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The world of management information systems

Management information systems (MIS) are tools used by organisations to manage information and provide guidance on operations. The purpose of MIS is to assist managers in making decisions by giving them accurate and relevant information on the daily goings-on of the organisation. We’ll look at some different examples of management information systems in an organisation and answer some common questions about MIS.

Now that the world has entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is increasing talk of concepts such as the knowledge economy and information age. As a result, MIS is becoming ever more important for organisations and businesses. MIS is related to the field of information technology (IT), however, they do differ. IT focuses more on the computing systems that are used to transfer and manage information. MIS is less focused on the computers and more about setting up the larger systems within an organisation that makes use of IT.

Various software solutions market themselves as management information systems, however, the software is just a tool. While the software plays a very important role, the actual information system extends beyond the software to include things like company hierarchy and reporting structures. So from a computer or IT perspective, MIS relates to software, but for an organisation, MIS relates to actual systems in the organisation, which in turn may make use of MIS software.

MIS is often confused with information management systems, but there is an important difference. An information management system is a system that manages information and includes anything with a database that can store and search information. MIS software will be able to do this, but it does so specifically to allow the organisation’s management to make decisions for the company.

Types and examples of management information systems

There are many different types of management information systems, much like there are many types of organisations. Within almost any organisation of significant size, there are systems in place for each of its different functions and roles. Some of these are found across almost all organisations, such as human resources, marketing and accounts, while others can be specific to a certain industry.

For many businesses, inventory management, transactions and sales all need to be monitored closely. With management information systems put in place, management will be able to extract relevant information from all of these different functions within the organisation. This information is then used to guide managerial decisions.

The ultimate aim of having all of these systems in place is that it condenses the relevant information from each area of the business’s functions. This places all the relevant company information at the fingertips of managers so they are best equipped to make strategic decisions for the company.

For example, a large chain store will have inventory and sales systems to show what products are selling best at which stores. There will also be human resources systems tracking the costs and productivity of each branch’s employees. Using this, along with logistics, accounts and market research data, managers can make well-informed decisions on where to open or close stores and where to launch new products.

Some other examples of management information systems in an organisation are process control, office automation, enterprise resource planning, finance systems and management reporting. Next up, we’ll take a closer look at industry-specific management information systems for health, tourism and education.

Health management information system

The World Health Organisation summarised the purpose of a health management information system as being to produce “information to enable decision-makers at all levels of the health system to identify problems and needs, make evidence-based decisions on health policy and allocate scarce resources optimally”.

Here in Kenya, the Health Ministry is working to further strengthen its health management information systems. In a 2019 policy brief, the department said that its Electronic District Health Information System had been launched and rolled out nationally. It noted too that the Kenya Health Act of 2017 and Health Information Policy for 2014 – 2030 provide for a national health information system that is responsive to the needs of the population.

The Ministry of Health published a Health Information Systems Interoperability Framework, in which it noted that it makes use of KHIS2, which is an open-source software programme for routine reporting, analysis, and dissemination of health data for all health programmes, across all of the country’s health facilities.

Student & tourism MIS examples

Management information systems are used across all manner of industries. Tourism is another industry where our government is implementing information systems on a national scale. The Covid pandemic has greatly reduced global tourism, prompting Kenya’s Tourism Ministry to innovate. In a July 2020 strategy document, the ministry announced plans of digitising the tourism industry.

Shortly after, in October 2020 policy brief, the ministry stated the need to develop “an Integrated Destination Management System (IDMS) by identifying and visualising market trends, patterns, opportunities and threats which otherwise may not be possible with data on paper and in tabular formats, for sustainable planning, marketing and management”.

MIS is also used in education. Here at KU we make use of student information systems. This is needed to handle all of the administration, such as student registration, tracking of fee payments and recording academic progress. Part of this involves a teacher management information system, which ensures good performance by teachers, among other things. Another key part of a student information system is that it keeps all academic records so they can be verified long after students have graduated.

FAQ

Here are some common questions and answers related to the world of management information systems.

What is MIS and its advantages?

A management information system Is a system that brings together all the relevant information that managers require to effectively operate and improve an organisation. This allows managers to make informed decisions based on evidence and data rather than just opinion and instinct.

What are the disadvantages of management information systems?

As with any system, it can only be effective if it is implemented correctly. Setting up and implementing a management information system will take time and resources, however once in place, the benefits in cost and time saving should pay off. Data security is also very important for management information systems as they can be vulnerable to hacking by cybercriminals.

What tools do I use to manage this information?

Earlier we spoke of how management information systems can refer to the overall management systems within a company as well as how in computing terms it is seen as the software. While it is possible that some organisations may not rely on software and still use older methods such as paper files, suggestion boxes and physical noticeboards, the majority of organisations use software to manage information. There are far too many MIS products to list here, but you can go to this site to see a list of MIS solutions for different industries.

What is an important characteristic of an information system?

Different organisations will have different needs from their management information system but a universal characteristic that is of utmost importance is the reliability of data. No matter how good a system is, if the information it is given is wrong or incomplete, it will not be able to provide accurate results.

What is the most important reason for failure of MIS?

As mentioned, there are many different types of management information systems so an organisation must implement an appropriate system. An MIS is likely to fail if it is not correctly aligned with organisational goals. To succeed, an MIS must be fully implemented by all users. A system will fail if those involved in the day-to-day operations supply inaccurate information. It will also fail if the managers do not use the information when making decisions and strategising.

What is the purpose of a management information system?

The purpose of a management information system is to bring together relevant information from all of an organisation’s operations so that management is properly informed about what is going on in the business. MIS is a valuable tool to assist management with decision-making and strategic planning.

What are the features of MIS?

Some features offered by MIS software include that they are cloud-based and updated in real-time and can process and record-high volumes of transactions as they occur. Information needs to be easily searchable and well presented.

Managers should be able to quickly find the information they need whether it be on the overall organisational level or in more detail within a certain area. For example, a sales manager would want to be able to track overall sales across the company as well as sales of a specific product within a particular store or region.

Is MIS a good career?

MIS is a relatively new but rapidly growing career choice. We are already well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or what some have termed the information age. Technology allows us to record and process far greater amounts of data than ever before. Those who are skilled in managing, processing and interpreting information and information systems will be well equipped for the future.

What are the job opportunities for management information system?

As business increasingly moves to digital, there is a growing need for people with the skills to manage and use information. Careers in MIS range from the more managerial such as a business analyst, information systems manager or IT manager, through to the more technical such as computer systems analyst, business application developer, database analyst or administrator or a systems developer. For more examples of jobs and likely earnings, you can read this article.

Study MIS at Kenyatta University

Kenyatta University offers an MBA in Management Information System, which teaches how to analyse, design and develop information systems using real-world problems.

The course is aimed at people who have completed a degree, are already working and would like to improve their job prospects. Like all of KU’s online programmes, it offers the flexibility to study in your own time so you can continue work without interrupting your career.

Endorsed and accredited by online programme regulators

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