Management Information System: Virgin Trains
Keywords: mis in organisation
MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM
A management information system is actually a combination of hardware. Software and the people who use the hardware and software to manipulate the information within the organization. These sources are help in the collection, storage and retrieval of the data in the organization. The main function of the MIS is to store the information and to furnish it to the management whenever it is required.
An information system is a systematic structure which is formed by the organization according to its convenience for the handling of the information. There are many elements which work together in the process of collecting, storing and processing of the data. A computer is physical equipment used in the MIS or in other words it is the hardware involved in the information system. The data which is mainly raw facts is not of any use so the data has to be processed the computer programs hence help in the processing of the raw data in order to make it useful for the organization
The computer programs are the technological components of an information system. If the people of the organization have proper knowledge of the programs only then they will be able to process the information effectively in the organization.
RELATION BETWEEN THE ORGANISATION AND ITS MIS
The organization and its information system are inseparable. The organization is very much dependent on its information system. Whenever there is a change in the strategies, or the policies in the organization the information system also goes through a drastic change in the organization. The organizations present and future progress fully depends on the present a future functioning of its information system. Before the information systems affected only a small part of the organization i.e. some of the operational or the technical issues but at present the information systems affect the major part of the organization such as the decision making, strategy information, the products of the organization, the structure of the organization etc. Each and every part of the business is connected with its information system any change in the information system will affect the organization similarly any change in the organization will affect its information system.
DIMENSIONS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
ORGANISATION: In some of the organizations an information system is a major part of the organization. The information systems are a part of the organization only in some organizations which deal with financial services in such organizations the information system is the organization
MANAGEMENT: The management is another dimension of an information system. The information system assists the Managers to take necessary decisions. The information system provides the managers with the tools to plan allocate and control work within the organization.
TECHNOLOGY: The technology is one of the most important dimensions of an information system. The technology is what that helps the organization to have an updated information system in the organization which can cope up with the day to day changes happening in the business environment.
TYPES OF SYSTEMS IN ORGANISATION
There are many types of systems in the organization according to the different processes in the organization the various systems are Transaction processing system, decision support system, office system, knowledge work system.
Transaction processing system: The transaction processing system involves all the activities which are related to the ordering, order taking, and order tracking. The order processing, trading of the securities etc. The transaction processing system helps in systematically carrying out all the above mentioned activities in the organization.
Knowledge work system: A knowledge work system helps in connecting the different dimensions of knowledge within the organization. The knowledge work systems combine the Engineering department, the managerial department, the Human resource department etc the knowledge work system helps in combining different dimensions of the organization and to effectively complete the work by integrating the knowledge from all levels.
Management information system: As seen before the management information system provides the manager with essential assistance. The MIS provides the managers with information relations to the sales management, the inventory control, the decision support system the management level provides the management with the analytical models and the data analysis tools which would help in the semi structured and unstructured decision making activities.
Executive support system: The executive support system provides the assistance to the management at a very higher spectrum. It helps the management with the functions such as the sales trend forecasting, budget forecasting, personnel planning etc so the executive support system helps the management to make decisions in these key areas.
All these above mentioned systems are interested with one another. The process done by one system helps the other system to carry out its work. The process by one system acts as a base for the activity that has to be carried by the other system in the organization. The decision support system and the executive support system often use the information obtained from the transaction processing system and the management information system. Some systems also obtain data from the outside for carrying out its activities the knowledge work systems and the decision support system use the information such as the stock market information from the outside and design supplier information.
DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM
The decision support system mainly helps in taking the structured and unstructured decision making in the organization. The decision support system uses information from both the transaction processing system and the management information system. The decision support system provides the management with the advanced analytical tools and data analysis tools which help in analyzing the data in a much wider spectrum and take the decisions much more effectively. The decision support system is much more advance than the Executive support system because the decision support system uses much more advanced analytical tools such as the linear programming or forecasting.
