Table of Contents
- General Analysis
- Business Data Communication and
- Management Process
- KINDS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
- Electronic Communication Systems
- Information Systems Security and
Information System a challenging and constantly changing field of study It
involves the innovative application of computer technology and analytical
skills to know and understand the needs of customers, effectively manage
operations and supply chain issues, create new efficiencies and competitive
advantages and realize the growing promise of e-commerce
Management information systems increasingly change
people’s lives, including relationships, communications, transactions, data
collection and decision-making. Changes in IT lead to innovation, new business
models and services. Organizational leaders need to consider the impact of
change inside their organizations. Business must constantly examine its
performance, strategy, processes and systems in order to monitor the changes to
The concept of change management and how
people deal with it has gained much attention in the fields of human and
organizational behaviour, psychology, business administration, operation
management, and information systems. Technology and business improvements are
needed in modern society, and finding effective ways for managing the process
of changes is the key to success in a highly competitive and global business
Information System (MIS) enables easy access to corporate data such as student,
staff, research and finance. The software allows for accessing data via a click
and point structure allowing users to drill down to the level of detail that
interests them. What data is displayed can be limited by the user by selecting
various slices of the data to provide subsets that meet their particular needs.
It supports the decision making processes and helps ensure that resource
allocation and planning are founded on accurate and meaningful information
which at present is drawn entirely from the central University databases.
Management Information System vital organizational resources and constitute an
integral part of managerial decision making. Therefore, it is important to
understand how IS can be better used to assist managers and organizations to
improve efficiency, differentiate markets and services, enhance performance and
improve productivity while protecting organizational assets.
We are in the world of
advanced Information Technology where things are moving in such a fast phase.
The availability of information becomes cheaper and faster and the facilities
existing to exchange the information among users all across the world has
become more simpler due to the evolving of Information Super Highway. The
internet provides fast and inexpensive communication channels that range from
messages posted on bulletin boards to complex exchanges among many
organisations. It also includes information transfer (among computers) and
information processing. E-mail, chat groups, and newsgroups are examples of
major communication media.
The development and management of
information technology tools assists executives and the general workforce in
performing any tasks related to the processing of information. MIS systems are
especially useful in the collation of business data and the production of
reports to be used as tools for decision making.
With computers being as ubiquitous as they are today, there's hardly any large
business that does not rely extensively on their IT systems.
However, there are several specific fields in which MIS has become invaluable.
* Strategy Support
While computers cannot create business strategies by themselves they can assist
management in understanding the effects of their strategies, and help enable
MIS systems can be used to transform data into information useful for decision
making. Computers can provide financial statements and performance reports to
assist in the planning, monitoring and implementation of strategy.
MIS systems provide a valuable function in that they can collate into coherent
reports unmanageable volumes of data that would otherwise be broadly useless to
decision makers. By studying these reports decision-makers can identify
patterns and trends that would have remained unseen if the raw data were
MIS systems can also use these raw data to run simulations – hypothetical
scenarios that answer a range of ‘what if’ questions regarding alterations in
strategy. For instance, MIS systems can provide predictions about the effect on
sales that an alteration in price would have on a product. These Decision Support
Systems (DSS) enable more informed decision making within an enterprise than
would be possible without MIS systems.
* Data Processing
Not only do MIS systems allow for the collation of
vast amounts of business data, but they also provide a valuable time saving
benefit to the workforce. Where in the past business information had to be
manually processed for filing and analysis it can now be entered quickly and
easily onto a computer by a data processor, allowing for faster decision making
and quicker reflexes for the enterprise as a whole.
Management by Objectives
While MIS systems are extremely useful in generating statistical reports and
data analysis they can also be of use as a Management by Objectives (MBO) tool.
MBO is a management process by which managers and subordinates agree upon a
series of objectives for the subordinate to attempt to achieve within a set
time frame. Objectives are set using the SMART ratio: that is, objectives
should be Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-Specific.
The aim of these objectives is to provide a set of key performance indicators
by which an enterprise can judge the performance of an employee or project. The
success of any MBO objective depends upon the continuous tracking of progress.
In tracking this performance it can be extremely useful to make use of an MIS
system. Since all SMART objectives are by definition measurable they can be
tracked through the generation of management reports to be analysed by
Benefits of MIS
The field of MIS can deliver a great many benefits to enterprises in every
industry. Expert organisations such as the
along with peer reviewed journals such as MIS Quarterly continue to find and
report new ways to use MIS to achieve business objectives.
Every market leading enterprise will have at least one core competency – that
is, a function they perform better than their competition. By building an
exceptional management information system into the enterprise it is possible to
push out ahead of the competition. MIS systems provide the tools necessary to
gain a better understanding of the market as well as a better understanding of
the enterprise itself.
Enhance Supply Chain Management
Improved reporting of business processes leads inevitably to a more streamlined
production process. With better information on the production process comes the ability to improve the management of the supply
chain, including everything from the sourcing of materials to the manufacturing
and distribution of the finished product.
As a corollary to improved supply chain management comes an improved ability to
react to changes in the market. Better MIS systems enable an enterprise to
react more quickly to their environment, enabling them to push out ahead of the
competition and produce a better service and a larger piece of the pie.
Business Data Communication and Networks
years, the world of communications has undergone enormous changes. In fact, the
term paradigm shift has become ordinary in the information systems field.
However, it is definitely an appropriate descriptor of the communications
industry. The primary focus of computer technology in the past was to provide
processing power for increasingly hungry but traditional applications, such as
word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications. While computing power
for application processing is still important, today's computer buyers are
paying at least as much if not more attention to the computer's ability to
connect to networks. In fact, some computer systems (for example, network PCs
and Web TVs) have been developed primarily to connect to networks. These
computers rely on other computer systems connected to a network to do most of
the processing. This change in emphasis is affecting how computer systems
impact individuals, organizations, and society by placing more information,
even more computing power, at everyone's fingertips.
of voice, data, text, sound, and images pervades computer information systems
regardless of the size of a manager's computer resources. Consider the
diversity of organizational tasks that now depend on some form of
communications system, The laws governing communications also have been
changing rapidly, opening up opportunities for competition between industry
giants who had enjoyed monopolies in their areas or were at least restricted
from entering other communications areas. The most recent change is the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. The basic purpose of this act is to permit any
business to compete in any communications market. The law blurs traditional
demarcations in industry "turf." For example, cable TV companies used
to be confined to offering TV entertainment. These same companies are now
considering offering voice communications over their cable system and have
already begun to enter the arena of data communications by providing Internet
access to their subscribers. At the same time, more and more video and voice
conversations are being transmitted over the Internet, and telephone companies
have been given the right to provide cable service to their customers.
Entertainment firms have begun to purchase or make alliances with telephone,
cable, and satellite broadcasting companies. Major TV networks have created
alliances with major software firms, and local telephone companies have entered
the long-distance telephone market. Some PHS stations have begun to embed data
in their TV broadcasts, allowing PCs with a special card installed to receive
the data. Even power companies are considering entering the communications
business because of the important rights of way to our homes and businesses
that they already possess
seeing the basics and the components of a network, now we are going to see the
various kinds of network available in the corporate world and their benefits.
LAN LAN stands for Local Area Network. These networks can
consist of anywhere from two to thousands of computers. Even a simple network
of one computer connected to one printer can be considered a LAN. Normally, LAN
is a computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most
confined to a single building or group of buildings. However, one LAN can be
connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves.
connect workstations and personal computers. Each node (individual computer) in
a LAN has its own CPU with which it executes programs, but it also is able to
access data and devices anywhere on the LAN. This means that many users can
share expensive devices, such as laser printers, as well as data. Users can
also use the LAN to communicate with each other, by sending e-mail or engaging
in chat sessions.
capable of transmitting data at very fast rates, much faster than data can be
transmitted over a telephone line; but the distances are limited, and there is
also a limit on the number of computers that can be attached to a single LAN.
- Sometimes called P2P, these networks are the simplest and least expensive
networks to set up. P2P networks are simple in the sense that the computers are
connected directly to each other and share the same level of access on the
network, hence the name. Computer 1 will connect directly to Computer 2 and will
share all files with the appropriate security or sharing rights. If many
computers are connected a hub may be used to connect all these computers and/or
devices. The diagram below shows a simple peer-to-peer network:
peer-to-peer network is sometimes the perfect (and cheap) solution for
connecting the computers at a small nonprofit.
However, peer-to-peer networking has its limitations, and your organization
should tread with caution to avoid headaches (security issues, hardware
inadequacies, backup problems, etc.) down the road.
- Probably the most common LAN types used by companies today, they are called
"client/server" because they consist of the server (which stores the
files or runs applications) and the client machines, which are the computers
used by workers. Using a client/server setup can be helpful in many ways. It
can free up disk space by providing a central location for all the files to be
stored. It also ensures the most recent copy of that file is available to all.
