Significance of IT & Management Information System

Introduction:

A considerable number of business organisations in the modern era prioritise the implementation of advanced Information Technology (IT) system in the likes of Management Information System (MIS) in order to mitigate the operational complexities. However, fault in IT mechanism can often cost business inefficiency and impose negative impact on the organisational business. Therefore, business entities need to follow a cautious approach while implementing customised IT solutions so that long term benefits can be expected. In this context, the current study has been developed focusing on the case of ‘e-Borders’ programme failure and the ‘C-NOMIS’ system failure that have cost the British Home Office and the UK Prison authority respectively. Taking into consideration these two cases, the paper would focus on MIS application opportunities, reasons for failure, recommendations for improvement of IT applications and effective decision making process through IS applications.

Background context:

British Home Office is a ministerial department, supported by 27 public bodies and agencies that monitor immigration, passport, crime policy, drug policy and act against terrorism across the UK (Gottschalk, 2007) In order to counter the ongoing threat, the e-Borders project was initiated in the year 2003. The project was initiated aiming to tackle the cross border movements. The pilot implementation of the project was started in the year 2007. However, the British Home Office faced some serious problems within only 1 year of implementation (Milis and Mercken, 2007). It was reported that that the project failed to achieve key milestones.

The Home Office’s C-NOMIS (National Offender Management Information System) IT system was a failure in almost every aspect and the board was unaware of the fact until it was too late for recovery strategy (Light et al. 2007). The project was initiated in the year 2004, aiming to form a generalised database for the prison members. However, in the year 2007, the senior officials found that the system was running two years late (Motwani et al. 2005). The cost of the project doubled from £234 million to £690 million which had ultimately resulted in the suspension of the project.

 

1.0 Applications of the Management Information Systems (MIS) in the Industry:

Management information system is a computerized form of database of financial information that is organised and programmed in such a manner that it provides regular reports to the management. According to the view of Al-Mashari and Zairi (2009), the main purpose of MIS is to provide the feedbacks to the mangers about the performance. It helps the top management to monitor the company as a whole. However, Asemi et al. (2011) argued that MIS is not only a set of software systems but also the entire set of business processes and resources that is used to seek information from the tactical or functional systems. In the next step, the data is presented in a more user-friendly manner that enables the upper managers to take appropriate actions. The main role of the MIS system is to help the company to achieve goals and objectives within a specified time frame. 

1.1 Significance of MIS in the industry:

Organisations have different functional systems. It usually includes sales systems, call centre systems, inventory management systems, financial systems, logistic systems etc. MIS helps to gather relevant information from the different divisions of an organisation. For example, in case of the manufacturing industries, MIS help to meet the customer’s need by combining he sales figure with the available inventory. As stated by Avgerou (2008), the primary goal of implementing MIS in the business to prepare the strategic planning. MIs also provide the scope of comparison between the projected and actual figure. Therefore, rectification of the prior mistakes becomes easy.

MIS is not only provides a specific combination of the different functional systems of an organization but also creates a base for the customer relationship management. For example, Enterprise resource Systems combines the data used in the entire sales process, Data warehouse combine the data collected from the different sources in order to summarize the performance of the organization.  However, in this context, Baxter and Jack (2008) mentioned hat prior to the implementation of MIS, the mangers need to evaluate the organizational need. Implementation of MIS involves a good amount of cost. Therefore, the managers need to create values in return of using MIS. 

1.2 Role of MIS in the specific industries:

The implementation of MIS depends on the functioning of the industry. For example, the utilisation of MIS in the manufacturing industry varies from the service industry. Some of the basic utilisation of MIS in the case of service industry includes payroll, accounting, and inventory etc. Moreover, data processing and applications are also considered as important functions of the service industry. However, as mentioned by Benbasat et al. (2007), in case of the service industry the main goal is to provide best quality of services to the customers. MIS helps to perform some of the basic tasks related to the service industry. With these applications, the organisation gains a competitive edge over the rivals. Therefore, Boynton and Zmud (2012) concluded that MIS increases the competency level of an organization. On the other hand, from the case study it has been shown that in the case of UK prison the mismanagement of MIS (C-NOMIS) has affected the performance significantly. In case of the service industries, proper marketing research is needed in order to identify the sensitivity of the market. MIS helps to collect and store the information in a sequential manner.

The demands of service are very much dynamic in nature in the case of the service industry. According to the view of Boynton and Zmud (2009), the up gradation of services is required in order to achieve brand loyalty. Therefore, the market research enables the firms to judge the expectations and perceptions of the consumers. The front end facilities provided by the service industries help the customers to fulfil the immediate demands and makes comfortable for the other demands. In the case of the airlines industry, the implication of MIS is very much significant. The most important issue of the airlines company include safety and time. The perceptions of good services for the airlines industries are confined in to: schedule, comforts, treatment by the crew and ground staffs (Bretschneider, 2012). MIS performs the following activities to make the managerial and operative decisions in order to achieve the goals.

