An Information System is the system of persons, data records and activities that process the data and information in a given organization, including manual processes or automated processes.
An information system is the basis for interaction between the user and the analyst. It is an open system that allows the inputs and facilitates the interaction with the user. It can be defined as a set of devices, procedures and operating systems designed around the user to produce information and communicate it to the user for planning, control and performance.
Information systems deal with the development, use and management of an organization’s IT infrastructure.
A key point to be always remembered when considering a new alternative system is to be designed to improve planning, control and performance. In the post-industrial, information age, the focus of companies has shifted from being product oriented to knowledge oriented. Without keeping this in mind there would not be any ROI.
The major Information Systems are
1. Formal Information System
2. Informal Information System
3. Computer Based Information System
This is based on the organization represented by the Organization Chart. The Organization char clearly lays down the position and the personnel associated to those positions and their authority relationship.
Formal Information System
This system defines very clearly the work-flow system, communication flow-down and the authority. The information flows in terms of policies, goals, strategies, rules and regulations from the top level management to the bottom level of management.. The information also flows from the bottom level management to the top level in terms of feedback, results of work done etc.
There are three categories of information related to the Formal Information Systems:
1. Strategic Information – relates to long-range planning policies. This information is achieved using the Decision Support System
2. Managerial Information – helps the middle level management in policy implementation and control. This information is achieved using the Management Information System
3. Operational Information -is the daily information needed to operate the business. This information is achieved using the Data Processing System
The pictorial representation below should help to understand it.
Strategic Info (Upper Level Mgmt.)
Mgmt. Control Info (Middle Level Mgmt.)
Operational Information (Lower Level Mgmt.)
Management Information Systems (MIS) , sometimes referred to as Information Management and Systems, the term is commonly used to refer to the group of information management methods tied to the automation or support of human decision making, e.g. Decision Support Systems , Expert systems, and Executive information systems.
MIS has also some differences with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as ERP incorporates elements that are not necessarily focused on decision support.
Informal Information System
The informal information system should be employee based and cater to their development and solve their work related problem. Employee co-operation and the knowledge of the informal communication should help one to get a good Informal Information Systems in place.
Computer Based Information System
This relies on the computer for handling business applications. The business requires computer heavily to solve their business problems. There are different levels of information required by people at different level. People at Lower Level needs detailed information which would allow them to carry out with their tasks. People at Higher Level needs summarized information which would allow them to assess the overall progress, goals etc. This system should ensure that people at lower level are not given access to all the data shown at the higher level. However, people at the higher level can drill down to the data at the lower when required.
Component of Computer based information System
A Computer-Based Information System (CBIS) is an information system in which the computer plays a major role. Such a system consists of the following elements:
â€¢ Hardware: The term hardware refers to machinery. This category includes the computer itself, which is often referred to as the central processing unit (CPU), and all of its support equipment. Among the support equipment are input and output devices, storage devices and communications devices.
â€¢ Software: The term software refers to computer programs and the manuals (if any) that support them. Computer programs are machine-readable instructions that direct the circuitry within the hardware parts of the CBIS to function in ways that produce useful information from data. Programs are generally stored on some input / output medium-often a disk or tape.
â€¢ Data: Data are facts that are used by program to produce useful information. Like programs, data are generally stored in machine-readable from on disk or tape until the computer needs them.
â€¢ Procedures: procedures are the policies that govern the operation of a computer system. “Procedures are to people what software is to hardware” is a common analogy that is used to illustrate the role of procedures in a CBIS.
â€¢ People: Every CBIS needs people if it is to be useful. Often the most over-looked element of the CBIS is the people: probably the components that most influence the success or failure of information system.
Benefits of Information System
â€¢Compute-based information systems have been in widespread use since the 1990s in industry, non-profit organizations and government agencies. These systems provide fast, centralized access to databases of personnel information, reference reading, best practices and on-the-job training, and are easily customizable to meet an organization’s needs. With the Internet and technology boom of the early 21st century, use of computer-based information networks is growing faster each year.
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Data Centralityâ€¢ Access to data via a computer network information system is central, providing a “one-stop” location to find and access pertinent computer data. Most large-scale businesses and organizations use some sort of central database to manage user information, manage advertisement lists, store product information and keep track of orders. Examples of central database solutions are MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL database solutions, coupled with custom software which provides user interfaces.
Information Coverageâ€¢ Central information systems provide organizations with the advantages of having large amounts of data, covering many different fields, all accessible via a central source. Information coverage is a huge advantage for any organization, because having vast amounts of useful data from every different department streamlines access and increases productivity. For users, having access to a networked information system is analogous to having a digital library of shared knowledge. Recent developments in database information systems link company information access with larger databases of academic and professional research, such as Google Scholar, to provide even more information capability to personnel.
Access Efficiencyâ€¢ Efficiency of access is a crucial advantage to networked information systems over more traditional information management systems, such as paper cataloging and filing. Computer-based information systems catalog and file documents in a set logical way, making data access very efficient and fast. Data can be manually categorized, and filters created to automatically file documents that match certain patterns. This increases employee productivity time by allowing workers to focus more on the task at hand rather than filing paperwork.
Extensibilityâ€¢ Computer-based information systems are completely extensible and customizable to an organization’s needs. Upon installation, customized computer information systems use configuration files that are tailor-made to an organization’s needs to file and categorize data. Computer software engineers frequently design custom database interfaces and information storage/recovery systems for enterprise clients. As a company grows, modifications and additions to this filing configuration allow easy extensibility. Computer information systems are not limited in scale or possibility. They are uniquely designed for maximum organizational benefit for each customer.
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