A server can also act as a mail server (which collects and sends all the
e-mail) or a print server (which takes all the print jobs and sends them to the
printer, thus freeing computing power on the client machine to continue
the right kind of network for your organization is important to make the most
of your time and money. While a peer-to-peer network is often a good choice for
small networks, in an environment with more than 10-15 computers, a
peer-to-peer network begins to become more trouble than it is worth: your
computers start to slow down, you can never find the file you are looking for,and security is
non-existent. If this is happening in your organization, it is probably time to
switch to a client-server network by bringing in a dedicated server to handle
the load. The server is called "dedicated" because it is optimized to
serve requests from the "client" computers quickly. The diagram below
shows a simple client-server network:
What is a
is simply a computer that is running software that enables it to serve specific
requests from other computers, called "clients." For example, you can
set up a file server that becomes a central storage place for your network, a
print server that takes in print jobs and ships them off to a printer, as well
as a multitude of other servers and server functions. A server provides many
Optimization: server hardware is designed to serve requests from clients
Centralization: files are in one location for easy administration
Security: multiple levels of permissions can prevent users from doing damage to
Redundancy and Back-up: data can be stored in redundant ways making for quick
restore in case of problems
client-server model of networking is the way to go for larger organizations.
Once you have a client-server network set up, it should provide you with more
flexibility than a peer-to-peer network as your needs change.For example, as network traffic increases, you can add another server to handle the
additional load. You can also consider spreading out tasks to various servers,
ensuring that they are performed in the most efficient manner possible. Most
importantly, a client-server network is much easier to secure and back up,
greatly improving the reliability and confidentiality of your data.
networking products have become more popular in the last few years due to an
increase in competition among manufacturers and the emergence of a more
dominant wireless technology standard. This section looks at the benefits and
drawbacks of wireless networking and provides further resources for research
into wireless products. Wireless networking refers to hardware and software
combinations that enable two or more appliances to share data with each other
without direct cable connections. Thus, in its widest sense, wireless
networking includes cell and satellite phones, pagers, two-way radios, wireless
LANs and modems, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
LANs enable client computers and the server to communicate with one another
without direct cable connections. Generally, a wireless LAN is connected to an
existing wired LAN, although they can exist without a wired LAN (in this case,
users will only be able to communicate with other users on the same subnet).
components include an access point, Client LAN adaptors and the wired LAN. The
access point is a device that translates between the wired LAN and the wireless
LAN. The Client LAN Adaptors are PC cards, PCI or ISA boards that plug into
laptop or desktop computers equipped with radio transceivers to communicate
with the Access point. Other components to a wireless LAN can include Extension
Points and Directional Antennas. Extension Points are devices similar to the
access point, but not connected to the wired LAN. Extension points serve to
extend the range of the wireless network by relaying signals from client
computers to the Access point. Directional Antennas serve to connect wireless
networks located at a greater distance from one another. Each network would
have an antenna targeted at each other (known as a "line of site"
How a Wireless LAN works?
In a typical
wireless LAN configuration, the access point connects to the wired network from
a fixed location using standard cabling. The access point receives and
transmits data between the wireless LAN and the wired network infrastructure. A
single access point can support a small group of users and can function within a
range of less than one hundred to several hundred feet. End users access the
wireless LAN through the wireless-LAN adapters installed in their computers.
Benefits of Wireless LANs
Wireless LANs can cost less to implement than wired LANs, especially in
situations where implementing a wired LAN requires extensive labor and materials to install the wiring and drops. For
environments that are difficult to wire (such as schools or temporary spaces) a
wireless network can be more cost-effective in the long run than a wired one.
to Install: Wireless LANs eliminate the time needed with wired LANs for laying
and pulling wires, and can reach places that cannot be reached by wires.
Wireless LAN systems can move physical locations much easier than wired LANs,
reducing total cost of ownership for organizations that are on the move.
Wireless LAN systems can provide LAN users with access to network information
anywhere in their organization.
Wireless LAN systems can be configured for small offices and large, with
peer-to-peer systems or large established LANs, specific to the localized need
of a workgroup or across the whole enterprise. Wireless LAN systems grow easily
with the need by adding more access points, client LAN adaptors and extension
points. Wireless can be a good solution if you need to connect several
buildings without installing a wired connection. Wireless LAN bridges can
extend LANs that are typically one to five miles apart. These wireless bridges
span multiple-building LANs without incurring the monthly costs of a T1 or
higher speed lines.
Drawbacks of Wireless LANs
environments with installed wiring or less demanding wiring needs, the up front
costs of adopting a wireless LAN system can be more expensive than with wired
There are several competing technologies used by wireless LAN vendors to
communicate data between hardware, with no ability for communication directly
between systems using these different standards.
Most of the wireless devices today operate on 2.4-GHz radio bands, which are
also used by cordless phones and most microwave ovens. The potential for
interference when used near other devices sharing the same frequency band
commonly used wireless LAN products are rated for a maximum 11Mbps throughput,
and in practice see speeds about 80% less than this - some wireless LAN
products are rated for speeds much less than this (HomeRF systems for example). Still quite speedy for most network needs and for
broadband Internet sharing, but for larger offices with high network traffic
and demands for speed, this should be taken into consideration.
Wide Area Networks (WANs)
Networks or WANs are very large networks of computers. These networks span
large geographical areas, generally covering a couple miles, sometimes
connecting computers thousands of miles apart. A WAN can also be a collection
of LANs, bringing together many smaller networks into one large network. A WAN can
constitute a very large corporate or government network, spanning the country
or even the world. In fact, the Internet is the largest and most common WAN in
it means a computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area.
Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (LANs).
connected to a wide-area network are often connected through public networks,
such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines
or satellites. The largest WAN in existence is the Internet.
Controller Area Network (CANs)
CAN, a serial bus network of microcontrollers that connects devices, sensors
and actuators in a system or sub-system for real-time control applications
There is no addressing scheme used in controller area networks, as in the sense
of conventional addressing in networks (such as Ethernet). Rather, messages are
broadcast to all the nodes in the network using an identifier unique to the
network. Based on the identifier, the individual nodes decide whether or not to
process the message and also determine the priority of the message in terms of
competition for bus access. This method allows for uninterrupted transmission
when a collision is detected, unlike Ethernets that will stop transmission upon
area networks were first developed for use in automobiles. Equipped with an
array of sensors, the network is able to monitor the systems that the
automobile depends on to run properly and safely. Beyond automobiles,
controller area networks can be used as an embedded communication system for
microcontrollers as well as an open communication system for intelligent
controller area network, first developed by Robert Bosch in 1986, is documented
in ISO 11898 (for applications up to 1 Mbps) and ISO 11519 (for applications up
to 125 Kbps).
Campus Area Networks (CANs)
interconnection of local-area networks within a limited geographical space,
such as a school campus or a military base
Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs)
Last modified: Tuesday, February 03,
A data network designed for a town
or city. In terms of geographic breadth, MANs are larger than local-area
networks (LANs), but smaller than wide-area networks (WANs). MANs are usually
characterized by very high-speed connections using fiber optical cable or other digital media.
Virtual Private Network (VPNs)
Answer: A virtual private network
(VPN) is a private data network that makes use of the public telecommunication
infrastructure, maintaining privacy through the use of a tunneling protocol and security procedures. A virtual private network can be contrasted
with a system of owned or leased lines that can only be used by one company.
The idea of the VPN is to give the company the same capabilities at much lower
cost by using the shared public infrastructure rather than a private one.
A VPN connects computers located at
various places throughout a city, a state, or even globally. It provides a
secure network connection for distance computers and does not require laying
cable to supply the connection. You can set up a VPN yourself (Windows 2000
server has settings to establish a VPN) or you can purchace one as a service from another company.
Home Area Network (HANs)
A HAN is a network contained within
a user's home that connects a person's digital devices, from multiple computers
and their peripheral devices to telephones, VCRs, televisions, video games,
home security systems, "smart" appliances, fax machines and other
digital devices that are wired into the network.
An Introduction to Wireless Networks
for the Small/Medium
Wireless Networking, WiFi, is not a new technology, but it is only recently that
it has become mainstream. What are the benefits of
wireless networks and should you be considering using it?
The advent of portable computing
devices is one of the main drivers for the adoption of wireless networking.
Today, around 50% of new laptops come wireless enabled
out of the box. All of Apple's latest line of laptops comes with both wireless
& bluetooth built in. Many Microsoft Windows
laptops are similarly wireless enabled.
A powerful alliance of vendors
joined together in 1999 to form the WiFi Alliance.
You can be assured that any device approved by the WiFi Alliance will interoperate happily with any other approved device. The term WiFi has become corrupted in common usage to mean wireless
networks in general, not just devices approved by the WiFi alliance.
Why adopt WiFi?
Today's workforce, equipped with
PDAs, laptops and other mobile devices, demand access to your network from
wherever they are, without the hassle of a fixed network. WiFi allows your business to deploy a network more quickly, at lower cost, and with
greater flexibility than a wired system.
Productivity increases too, since
workers can stay connected longer, and are able to collaborate with their
co-workers as and where needed.
WiFi networks are more fluid than wired networks. A network is no
longer a fixed thing, networks can be created and ripped down in an afternoon
instead of the days or weeks required to create a structured cable network.
Wireless cards can operate in two
modes, Infrastructure and Ad-hoc.
Most business systems use wireless
in Infrastructure mode. This means that devices communicate with an access
point. Typically the access point also has a connection to the company wired
network, allowing users access to servers and files as
if they were physically attached to the LAN.
Ad-hoc connections are direct
connections between wireless cards. This type of connection is more common
amongst home users, but if used by business users could have serious management
and security implications.
