Information Flows Between Different Functional Departments Commerce Essay

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This paper provides a high level overview of the different types of information flows between different functional departments within an Organization. Exhibit A in the Appendix refers. Whilst not exhaustive the diagram does convey the vast network of information that flows between different functions of the business. Certain large corporate firms like IBM and HP have become global service solutions providers offering customised solutions around open architecture and their own hardware and communications systems. Similarly Enterprise Solutions like Oracle, J.D.Edwards and SAP offer large scale systems integration advice for the placement of international business information systems.

Information Technology has become the life-blood of virtually every organization. Most large business operations contain Data Centre's of expensive computer and communication systems (hardware) and important client information and programs (software). Together they provide the central back-bone of the organization and as such any threat to these systems can be extremely disruptive and costly to the business. These systems have changed the way in which we share information and collaborate at work.

Data sharing and management

There are a number of different attributes that combine the concept of data sharing and management of data within an organization. Data interpretation means that you are required to read data from different sources i.e. Tables, Charts, Graphs etc. This is mainly used in Management for decision making and the compilation of reports. It can equally apply to Human Resources and used for evaluation purposes in psychometric testing.

People also need to manipulate data in order to interpret it and share results. This refers to the rearranging of data without changing the base information i.e. sorting, re-arranging, analysis, moving the data around. This is often used for purposes of comparative analysis and to obtain different views or perspectives on the data. One aspect is to change the relationship between two variables in order to determine the effect of that change.

One example of sharing information relates to that of key performance indicators (KPI's). Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) in the broadest sense help organizations to understand how competent they are performing to their strategic goals and objectives. KPI's or important to illustrate to shareholders and other stakeholders that the firm is on track with its strategic planning goals. The chart to the right illustrates the three pronged approach to the collection and assimilation of data for Key Performance Indicators. The so termed 'ICE' approach of Identify, Collect and End has been criticised as often being misunderstood and confused with users ending up with too much data and then not sure how to interpret and deal with the end results.

The use of KPI's goes beyond the conventional wisdom of just counting and quantifying data. The concept is aimed at providing a clear and concise picture of reality. It may also include words, pictures or videos in order to convey important messages. It can be used in a variety of different applications and settings but is widely used in Medical fields, sociological settings and manufacturing processes.

Chief Information Resources

Business Function Business Application

Marketing Business promotion, launching new products etc.

Production Manufacture of products, inventory control, etc.

Sales Client Management, generation of sales revenue

Purchases Procurement of materials & Office supplies

Finance Financial control over the business

Human Resources (HR) Employee and HR policy setting, external liaison

Executive Board Decision Making, Policy implementation, Strategic direction

Research & Development Innovation and creativity, links to sales and marketing

Health & Safety Policy adherence to Health & Safety with HR function

Quality Assurance QA over products, links to sales and production

Internal Audit Control checks with Financial Controller

Analysis of Information flows

Information flow can be viewed as either a static or dynamic representation, dependent upon how the organization is structured. This section explores some of the static relationships within the overall model depicted within Exhibit A in the appendix.

Sales Marketing Finance

  Financial Budgets

Sales Forecasts Marketing Forecasts 

Sales Reports Marketing Reports 

Statistics Statistics 

  Financial Reports

Product Pricing  

 Promotions

In the model above we see that Sales is primarily concerned with Sales Forecasts, Sales Reports, Compilation of statistics and Product Pricing. This information shared with Marketing and Finance. Finance mainly focus on Budgets and Financial reports which they share with Marketing and Sales. Marketing also deals with promotions in conjunction with Sales.

Directors Finance Human Resources

 Financial Reports and Statistics 

Policies & Decisions  

Strategic Direction Setting  

  Policies

Budgets & Forecasts 

Payroll Info 

Legal Instructions  

Recommendation for improvement

Use of Relational Database (RDBMS) Technology

There are a number of different ways in which data can be stored and shared electronically. This is via the concept of database systems. These tend to be either of a hierarchical, relational or network design purpose. In the hierarchical concept this is essentially a construct based upon a Parent Child relationship model. For example in a retail store setting. There may be a Furnishings Department. This may be split into three subordinate areas i.e. Home Furnishing, Office Furnishings and Domestic Appliances. These in turn may have additional lines of responsibility; hence you have a hierarchy of data being performed. (Terry A. Halpin, 2008)

A network database is one where data elements are connected to one another through a series of links and best illustrated through an Entity Relationship (E-R) diagram. It describes whether the data has a 1: Many; 1:1; or Many to Many data relationships. You are able to see through the model a complete representation of the networked data.

Systems like that of Oracle provide a relational database concept (RDBMS). A relational model has mainly three components: (1) A collection of objects or relations (2) Operators that act on the objects or relations. (3) Data integrity methods. A relational database management system (RDBMS) may be defined as where data is stored as row and column tables. Each of these are comprised of records ( tuples) and as such provided with an identification attribute termed a field. Within the table each field has a different relationship being 1:1, 1: Many or Many : Many. (Business Dictionary, 2011)

Utilization of database systems technology

One important use in the deployment of RDBMS technology is that of Key Performance Indicators (KPI's). Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) in the broadest sense help organizations to understand how competent they are performing to their strategic goals and objectives. KPI's or important to illustrate to shareholders and other stakeholders that the firm is on track with its strategic planning goals. The chart to the right illustrates the three pronged approach to the collection and assimilation of data for Key Performance Indicators. The so termed 'ICE' approach of Identify, Collect and End has been criticised as often being misunderstood and confused with users ending up with too much data and then not sure how to interpret and deal with the end results. (Parmenter, 2011)

The use of KPI's goes beyond the conventional wisdom of just counting and quantifying data. The concept is aimed at providing a clear and concise picture of reality. It may also include words, pictures or videos in order to convey important messages. It can be used in a variety of different applications and settings but is widely used in Medical fields, sociological settings and manufacturing processes.

Data Modelling and rationalisation of data and information

Data Modelling: The data model is a graphic representation of the data that will be contained within the database storage. It is essentially a definition of the entities, attributes and relationships between data. It forms an integral part of the requirements specification in the data requirements definition.

Normalization: In data base design concepts normalization means the process of efficiently organizing data in a database. This means the elimination of redundant data i.e. storing data twice in different tables, ensuring that the data dependencies make sense ( they relate to one another), getting the right nomenclatures i.e. apples, oranges and pears = fruit. In It circles the database community has put forward a number of distinct guidelines for ensuring how databases are normalized. These being termed as normal forms and are numbered from one (the lowest form of normalization, referred to as first normal form.) (Chapple, 2010)

Summary

Every business requires an effective data management strategy in order to succeed. It is important not to collect duplicated information and hoard vast volumes of meaningless data. The information should facilitate reliable and expedient decision making. This concept has now been expanded to that of knowledge accumulation introducing concepts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Expert systems. We are now looking at linking datasets by series of heuristics (rules) and as such finding additional ways to analyse information.

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