Excel Assignment: The University of
Puddletown’s Students’ Union Shop
1 General Restriction
Visual Basic for Application (VBA) code should NOT be used for solving the problem.
The Students’ Union Shop is trying to work out how many cashiers it needs to employ in
order to provide an adequate service level. Customers at the shop line up in a single queue
and are called forward to pay for their purchases when a till becomes free. To help determine
the busy times of the day, the shop has recorded the number of customers arriving at the tills
in each 5-minute interval during the shop’s opening hours, from 8am until 6pm (N.B. this
is the number who actually make a purchase and does not include customers who are just
browsing). Records for a period of 5 weeks are available. All the data were collected during
The shop usually functions with just three cashiers but it has the capacity to support up to
6. An extra cashier costs £20 an hour. The shop is open for approximately 50 weeks each
year. The management has also collected data about the time it takes for cashiers to take
payment. These data come from term time and 1000 records are available. Management are
concerned that customers wishing to buy food, in particular, may be going to other outlets
within the university such as the Big Ears Sandwich Shop or the Noddy Bar. Management are
also concerned about the turnover of their staff and would like to reduce their stress and also
stop them getting bored. They would be interested to hear about any innovative operating
strategies for doing this.
You have been employed as a consultant for the Students’ Union Shop and should
• Report on their current business, pointing out any existing problems;
• Suggest improvements to their current strategies;
• Provide them with an efficient tool for easily evaluating their current performance using
the data provided or new data in a similar format.
The data on customer arrivals and cashiers’ service times are available on the module site
under Assignment, Business Analytics.
4 What You Should Produce
4.1 Main Report
Your report should review the current situation of the Students’ Union Shop queueing system
and suggest ways of improving the service level. You must give a convincing argument to
support the improvements you are suggesting, e.g. by showing the cost-benefit of adding an
extra cashier in terms of staff utilisation and customer waiting time.
4.2 Technical Report and Spreadsheet Model
Produce a multi-server queueing model using Excel, which could be used by the Students’
Union Shop management team for evaluation of their performance using the data provided
or any new data that becomes available in a similar format. The model should be supported
by technical documentation, which should give details of the analysis method used, include a
description of how it was implemented in a spreadsheet and a brief description of how to use
If there is any further information you believe to be essential, make a realistic
assumption and explain clearly what you have done.
4.3 Length of Reports
The Students’ Union Shop management team are very busy and so value concise reports. Each
report should be no more than 10 pages and the total number of pages should not exceed 15.
Note that this assignment is deliberately open-ended and initiative will be rewarded. The
assignment will be marked out of 100, with the marks allocated as follows:
• 35 marks are available for the main report, broken down as follows:
– Clarity (15 marks)
– Accuracy (10 marks)
– Technical content (10 marks)
• 65 marks are available for the technical report and spreadsheet, broken down as follows:
– Report (technical content and documentation) (20 marks)
– Usability, data input validation (15 marks)
– Functionality (20 marks)
– Initiative/creativity (10 marks)
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