You can easily connect to a WiFi network anywhere within range of an access point. This
is a boon for your workers, but unfortunately, it also brings with it a few
headaches for the IT department.
Security is the bane of everybody
who puts together a wireless network. access points,
using factory default settings, are not secure at all.
So, if security is such a concern
does that mean I shouldn't deploy WiFi? No, it
doesn't. But it is something that you should bear in mind when in the planning
When talking about security there is
no such thing as having a completely secure system. Everything is insecure to
some degree or other. The degree of security you require is dictated by the
sensitivity of the information you possess.
If you require very high levels of
security then you cannot rely on the built in security measures of a WiFi network alone. On the other hand, most small to medium
sized companies do not require very high levels of security.
Information on a Global Scale
In today's challenging business
environment, companies are encountering levels of growth and change that can
quickly make their business information systems obsolete. These enterprises are
meeting this challenge by implementing real-time transaction processing systems
to reduce cycle time, cut operation costs, and improve responsiveness to
corporate users, customers, and vendors alike.
This section highlights the key
factors that an organization must address when building a globally integrated
business system. It also describes how 3Com Corporation implemented its own
state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning (ERP) system using SAP R/3
business application solutions, the Informix OnLine Dynamic Server relational database, and 3Com's own networking systems and
products. In addition, the paper touches on the advantages that the partnership
between 3Com and Informix offers networking customers.
Thriving in a Volatile Business
Many industries today are
characterized by fierce competition, intense time-to-market pressure, and
consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. Companies depend on their
transaction processing systems to maintain a competitive edge, and to sustain
business models that must constantly adapt to changing market conditions.
11.602 © Copy Right:
An effective business system is a
marriage between information system (IS) and business process. When laying out a strategic plan and defining the underlying
architecture for a new corporate transaction processing system, most
organizations seek to achieve these primary objectives:
• Make business operations more
responsive to customers and the needs of the enterprise by integrating
logistical data into one global system
• Implement real-time transaction
processing to provide online information access anytime, anywhere
• Develop processes that reduce
cycle time for order fulfillment and minimize
inventory and distribution costs
• Design a future-proof solution
that can scale easily to accommodate growth
• Leverage technology to reduce
long-term IS costs
Information technology has
progressed dramatically in the last few years. It is now possible to integrate
diverse functions more fully using software that offers better
price/performance as well as plug-and-play modularity. The latest technology
also makes it possible to combine data in a scalable, high-performance
relational database, and to transmit the information globally over a reliable
A business information system may be
divided into three major elements: the ERP applications, the database, and the
network configuration. Each of these elements is equally important, and all of
them must mesh smoothly to ensure a successful implementation.
Success Factors Here are some key
factors that can help ensure successful implementation of a large-scale
1. Keep the network as flat as
possible for simplicity and efficiency. Utilize switching for high performance
where you can, and use routing where you must at the network's edges and where
security is a key issue.
2. Resist the tendency to over
design; you cannot cost-effectively design a completely fail-proof network.
Rather, design the network so that a failure in one area will not impact the
business processes across the entire enterprise.
3. Put all application and database
servers on their own Domain Name Service. This will avoid single points of
failure. Again, keep the applications environment as flat as possible.
4. Involve the network management
organization as a peer member on the business system implementation team from
the beginning. Application management and bandwidth management are both
5. Commit to extensive training for
users and managers. In-depth training early in the process will minimize the
negative impact on productivity of introducing a new system.
6. Engage a consultant to ensure
successful implementation. 3Com benefited greatly from Price Waterhouse's
experience in R/3 implementations.
7. Conduct stress testing up front.
Be prepared for constant refinement of baselines.
How does Management use Information?
The Management Process
Determining how management uses
information may be done best in the context of the management process, which is
a cycle consisting of the following stages:
setting goals and objectives and
determining specific courses of action by which they may be attained
identifying resources required to carry out
acquiring resources (e.g., recruiting personnel,
purchasing material, raising capital)
executing the plan (e.g., giving
instructions, allocating resources)
ensuring that actual performance meets
planned performance and making changes to plans and/or resource allocations
to correct discrepancies
Information is necessary in all of
When setting goals and objectives,
analysis of historical data can help to predict future trends.
Best/worst/average case analyses can aid in the making of decisions where a
choice must be made between alternative courses of action. There are also
several modelling techniques, such as trend analysis and linear programming,
which may be used to optimize production schedules and facility locations and
to solve other similar problems - if enough information is available to
determine and quantify cause-and-effect relationships between factors and
Identifying resource requirements
for a completely unfamiliar plan may be little more than educated guesswork.
However, in many cases, several parts of a plan are similar to, if not
identical to, parts of past plans. Searching of historical data may identify
solutions to past problems which are applicable to current problems. Also,
certain financial models can be used to identify sources of capital.
Again, historical records can be
useful in acquiring resources. Information on qualified personnel already
within the organization or reliable suppliers can substantially ease the task
of locating them. There is a drawback, though, to reliance on this method of
staffing in that it may preempt the location of new resources, such as the
development of new business contacts or the hiring of talented new employees.
To find external information, research is required.
A large part of coordination is
communication. Information and instructions flow downward through the
organization, communicating the nature of tasks to be performed, the materials
to be used, and the destination of goods or the recipients of services. The
analytical methods used in planning may also be applied to coordinating, but on
a shorter term basis. The relationship between planning and coordinating can be
represented this way: as planning becomes shorter and shorter in term, it
approaches immediacy and eventually turns into execution.
The need for information at this
stage is obvious. In order to compare actual performance to planned
performance, information on actual performance is required. This information
may include records of resource consumption, results of quality inspections,
the disposition of output goods and services, and status reports on the
accomplishment of tasks. These can then be compared against the standards
established during planning. If discrepancies in performance are found, data
analysis can pinpoint the source of the discrepancies so that corrective
measures can be taken.
Certainly, not all activities are
effectively supported by historic and current internal information alone. For
example, staffing can require external information. Also, the planning
activities of top executives may depend on a "feel" for the industry
- an intuitive sense of the environment - which can only be gained from
information that is more eclectic (i.e., not easily quantifiable) than is
within the scope of an MIS to maintain. Other tasks are very well supported by
computerized information systems. Controlling, for example, is enormously aided
by such a system's ability to supply current information quickly and to update
The degree to which many tasks can
be supported by an MIS depends on the level of management. Between levels,
there are differences not only in the type and scope of activities, but also in
the amount of time spent on different stages of the management process. An
approximate breakdown of how different levels of management spend their time
(Figure 1) shows that the most time-consuming tasks of top and first-line
management are planning and coordinating, respectively, and that middle
management's time is dominated by planning and controlling. The information
needs of different levels of management will be different.
Figure 1. Comparison of management time allocation (Kroeber 103)
First-line management is mostly
concerned with operational decision-making, such as inventory control,
equipment maintenance, and employee evaluation. First-line managers may not
need MIS services at all if they are in regular contact with actual production.
Any decisions they make which can be supported by computerized systems tend to
be straightforward enough that they can be completely automated so that they
require no human intervention.
Middle management is involved in
tactical decision-making - deciding how best to carry out plans. Examples of
tactical decisions include resource allocation, production scheduling, and
forecasting. Middle managers need information on operations, in correspondence
with their heavy role in controlling. They make more structured decisions which
require basically the same types of information on a regular basis.
Top level managers are involved in
strategic decision-making - directing the business to gain a competitive edge.
They make decisions such as capital budgeting, product line, and mergers and
acquisitions. Top managers will want to see "the big picture,"
information on larger influences both in- and outside of their particular
businesses. They need summarized, meaningful information to help them visualize
the business without losing the ability to examine details should the need
arise. The decisions they make are intuitive and creative, and as a consequence
their information needs are difficult to anticipate.
Analyzing Methods of Information Delivery
beginning, computer systems were not the powerhouses that they are today. They
could not support the load of several simultaneous interactive users without
serious performance degradation. Also, they were not nearly as user-friendly as
today's computers with their slick graphical user interfaces and
point-and-click mouse capabilities. The people who knew how to use computers
had to be specialized. Managers, some of whom did not even know how to type,
had to rely on those who had technical expertise to use the systems to deliver
the information to them. This fact, and the influence
of traditional methods of reporting developed before the advent of computerized
MIS, is the probable reasons for the continuing present predilection towards
paper reports as the primary form of information delivery. Although some
systems have evolved to the point where reports are distributed through email
rather than through slower interoffice mail, the principle remains the same:
someone else, usually the MIS department, pre-packages the information and
gives it to the user.
are good for presenting predefined information in a structured and relatively
attractive way. Since they are predefined, they can be automated. They provide
the same information regularly; and if they are well-designed, they are a
simple and familiar method of communicating information. This method of
information delivery can be ideal for controlling and keeping track of continuing
reports are not well-designed, they can be a nightmare. Databases can store an
excruciating amount of information at an excruciating level of detail which no
one particularly wants to see.
