Management information systems, or MIS, are capable of collecting data obtained from different departments throughout your organization and processing it in a way that makes useful reports and presentations that you and your employees can use.

Examples of these systems include decision support systems, customer relationship management systems, expert systems and transaction processing systems. In addition to information collection and processing abilities, objectives of MIS include improving your company's performance, helping with decision making and making communication easier.

Facilitate Information Collection and Processing

One of the main objectives of MIS is to collect data more easily and process it for use within your company. Not only can MIS automatically gather data such as sales transactions and inventory orders from internal sources, but they can also work with external sources like industry databases and market research.

These systems are also capable of processing data, including sorting, performing financial calculations and creating summaries. This saves you time from doing your own research and putting the data into a useful form for daily decision making and performance management.

Improve Operational Performance and Productivity

Taking advantage of MIS can improve your company's performance and productivity thanks to the automation capabilities of these systems. For example, customer relationship management systems can send automated emails to individuals who are interested in your business, analyze leads, allow for appointment scheduling and even create sales forecasts for you.

Human resource information systems can calculate and send payments to employees, handle new employee paperwork, process job applications and send you alerts about your staff's performance.

Other types of MIS can automate tasks such as ordering inventory, paying suppliers and answering common questions for staff and customers.

Assist With Company Decision Making

The information that MIS can gather, process and store is useful for generating reports that you can use in managerial decision making both in the long term and short term. For example, you can use generated sales and marketing data to assess the effectiveness of your latest campaign and make adaptations to improve its success. Having access to real-time financial data about your company helps with creating and adapting business strategies, developing budgets and making decisions about new product and service offerings.

At the same time, your employees have access to the key data they need to make daily decisions in their roles. For example, lists of customer leads come in handy for your salespeople who are making calls, while knowledge management systems include key information your employees can use to assist customers with issues such as technical support. If you have a warehouse, your staff can take advantage of information about inventory levels and customer orders to do their jobs more effectively.

Allow for Better Organizational Communication

Since they store your company's data in a centralized location, MIS have the objective of improving communication throughout your organization. Rather than having to hand information over to specific employees, they can simply log in to the system and see it for themselves anytime they need it.

At the same time, the reporting capabilities of MIS make it easier to communicate goals, results and potential issues to employees and managers, whether you hold formal meetings or use another means to share the information. Even staff who work remotely will be able to keep up with the company's performance.

Benefits and Limitations of MIS

Although MIS can provide your company with many benefits in terms of higher productivity, easier information sharing, better decision making and easy data management, it helps to know the limitations as well. Like other information systems, the quality of the reports you get out of MIS is only as good as the data going into the systems, and your employees need some training to make these systems worth the investment.

You'll need to consider the costs of any hardware or software as well as user training along with the benefits to determine if investing in MIS is a good idea for your small business.