HOW TO DEVELOP A MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM

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1 HOW TO DEVELOP A MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 1

2 HOW TO DEVELOP A MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM The workshop discusses the strategy and approach to developing management information systems in community oriented projects and programs. Participants will discuss their approaches and experiences in researching information needs, designing performance measurement frameworks, developing indicators, evolving work plans and reporting results. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 2

3 GOAL Contribute to a better understanding of organizations, communities and clients OBJECTIVES To stress the importance of Management Information Systems in keeping records of services provided by Community based organizations Purpose Understand the basics of management information system (MIS) familiarize with the stages of development of a simple MIS and its applications. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 3

4 WORKSHOP LENGTH Three hours TRAINING METHODS Adult education Participatory Experiential learning Use of visual aids - WORKSHOP BACKGROUND FOR CERIS - Small group work: discussion, exercises TEACHING AIDS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED Transparencies Flipchart, markers and masking tape Overhead projector and screen Notepads Nametags Pens FACILITATION MEDIUM English ASSUMPTION Community based agencies benefit from developing a management information system. This is an introductory program for frontline workers, practitioners and coordinators without background in MIS. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 4

5 FACILITATOR: REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS Familiarity with CERIS-PAC Project Knowledge of immigrant and refugee serving agencies in Greater Toronto Area Sound understanding of management information system Good skills and knowledge of adult education methods Experience with development of MIS in non-profit sector NOTES TO THE TRAINER Trainer needs to arrange copies of overheads in order of the modules. On the left side pouch in the folder insert draft agenda, a notepad and the evaluation form. The goal and purpose statements and the workshop objective could be written on flipcharts and taped on the wall before the workshop commencement. Round table(s) would be ideal for effective participation. Overhead projector, screen and flipcharts will be needed. Find out the facility for coffee, tea and drinking water at the venue and the location of wash rooms for men and women. While choosing a venue, prefer one with handicap accessibility. Effective use of participants as volunteers will be useful in conducting discussion sessions and in displaying flipcharts. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 5

6 Welcome - AGENDA - Introduction Review of agenda and objectives Current Practices in MIS Experience sharing Importance of Management Information System Concepts of Information, Information Systems and Management Dos and Don ts in developing MIS Steps in developing MIS Evaluation Closure How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 6

7 1. Welcome (5 minutes) - CURRICULUM - The representative of the agency hosting the workshop venue (agency whose facility is hired for the workshop) or the facilitator introduce themselves could welcome the participants and introduce the facilitator. Further, the representative could walk through the physical facilities such as the arrangements for coffee/tea, washrooms and telephone facility. 2. Introduction (Discussion, 5 minutes) The facilitator may choose to introduce herself/himself briefly in terms of directly related work experience and academic background. Then, explain the purpose of CERIS-PAC Project on Knowledge for Action and Action for Knowledge and how the present workshop is related to it. The participants could be invited to introduce themselves by name, job title and their organizational affiliation. 3. Review of agenda and objectives (Flipchart, discussion, 10 minutes) The facilitator could explain the agenda for the workshop including the break time and end time. S (he) could elucidate the goal and purpose of the workshop. S (he) could also explain the context and background expected of the participants. The facilitator could ask each participant to describe his or her expectations and learning objectives. Then the facilitator may consider amending the agenda to build in participant requirements. 4. Role and significance of Management Information System (Overheads, discussion, 25 minutes) The facilitator sets the tone for a participatory atmosphere for the workshop by asking participants what do they think of MIS. This could generate a good discussion and contribute to unfreezing. Why MIS? The facilitator introduces the overhead on `Why are we focusing attention on developing MIS. An important concept emerging in non-profit sector is `competitiveness of agencies and how to become competitive in an environment of funds crunch. The facilitator could discuss the dependence and interrelationships among different units such as finance, program development, outreach, etc within an agency. Canada s workforce largely consists of knowledge-workers. The facilitator stimulates discussion in reviewing the impact of globalization, funding cuts, need for increased productivity and demands from funders to demonstrate results. Underline the fact that about 80 per cent of a frontline worker s time is devoted to receiving, processing and How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 7