The main advantage to regularly
scheduled reporting is that they require relatively little effort for either
side to produce and use, after the initial design process. The main
disadvantage is their lack of flexibility. Middle management may find this
method of information delivery satisfactory for limited purposes. Some
flexibility may be incorporated by allowing users to choose from a selection of
reports and report formats, but it remains tedious to obtain additional
Ad Hoc Interactive Querying
Now that interactive computing by
many simultaneous users is technologically feasible, it is possible to
implement systems where users have direct online access to databases and
information. Software tools and security systems have been designed to enable
users to query and manipulate data and to create their own reports. With this
type of system, information needs of controlling and coordinating can still be
supported; and higher level planning and organizing, for which information
needs are not easy to anticipate, can be better supported.
comes with a price: it increases the burden on the user to understand the data
and the access tools. Some managers find that working with data helps them to
understand the business better and increases their creativity and productivity
because they can explore an idea quickly without submitting a request for
information. Other managers find that the access tools are too complicated and
cumbersome for occasional use, or that they waste too much time fighting the
computer and doing what the MIS department should be doing. Some managers are
willing to take courses or spend their own time to learn software; some are
not. Much depends on the interface which is presented to the user.
powerful and attractive software packages are commercially available. These
packages can integrate several different types of databases, link information
tables to create customized tables, sort, calculate, filter, format output,
generate graphs, link to other applications, and build accessory applications.
The range of options can overwhelm the casual user. Even if training is
provided, adeptness at using the tool comes only from frequent and extensive
use. More limited in-house software packages designed to work with existing
systems are less flexible, but their simplicity is less intimidating.
possible solutions to the problem of trading flexibility for ease of use might
be for the MIS department to customize the interfaces of the more powerful
access tools or to train certain people in the more powerful access tools and
attach them as a mini-MIS department to certain management teams or top
executives. They would customize the interfaces for the managers and make
changes according to their specifications. However, there would still be delays
and misunderstandings of specifications. The advantages of using more powerful
tools may not justify the cost of adapting the applications and making them
compatible with existing systems.
querying allows users faster and more direct access to information and greater
determination over the information they see. Users can search for information
even if they cannot articulate exactly what they are looking for. However, the
effectiveness of the system depends largely on the the effectiveness of the users. The best that the MIS department can do is survey
the users and try to supply them with tools that they will use effectively.
Data analysis is defined as the
examination of subsets of data in order to discern hidden information (Kroeber
110). Many planning and coordinating activities, especially those of middle
management, are aided by mathematical models. Sometimes, analysis is as simple
as subtotalling certain data fields or graphing data to make patterns more
visible. Complex mathematical models may be slightly outside of a mandate of
information storage and delivery, but analysis is an integral part of decision
making and may be easily enhanced by computerized systems. Simple summarization
functions can be built into access and report generation tools. Common models,
calculations, and if-then case analyses can be stored as templates in common
database accessing software, software used for data analysis, such as
spreadsheets, can range from very powerful to very basic. As well, the same problems
of usability versus flexibility are associated. The MIS department can provide
training, but it cannot force people to use systems they are not comfortable
with. In this situation, though, it is more feasible to hire experts to use the
software because the requirements are more specific and rigid. The experts can
create and run analytical models and report results back to management. It is
up to management to decide a course of action based on the results.
it is impossible for an MIS to support all management activities: they are too
diverse and unquantified. However, an MIS can concentrate on improving its
support of activities that are well supported, thus freeing managers to perform
those activities that cannot be facilitated by an MIS. It can be seen that the
structured activities of middle management are most easily supported. Middle
managers are likely to be the most frequent users of an MIS, so planning should
focus on their needs.
method of information delivery depends on how much the users want to see
balanced against how much they are willing to do. For some uses, scheduled
reporting may be ideal. However, the advantages of ad hoc querying over
restrictive reporting are too great to ignore. Eventually, an MIS department
must try to expand its usefulness by increasing the range of data and
informative options available to users. The flexibility of ad hoc querying is
necessary to increase the functionality of an MIS.
Information Systems in the
KINDS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Transaction Processing Systems
Computerized system that
performs and records the daily routine transactions necessary to conduct the
business; these systems serve the operational level of the organization
A Symbolic Representation for a
Office Automation Systems (OAS)
Computer system, such as word processing,
electronic mail system, and scheduling system, that is designed to increase the
productivity of data workers in the office.
INPUTS: documents, schedules
PROCESSING: document management, scheduling, communication
OUTPUTS: documents; schedules
USERS: clerical workers
EXAMPLE: document imaging system
Knowledge Work Systems (KWS)
Information system that aids knowledge workers
in the creation and integration of new knowledge in the organization
INPUTS: design specifications
OUTPUTS: designs, graphics
USERS: technical staff; professionals
EXAMPLE: Engineering workstations
Decision Support Systems (DSS)
Information system at the management level of
an organization that combines data and sophisticated analytical models or data
analysis tools to support semi-structured and unstructured decision making
INPUTS: low volume data
PROCESSING: simulations, analysis
OUTPUTS: decision analysis
USERS: professionals, staff managers
EXAMPLE: sales region analysis
Characteristics of Decision-Support Systems
DSS offer users flexibility, adaptability, and a quick response.
DSS operate with little or no
assistance from professional programmers.
DSS provide support for decisions
and problems whose solutions cannot be specified in advance.
DSS use sophisticated data analysis and modelling tools.
Characteristics of Management information Systems
MIS support structured decisions at the operational and management
control levels. However, they are also useful for planning purposes of senior
MIS are generally reporting and control oriented. They are designed to
report on existing operations and therefore to help provide day-to-day control
MIS rely an
existing corporate data-and data flows.
MIS have little analytical
MIS generally aid in decision making
using past and present data.
MIS are relatively inflexible.
MIS have an internal rather than
an external orientation.
Executive Support Systems (ESS)
Information system at the strategic level of an
organization that address unstructured decision making
through advanced graphics and communications.
TYPE: Strategic level
INPUTS: aggregate data; internal and external
USERS: senior managers
DECISION-MAKING: highly unstructured
EXAMPLE: 5 year operating plan
Model of a Typical Executive Support System
Major Types of Information Systems
Classification of IS by Organizational
Departmental Information Systems
Classification of IS by Functional Area
The accounting information system
The finance information system
The manufacturing (operations, production) information system
The marketing information system
The human resources information system
Sales & Marketing Systems
Systems that help the
firm identify customers for the firm’s products or services, develop products and services to meet customer’s needs, promote products and
services, sell the products and services, and provide ongoing customer support.
Manufacturing and Production Systems
that deal with the planning, development, and production of products and
services and with controlling the flow of production
Finance and Accounting Systems
Systems that keep
track of the firm’s financial assets and fund flows
Human Resources Systems
that maintain employee records; Track employee skills, job performance, and
training; and support planning for employee compensation and career
Examples of Business Processes
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management Business and technology discipline to
coordinate alt of the business processes for dealing with customers.
Customer Relationship Management
chain management Integration
of supplier, distributor, and customer logistics requirements into one cohesive
chain Network of
facilities for procuring materials, transforming raw materials into finished
products,' and distributing finished produce to customers
INFORMATION SYSTEMS CAN FACILITATE SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
systems can help participants in the supply chain:
Decide when and what to produce, store, and
Rapidly communicate orders Track the status of
Check inventory availability and monitor
Plan production based on actual customer demand
Rapidly communicate changes in product design
Provide product specifications
Share information about defect rates and
Firm wide information
systems that integrate key business processes so that information can flow
freely between different parts of the firm
Traditional View of Systems
Benefits and Challenges of
Firm structure and organization: One Organization
Management: Firm wide Knowledge-based Management Processes
Technology: Unified Platform
Business: More Efficient Operations and Customer-driven Business
High Up-front Costs and Future Benefits
Challenges in Management of
Although information systems are creating many
exciting opportunities for both businesses and individuals, they are also a
source of new problems, issues and challenges for managers. In this course, you
will learn about both the challenges and opportunities information systems
pose, and you will be able to use information technology to enrich your
New Opportunities with Technology
this new technology worth the headaches and heartaches associated with all the
problems that can and will arise? Yes. The opportunities for success are
endless. The new technologies do offer solutions to age-old problems.
Improvements are possible to the way you operate and do business.
rest of the lessons in this book and this course will give you tools you can
use to be successful with the current and future Management Information
Strategic Business Challenge
spend thousands of dollars on hardware and software, only to find that most of
the technology actually goes unused. "How can that be?" you ask.
Usually because they didn't pay attention to the full integration of the
technology into the organization Merely buying the technology without
exploiting the new opportunities it offers for doing business smarter and
better doesn't accomplish much. Think and rethink everything you do and figure
out how you can do it better. Change is inevitable, and information must be
managed just as you would any other resource.
a digital firm and obtaining benefit is a long and difficult journey for most
organizations. Despite heavy information technology investments, many
organizations are not realizing significant business value from their business
systems, nor or they become digitally enabled. The power of computer hardware
and software has grown much more rapidly than the ability of organizations to
apply and to use this technology. To fully benefit form information technology,
realize genuine productivity, and take advantage of digital firm capabilities,
many organizations actually need to be redesigned. They will have to make
fundamental changes in organizational behavior, develop new business models and
eliminate the inefficiencies of outmoded organizational structures. If
organizations merely automate what they are doing today, they are largely
missing the potential of information technology.
world becomes smaller every day. Competition increases among countries as well
as companies. A good Management Information System meets both domestic and
foreign opportunities and challenges. The rapid growth in international trade
and the emergence of a global economy call for information systems that can support both producing and selling goods in
many different countries. In the past, each regional office of a multinational
corporation focused on solving its own unique information problems. Given
language, cultural and political differences among countries, this focus
frequently resulted in chaos and the failure of central management controls. To
develop integrated, multinational, information systems, businesses must develop
global hardware, software and communication standards; create cross-cultural
accounting and reporting structures; and design transnational business
Information Architecture Challenge
You have to
decide what business you are in, what your core competencies are, and what the
organization's goals are. Those decisions drive the technology, instead of the
technology driving the rest of the company. Purchasing new hardware involves
more than taking the machine out of the box and setting it on someone's desk.
