How to Build a Management Information System
Successful management information systems aggregate company information and organize it in a manner that allows efficient data access and reporting. Most systems are customized based on the needs and functions of an individual business and are comprised of both computer hardware and software. Management information systems can be designed to perform a specific function, such as order processing, or can be built around multiple sub-systems that cover most business functions. The key to building effective management information systems is to understand how a business operates and establish a system that enhances the usability of data and streamlines business processes.
Analyze business procedures and create a visual map of all business systems. Conduct interviews with business managers and employees to understand how information is gathered, processed and used. Analyze the product outputs and then trace back through all steps used to create products and services. The goal is to have a strong understanding of the overall business and existing systems.
Pinpoint all data that should be captured in the management information system. Include all data that is manually input, data that is imported from external sources, such as distributors, and information needed to run the business. Review all existing reporting to establish how data is aggregated and disseminated. For each data point, look at the type of information collected and requirements, such as data length.
Identify the hardware and software needed to create an effective management information system. Typically, the system will need a strong database foundation, custom interfaces for employee interaction, built-in security features such as password access and reporting. Publish a system requirements document that outlines the needs and objectives of the initial system. Review the proposal with business executives and management to ensure it will meet their needs.
Purchase needed software and hardware. Choose equipment that has sufficient capacity to meet initial requirements and has the potential for expansion. Work with the software development staff that is able to modify or create the software to include work flow processing, data input screens, daily reports and long-term summary data analysis.
Test the system. During development, schedule frequent system testing schedules and project checkpoints to ensure quality, minimize errors and keep the project on track. These tests help minimize system bugs and ensure adherence to the project specifications. Whenever possible, solicit testing assistance from the end users of the system.
Launch the management information system and conduct training. Training should occur at all levels of the business to ensure the system is being used properly. Carefully monitor all parts of the system and correct any bugs or problems quickly. After the system is in place, establish system maintenance processes and review desired upgrades with management.
Create comprehensive plans to minimize implementation problems.
Prepare for additional system requests from management during implementation as they discover design problems or system interaction issues.