8 sharing information in community agencies. Two significant resources of a modern organization are people and information and success depends on how these are managed. The facilitator needs to explain that developing a MIS has costs as well. These relate to equipment, hiring of personnel, orientation and training and staff time adjustment. The decision to develop a MIS is an important one and has to be ratified by the Board based on a recommendation from agency management. Introduction of MIS calls for newer skills among the staff to cope with the changes. Management functions and MIS The facilitator shows the overhead on management functions. Information is gathered around critical functions of management such as planning, organizing, staffing, controlling and communicating. Among these functions, MIS is closer to the controlling function as it provides feed back on organizational performance and helps in monitoring. Types of management information Executive decisions are made using a variety of information. The facilitator introduces the overhead on types of management information and enables the participants to distinguish various types and uses of management information. It is vital for the organization to survive and grow by accessing and processing not only internal information but also external information. The facilitator could use the examples to elucidate the messages. External information could include socio-economic situation of clients, public policies, amendments in social legislation of importance to an agency, funding programs introduced or planned by federal or provincial governments, grants from foundations and the work of other agencies. Role of Information The facilitator highlights the role and uses of information and introduces the overhead on why management information system. The facilitator promotes discussion by clarifying the differences between data and information. Discuss the attributes of information, particularly the issues of authenticity, timeliness and confidentiality. These factors underline the significance of information as a resource. Types of Information Systems In continuation of the discussion on role of information in community agencies, the facilitator draws the attention of participants to four types of commonly used information systems. Introduce the overhead on types of information systems and explain with examples each type. For example, office information system exists in each agency as most of them have telephone and fax and undertakes correspondence. The decision support system is a way by which the Board uses the information provided by agency management to determine policy or other decisions. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 8

9 5. Steps in developing MIS (Overheads, flipchart, and discussion 40 minutes) After facilitating an understanding of basic concepts and elements of MIS, the facilitator initiates the discussion on what are the steps involved in creating a MIS. The set of two overheads on steps in MIS development is to be introduced while discussing the different stages. These steps are more appropriate for a computer based MIS. Preliminary Investigation In this phase, the agency needs to critically assess its current system in order to justify the cost and time involved before deciding on having a new MIS. The facilitator needs to clarify the MIS need not always involve computers. However, if there are computers the work gets accelerated. Requirements Analysis The facilitator discusses the methods and means of ascertaining the information needs to be addressed by MIS. Further, the mechanisms for gathering information from primary and secondary sources are to be determined by agencies. A critical factor is ascertaining MIS needs of primary and secondary users. System Design The facilitator explains basics of a MIS system elucidating the inputs, the processing and the outputs. While inputs include information provided by front-line workers, the outputs could be various types of reports, including those sent periodically to funders. The procedures define how and in what format the information will be inputted and by whom and at what intervals. The storage could be manual or electronic or both. Design specifies the operational parameters at a drawing board stage. One of the inputs for MIS could be information from a client database. Other stages The facilitator systematically discusses the different steps in MIS development in a universalized perspective. In other words, it needs to be specified that these steps need to be tailored to one s own situation. In the acquisition stage, hardware is procured after appraisals and cost analysis. Draw attention to the need to ensure compatibility between what is being acquired and what is already available within the agency. The implementation step is a crucial one consuming considerable amount of time in MIS development. Here the application development is done customized to the agency s needs. The procedure and user manuals are developed and personnel are oriented in using MIS. The software is installed once it is tested and debugged. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 9