Remember the triangle of hardware, software, Take care of the people and they
will take care of the rest! Information architecture describes how to
incorporate technology into the mainstream processes in which the business is
involved. How will the new Information System support getting the product
produced and shipped? How will Advertising and Marketing know when to launch ad
campaigns? How will Accounting know when to expect payment?
are saddled with expensive and unwieldy information technology platforms that
cannot adopt to innovation and change. Their
information systems are so complex and brittle that they act as constraints on
business strategy and execution. Meeting new business and technology challenges
may require redesigning the organization and building a new information architecture and information technology infrastructure.
Information Systems Investment Challenge
managers look at their technological investments in terms of the cost of new
hardware or software. They overlook the costs associated with the non-technical
side of technology. Is productivity up or down? What is the cost of lost sales
opportunities and lost customer confidence from a poorly managed E-Business Web
site? How do you determine if your Management Information System is worth it?
A major problem
raised by the development of powerful, inexpensive computers involves not
technology but management and organizations. It’s one thing to use information
technology to design, produce, deliver and maintain new products. It’s another
thing to make money doing it. How can organizations obtain a sizeable payoff
from their investments in information systems? How can management make sure
that the management information systems contribute to corporate value?
Responsibility and Control Challenge
humans should drive the technology, not the other way around. Too often we find
it easier to blame the computer for messing up than to realize it's only doing
what a human being told it to do. Your goal should be to integrate the
technology into the world of people. Humans do control the technology, and as a
manager, you shouldn't lose sight of that.
How can we
define information systems that people can control and understand? Although
information systems have provided enormous benefits and efficiencies, they have
also created new problems and challenges of which managers should be aware.
The following table describes some of these
problems and challenges.
Positive and Negative Impacts of Information Systems
Benefits of Information Systems
system can perform calculations or process paperwork much faster than people.
automating activities that were previously performed by people, information
systems may eliminate jobs
systems can help companies learn more about the purchase patterns and the
preferences of the customers.
systems may allow organizations to collect personal details about people that
violate their privacy
systems provide new efficiencies through services such as automated teller
machines (ATMs), telephone systems, or computer controlled airplanes and air
systems are used in so many aspects of everyday life that system outages can
cause shutdowns of businesses or transportation services, paralyzing
systems have made possible new medical advances in surgery, radiology, and
uses of information systems may suffer repetitive stress injury, techno stress,
and other health problems
internet distributes information instantly to millions of people across the
internet can be used to distribute illegal copies of software, books,
articles, and other intellectual property.
focus must continually change to take advantage of new opportunities. Changes
should take place throughout the organization. They require lots of attention
and planning for smooth execution.
pack tough new challenges for MIS - Industry Trend or Event
analysts and consultants to talk about the extranet phenomenon often leads to
the same response: "What do you mean when you say extranet?"
Confusion abounds when it comes to trying to nail down a solid definition for
something that to some folks makes more sense as a concept than as a product or
fact, at least one industry player believes the term to be meaningless.
Semantics aside, many organizations are beginning to see real advantages to
allowing selected suppliers, customer and business partners access to part or all of their own networks via the Internet, according to
observers. Within the next three to four years, "the primary vehicle for
delivering electronic commerce in the b-to-b [business to business] world will
in fact be over extranets, rather than private value-added networks or even the
global, open Internet," says Alyse Terhune, a
research director with the Gartner Group in
while companies used to develop and implement their own extranet strategies,
more and more are looking to outside help, according to analysts. Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) are particularly eager to cash in on the growing
Outsourcing may be a cheap and easy answer for some
firms, but Terhune isn't convinced it's a surefire strategy. "I think that
there are lots of pieces involved in a successful extranet, and some of them
are the core competency of ISPs and some of them aren't." A solid
infrastructure is one thing, she says, but administrative logistics can be
something else entirely. Especially when different organizations with different
ways of doing business get together
to deal with the business process that's being accommodated. That means
providing things like applications that will facilitate say, buying and
selling. That's more than just a catalogue. In the business world that's who
within my requisitioning organization can buy from what suppliers," what
they can buy and how much they can buy, she says.
can also be a big issue, but is more of an administrative problem than a
technological one, says Terhune. "When you
really look at the problem of securing information and determining which
information has to be secured and to whom, it becomes more complicated."
Technical solutions such as encryption, firewalls and data packets are
"more or less standard features" these days, Reisman claims, but some organizations are still very Internet-shy.
corporations tend to be bigger targets for hackers and spies, he says,
something small firms might want to consider when budgeting for security
features. Future developments are particularly hard to quantify when it comes
to extranets. It's difficult enough to come to a consensus on what they are
now, let alone to guess how they might develop or grow in use over time.
will also be faced with ongoing problems of security and control. Information
systems are so essential to business, government and daily life that
organisations must take special steps to ensure that they are accurate,
reliable and secure. A firm invites disaster if it uses systems that don’t work
as intended, that don’t deliver information in a form that people can interpret
correctly and use, or that have control rooms, where control don’t work or
where instruments give false signals. Information systems must be designed so
that they function as intended and so that humans can control the process.
Electronic Communication Systems
World of advanced
Information Technology where things are moving in such a fast phase The
availability of information becomes cheaper and faster and the facilities
existing to exchange the information among users all across the world has
become more simpler due to the evolving of Information Super Highway. The
internet provides fast and inexpensive communication channels that range from
messages posted on bulletin boards to complex exchanges among many organisations. It also includes information transfer (among
computers) and information processing. E-mail, chat groups, and newsgroups are
examples of major communication media..
Professionals in all fields are looking
to Internet technology to find communication methods that encourage greater
collaboration and are an efficient way of dispersing helpful and relevant
information in a cost effective manner. One method that has become increasingly
popular is conferencing, whether it be on “electronic
in chat rooms or using web-based meeting protocols
Conferencing allows a large group to
exchange ideas by reading and posting messages which are delivered to a central
point and broadcast to the conference participants by special software. This is
done in a synchronous or asynchronous mode, that is
when all participants gather together at the same time or not! i.e. that conference participants can read and post messages
at any time.
Conferencing has its advantages and
disadvantages. By far, it is cheaper than using long-distance telephone or fax
and the software and hardware needed to run it, a personal computer and an
Internet connection, are becoming so readily available that it makes it
possible for larger numbers of people to become participants. Conferencing
keeps meeting costs down because the costs associated with face-to-face meetings
such as travel and accommodations don’t exist. And in most modes of Internet
conferencing, subscribers can participate at a time that is convenient for
them, thus helping in the old “time management” dilemma.
Some people find it difficult to commit
the amount of time it takes to make conferencing successful, and others don’t
like it because of the lack of personal contact. Participation is linked to a
person’s previous experience with technology and the Internet, his likes and
dislikes or her preferred learning styles. Research suggests that auditory
learners may feel distanced from discussions in asynchronous conferences and
may prefer telephone or face-to-face meetings where they can be heard. Visual
learners usually flourish in the on-line environment because they are used to
processing large amounts of information in this manner.
• Pre-planning: Decide on a
series of topics and find guest facilitators/moderators who will lead the
discussion on a given topic. Determine how long a conference will last--a day,
a week, several weeks, a month etc. Spread the dates of the conferences out
over a six or eight month period with a good break between conferences (three
conferences in this time period would be good). Promote the conferences in
advance. This allows people to begin thinking about the topics and the kinds of
questions they would like to ask or information they would like to share.
• Promotion: Begin
sending messages introducing the moderator, giving information about the
participants and commenting on different elements of the topic to conference
subscribers two weeks before the conference to build anticipation.
• Introductions: Ask the
guest moderator to introduce him/herself a week or so before the actual start
of the conference. During that time, ask the moderator to post the conference agenda and request potential participants to: a)
introduce themselves, b) suggest what they'd like to learn from the conference,
and c) identify one or two of their favourite resources related to the topic.
These are ways to “break the ice” that can contribute to the quality of the
conference and, unobtrusively, help the participants feel more comfortable as
they get to know and feel at ease with each other and this, for some of them,
new manner of meeting.
• Time Factor: Consider
stretching the conference out over an appropriate period of time and have the
moderator post her/his “conference” material every third day or so, depending
on the over all length of the conference, to give participants more time to
come and go on the system. Adjust this as time goes on, as participants become
more comfortable with this process in general and become more active in their
• Be Prepared: There will
be lulls in the action: at the beginning, as people are waiting to see how this
will develop and at various points during the conference when interest may seem
to be waning. Consider preparing a few colleagues to encourage discussion by
having them ready to respond to the moderator’s postings, ask questions or post
their own ideas at times when the action needs to get started or participation
• Evaluation: Have a
routine “post mortem” after each conference where participants, by way of an
evaluation, can suggest what learnings they may glean
and what could have been done to make the conference more helpful, specifically
• Technical: Electronic
conferences should be held in a venue separate from the one people use for
normal discussions. This way, regular users are less likely to feel they are interfering
with or interrupting the conference. Electronic conferencing can be enjoyable
as well as efficient and convenient. Giving some thought to how the conference
will progress before it even starts will help to make it a valuable and
enjoyable experience for all.
