The more complex organisation needs a finely tuned and efficient Management Information System (MIS). When it rejects a classical hierarchy in favour of a more flexible systemic approach or human relations approach it is vital that experts and managers can draw on the information system of the organisation, and that even workers with responsibilities and can take from it and input into it.
The central issue is how well data is inputted and how well this becomes usable information by the various levels of those with responsibility.
There are particular purposes of MIS:
(Lucey, 1991, 13)
Management Information System (MIS) is indeed a system turning data into information:
Data comes in from external and internal sources (external because the business interacts with its environment) and using the system set up becomes usable information in an appropriate form for use by managers. External source information includes competition (the market data, but even espionage!), consumer responses, political issues (local and wider); internal information is about all the working operations of the organisation.
A manager should never be data rich but information poor (see Lucey, 1991, 16)
The process of change may follow this path:
There should also be built in opportunities for feeding back and rechecking, and seeing if processed information is loyal to the data.
So the information processed has to relate to different levels of management. There is its functioning:
(Lucey, 1991, 7)
The levels of management are usually (though the most flexible and dynamic organisations can mix these to some extent):
So, obviously, the relevance of information depends on the management levels and its purposes. Information in itself is of no point; its point is only in its effectiveness in decision making at all levels. Irrelevant information is always useless. The best information is always easy to follow and critical (that is processed with positives and negatives highlighted). MIS at the lowest level should be formal, regular and mainly internal where there are regular and repeat decisions being made; whereas at the top it should have the utmost flexibility and have an irregular character, and also here is where most external information is received. Flexibility also relates to planning, considering what should be done before deciding on how it is done (see 9).
There are ways to classify information, the first relating to the above:
Strategic, tactical, operational
Planning, control, operations
(Data rich raw), aggregated, summarised, abstract, informal
Planned, on demand, occasional, just in time
Annual, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly
|Form||Word processed, spreadsheet, database, presentation, mind map, ideas connecting, expert, CAD, graphical (subclassifying below)|
The ICT information can come in the forms of:
|Office applications, which is the level of data producing and processing:|
|Shared word processing|
|In forming plans:|
|Mind mapping (e.g. eMindMaps, generating and organising hierarchical ideas and solutions for decisions)|
|Ideas connectors as in organising, recalling, and recombining text with "words", "concepts", and "ideas" (e.g. like Literary Machine - which is a multi-dimensional)|
|Intranet (internal Internet - usually very detailed and password based)|
|Internet (for public as well as internal consumption)|
|Presentation (as in MS Powerpoint)|
|Organising (looking after appointments; co-ordinating communication):|
|Personal Information Manager (PIM)|
People need to be able to pick up the ongoing production of information (raw data) and make it summarised and usable. For example emails may come to managers in high numbers, but staff reduce these to summaries of what is taking place making a more efficient use of management time. Spreadsheets need summarising into headline figures and graphical representation for easier consumption. Lower down or particular managers themselves or specialist staff may do this for handing on. Very important is to pass the communicated opinions of consumers and those in supply.
MIS, if it is integrated
Problems with MIS arise when:
There are other problems with data and information:
What is required is systems and people interaction to provide information that is:
|Data source||Was and remains reliable|
|Data accuracy||As accurate as possible employing various sources: some judgment required here|
|Data completion||Complete as available using other sources, other methods|
|Data and information transmission||Sending by appropriate means along relevant channels via the proper means and forms of communication|
|Data and information timing||Gets there on time (including for planning ahead)|
|Information frequency||As suits the decision taking|
|Information accuracy||Accurate as possible through removing bad data|
|Information relevance||Relevant as possible but err on the side of generosity|
|Information comprehension||Comprehensible as possible through the skills of sifting, editing, presenting but for the target user: who may want or want to avoid literate detail and may want graphical presentation|
|Information detail||In necessary detail meaning more than bullet points and limited presentations|
|Information targets||Reaches the right people - there may be confidentiality issues, but more likely irrelevance of information when in the wrong places|
In the end all information goes through the medium of language and into individuals and collective groups. People are very much themselves and own group centred in how information is received. So it is vital that there is a further level of communication: discussion that puts differences to everyone so that they can be used towards common objectives in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Formality must mix with informality. In the end MIS is people with technology in all its richness.
Lucey, T. (1991), Management Information Systems, 6th Edition, London: DP Publications, 1-32.