10 6. Operationalizing MIS: Role descriptions (overheads, flipchart, discussion, 30 minutes) In operationalizing MIS, who needs to do what needs specification. Two key roles in MIS development are those of a MIS coordinator and MIS application developer/programmer. An application developer may not be needed where the level of programming effort is minimal. Role of MIS Coordinator The facilitator illustrates the role and responsibilities of a MIS coordinator by introducing the overhead on role of MIS coordinator in developing a MIS. It needs to be clarified that a MIS coordinator could be anyone in the agency with enthusiasm and basic knowledge of MIS concepts with computer literacy. This is important, as most of the agencies do not have resources for a full-time MIS coordinator. The coordinator acts as a linking pin among staff finding out needs, enabling design of forms, plotting information flow, preparing reports and motivating everyone. Role of an application developer The facilitator will show the overhead on role of application developer in MIS. In the introductory remarks, the facilitator could mention that depending upon the complexity of MIS design, an application developer might be needed. In some cases the MIS coordinator could also undertake application development by writing programs. Often a ready-made package from the market may eliminate the need for application development. Developing MIS Dos and Don ts The facilitator initiates a discussion on dos and don ts to be observed while creating a MIS. Introduce the overhead on developing MIS dos and don ts. This could stimulate an interesting discussion on participant experiences and perceptions. Record on flip charts the observations and suggestions of participants. Then reflect on the outcome of the discussion. 7. What components could form part of MIS? (overhead, flipchart, discussion, 25 minutes) The facilitator reflects on the materials shared on developing MIS. The overhead on what components could form part of a MIS in a not-for-profit organization is presented. The facilitator discusses each component presented in the overhead. Then the facilitator could organize a brainstorming session to enlist ideas of the participants and post it on flipcharts. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 10

11 Alternatively, the facilitator could stick flipcharts and invite the participants to add to those areas identified in the overhead. 8. Closure (5 minutes) The facilitator provides in about five minutes a quick recap of the major events in the workshop. Thank the participants for their participation and for their active participation in the discussions. Encourage the participants to explore the need for MIS in their agencies. 9. Evaluation (10 minutes) Hand out the evaluation form with a request to fill it. Collect the filled-in forms. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 11

12 Overhead sheet - 1 WHY ARE WE FOCUSING ATTENTION ON DEVELOPING MIS? The information explosion growing base of knowledge workers(70% Canadian work force) The rapid pace of change(globalization, rapid social changes, legislative changes, downloading, funding cuts, job losses, tax reforms and so on) The increasing complexity of Management (demands on quality, competitiveness, timely delivery, etc.) The interdependence of organization units (finance, family welfare, fund-raising, personnel, etc.) The improvement of productivity (better outreach, more clients, more programs, better accuracy, etc.) The availability of computers for End-users(easy access, handon service, wide literacy and interest) The recognition of information as a resource How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 12

13 Overhead sheet- 2 WHY MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM? A majority of workers today are knowledge workers they spend time creating, distributing, or using information. Example: bankers, coordinators, caseworkers, counselors, community organizers, programmers, etc About 80% of an executive s time are devoted to information receiving, communicating, and using it. Information is the basis for virtually all activities performed in an organization Best use of two key ingredients in organizations people and information Effective utilization of information systems in management. Productive use of information nformation is a resource to increase efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness of an enterprise Some Examples of MIS Airline reservations (seat, booking, payment, schedules, boarding list, special needs, etc.) Train reservation Bank operations (deposit, transfer, withdrawal) How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 13

14 Overhead sheet - 3 WHAT IS INFORMATION? Information is data presented in a form that is meaningful to the recipient. It adds to knowledge and is relevant for the situation. Two types of information are accounting information and management information. Data becomes information when they are transformed to communicate meaning or knowledge, ideas or conclusions. By itself data is meaningless. The attributes of an item of information are: accuracy, form, frequency, breadth (scope), origin, time. horizon. Attributes of a set of information are relevance, completeness and timeliness. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 14

