Managers have always managed information by some method because â€˜Information is Powerâ€™. In the past, each operational department namely finance, marketing, production, and personnel maintained separate information systems to satisfy its particular needs. The problem was that each system collected, stored, and retrieved some of the same data. The data of each department were not consistent or compatible with other departments and the systems were costly and the information was inadequate.
The need for a comprehensive information system became evident. The result was the evolution of the concept of management information systems (MIS). MIS can be defined generally as an integrated, structured complex of people, machines, and procedures for supplying relevant data (information) from both external and internal sources to aid managers for planning, staffing, communicating, controlling, and decision making. Increasingly, the concept has become dependent on a computer based network of collecting processing, storing, transmitting, and supplying outputs to the proper managers at the correct time.
The heart of the integration of information needed in MIS is a data base. A data base is an organized repository of the organizationâ€™s information resources mainly internal and possibly containing some external data including raw data and procedures. The idea is that the data base consists of most of the data available in the organization and can be accessed by different managers for their varied uses. One manager may access the data base for planning, another manager may need data for controlling, and generally all managers may need to access the data base for decision making.
The rapid technological developments and the availability of varied computer hardware have been accompanied by the improved availability of sophisticated software systems. This software has served as the interface between the complicated computer hardware and the non technical managers who needs the information contained in the computer. Yet managers still need to be knowledgeable of the improved potentials of new computer hardware and software, so that they gain the maximum service from these electronic wizards.
One of the powerful and probably more easily used concepts is that of decision support system (DSS). Although DSS can be viewed as an application within MIS for supporting decisions, it has become more powerful and useful to managers because of the following developments:
Interactive computing: a dialogue between the manager and the system through questions and responses.
User-friendly data base languages and hardware.
Distributed data processing â€“ where at least some portion of the computing function is decentralized via remote terminals.
The managerâ€™s office of the future has been predicted to be built around executive terminals, or work-stations. These managerial work stations are multifunction, on-line terminals connected to a companywide information network.
Designing a management information system:
With the rapid development of computer technology, systems analysts conceptualized ideal and total information systems. It became clear, however, that information systems are easier to conceptualize than to implement. Failures developed from purchasing high technology hardware and attempting to make use of it without preliminary study. Successful MIS is the result of a deliberate step-by-step process, not sudden leap. We shall outline these design stages and supply some guidelines for the design of a management information system.
The logical stages for developing an MIS are:
System analysis: Make a preliminary survey and analyze the resent system and its problem. This first step seeks to orient the system analysts concerning where the organization is relative to sufficient information before attempting to plan where it will go.
Construct a conceptual design: At this stage, the designer must discover the actual needs of each manager. It is here that tradeoffs among competing needs and budget resources are measured and agreed upon. The users and the designer should participate as a group at this point. One approach is to locate the critical success factors (CSF) or the limited areas for which information is needed if the organization is to competitively successful. The design should satisfy the routine information requirements that each worker needs to perform a job.