Electronic Meeting Systems
Meetings are a way of life in
every business. Meetings can be a source of tremendous frustration. Meetings
are also costly: put six people in a weekly staff meeting, and you've eaten up
$10,000 worth of time. Total quality management, business process
re-engineering, team management, and other techniques of the 90's aren't
helping---most of these techniques actually increase the number of meetings
people attend. Because meetings are so expensive and so inefficient and so
dissatisfying, it's no surprise that there are lots of software developers
working on tools to improve meetings.
These tools span a wide range
of meeting assistance and support tasks. At the low end, software schedulers
keep track of people, appointments, and resources to coordinate meeting times
and places. In the middle are tools which help groups by improving
communications. This includes conferencing systems and bulletin board packages,
which extend "meeting space" outside of the meeting room by letting participants discuss issues without having to sit together.
Other mid-range tools are designed to assist communications during a meeting.
Video and audio conferencing hardware can be integrated with personal computers
to link people in diverse locations for a single meeting. Shared drawing and
editing tools also help groups work on a single document or share a visual
high end are systems with much loftier goals: the complete reinvention of the
meeting process. Developers of these systems have developed ways of completely
changing the way meetings are held, and they have numbers from customers
proving massive and dramatic improvements in productivity. But these benefits
come at a cost---attendees must stop thinking of meetings as a waste of time
and start thinking of meetings as an opportunity to make decisions and share
to Keep You on Track
low end of the meeting support market focuses mainly on scheduling meetings and
managing calendars. Although there are many products available for standalone
use or which support only a single platform, only a few vendors have taken an
enterprise-wide approach to scheduling. Even so, any organization with truly
disparate platforms will find it impossible to find a vendor willing to support
all popular platforms for this relatively simple task.
In evaluating group scheduling
systems, network managers must keep in mind the underlying politics of
scheduling. These are generally more important to the success of a group
scheduler than quality of user interface or performance. If the group scheduler
cannot successfully emulate people’s behavior regarding their own personal
calendar, then it will not be accepted into the workplace. Groupware of this
type must fit into the organization; it is not reasonable to expect people to
change the way they operate simply to accommodate an appointment-scheduling
the Meeting Room Around
meetings are same-time, same-place activities everyone has to be in the same
room at the same time. Software and hardware, which extends the meeting room
across both time and space, can substitute for some face-to-face meetings,
empower people in remote locations, and improve face-to-face, meetings by
making everyone better prepared.
The oldest alternative to
face-to-face meetings is computer
conferencing systems (sometimes called bulletin boards, although purists make
a distinction between the two). These conferencing systems grew out of
multi-user systems and often: support both microcomputer and dumb terminal
conferencing systems do little more than let people exchange information and
follow a single message and its associated discussion. The largest
multi-platform conferencing system of this type is the Usenet News system. With
literally dozens of public-domain and commercial "news readers," and
a good selection of minicomputer-based servers, a simple conferencing system
can truly encompass all corporate computing platforms, including dumb terminals,
all microcomputer systems, on up to window system terminals. Other commercial
products which support multiple platforms include Digital's (800/DIGITAL) DEC
Notes, Lotus' (800/522-6752) Notes, and Pacer Software's (800/722-3702) PacerForum.
explain how to make the meetings better with a product called GroupSystems. It isn’t a single package. It's actually a
suite of software tools (sixteen in the DOS version, fewer in the Windows
version) which automate and enhance many of the processes which occur in
meetings. A meeting using GroupSystems requires a
personal computer for each participant and a "facilitator," someone
to lead the meeting and choose which GroupSystems tool is most appropriate to the task at hand.
example, suppose you want to have a meeting to help decide on a new name for
your company. In the GroupSystems world, the meeting
would look like this. First, participants in the meeting would brainstorm ideas
using the Electronic Brainstorming tool. Each participant would enter as many
ideas as they could think of during a defined time period, say 10 minutes. As
ideas were typed in, GroupSystems would shuffle them
around and send them to other participants. By seeing the ideas of others,
presumably, you come up with your own possibilities.
claim two advantages over manual meetings: participants can type in more ideas
more quickly than anyone could possibly write them down because everyone is
typing at the same time. Each idea is evaluated on its own merits, rather than
based on who said it. Because tools like Electronic Brainstorming are
anonymous, people who are normally afraid to bring up opinions in a meeting
will be able to bring their best ideas without fear. ? In most professional meetings,
this anonymity is rarely abused.
Systems does not augment existing meetings. When a company buys into, they are
buying much more than a software package. To properly use the system,
facilitators must be trained in maximizing meeting productivity using these
tools---because GroupSystems changes the way
companies hold meetings. Bringing in GroupSystems is
not a trivial investment. GroupSystems requires a PC
in front of each user, Windows or DOS, a LAN (any popular microcomputer LAN
package will work) to link them together, and a facilitator's station to
control the meeting tools. GroupSystems also uses a
shared screen at the front of the room which has to be large enough for
everyone to see. With a base software and training cost of $25,000, building a
meeting room for GroupSystems usually costs about
heard so much hype about the potential of computer mediated communication to
revolutionize teaching that we've begun to dismiss it automatically. We need to
recognize, though, that it's not all hype. Even once you've discounted the
snake oil salesmen selling off-the-shelf electronic course guides, style
checkers and "interactive" computer-assisted learning programs, in
fact there are still some startling opportunities. There are many reasons to
expect that computer-mediated written discussions -- to pick the one that I'm
most interested in -- should afford unprecedented learning opportunities,
combining the flexibility and interactive engagement of oral conversation and
the power of written language to foster reflection and allow complex ideas to
be accumulated, revised, extended and polished.
haven't been many demonstrations of this potential. Indeed, the most common
consequence of setting up an "electronic discussion group" for a
university class or a group of faculty at an institution, or a set of
colleagues with common interests, is a flurry of initial greetings
("Hello, everyone, isn't it great to have this new way to communicate"),
followed by an enduring silence. The flurry may last somewhat longer for
students in class-oriented discussions -- especially if participation is made a
course requirement -- but even in those cases, most often the quality of the
participation quickly becomes perfunctory and unengaged . . . usually not long
before the instructor quietly allows the requirement to lapse.
about why this happens, and what we might do to avoid it, it's important to be
clear about what sorts of programs and situations we're talking about. For many
people, "it's all e-mail," but that oversimplification masks some
distinctions that are worth making.
a number of ways we can group such programs to help us think about the
characteristics of the different kinds of thing we're talking about here. One
is to distinguish between "synchronic" and "asynchronic"
types. Synchronic programs work in "real time"; that is, you write,
someone reads immediately, and the text is gone, usually scrolling up the
screen to oblivion. These include structures ranging from Internet or local
"chat rooms" to highly developed sites, where conversations take
place in virtual environments which can be fairly richly detailed. On the other
hand, "asynchronous" programs like list servers and bulletin boards
tend more toward the status of written correspondence -- or even publication.
Messages persist (for instance, in your incoming mail) until they're read, and
in fact can be easily saved after reading, and responded to at your convenience.
Most programs used in classes other than computer-dedicated writing classes are
of this latter kind.
Electronic messaging is more than just text messages
passed between human writers and readers -- it offers a great potential in our environment
to automate a great deal of routine data passing as well. These notes are
devoted to exploring the topic to illustrate some of this potential and to
helping you make some wise investments upon which you can grow a flexible,
robust capability. Don't let the growing pains and a seemingly endless supply
of warts divert your attention too much.
The first broadening of use of e-mail for more than the
accustomed interpersonal communications is command communications. It is the
best replacement for the traditional telegram-style record message. This is the
market that the Defense Message System is targeting.
The second use is in automated systems where at least one
end -- either the originator or the recipient -- is a machine rather than a
human. Secure, multipurpose e-mail is an extremely good idea -- and one whose
time came some years ago. Unfortunately, the impediments to a deployed, usable
system have been considerable, and the worst ones largely unforeseen.