TRANSACTION PROCESSING SYSTEM
Transaction processing system is one of the main systems of the MIS and the transaction processing system has five more systems
Sales or marketing systems: The sales or marketing system mainly provide all information related to the market. It provides information about the product pricing, the promotion of the product, the system of the sales commission, the market research and the predicting of the market and the demand for the products etc
Manufacturing and production systems: Manufacturing and productive systems provide all information regarding the inventory, the movement of the inventory, the procurement of the inventory. It also maintains data related to the manufacturing operations of the organization and the quality control activities related to the organization
Finance and accounting systems: Finance and accounting systems provide all information related to the financial activities of the organization. All the information of the day to day activities of the financial transactions are stored, analyzed and retrieved whenever it is required. Many activities such as budgeting, general ledger, funds management etc are carried out with the help of this system.
Human resource systems: The human resources systems take maintain the information relate to the each and every employee in the organization. All these informationÃ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s are used for providing the employees with the compensation and other benefits. It provides help in various areas of human resource such as payroll functions, compensation, training and development of employees etc.
CHANGES BROUGHT IN BY MIS IN ORGANISATIONS
The information systems are growing and achieving various levels of improvement day by day. There is new MIS hardware and softwareÃ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s which are being invented and hence there are lots of changes occurring in the organization. Due to the information systems the layers of the management has been reduced as a result of that there is a proper flow of information in the organizations. The organizations have become much more flexible in their functioning. The flattening of the organization is one distinct feature through which the decision making of the line workers has also increased and so this has lead to the increase in the work satisfaction of the employees as the management span of control has broadened.
CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN BUILDING, OPERATING, MAINTAINING
The strategic business challenge encourages us to realize that we must be able to use information technology to design organizations so that they are competitive, effective and digitally-enabled. The globalization challenge facing us is that we must ascertain how firms can understand the systems requirements of a global economic environment. The information architecture and infrastructure challenge is that we must be able to help the organization develop an information architecture that is able to support the company goals when both the business conditions and the technologies are changing so rapidly. The information systems investment challenge is for us to know how the organization can determine the business value of systems. Finally, the responsibility and control challenge is for us to understand how organizations can ensure that their information systems are used in an ethically and socially responsible way.
ETHICAL ISSUES RELATED TO MIS
End-user development refers to the development of information systems by end users with minimal or no assistance from professional systems analysts or programmers. This is accomplished through sophisticated “user-friendly” software tools and gives end users direct control over their own computing.
Advantages include improved requirements determination, realizing large productivity gains when developing certain types of applications, enabling end users to take a more active role in the systems development process, many can be used for prototyping, and some have new functions such as graphics, modeling, and ad hoc information retrieval.
Disadvantages include not being suited for large transaction-oriented applications or applications with complex updating requirements, standards for testing and quality assurance may not be applied, and proliferation of uncontrolled data and private information systems.
End-user development is suited to solving some of the backlog problem because the end users can develop their needed applications themselves. It is suited to developing low-transaction systems. End-user development is valuable for creating systems that access data for such purposes as analysis (including the use of graphics in that analysis) and reporting. It can also be used for developing simple data-entry applications
Policies and procedures to manage end-user development include the following:
- The organization must establish sufficient support facilities for end-user computing: information centers or distributed end-user computing centers.
- Training and support should be targeted to the specific needs of those being trained.
- End-user application development should not be allowed to be undertaken randomly but should be incorporated into the organization’s strategic plan.
Management should develop controls over end-user computing in the following areas:
- Cost justification of end-user information system project.
- Hardware and software standards for user-developed applications.
- Company-wide standards for microcomputers, word processing software, database management systems, graphics software, and query and reporting tools.
- Quality assurance reviews that specify whether the end-user systems must be reviewed by information systems and internal audit specialists.
- Control for end-user developed applications covering testing, documentation, accuracy, and completeness of input and update, backup, recovery and supervision.
- Critical applications that supply data to other important systems should be flagged and subjected to more rigorous standards.
ANALYSIS OF MIS AT VIRGIN TRAINS
The company which is taken for this study is the Virgin trains. The virgin trains belong to the virgin groups. This private railway has done a reinforcement of its information system. It has fully transformed information system to provide better service to its customers and also to carry out its business processes effectively. The main aim of the company is to provide its employees, customers and other stake holders with the maximum benefit through various management information tools.
