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Management Information Systems


 Introduction

            Business information systems is an interrelated set of components that gather, analyze, process, store and distribute information to help the management of any business in making decisions, controlling, coordinating and analyzing company functions. An efficient information system helps the company in monitoring employees and activities as we as keeping the employees and the management team informed and to coordinate business functions. The systems may further help in marketing their products online as well as in carrying out business transactions online. Information systems also store information that has become extremely valuable as an organizational asset to the management.


        These systems may also facilitate communication between the company and dealers, marketers, suppliers, manufacturers and customers. The information systems and the common use of the information freeway have led to new challenges and threats. Business organizations are now plagued with thieves, hackers, spies, competitors, disgruntled employees and hired agents all of whom may want to use a company’s information maliciously. As a result, the need to secure information has also arisen (Schell & McLeod, 2007).


            This paper highlights the basic IT projects that may be necessary within the company in order to foster its efficiency of operation as well as the methodologies that may be applicable in the development of the necessary information systems. The first and foremost IT project to be initiated should be the creation of a knowledge management system (document management system). This is the system that will be responsible for gathering and creating information from various sectors of the business as well as defining the protocol of sharing and accessing the collected information. The second IT project should entail the creation of an Information management system. This system will be responsible for analyzing and processing information already gathered into the system to produce reports that have significance, and relaying their summaries to the management as management reports to be used in decision-making.


             The third IT project should produce a decision support system that acts as an aid to the managers when making decisions in states of uncertainties. This system should be designed with analytical features such as databases with ‘what if’ functions that can help generate possible alternatives in decision-making. The fourth IT project should entail the design of a Transaction processing system (TPS) that will track the flow of inventory, production, sales and revenue and any other transactions. The system should include mini-TPS system s for processing different transactions such as billing, production systems, purchasing, inventory control as well as payroll and tax processing systems. The fifth It project should entail the design of an Executive support system that gathers , analyzes, summarizes and produces reports that can be used by the management in making strategies, plans and decisions for the business organization.


          This information from all business sectors can also be used in monitoring performance. The sixth IT project will involve the development of an office automaton system that will enable interconnectedness and easy communication as well as performing of business activities such as printing and general communication e.g. mailing and calling. Finally, the It projects design should culminate to the development of an access control system or security system that will define how all the systems will be interconnected as well as  determine the accessibility and sharing of information within the various system components.


The development of these unit systems that make up the whole company Information management system may take on various methodologies, but they basically have to go through a common process with similar steps that may have subtle differences under different methodologies. The development of these systems has to go through the systems development process. This process entails various development stages of a system the system developing team has to adhere to. He basic steps include planning, analysis, design, implementation and maintenance (Schell & McLeod, 2007).


Under these there are sequential sub-steps within this lifecycle. The process begins with initiation, at this point the company’s management identifies an opportunity or need and a concept proposal is created. The second step is the system’s concept creation; in this step the management determines the scope of the concept as well as conducts a feasibility study. The next step is the planning step in which a development management plan is developed and it initiates the acquisition of necessary resources. The next step in the systems development lifecycle is the requirement analysis stage, in this stage of the life cycle the user need are analyzed and the user as well as functional requirements are developed. This stage is followed by the design stage, at this stage the detailed requirements are transformed into comprehensive system design document.


At this stage the focus is on functionality creation. The design stage is followed by the development stage in which the design is converted into a complete information system. This includes coding, compiling, creating and testing databases, installing systems environment and refining programs. The next step includes integration and testing, in this stage the system is checked for conformity to the functional requirements by users and quality assurance team, and test reports are produced. The next phase is the implementation phase in which the system is actualized in a production environment whilst the identified shortcomings in the testing phase are resolved. The next step in the cycle is the operations and management phase, in which the tasks to maintain and operate the system are described. This phase includes in-process reviews (Schell & McLeod, 2007).


 There are various methodologies that can be employed in the development of these systems. One among them is the object oriented approach. Object-Oriented (OO) systems use incremental iterative approach in systems design, by dividing it into sections and developing them independently whilst performing tests and analysis.  Proponents of the suitability of Object oriented approach state that OO approach allows code re-usability, reduces maintenance, improves flexibility and reliability as well as allowing real world modeling coupled with testing and evaluation while in design (Hoffer et al, 2003).


The down-side of the OO approach is that it is best suited for highly interactive environments and its application may not benefit system roles such as payroll processing or accounting services. Another possible method that can be used in systems development is the (SSADM) Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method. This is a sequential waterfall modeled method for systems design that uses logical data modeling, data flow modeling and entity behavior modeling as techniques of creating systems. It involves significant undertakings, and as such may not be suitable for all systems design projects (Kelkar, 2004). The methodology goes through six stages, investigation of the current environment, business systems options, requirement specifications, technical system options, logical design and physical design. The down side of SSADM is that it size becomes a hindrance to applying it at all times.


It also requires a lot of investment in terms of time and cost to train the staff in using it. The participatory design can also be used in the creation of information systems, however; it cannot be used on its own; the method needs to be integrated with other methods especially at the stage of defining system’s and users’ requirements. It is an all inclusive design method that requires all potential users of the system to participate in its creation by stating what they may require of the system (Namioka & Schuler, 1993). Computer-assisted software engineering may also be used in the design of information systems. In this case computer software is used to automate the production of information systems. The advantage of this method of systems development is that it reduces errors and makes the development speedier (Dahanayake, 2001).


The unified modeling language (UML) may also be used in the development of information systems.  This is a methodology that uses a combination of techniques from business modeling, object modeling, data modeling as well as component modeling. It is usable in all processes within the systems development cycle and with different implementation technologies, thus; making it the best option in the development of information systems. Its versatility lies in the synthesis of techniques that it uses (Halpin & Siau, 2001).


 References

Dahanayake, A. (2001).Computer-aided method engineering: Designing CASE repositories for the 21st century. Idea Group Incorporation.
Halpin, A. T. and Siau, K. (2001).Unified modeling language: systems analysis, design and development issues. Idea Group Incorporation.
Hoffer, A. J., Valacich, S.J., Batra, D., George, F. J. (2003). Object-oriented systems analysis and design. Pearson Prentice Hall Publishers.
Kelkar, A. S. (2004).Structured Systems Analysis and Design: A Concise Study. PHI Learning Pvt. Limited
Namioka, A. and Schuler, D. (1993). Participatory design: Principles and practices. Routledge Publishers.
Schell, P. G. and McLeod, R. (2007). Management information systems. Pearson/Prentice Hall Publishers.
 
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