MIS provides the passenger information properly to the airlines companies. MIS provides the information about the class, type and the purpose of travel about the passengers. The duration and eating habits of the passengers are also stored in the database. The language and the communication skills, the traffic flow between the two towns are stored into the database. MIS also helps he companies to solve the complex problems. According to the view of Chan (2007), MIS provides the perspective planning that in turn helps the strategy formulation of the companies.

In case of the hospitals, the implementation of MIS is very much significant. It helps to pre[pare the patient database. The information about the existing patients and e patients who will be discharged is stored into the MIS of the hospitals. Information about the availability of the doctors are also stored into a unique database. On the other hand, the medical server database keeps the name, address contact numbers of the medical staffs. Information about the laboratories and blood banks are also stored into the MIS. MIS is also implemented in the critical control unit of the hospitals. The stocks of the critical drugs are stored into the MIS of the hospitals. Analysis of delays in terms of the duration and causes are stored into the MIS.

Therefore, it can be concluded that the successful implementation of MIs in the business can reduce the time and operational costs and improve the performance. Moreover, as mentioned by Davenport (2009), by utilising the proper technology, the efficiency of the companies increase and it helps to strengthen the market share of the company. However, improper use of MIS can be detrimental for the organisation. As mentioned in the case study, the e-border could not manage its MIs properly and it has caused a huge amount of loss for the company. The security system felt completely due to the mismanagement of MIS. In this context, Ein-dor and Segev (2008) stated selection of the time is also significant in case of imposing technology. Delaying of implementing the technology can affect the performance. As it was seen that in case the UK prison, the implementation was delayed and therefore, the performance was affected. Gargeya and Brady (2006) stated that, if the MIS is not managed and monitored properly, it will cause a huge amount of loss for the companies. 

 

2.0 Reasons for failures and the impact of the failures:

The C-NOMIS system turned out to be a failure due to a number of reasons. In reference to the report of National Audit Office (NAO), a considerable number of governance and project management issues resulted in the IT system failure. Considering the words of Burgess (2002), the implementation of an effective IT system is needed to be supported by effective project management strategies in order to ensure system stability. As a consequence, increase in cost and delay in operation followed after project implementation.  

2.1 Reasons for failures:

The four major issues concerning C-NOMIS system are found to be inappropriate resource allocation, ineffective project management initiative, underestimation of the project complexities and failure to anticipate the need for management change.

Inappropriate resource allocation:

The resource allocation process concerning the C-NOMIS IT system is considered to be faulty as the allocated resources are not considered as suitable for such complex project. As mentioned by Loh and Koh (2004), the identification and allocation of appropriate resources could dictate the critical success factor concerning the project management process. However, the NOMS authority failed to allocate appropriate resources during the implementation of the C-NOMIS system. The overall governance was not supposed to be suitable for the scale of task. On top of that, the authorities failed to make the staffs aware of specific roles and responsibilities while the financial accountability was a bit unclear (Nah et al. 2009).   

Ineffective project management:

The project management initiatives followed by NOMS has been heavily criticised. Reports suggest that the project management initiatives were poor particularly in terms of financial monitoring, planning and change initiatives (Lee, 2009). It can be assumed that the initial planning process followed by NOMS were highly optimistic and that the cost incurred and the concerned timescale were not feasible comparing to the complexities of the project. Adding to that, there was lack of contingent planning process despite knowing the fact that the project accounted significant risk. A proper budget monitoring process was absent while change control mechanism was found to be ineffective (McKinnon, 2008).  

Negligence of project complexities:

Although the idea of a general database for offender is technically feasible, NOMS failed to measure the proper requirements for such intense IT application. May be NOMS underestimated the cost of customised solutions which had started increasing once the implementation of the C-NOMIS system took place (Davis, 2003). The estimated development cost of the MIS system rose from £99 million in the year 2004 to £254 million in the year 2007. One of the major reasons behind that is considered to be the high customisation cost that gave rise to the overall incurred cost associating the project.   

Failure to anticipate the need for management change:

Failure to anticipate the need for management change simultaneously with the changing IT system has been another reason for the failure of the C-NOMIS system. Overall there are 42 probation areas is the UK and each of the regions has autonomous working procedures (Mabert et al. 2008). NOMS failed to simplify the changing business requirements and standardising the business procedures across the nation. As a consequence, the overall resource allocation process turned out to be confusing aspect for the probation areas. NOMS considered the C-NOMIS project as a mere IT project and failed to analyse it as a major IT enabled business program that required change in business framework as well.   