The general objective of the virgin trains is to have an advanced information management system. The aim of this system is to have a strong IT infrastructure. Virgin aims to maintain to facilitate both the employees and also the customers in all its business activities by having an a good information management system backed up by advanced technology.
The reinforcement of the technology at Virgin trains has been done by Halcrow. It is an organization which provides the organizations with solution to maintain their information at Halcrow they have combined cutting edge information technology skills along with front line Railway management skills to provide a very effective and efficient management information system.
I.T STRATEGY USED BY VIRGIN TRAINS
The main strategy which virgin trains is adopting now is to revamp its entire information system process, feasibility studies of the information system which is implemented is carried out, also the risk involved in the system has also been analyzed .
It is now concentrating to effectively maintain its marketing information. in order to do that areas like warehousing commercial data, data analysis, warehousing and using click-stream data are given more importance.
As a part of its IT transformation Virgin trains has also transformed some of its systems such as the Train planning and scheduling data, on-train monitoring and reporting systems data.
MIS AT EACH LEVEL OF VIRGIN
MIS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE
Virgin has lots of facilities which help the customers with the booking of ticket. There are many facilities like the mobile ticketing platforms, chip and pin units to Bluetooth based equipment for onboard payments. These are the devices used to maintain the services provided to the customer through advanced MIS tools provided by Halcrow.
MIS FOR THE MANAGEMENT
The MIS used for the management to carry out its activities is designed by Halcrow. Virgin uses the MIS solution that was framed by Halcrow to maintain activities like recruiting, Decision making, financial management etc. This MIS also helps to improve reporting around areas such as on-train shopping patterns.
The MIS provided by the Halcrow also interfaces with the CRM system which is written in .NET so this helps the Virgin trains to have a good CRM with its customers.
MOBILE ROLL OUT
Virgin is currently finalizing trials for a roll out of handheld devices. These devices will be given to the drivers of the trains and these devices are equipped with Vodafone supplied PDAÃ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s. This device helps the drivers by replacing the paper based materials and would help in effective handling of the information.
HARDWARE USED FOR THE MIS AT VIRGIN
HP is the main supplier of all the hardware devices used at virgin for MIS. Citrix supplies thin-client Technology for applications such as rail operation systems.
SOFTWARE SUPPLIERS FOR MIS AT VIRGIN
The main provider of software to the MIS at virgin is Microsoft and Capgemini has also been one of the key suppliers of softwareÃ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s for the system.
The virgin trains have a lot of potential for improving its processes. As mentioned before it is doing a revamp of all its MIS processes this puts the Virgin trains in an advanced stage and also in a strong position to face its competitors.
The maintenance of the system is very expensive and the company aims to get a full return on all the investments made by it on IT. Any failure of any system which is currently being used will become a great weakness to the organization. since most of the processes are being experimented still.
As mentioned before the revamping of the IT processes at the virgin is a greater opportunity for the organization to rectify the shortcomings of the old system and to have an effective new system.
Since most of the data used by virgin trains is dependent on electronic data any minor fault in the system would cause a threat to the entire system of virgin trains.
In this project we have seen briefly about MIS and its function in an organization. The Virgin Trains is taking MIS to a whole new level by investing firmly in its IT and also experimenting with its new systems which are going to be implemented. We saw how the use of MIS facilitates the organization on all angles of the business.MIS helps not only the organization but also its stakeholders and it helps the organization to achieve its objective in a very short period.
Wendy R. (1997) Strategic management and information system, 2nd edition, pitman
Mcleod.R, Schell.G.P, Management information system, 2007, Pearson Education Inc, New Jersey, Pp (8-15).
Web: CIO interview virgin train, [online] verified on
http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/06/02/241427/CIO-interview-Virgin-Trains39-IT-remains-on-the.htm (accessed on 18/07/2010)
Web: Rail data management and management information systems, [online] verified on
http://www.halcrow.com/Areas-of-expertise/Rail/Data-management-and-management-information-systems/ (accessed on 19/07/2010)Order Now