidates should understand how technological changes such as video conferencing, teleconferencing and hot desking have affected working practices. They should recognise the positive and negative effects on business of the growth in flexible working, eg teleworking, homeworking and flexitime.
 
Candidates should be aware of the importance of designing tasks and work areas so as to maximize work efficiency and quality.
 
Candidates should be aware of the increasing importance of using resources in an environmentally friendly manner.
1.4 Health and Safety at Work
 
• the importance of health and safety in the
workplace.
Candidates should be aware of the responsibilities of employers to provide a safe working environment and for employees to act in a safe manner. Candidates should be aware of how health and safety regulations affect ICT users, (eg the Display Screen Regulations) and their implications on workstations and office layout.
1.5 ICT Data Systems in Business
 
• data sources
• data input devices
• data storage devices
• data output devices.
Candidates should be aware that there are a wide range of primary and secondary sources of data. Candidates should appreciate the need to collect accurate and relevant data which can be processed appropriately.
 
Candidates should understand the purposes and appropriateness of the main:
 
• data input devices: keyboard, scanner, digital camera, data forms (manual and database) and voice recognition
• data storage devices: hard disks, CDs/DVDs and high capacity storage devices, such as USB memory sticks
• data output devices: printers, monitors and projectors.
1.6 Security of Data
 
• methods of protecting data
• data protection legislation.
Candidates should understand the importance of the security of data (personal and financial) and the main methods of protecting data from unauthorised access (both internally and externally) including virus protection software, firewalls, passwords, encryption of documents and screen-savers.
 
Candidates should be aware that the Data Protection Act places legal restrictions on the collection, storage and communication of personal data.
 
2. Human Resources
 
This section introduces candidates to the importance of people in helping businesses achieve their objectives. In particular the importance of recruiting, retaining and rewarding staff, and providing a safe working environment.
 
2.1 Recruitment and Selection of Staff
 
• contracts of employment
• methods of internal and external recruitment
• job description and person specification.
Candidates should be aware of the different types of contracts: temporary, part-time and permanent and know their most important features, eg job position, place of work, hours of work and salary.
 
Candidates should understand the process involved in the recruitment and selection of staff, both internally and externally.
 
Candidates should be aware of the methods used to recruit staff including notice boards, job centres, agencies, advertisements in newspapers and the trade press, as well as the increasing use of the internet to recruit on line.
 
Candidates should know how to match a person’s knowledge and skills obtained from an application form and Curriculum Vitae (CV) against a job description and person specification to produce a short-list of candidates.
2.2 Training
 
• methods of training
• induction
• in-house training
• off-the-job training.
Candidates need to be aware of how a business can develop and train its staff both in-house and externally.
 
Candidates should be able to choose the most appropriate method of training for particular purposes.
 
Candidates should be able to identify the benefits of staff development training both to the individual and the business.
2.3 Rewarding Staff
 
• methods of remuneration
• other forms of reward.
Candidates should know the different methods of remuneration such as wages and salaries, overtime, bonus and commission and be able to carry out simple pay calculations.
 
Candidates should be aware of other forms of reward paid to staff, including fringe benefits, such as staff discounts, medical care and life insurance.
2.4 Employment Rights and Responsibilities
 
• equal opportunities.
Candidates should be aware of current legislation affecting employment rights and responsibilities and equal opportunities such as those relating to discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, disability and age.
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3. Communication
 
This section provides candidates with an understanding of the structure and importance of communication systems in meeting the aims and objectives of business.
 
3.1 The Purpose of Communication
 
• the importance of communication
• the benefits of communication.
Candidates should be able to describe the purposes of communication, eg the acquisition and dissemination of information or data both internally within teams and hierarchies and across the business, and externally with clients and other stakeholders.
 
Candidates need to know the importance of communicating a message in an appropriate form to ensure its clarity and accuracy as well as putting across the image and tone the business wishes to convey.
 
Candidates need to know the benefits of effective communication, eg if staff are well-informed they are likely to be more motivated to provide a high quality customer service, enhancing the image of the business and helping it achieve its objectives.
3.2 Communication Systems
 
• the process of communication
• channels of communication
• methods of communication
• choosing the most appropriate communication
medium
• barriers to communication.
Candidates should be able to understand the process of communication, identifying the sender, the receiver(s), the message and the medium.
 
Candidates should be aware of the different channels of communication, such as: formal/informal, internal/external, confidential/non-confidential and urgent/non-urgent.
 
Candidates should know that there are different methods of communication and that these can be categorised as: oral, visual, written and pictorial.
 
Candidates should be able to choose the most appropriate medium of communication, taking into account the content of the message and the audience, eg oral (telephone, face-to-face meetings), visual (video conferencing, electronic notice boards), written (memos, letters, financial documents, advertisements, e-mail messages) and graphical (production drawings, graphs and charts).
 
Candidates should be able to describe the features of the selected medium (eg the features of mobile phones, presentation software) and evaluate its appropriateness to a particular context.
 
Candidates should be aware of the barriers that can prevent effective communication taking place, such as the use of jargon, noise, poor choice of communication channel or medium (eg using a mobile phone when the signal is unreliable) and inappropriate presentation of the message (eg the message may be too complex for the intended audience).
3.3 The Importance of ICT in Business
Communications
 
• uses of applications software
• use of local and wide area networks, including
intranet and the internet.
Candidates should be aware of the characteristics and uses of applications software for word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, databases (including relational databases), graphics
and desk top publishing.
3.4 The Internet and E-Commerce
• the purpose of a website
• business opportunities
• business risks.
Candidates should be able to identify, describeand evaluate ways in which businesses use the internet. These include informing customers about the business and its products, and enabling
customers to place orders and pay for purchases.
 
Candidates should understand the importance of the internet in helping businesses to be more competitive, responding to potential and actual competition.
 
Candidates should know the advantages of the internet and e-commerce to a business, especially in terms of the opportunities to market its products ‘24/7’ to customers thereby increasing and/or maintaining its market share.
 
Candidates should understand the disadvantages of the internet and e-commerce to a business, such as: the threats of increased competition, the costs of setting up and maintaining a website, providing customer support outside normal office hours and the risks of unauthorised access and theft of customer data.
 
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