15 Overhead sheet - 4 TYPES OF INFORMATION SYSTEM Information system aims at processing data: to capture details of transactions, to enable people to make decisions, and/or to communicate between people and locations. 1. Transaction processing system Reasons for TP are recording, classification, sorting, calculation, summarization, storage and display of results 2. Management Information System (Management reporting system) Provide information for decision support where information requirements that can be identified in advance Decisions supported by this frequently occur. 3. Decision Support System Assist with unique and non-recurring decisions, which are relatively unstructured Mainly what factors to consider and what information are needed. 4. Office Information system Combines word processing, telecommunications and data processing to automate office information. Draws on stored data as a result of data processing. Includes handling of correspondence, reports and documents. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 15

16 Overhead sheet - 5 MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS Management is the act or skill of transforming resources (land, labor, capital and information) onto output to accomplish a desired result or objective. Planning establishing goals and developing policies, procedures, and programs to achieve them Organizing grouping activities and establishing organizational structures and procedures to ensure that the activities are performed Staffing obtaining and training personnel to work in the organization in order to achieve goals and objectives Controlling measuring performance against goals and objectives and developing procedures for adjusting goals, procedures, or activities. Communicating transferring information on goals, objectives, and performance to personnel throughout the organization and the environment How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 16

17 Overhead sheet 6 TYPES OF MANAGEMENT INFORMATION Seven types of information are necessary for top-level managers. 1. Comfort information: informs about current situation or achievement levels that are tuned to expectations. (Clients served, target achieved, patients treated, operations conducted, etc.) 2. Status information or progress information: keeps abreast of current problem and crises and changes.(progress on office construction, status of research study, labor negotiation, grant application) 3. Warning information: signals that change for good or worse are occurring (stock price, turn over, client complaints, etc.) 4. Planning information: descriptions of projects/programs due in future, knowledge of anticipated developments(future of funding, future of federal/provincial support ) 5. Internal operations information: indicators on how organization/ program is performing. 6. External intelligence: information, gossip, and opinions about activities in the environment of the agency. Competition, funding policies, political changes, emerging social policies, etc. 7. Externally distributed information: annual report before release, quarterly progress report for donors, press releases about the agency, publicity material before printing, etc. Among these, the first five are internal to the organization. Two are external to the organization: How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 17

18 Overhead sheet - 7 STEPS IN MIS DEVELOPMENT Preliminary Investigation The problem Magnitude and scope Alternatives Viability and cost effectiveness Requirements Analysis Knowing the primary and secondary users Ascertaining user needs Primary and secondary sources of information Design, development and implementation needs Systems design Inputs Processing Outputs Storage Procedures Human resources How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 18

19 Acquisition/procurement Compatibility Cost effectiveness Performance standards After sales service Configuration Portability Implementation/installation Application development Testing Debugging logical and syntactical Procedure and user manual preparation Orientation and training Maintenance and upgradation How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 19

20 Overhead sheet - 8 WHAT COULD BE THE ROLE OF MIS COORDINATOR IN DEVELOPING A MIS? Interact with user groups Identify the needs of users of MIS Designing of reporting formats Identify systems of information flow Ensure smooth flow of information within and outside the organization Time management tracking inputs/reports Act as interface among sections and management tiers Identify training needs of staff in MIS jointly with application developer Organize monthly/periodic meetings to assess performance, maintain minutes and follow-up on the decisions Interface with the various divisions/units in the organization for information sharing How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 20

21 Overhead sheet - 9 WHAT COULD BE THE ROLE OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMER/APPLICATION DEVELOPER Participate in assessing users information needs Develop computer based applications Undertake initial testing and debugging applications Operationalize the applications Staff training Extend on-going support to users in handling the applications Focus on customizing inexpensive market software for agency needs How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 21

22 Overhead sheet - 10 DEVELOPING MIS DOS AND DON TS DO s Have simpler and manageable system Develop common understanding between consultant and the organization Involve programmer in needs assessment Customize off-the-shelf software Have simple software for users to handle Extensively involve users in MIS development DON Ts Be ambitious Be unrealistic in developing action plan Delay decisions on hiring application developer/s Depend heavily on the Consultant Invest heavily in in-house application development Let vendors determine hardware needs for LAN Go for large applications Adopt modular approach for s/w development How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 22