On the other hand, this litany of growth pains should
really be put into the perspective that e-mail is a very powerful tool ... that
has improved enormously in a fairly short period of time. E-mail should be the
choice of first resort for the enveloping definition for almost any information
system. Including 'tactical' ones. If it fits, look no
Traditional publishing involves four steps. First the
authors produce their material for review by editors working on behalf of
publishers. Material found suitable for a publisher is then sent to be typeset,
to format the content into individual pages with a chosen style. These pages
are then reproduced in multiple sets by putting ink on paper, and are bound
into individual books and journal
issues. Finally these
are distributed to the audience by post to mailing lists of subscribers, book
club members, libraries with standing orders and people who order books on
line, or through retail outlets like bookstores and news agents.
have played certain parts in this process for some time. Authors use word
processors to build up, revise and print the source material, and more complex
typesetting software is used to format pages with humans putting in the
required commands to specify type fonts and sizes; pages sizes and partitions;
insertion of figures, equations and footnotes; linking parts from different
sources, such as chapters by multiple authors or reproduction of existing
material, into a complete volume etc.
you would be familiar with MS Word, and some of you may have used Latex, which
formats an ASCII text file with embedded type- setting commands, into a DVI
file specifying the content of each page, and this is further processed using a
DVI to printing file (such as PDF or Postscript) converter which specifies in
minute detail what kind of symbol to put onto each page where. Desktop
publishing software basically combines word processing with easy to use
typesetting software so that an author or editor can produce camera ready pages
to be sent to a printer on his own PC, while HTML is a desktop publishing
language that specifies the content and format of single pages for output on a
computer screen with provision to add colour, sound, video, etc. The old
equipment that were used to do the job, typewriters, molten lead typesetting
machines, even paper typesetting machines (to produce masters for offset
printers) are hardly used these days.
computers have also played some part in controlling printing machines and in
helping with the mailing and selling of printed material, their impact there
has been much less fundamental, since they have not changed the basic process
of putting ink on paper and distributing the paper piles. This is a highly
inefficient process since the paper contributes almost all the weight, but the
information is only carried by the ink. It takes organization to record, store
and move around all that heavy bulk. In fact, one reason authors have to go
through publishers to publish is the latter control the physical distribution
system: while authors can produce content and make copies on their own, they
lack means to put the copies into the libraries and retail shops, or to use
large mailing lists to send copies to readers.
Internet has radically changed this: Content is now specified as modulations of
electromagnetic waves, conducted instantaneously across the world via wires,
satellite links and optical fibres, instead of ink on paper moved around on lorries and aeroplanes. With numerous search engines
crawling the web looking at every page and cateloging the content, it does not take long before your pages would turn up in a search
list of someone looking for related material.
with the help of PC on Internet, anyone can write, format and distribute his
writings in the most direct way. However, while this solves one problem, it
creates a new sets of issues for authors and
publishers: Content represented in this way is also easily reproduced, without
any graphical quality loss nor the work of copying, collating and binding. The
previous exclusivity of control is now lost. For commercial publishing, the
question is how to get paid when someone reads something you own. For scholarly
publishing, the issue is establishing who published a particular piece of work
at what time.
Security and Control
a little doubt that business use of computers is increasing – to the point
where e-commerce business require all of the components to be functioning 24
hours a day.. in this environment managers need to
know what threats they face and what technologies exist to protect the system. there are three aspects that affect all businesses but are
particularly important in e-commerce: 1. interception of transmissions, 2.
attacks on servers, and 3. monitoring systems to identify attacks.
potential threats exist to information systems and the data they hold. The
complicated aspect is that the biggest information threat is from the legitimaste users and developers. Purely by accident, a user
might enter incorrect data or delete important information. A designer must
understand an important function and the system will provide erroneous results.
An innocent programming mistake could result in incorrect or destroyed data.
Minor changes to a frail system could result in a cascading failure of the
detect and prevent some of these problems through careful design, testing,
training and backup provisions. However, modern information systems are
extremely complex. We cannot guarantee they will work correctly all of the
time. Plus, the world poses physical threats that cannot be avoided:
hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and so on. Often, the best we can do is build contingency plans that enable the company to recover
as fast as possible. The most important aspect of any disaster plan is to
maintain adequate backup compiles. With careful planning, organisation, and
enough money, firms are able to provide virtually continuous information
System Vulnerability and Abuse
society and the world itself come to depend on computers and information
systems more and more, systems must become more reliable. The systems must also
be more secure when processing transactions and maintaining data. These two
issues, which we address in this lesson the biggest issues facing those wanting
to do business on or expand their operations to the Internet. The threats are
real, but so are the solutions.
to Computerised Information Systems
• Hardware failure
• Software failure
• Electrical problem
• Personnel actions
• User errors
• Terminal access penetration
• Program changes
• Theft of data, services, equipment
• Telecommunications problems
System Quality Problems: Software and Data
be nice to have a perfect world, but we donÕt.
Defects in software and data are real. You as an end user can't do much about
the software, but you can do something about the data you input.
bug, used to describe a defect in a software program, has been around since the
1940s and 1950s. Back then, computers were powered by vacuum tubes - hundreds
and thousands of them. Grace Hopper, an early pioneer, was troubleshooting a
computer that had quit running. When her team opened the back of the computer
to see what was wrong, they found a moth had landed on one of the tubes and
burned it out. So the term "bug" came to describe problems with
computers and software.
millions of lines of code, it's impossible to have a completely error-free
program. Most software manufacturers know their products contain bugs when they
release them to the marketplace. They provide free updates and fixes on their
Web sites. That's why its a good idea not to buy the
original version of a new software program but to wait until some of the major
bugs have been found by others and fixed by the company.
bugs are so easy to create, most unintentionally, you can reduce the number of
them in your programs by using the tools discussed in other chapters to design
good programs from the beginning. Many bugs originate in poorly defined and
designed programs and just keep infiltrating all parts of the program.
The Maintenance Nightmare
simply can't build a system and then ignore it. It needs constant and continual
attention. The fact is that half of a company's technology staff time is
devoted to maintenance.
you're considering organizational changes, no matter how minor they may seem,
you must consider what changes need to be made to the systems that support the
business unit. Keep in mind that software is very complex nowadays. You just
might have to search through thousands or millions of lines of code to find one
small error that can cause major disruptions to the smooth functioning of the system.
SDLC lesson, we stress good system analysis and design. How well you did back
then will play out in the maintenance of the system. If you did a good job,
maintenance will be reduced. If you did a poor job analyzing and designing the
system, maintenance will be a far more difficult task.
Data Quality Problems
Let's bring the problem of poor data
quality closer to home. What if the person updating your college records fails
to record your grade correctly for this course and gives you a D instead of a B
or an A? What if your completion of this course isn't even recorded? Think of
the time and difficulty you'll experience getting the data corrected.
Information Systems security is
everyone's business. Use antivirus software on your computer and update it
every 30-60 days. The "it won't happen to me" attitude is trouble.
Many system quality problems can be solved by instituting measures to decrease
the bugs and defects in software and data entry.
Creating a Control Environment
you help prevent some of the problems we've discussed? One of the best ways is
to introduce controls into your Information System the same as you might in any
other system: through methods, policies, and procedures.
about what a typical company does when it builds a new office building. From
the beginning of the design phase until the building is occupied, the company
decides how the physical security of the building and its occupants will be
handled. It builds locks into the doors, maybe even designs a single entry
control point. It builds a special wing for the executive offices that has
extra-thick bulletproof glass. Fences around the perimeter of the building
control the loading docks.
just a few examples to get you to think about the fact that the company designs
the security into the building from the beginning. You should do the same thing
with an Information System. It's no different from any system that requires
preplanning and well-thought-out policies and procedures before the building begins.
look at the two distinct types of controls: general controls, which focus on
the design, security and use of computer programs and data files, and
application controls, which are concerned with the actual application programs.
General Controls in Information
Systems consist of the systems software and manual procedures used to control
the design, security, and use of the programs and the data files in the overall
system. General controls would be the overall security system, which may
consist of outside door locks, fencing around the building, and employee
passes. General controls wouldn't be concerned with what happens in one
particular area of the building.
• Implementation Controls: When you
use implementation control methods, you audit the development procedures and
processes to make sure they conform to the business's standards and policies.
Were all the steps completed, or did you skip some of them? What input did
users and management have in the design and implementation of the system? Were
managers allowed to sign off on milestones during the development process, or
were they left out of the loop altogether? There is a reason why you have to
use good, sound development procedures.
• Software and Hardware Controls: How
is your system software installed, maintained, and used? What security measures
are in place to ensure only authorized users are allowed access to your system?
Are you using the latest version of virus protection software? These concerns
are part of the software controls you should develop.
Companies control all of their
manufacturing equipment, office supplies, and production tools--or at least try
to. They should apply the same hardware controls to computer equipment as they
would any other piece of equipment. Sometimes they don't. Laptop computers are
especially vulnerable to theft and abuse: Companies seem to be very lax about
employees borrowing laptops and then never returning them.
• Computer Operations and Data
Security Controls: Computer operations controls are the responsibility of the
Information Technology Department staff and are concerned with the storage and
processing of data. Often overlooked in this area is the need for protecting
the system documentation that details how jobs are processed, how data are
stored, and how the systems operate. Someone who steals this information could
do serious damage.
Whether you're working with current
data or archived data, you still need to protect them from unauthorized access
or use. The movie "The Net" depicted a fictionalized version of data
theft and manipulation. While it may have been an exaggeration, this could
happen if a company doesn't do enough to protect its data.
• Data security controls should
consist of passwords that allow only certain people access to the system or to
certain areas of the system. While you may want to grant employees access to
their payroll data or 401K data through an Intranet, you must make sure they
can access only their information and not that of any other employee. You
wouldn't want a co-worker to be able to access your paycheck information, would you?
We've talked about controls for the
general use of an Information System. Application controls are specific
controls within each computer application used in the system. Each activity in
the system needs controls to ensure the integrity of the data input, how it's
processed, and how it's stored and used.
