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Management information systems help managers make effective decisions to support ongoing operations within an organization.

Learn about the types of reports produced by an MIS.

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What is an MIS?

An management information system, or MIS, is a computer-based system that provides managers with the tools to run their department effectively. Relative to other types of specialized information systems, an MIS is used by mid-level management to support ongoing operations. The emphasis is on making routine decisions. MIS relies mostly on internal sources of information.One of the important roles of an MIS is to provide the right information to the right person in the right format at the right time.

Information is collected within the organization on an ongoing basis and an MIS processes this information, so managers get the summarized reports. Information is typically in the form of reports on a daily or weekly basis.MIS reports can be in the form of tables with numerical values, visual displays or other key indicators. Reports can be in paper format, electronic format or both. More sophisticated systems use electronic reports that can be updated on demand in close to real-time.

This gives managers an updated snapshot of the current state of operations. For example, an MIS could provide a manager with real-time information on customer records, customer complaints, sales and production cycles.

MIS communications occur through various kinds of reports.
MIS Communicates Through Reports

Types of Reports

An MIS can produce a number of different types of reports. A scheduled report is produced on a regular interval, such as every day, week or month. For example, a manager of a production floor may want to see weekly payroll reports to keep track of labor costs.

Reports typically focus on a number of key indicators, such as inventory levels, production activity or sales volume.Often, these indicators are compared to numbers from prior reporting periods or to targets set by the organization. This gives managers the opportunity to implement any corrective actions where necessary.An on-demand report is only produced by request instead of on a fixed schedule. Such reports are typically produced when a question arises regarding the status of a particular item or production element. For example, consider a shipping company that picks up, ships and delivers thousands of packages every day.

If you ship a package, you get a tracking number that you can use to get the status of that package. When you log in to the website and enter the tracking number, you are requesting an on-demand report.An exception report is automatically generated when a situation is unusual and requires some sort of attention. For example, consider a manufacturing plant with several production lines. All lines are expected to generate a certain volume.

An MIS could generate an exception report if these are not met. Exception reports rely on trigger points. These are parameters set up by managers that would result in an exception.

In the case of the production lines, the trigger point could be something like 10% below expected production.A drill-down report provides great detail about a situation. Reports can provide information at a high level (such as the volume at a production line), at a more detailed level (such as the employees who worked on this line) and then at a very detailed level (such as the training provided to those employees over the past year).

Characteristics of a MIS

The various types of reports help managers make better decisions on a daily basis. The general characteristics of an MIS are:

  • Use a variety of internal data sources
  • Provide reports on routine operations of an organization
  • Provide a range of different reports, both scheduled and on-demand
  • Provide reports in a variety of formats, including paper copy and electronic
  • Allow users to develop custom reports, such as drill-down reports

Typically, an MIS is organized along the functional areas of an organization.

So the finance department will have a financial MIS, the human resources department will have a human resources MIS, etc. Since an MIS is typically targeted at mid-level management, it may not integrate information across these functional areas. This would be accomplished by using other types of specialized information systems.

Lesson Summary

An MIS helps managers make effective decisions to support ongoing operations within an organization. An MIS produces a number of different reports, including schedule reports, on-demand reports, exception reports and drill-down reports. Reports contain key indicators, so a manager can take corrective actions where necessary.

Learning Outcomes

When this lesson is done, you should be able to:

  • Understand the need for management information systems
  • List the types of reports that can be generated by an MIS
  • Identify the general characteristics of an MIS

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