2.2 Impact of the failures:

Operational delay and increasing maintenance cost are two of the major impacts accounted after the implementation of the C-NOMIS system. Taking into consideration the analysis of national Audit Office (NAO), the overall C-NOMIS project was handed ineffectively. As a result, the value for the money invested for the project was significantly poor. In the words of Hyvönen (2003), the implementation of any high end IT project needs to be backed up with an proven return on investment. However, that was not the case for C-NOMIS project and the feasibility of the time schedule and cost allocation was questionable. Failure to anticipate proper resource allocation had resulted in cost overruns.

NOMS failed to anticipate the product customisation and the required change initiatives concerning general business management process. As a consequence, the weak relationship with the suppliers started affecting the business operations and the operation cost doubled (Kuruppuarachchi et al. 2010). Adding to that, the overall system started running with three year delay and failed to benefit the business in almost every aspect.

The senior management staffs were not particularly aware of the scope and prospect of the C-NOMIS project. Although forming a generalised database is feasible through technology, the senior management staffs failed to anticipate the required infrastructure for the project (Hevner et al. 2008). The Project Board used to meet once in every two months. However, the negligence of the board members regarding the ongoing project proceedings was a reason why the senior management staffs was unaware of the delay and increasing cost. At the outset, the lifetime cost concerning the C-NOMIS project was estimated at £234 million validating till 2020. The cost of project was already accounted at £155 million by July, 2007 already and the overall estimated cost concerning the project had risen to £690 million (Hong and Kim, 2008).

 

3.0 Recommendations for implementing the MIS in the organisation:

Some of the major issues are responsible for the failure of MIS in the case of C- NOMS in UK prison. The issues are: lack of proper monitoring of the mangers. The implementation of MIS is a through process and the proper supervision is needed in every steps of implementation. Due to the lack of proper resources the management of UK prison could not implement the MIS. The financial planning and the program management were very poor and therefore, the system failed to achieve success. Due to underestimating the technical complexity, the customization of the MIS software was not possible. Moreover, the management could not been able to successfully manage the changes of the system. The suppliers of the software and resources were not been able to manage the quality.

3.1 Proper Implementation Process:

The implementation of the MIS can be considered as a significant investment for the organization. An organization needs to design he information system properly in order to maximise the profitability (Gunasekaran and Ngai, 2008). The key stages that an organisation can follow in order to rectify the above mentioned mistakes and successfully implement the MIS system are discusses as follows:

The five steps of implementing MIS are: Investigation, analysis, Design, Implementation and Maintenance. The first stage is also known as the system investigation stage (Gurbaxani and Whang, 2009). In this stage, the management determines how the MIS can be developed based on the available information and prior planning. As mentioned in the case study of UK prison, the proper information about the available resources could have been guide the organisation to implement MIS properly. The second stage is focused on identifying the needs of information and developing the functional requirements of the system. C-NOMIS can improve the performance by identifying the technical complexity. The system designing steps include developing the hardware, software, data, people and networks to implement the MIS. Moreover, as mentioned by Hamilton and Chervany (2008), system designing includes utilising the information to the specifications. System implementation involves delivery of the systems, testing of the proper system and training the people to adapt with the system As mentioned in the case study, C-NOMS cannot manage the changes properly and therefore, the management could not implement the MIS. On the other hand, the last stage includes the process of making the necessary changes to the functionality of the information system.

The MIS implementation stages include initiation, strategic design, technical design, development, conversion and evaluation. As mentioned by Hevner et al. (2008), initiation includes defining about the project and justification. Strategic design refers to setting up the scope and requirement of a project. For this, the mangers need to have a specific idea about the goals and objectives of the organization. On the other hand, the technical design includes translating the strategic design into the hardware, software and process specifications. In the case of C-NOMS, the company did not have the proper financial planning while implementing MIS. It has caused a huge amount of loss for the company. On the other hand, development concerns with the acquisition of the hardware, proper software and conversation with the employees prior to the implementation of MIS. Finally, evaluation includes assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the MIS. As it has been seen in the case of C-NOMIS due to the lack of proper supervision, the system failed to achieve the desired outcomes.

Planning is considered as one of the most important aspect of implementing MIS into the system. In order to develop the long term objectives of the organisation, the mangers need to design the strategic planning. The lack of proper strategic planning has affected the performance of e-borders. According to the view of Holland and Light (2008), planning is an integral process for an organisation. The organisation needs to co-elate the organisational activities with proper strategic planning. However, the organisation needs to recognise the opportunities available in the market. In this context, Hong and Kim (2008) stated that the organisation can implement the risk-mapping before implementing the MIS. As mentioned in the case study, the UK prison could not analysis the risk while implementing the MIS. Therefore, it has caused a huge amount of financial loss for the company. Moreover, the companies are required to prepare a project management approach for the planning and implementation of the IT project.

