Interest in Information System has been growing after the advent of Information Technology in most businesses where people and technology can work together in achieving organizational goal. The task at hand is to use an organization (self experience) as a case relating it with its information system. Then we define the Information system, its component and its relationship within the organization.
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After we have access the components of an information system in the organization, we take a look at how Information system works, in terms of process support using CIPSODAR model and monitoring and control system model. The management role in supporting organizational processes in reaching its desired goals and the kind of decision that is taken. How this information system implemented and for what reason has it been implemented in an organization?
This information system implemented, what is the possibility of attaining success or failure and in what way has it achieved or failed to achieve it propose? One can view from the output and analyse using CARTA to detect if it meets the set objective.
An overview of Information System
In today’s business, understanding the role of information system is the main focus of every businesses function and knowing how to make decisions with the information obtained. The concept of information system is seen as important tool used in organizational development which needs knowledge of technology in fulfilling its objectives. Laudon and Laudon (2007:84) defined Organization as “a stable, formal social structure that takes resources from the environment and processes them to produce outputs”. These inputs, outputs and processes involved in an organization occur as a result of technology changes applied into an organization. Here is a case of an Organization called Shell Internet Ltd where i used to work back in Nigeria as shown in box 1 below which recorded significant changes as a result of system change (management information system) adapted.
Box 1 Case of Shell Internet ltd.
Shell internet ltd (Big wide world cafe) is an organization based in Nigeria that operates in providing internet services (cafe services) to customers. It was established in 1998 under a parent company called Mynetcom Africa whose main aim is to provide Network services (Broad band) to customers within Nigeria. Its business objectives are to provide services at competitive price and also maintain good Customer relationship with its clients. It started operation with only two outlets and four staff. Presently, Big wide world cafe has over twenty outlets with over fifty trained and dedicated staff that are ready to maintain a better working relationship.
Business transactions were carried out using computers and stationeries and product delivery to each centre were supplied twice in a month. Huge costs were acquired by management and staff through the means of communication (transporting and phone calls) for information about sales and demands from each outlet for goods. Shortage in products and system break down arose and none could be attended to on time.
As part of the solutions, the Managers decided to deploy a monitoring system that will be monitoring the company’s sales, staff and also meets the demands of customers through a direct link on the outlet server machines. This management information system gives account of every daily sale; staff attendance (Time logged in and time logged out); number of faulty systems; the type of product needed and other business related issues which can be viewed from the head office for every outlet. With this new system in place, Big wide world cafe management were able to act promptly to the needs of every outlet.
To have a view of Information system means we must first understand Information technology and what it does. Heeks (1999:15) defined Information Technology (IT) “as computing and telecommunications technologies that provides automatic means of handling information”. Laudon and Laudon (2007:14) defined Information system as “a set of inter-related components that collect, process, store and distribute information to support decision making and control in an organization”. We can then say Information system consists of technology (Hardware, software and network), information (data and knowledge), people (staff, management and customers) and processes (sales, administration, finance and accounting, logistics, technical etc) which are all within and outside an organization as shown in figure 1 below (Heeks 2006; Pearlson 2001; Laudon and Laudon 2007; Bocij et al. 2006).
Figure 1: Organization Information system: Structural view Source: Heeks (2006)
Information is seen as data that have been transformed and reshaped into meaningful and useful to human being e.g. customer or date (Laudon and Laudon 2007). Pearlson (2001) sees data as a set of specific, objective fact or stream of raw facts representing event occurring in an organization while Knowledge is seen as an information that is synthesized to give meaning e.g., experience as shown in figure 2.
Data transformation process Information Knowledge
Figure 2: Link between data, Information and Knowledge Source: adapted from Boddy et al. (2005)
Hardware: This is the physical components that deal with computation, storage and transmission of data e.g. servers, mainframe, Ram, modems, printer, scanner, and network cables etc (ibid).
Software: They are programs that run on the hardware which enables one to perform work: e.g. operating systems, database, accounting package and word processing (Peltu 1989). There two types of software: Operating systems are system that manages hardware and coordinates hardware and communication resources e.g. Linux, XP and windows server 2003 while the application systems deals directly with users needs and can run on operating system e.g. payroll, sales force automated system and Microsoft offices (ibid).