23 Overhead sheet - 11 STEPS IN MIS DEVELOPMENT Preliminary Investigation The problem Magnitude and scope Alternatives Viability and cost effectiveness Requirements Analysis Knowing the primary and secondary users Ascertaining user needs Primary and secondary sources of information Design, development and implementation needs Systems design Inputs Processing Outputs Storage Procedures How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 23

24 Human resources Acquisition/procurement Compatibility Cost effectiveness Performance standards After sales service Configuration Portability Implementation/installation Application development Testing Debugging logical and syntactical Procedure and user manual preparation Orientation and training Maintenance and upgradation How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 24

25 Overhead sheet -12 WHAT COMPONENTS COULD FORM PART OF A MIS IN A NOT- FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION? Here are the applications selected by an NGO wishing to develop MIS. 1. A database to record transactions of the different units within the NGO with their client system (local groups, CBOs, etc.) to record all interactions in key functions of the organization. 2. A work plan application to enable people to plan/schedule their activities 3. A performance measurement application to ascertain and report the progress of the activities in a results based management framework 4. Financial information system to query, view and modify activity related information and finances 5. Documentation and information resource system 6. Personnel information system These need to be compatible and build on the existing systems to minimize costs and time of the staff. This is an indicative list. You need to decide what you want. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 25

26 Overhead Sheet 13 WHAT DOES THE CASE STUDY RECOMMEND ON SOFTWARE? To reduce costs it could be cheaper to buy software off the shelf in the market for: File management system Documentation and information resource system Routine/repetitive operation programming (leave, attendance, travel, etc.) Financial information system Personnel information system These need to be compatible and build on the existing systems to minimize costs and time of the staff. How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 26

27 Handout case study HOW TO DEVELOP A MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM? A CASE ILLUSTRATION Here the experiences of a not-for-profit organization in developing a management information system are presented. This is a typical case as it lucidly brings out the pros and cons of going in for developing a MIS. This experience is recent as it pertains to However the organization is yet to complete the installation of its MIS. The actual name of the organization is not mentioned for the purpose of confidentiality. Task Force A task force was established to examine the idea of having a MIS in the organization. Once it was decided to go in for a MIS, the Task Force was enlarged with the hiring of an external consultant. The consultant s role was to help the staff in design of the MIS plan of action and assist in technical areas of application development, testing and implementation of the Project. Besides the consultant, an Application Developer was hired to join the MIS development team. A few representatives of the staff constituted the users representatives on the team. Orientation for staff Initially a two-day orientation session was held for all staff by the consultant on the concept and uses of MIS. Need Investigation and Identification Considerable time was spent with user groups in the organization to identify their needs. Based on the needs a system was designed. The needs included: A database to record transactions of the different units within the NGO with their client system (local groups, CBOs, etc.) to record all interactions in key functions of the organization. A work plan application to enable people to plan/schedule their activities A performance measurement application to ascertain and report the progress of the activities in a results based management framework How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 27

28 An executive/financial information system to query, view and modify activity related information and finances. Why delays? Target achievement in developing MIS was behind the schedule due to: Overambitious plan of action of the consultant Expanded scope of work and complexity of MIS. Unrealistic action plan. Delays in hiring computer programmer Delay in selection of what hardware and software to acquire for MIS Non-involvement of computer programmer in needs assessment and initial design process Increased dependency on the consultant Absence of common understanding between the consultant, programmer and the management Based on the delays and problems in launching MIS in Phase I, the Project was revised and the Phase-II was started with modest operational goals. Lessons from the case Concurrently develop capabilities in-house Have a technically simple system MIS needs to address basic needs of agency and user groups Use a modular approach linking modules gradually(do not develop a large application) Buy software as much as possible from market off the shelf and customize How To Develop a Management Information System (MIS) 28

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