The successful implementation of the MIS includes the acquisition of IT processes in all the aspects. IN this context, Hyvönen (2003) mentioned the necessary functions for the IT implement of an organisation include: investment analysis, risk assessment analysis, life cycle planning and system acquisition. On the other hand, Ives et al. (2008) argued that the firms need to provide proper training to the employees in order to fetch profits from the MIS. Proper training may also help the firms to manage the changes that have occurred due to the implementation of the MIS.

3.2 Strategy for the achievements of the plans:

In order to achieve success through the implementation of MIS, the management need to develop the strategies. The strategies include the following:

System development strategy: It is an approach that develops the activities of the systems. The functional parts are developed through it.

Resource development strategy: In order to customize the services, proper resource allocation process needs to be developed by the organisations.

Manpower allocation: The companies need to develop the skilled labour forces in order to accomplish the tasks. The proper training provided by the expertise can help the organisation to achieve success through the proper implementation of MIS.

 

4.0 Types of decision supported by IS applications within the business:

Information systems can support a range of decision making operations, assisting business organisations ensuring enhanced functionality (Ives et al. 2008). The significance of a Decision Support System (DSS) is pivotal in modern day context as it enhances the decision making activities through a computerised information system. Considering the case of C-NOMIS, the integration of a DSS module within the generalised database framework could be an effective option as it could help establishing an interactive platform for input or retrieve information from within the database. In reference to the proposition of Holland and Light (2008), business organisations can opt for a number of DSSs such as communication driven DSS, data driven DSS, document driven DSS, knowledge driven database and model driven database based on the nature of operation.          

Communication-driven DSS:

The application of the communication-driven DSS is quite common in internal functional teams as well as among the business partners. Such DSS process aims to conduct team meetings or collaborations so that greater team productivity can be achieved. Ein-dor and Segev (2008) acknowledged that implementation of a communication-driven DSS could significantly enhance team morale and a the team members could be made aware of the team goals. When it comes to technological requirements, the most common technology used to implement a communication-driven DSS is a client server or a web server (Hamilton and Chervany, 2008). For instance, instant messaging software or the chat messengers could be considered as examples of communication-driven DSS. The chat messengers or other instant messaging software allows team members to barnstorm different situation and take contingent decision to solve specific team problems.     

Document-driven DSS:

Document driven DSSs are more common in business and can be applicable in almost any business regardless of nature. In this process, a searching algorithm is initiated to find documents by means of web pages analysing a specific set of keywords (Gargeya and Brady, 2006). Internet being a vast source of knowledge allows employees to find solution of various business problems through searching the internet. A web server or a client server system is used as the key technology in setting up the document-driven DSSs. This kind of DSS can be targeted for a broad user groups and different functional departments could be allowed to avail the services of such DSS.   

Data-driven DSS:

A data-driven DSS is generally developed for management purpose, letting the managers and the senior staffs handling queries and other operational issues.  The data-driven DSS allows management staffs to fetch data from a general organisation database or data warehouse using several queries and the obtained data help solving operational problems (Gurbaxani and Whang, 2009). Generally a mainframe system is used to deploy the data-driven DSS while client-server link helps connecting the database with each of the departments. An application of the data-driven DSS can be seen in the C-NOMIS framework as it attempted to form a generalised database system. It actually is a computer based database system for query processing purpose and keeping track of various ongoing business procedures.   

Model-Driven DSS:

Model-driven DSSs are complex database architectures that analyse decisions by choosing between a range of options (Loh and Koh, 2004). The accessibility of such database systems is however restricted to the management staffs only who interact with the organisation in a secured communication mechanism. The model-driven DSS supports scheduling of work or decision analysis process. A stand alone PC with required hardware and software specifications is supposed to be enough to establish a model-driven DSS with effective client-server system or the web (Holland and Light, 2008). The application of a model-driven DSS can be common in various customised ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions such as SAP or Oracle ERP.

Knowledge-driven DSS:     

Knowledge-driven DSS or most commonly known as ‘knowledgebase’ provides a one-stop solution for covering a wide range of systems within the organisational IT framework (Burgess, 2002). The knowledge-driven DSS could also support the mechanism of the customer interaction. For instance, several retail organisations such as Tesco, ASDA etc have integrated the social network within a knowledge-driven DSS and the customers’ feedback is evaluated to rate products or services.

 

Conclusion:

The C-NOMIS system had turned out to be a failure because of an incapable project management initiative. Failure to anticipate the project requirements has been the reason behind the increasing cost and the delay in operation. As a result, the authority ultimately took the initiative to suspend the project. The authority can now consider well planned MIS integration process through a five staged model including steps like investigation, system analysis, system design, implementation and evaluation. Finally, integration a DSS framework could help the UK prison authority improving the business decision making process through IT solutions.  

 

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