Network: They are hardware and software components connected together by protocol for sharing computer environment e.g. Wide area network (WAN) and Local area network (LAN) (Pearlson 2001).
Class of this Organizational Information System: This information system of mine can be categorized into the following set of groups as follows (Boddy et al. 2005): -Technology type: Computer-based system which is more advanced in providing information e.g. EPOS -Function: It functions are to monitor, operational, decision making and give account of sales. -Organisational level: It is Management Information Systems which provide mangers with routine, on demand and exceptional information. – Reach: The reach is within the company (Company-wide). -Mobility: It is a semi mobile can be viewed from every location even when mobile
To have a view of the organization process of an information system, one need to have an understanding of the organization, organization management and the technical dimension of the system, this is a wider view of an information system. Management information systems (MIS) can be defined as “information systems that provide reports which assist the managerial monitoring and control of organization functions resources or other responsibilities” (Heeks, 1998:2). It takes into account the impact of information system, behaviour and technical issues in the organization as shown in figure 3 below. Management in the real sense are the managers who are assigned the work of organizing working processes, face business challenges and in decision making for the change rather than status quo (Blundell and Murdock 1997)
Figure 3: Information systems are more than computers Source: Laudon and Laudon (2007)
The organizational working process starts from the outlet from which data (sales records are captured) is gather and then processed for record purpose for different departments. Pearlson (2001) view the organization process as the primary and support activities in delivering services using data transformed into information that are supported and shared by the management. Organization processes determine the unique ways that organization control work, information and knowledge gathered and the way management choose to work (Laudon and Laudon 2007). For effective management of organization processes mean understanding the information system and functional approach to organization (processing data to a meaningful context for understanding)as shown in figure (Bocij et al. 2005).
The design of the monitoring system produces information for management action which can be explain by using CIPSODAR model as shown in figure 3 below. CIPSODAR: capture, input, process, storage, output, decision, action and result, means raw product captured (C); Sold product inputted (I); product is being process by the system (P); stored in the database (S); received/accessed in the head office as sales output from outlets (O); management decision (D); action taken by management (A) and result from management’s action (R) Heeks (2006).
Figure 4: Information system: Organization process Source: adapted from Heeks (2006)
The whole working process of capturing outlets inputs into outputs (information) through a monitoring tool which compares the performance of the input and output and then acted upon by management who then use a control mechanism in correcting gaps. The monitoring and control mechanism creates a feedback loops into the process by ensuring the whole system is in good condition and where there is a problem, decisions are made as shown in figure 5 below.
Input process outputs
Control comparison monitoring MIS
Figure 5: Monitoring and control system model Source: Heeks (1998)
The level of decision and action taking by management determines the performance of an organization which will show how well the processes and plans are coordinated. Organization like Big wide world cafe processes function is divided into departments like sales, administration, finance and accounting, logistics and technical. Laudon and Laudon (2007) classed these functional systems in figure 4 as follow:
Sales and market information systems: The sales are seen as the front eye of the organization by identifying customers; selling the organization’s products or services; create a good customer’s relationship and promote the organization image. The information system monitors sales trend, process orders and support organization processes with the help of the system as shown in figure 6.
Figure 6: Sales report for Big wide world cafe Source: big wide world cafe (2004)
Administration information systems: They are responsible for maintaining; tracking job performance; training and provision of career development for employees. They monitor growth of the organization processes with the help of the system and provide advice on whether to expansion or not, to recruit more staff or not.
Finance and accounting information system: Their functions are to manage the organization’s financial assets; make budgets; prepare payroll; keep track of fund flow in and out and other investments/income expenditures in the organization with the help of the system.
Logistic information system: They manage service deliveries for the organization by delivery products needed at the various stations/outlets when short of them using the information system.
Technical information system: Their function is to keep track of all faulty systems and technical issues within the organization. With the help of the monitoring system, faulty systems are reinstalled and all outlets systems are functioning properly.
Evaluating whether it is success/failure
In conducting evaluations, the need for continuous process of compromising and accommodation starting from its root of collecting and communication is seen as challenging (Friedman & Wyatt 1997). To determine the success/failure of an information system, one needs to know if it is achieving the organization design objectives and how problem solving it can be (performance) through using an indicator. Before we can evaluate if an information system is a success or failure, we need to define what success and failure means. Heeks (2009) defined the outcome of an information system as: · Total failure – This is an information system was implemented but immediately abandoned or was never implemented. · Partial failure – This is an information system was implemented but the major goals for the information system were not achieved and/or there were significant undesirable outcomes. · Success – This is an information system was implemented and most goals where achieve but does not experience significant undesirable outcomes.
