Administrative Functions of a Management Information System
Management information systems are designed to provide decision-makers with the necessary data, in a useful form, to manage their businesses effectively. The systems do this through integration of data from most or all of the major areas of the entire business and through the creation of reports based on that information that may be programmed in or user-defined. By offering a single place where decision-makers can examine business data, the management information system improves a number of administrative functions and speeds up decision-making, which benefits businesses small and large.
Many small businesses implement software solutions to problems as they crop up. The different pieces of software often lack the ability to share information, which leads to information silos. As your business grows and decisions become more complex, ready access to information from across the organization becomes a necessity. A management information system or a systems integrator, which connects existing software into something that mimics a formal management information system, gives you access to all the information in one place. This imposes a level of order on otherwise disparate and separate sources of information.
The integrated nature of management information systems lends itself to and simplifies the administrative function of report generation. Rather than needing to ask someone to create a report from a stand-alone application, you can use the system to generate reports tailored to your specifications, whether those reports lean toward the highly abstract or focus on specific information. For example, you can create reports as specific as sales figures from the previous week in a single product category to as broad as total revenue from the previous year.
In big picture terms, the primary administrative function of a management information system is decision support. The integration of all the major information sources speeds up decision-making by reducing the number of steps involved with getting information into the hands of the decision-makers. With the ability to create tailor-made reports to focus on anything from key performance metrics to inventory levels, decision-makers act on the most up-to-date information possible, leading to better overall decision-making.
A complete information management system can touch on diverse areas including resource planning, accounting, human resources and customer relationship management, but all-inclusive systems may prove overkill for some small businesses. This can prove especially true for a business that outsources accounting and marketing functions. For small businesses in these circumstances, stand-alone applications or limited system integration can prove more financially feasible, and they don't bog down your system with extensive features you do not use.