• Input Controls
:Are the data accurate and complete? We used an example earlier of a
course grade being entered incorrectly. If your system had a method to check
the data on the input documents against the actual data entered into the
system, this kind of error could be caught and corrected at the time it was
entered. Many companies are using source data automation to help eliminate
• Processing Controls: As the name
describes, processing controls are used during the actual processing of the
data. If Suzy says she entered 100 items into the system on Tuesday, your
application program would have a method of checking and reporting the actual
number of data entries for that day. Not that you think Suzy is lying; you just
need to have a method of verifying and reconciling data entered against data
• Output Controls: Is the
information created from the data accurate, complete, and properly distributed?
Output controls can verify who gets the output, and if they're authorized to
use it. You can also use output controls to match the number of transactions
input, the number of transactions processed, and the number of transactions
Security and the Internet
We can't stress enough the
importance of security for Intranets, Extranets, and the Internet.
Organizations must control access through firewalls, transaction logs, access
security, and output controls. Software programs that track
"footprints" of people accessing the system can be a good way to
detect intruders in the system, what they did, what files they accessed, and
how they entered your system initially.
The most important point is that you
get the software, use it, and protect one of your most important organizational
Developing a Control Structure: Costs and Benefits
You should be realistic about
security and system controls. If you set up five layers of entry into your Web
site, people probably won't access it that much. They'll either ignore it or
find a way around your controls. You have to analyze the system and determine
those areas that should receive more security and controls and those that
probably can use less.
Returning to our building analogy,
the Executive Wing, which houses the CEO and other key executives, will
probably have more locks on the doors, more entry barriers, than the area the
data workers occupy. You can't check absolutely every person who traverses the
hallways each day, but you can have regular employees wear badges that readily
The Role of Auditing in the Control Process
Companies audit their financial data
using outside firms to make sure there aren't any discrepancies in their
accounting processes. Perhaps they audit their supply systems on a periodic
basis to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. They should also audit their
Information Systems. After all, information is as important a resource as any
other in the organization. MIS audits verify that the system was developed
according to specifications, that the input, processing, and output systems are
operating according to requirements, and that the data are protected against
theft, abuse, and misuse. In essence, an MIS audit checks all the controls
we've discussed in this lesson.
We mentioned earlier that a bank
teller wouldn't be the one to count the money in the till at the end of the
workday. To ensure validity in an MIS audit, you would use someone totally
disconnected from the system itself. Usually companies hire outside auditors to
verify the integrity of the system, since they won't have any vested interest
in hiding any flaws.
Ensuring System Quality
There's a reason why we explained
all those methods and procedures and processes in previous chapters for
building good, solid Information Systems. They ensure system quality so that
the product produced by the system is as good as it can be.
Software Quality Assurance
Just as you must assure quality of
other products and other work, you must assure the quality of your software.
It's easier to find the flaws in a
system if you create all new systems and programs the same way every time. If
you want to check the system, fix the system, add to the system, or audit the
system, you won't have to spend time figuring out how it was built in the first
place. In this case, predictability leads to efficiency. The documentation that
most people fail to develop makes it easier to determine how the system is
built and how it operates.
Most companies and most people spend
the majority of their time in the programming phase of system development. Not
a good idea. Just accept the fact that the more time you spend analyzing and
designing a system, the easier the programming and the better the system. You
will save a lot of time and headaches and money. Honest, it really does work
Be objective when you're assessing
the system by using software metrics to measure your system. Emotions tend to
cost money and use unnecessary resources. The text gives several good examples
of metrics you can use to measure your system inputs, processes, and outputs.
For metrics to be successful, they must be:
• Carefully designed
• Measure significant aspects of the
• Used consistently
• Agreed to by users advance
You can't ignore testing as a vital
part of any system. Even though your system may appear to be working normally,
you should still verify that it is working according to the specifications.
Walkthroughs are an excellent way to review system specifications and make sure
they are correct. Walkthroughs are usually conducted before programming begins,
although they can be done periodically throughout all phases of system
Once a system has been coded, it is
much harder and more expensive to change it. We're beginning to sound like a
broken record, but it's important that you understand and remember that the
more work you do before the programming phase begins, the less trouble you'll
have later. You can't just start pounding the keyboard and hope everything
works out okay.
Just as you would manage any big
project--a house, a highway, a skyscraper--you must
manage the entire systems development project. You can do it much easier using
project management software that allows you to keep track of the thousands of
details, deadlines, tasks, and people involved in the project. This type of
software also helps you keep everything in sync.
Data Quality Audits
We spoke earlier of MIS audits,
which check the system and its general controls and application controls. Data
quality audits verify the data themselves. Many of the principles we discussed
in the MIS audit apply to this type of audit. A company should formally record
the number and types of errors customers report. Using this record can help
managers do data quality audits by giving them ideas of where they can start
looking for problems or areas that need to be improved.
A few comments regarding the three
items in the text:
• Survey end users for their
perceptions of data quality: How do they see it? Looking at your data through a
different set of eyes can reveal problems you weren't aware of.
• Survey entire data files: This can
be expensive and time-consuming, but very fruitful.
• Survey samples from data files:
Make sure the sample is big enough and random enough to uncover problems.
information system will only reap the benefits if the companies gain insight to
better align strategies and identify critical relationships and gaps along four
key company dimensions – people, process, culture and infrastructure. information system provides a framework for companies to
evaluate themselves relative to these dimensions. By understanding and
improving alignment with these critical dimensions, companies can maximize the
value and impact of information as a strategic corporate asset to gain
Control the creation and growth of records despite decades of using various
non-paper storage media, the amount of paper in our offices continues to
escalate. An effective records information system addresses both creation control
(limits the generation of records or copies not required to operate the
business) and records retention (a system for destroying useless records or
retiring inactive records), thus stabilizing the growth of records in all
formats. reduce operating costs Recordkeeping requires administrative dollars
for filing equipment, space in offices, and staffing to maintain an organized
filing system (or to search for lost records when there is no organized
system).It costs considerably less per linear foot of records to store inactive
records in a Data Records Centre versus in the office and there is an
opportunity to effect some cost savings in space and equipment, and an
opportunity to utilize staff more productively - just by implementing a records
Improve efficiency and productivity Time spent searching for missing or
misfiled records is non-productive. A good records management program (e.g. a
document system) can help any organization upgrade its recordkeeping systems so
that information retrieval is enhanced, with corresponding improvements in
office efficiency and productivity. A well designed and operated filing system
with an effective index can facilitate retrieval and deliver information to
users as quickly as they need it. Moreover, a well managed information system
acting as a corporate asset enables organizations to objectively evaluate their
use of information and accurately lay out a roadmap for improvements that
optimize business returns. Assimilate new records management technologies A good records management program provides an organization
with the capability to assimilate new technologies and take advantage of their
many benefits. Investments in new computer systems whether this is financial,
business or otherwise, don't solve filing problems unless current manual
recordkeeping or bookkeeping systems are analyzed (and occasionally,
overhauled) before automation is applied.
regulatory compliance In terms of recordkeeping requirements,
heavily regulated country. These laws can create major compliance problems for
businesses and government agencies since they can be difficult to locate,
interpret and apply. The only way an organization can be reasonably sure that
it is in full compliance with laws and regulations is by operating a good
management information system which takes responsibility for regulatory
compliance, while working closely with the local authorities. Failure to comply
with laws and regulations could result in severe fines, penalties or other legal
litigation risks business organizations implement management information
systems and programs in order to reduce the risks associated with litigation
and potential penalties. This can be equally true in Government agencies. For example,
a consistently applied records management program can reduce the liabilities
associated with document disposal by providing for their systematic, routine
disposal in the normal course of business.
vital information every organization, public or private, needs a comprehensive
program for protecting its vital records and information from catastrophe or
disaster, because every organization is vulnerable to loss. Operated as part of
a good management information system, vital records programs preserve the
integrity and confidentiality of the most important records and safeguard the
vital information assets according to a "Plan" to protect the
records. This is especially the case for financial information whereby ERP
(Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are being deployed in large companies.
better management decision making In today's business
environment, the manager that has the relevant data first often wins, either by
making the decision ahead of the competition, or by making a better, more
informed decision. A good management information system can help ensure that
managers and executives have the information they need when they need it. By
implementing an enterprise-wide file organization, including indexing and
retrieval capability, managers can obtain and assemble pertinent information
quickly for current decisions and future business planning purposes. Likewise,
implementing a good ERP system to take account of all the business’ processes
both financial and operational will give an organization more advantages than
one who was operating a manual based system. Preserve the corporate memory an
organization's files, records and financial data contain its institutional
memory, an irreplaceable asset that is often overlooked. Every business day,
you create the records, which could become background data for future
management decisions and planning. foster professionalism in running the business A business office with files, documents
and financial data askew, stacked on top of file cabinets and in boxes
everywhere, creates a poor working environment. The perceptions of customers
and the public, and "image" and "morale" of the staff,
though hard to quantify in cost-benefit terms, may be among the best reasons to
establish a good management information system
Managing Information Systems: An
Organisational Perspective (2nd Edition). Prentice Hall, 2004
Management Information Systems:
Managing the Digital Firm (8th Edition). Prentice Hall, 2004
Information Technology for Management : Transforming Organizations in the Digital
Economy (4th edition). Wiley, 2004
Post, Gerald V.
and David L. Anderson. Management
solving business problems with information technology. McGraw-Hill
Higher Education, 2003