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Boddy (2005) sited that base on studies; one cannot evaluate information system purely on technical terms nor on static factor but on social and organization context. In evaluating MIS based on achieving objectives set out, one can say as it fulfilled it formalised objectives and to what extent? In all objectives stated which are clearly specified by management purpose. Based on generic monitoring and control system shown in figure 5, we can evaluate input, process and output of an information system by comparing with its set objectives using CARTA model for decision making based on what their benefits will be. CARTA means complete; accuracy; relevance; timeless and appropriateness (Bocij et al. 2006; Laudon and Laudon 2007; Heeks and Morgan 2009): Completeness: All the information required meets the recipient information needs. Accuracy: The degree of error free information makes meaning to the organization. Relevance: The information supplied should be vital for a particular situation which meets the recipient information needs. Timelessness: The degree at which information arrive within a timeframe. Appropriateness: The degree at which information is accessible and intelligible to the recipient.
Measurement: To analyse the results from the output using CARTA model on Big wide world cafe case:
Completeness: Can the new MIS said to be complete based on the output result? Management needs is focused on getting a complete daily report based on every outlet sales, staff information and other objectives required. From the case report, Big wide world cafe were able to achieve a faster complete report based on their objectives which gives detail of what needs to be done and where for proper decision to be taking.
Accuracy: Can the new MIS said to be accurate based on the output result? Management view on accuracy using Big wide world cafe case, accuracy on sale can said to be achieved once a data is input and then processed to produce and output which can be view on every organization database. It is design to give up-to date information on every function going on in the outlets for management to act upon and predict the future.
Relevance: Can the new MIS said to be relevant based on the output result? Information produced means a lot for management because of their set agenda of meeting customers’ needs. Every manager as a set role and every report might not be relevant to him/her based on the report produced for decision making. Report can be relevant for decision making based on poor performance in the organization.
Timelessness: Can the new MIS said to be timely based on the output result? Faster timely report is what the management desire. MIS is design to produce report based on current activities going on in the outlets. The new MIS gives the numbers of system faulty, product that needs replacement and the resumption time of every staff which management can use for decision making.
Appropriateness: Can the new MIS said to be appropriateness based on the output result? Reports are made accessible to every management and staff for faster decision making. Big wide world cafe system is accessible by anywhere and anytime for management to see what is going on and what needs to be done.
Result: From the analysis, this information system was built to handle some task and most goals where achieve but does not experience significant undesirable outcomes. One can say it is a success based to design objectives.
Explain why it is a success
Today’s information system success can be tomorrow’s failure. In analyzing why it is a success today, one can use design- reality gap model design by Heeks using ITPOSMO checklist: information (data stored or flow); technology (network, hardware and software); processes (users activities and interaction procedures); objective and values (culture and politics); staffing and skills (both technical and non technical competencies); management systems (managers and motives) and other resources (time and money) can be used in evaluating the why it is a success (Heeks 2002; Heeks 1998) as shown in figure 7 below. Based on Heeks concept on design-reality, the wider the gap between design and the reality the greater the chances of failure while the smaller the gap between design-reality, the greater the success achieved (Heeks 1999).
We need to evaluate the current service system (reality) with the intending future system (design), in other to ascertain the gap differences.
Design propose towards new project
Information: The over vision of getting up-to-date information has not changed from the set agenda. The formal information held the information system and the visual information held by the people before the introduction of MIS has little differences because of its urgency and way it was processed
Technology: Big wide world cafe was design with new software which is straight forward which has the same hardware and network. The only change was little which has no effect on the staff.
Processes: The overall working process is still the same but data access has little reformed look which can be view online at a faster rate.
Objectives and value: The design met the objective of Big wide world cafe, which assist them in serving customers needs and monitoring the organization progress.
Staffing and skills: The skills were not lacking because most of them were trained on how to use the new Information system.
Management system and structures: The design was made simple for management to access and then decide on the way forward.
Other resources: The overall design investment made was only based on the software which cost little money to attain.
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