The Management Information System Of Virgin Trains Information Technology Essay

It can be any organized combination of people, hardware, software, communications networks and data resources that collects, transforms, and communicates information in an organization.The management information system helps the organization to store its information.it also helps in retrieving the information required by the organization whenever it is required by the management.

What is an information system?

Information system is a set of interrelated components that work together to collect, process, store, and disseminate information to support decision making, coordination, control, analysis, and visualization in an organization. A computer system is the physical equipment used for input, processing, and output activities in an information system. Computer programs provide the computer with necessary instructions on how to process the data into information. Data are raw facts; these raw facts, in their current form, are not in a useful format. Information is data that have been processed into a useful, meaningful form.

A computer and an information system are not equivalent. Information systems have management, organization, and technology dimensions. Computers and programs are technology components of an information system. Without addressing the organization and management dimensions, the technology components are relatively useless. For instance, you can purchase a computer and software, but unless you have determined how the technology will be used to help manage and organize your work, you essentially have a decorative box for your desk.

RELATION BETWEEN THE ORGANISATION AND ITS MIS:

Notable changes occurring over time include a growing interdependence between the organization and its information systems and a movement from primarily technical changes to include both managerial and institutional changes. There is a growing interdependence between the organization and its information systems. Often, a change in the business’s strategy, rules, or procedures requires changes in the information systems software, hardware, databases, and telecommunications. An organization’s present and future accomplishments depend in many respects on what its systems will permit it to do now and later. Also, system projects are increasing in reach and scope. Whereas early information systems addressed primarily technical or operational issues, contemporary information systems are integral to the management and strategic goals of the firm. Today information systems affect a much larger part of the organization itself, such as organizational products, objectives, and structure. More and more business activities at all levels involve the use of information systems.

DIMENSIONS OF MIS:

Organization: Information systems are part of organizations, and in some cases (such as credit card companies and financial information services), they are the organization. Information systems will have the SOPs and the culture of an organization imbedded within them.

Management: Information systems supply tools and information needed by managers to allocate, coordinate and monitor their work, make decisions, create new products, and services and make long-range strategic decisions.

Technology: Management uses technology (hardware, software, storage, and telecommunications) to carry out their functions. It is one of the many tools managers use to cope with change.

Major types of systems in organisation:

Transaction processing systems, office systems, knowledge work systems, decision-support systems, management information systems, and executive support systems are the major types of systems in organizations.

Transaction processing systems Function at the operational level of the organization. Examples of transaction processing systems include order tracking, order processing, machine control, plant scheduling, compensation, and securities trading.

Knowledge work systems help create and integrate new knowledge within the organization. Examples of knowledge work systems include engineering workstations, managerial workstations, and graphics workstations. Office systems help increase data worker productivity and include word processing document imaging, and electronic calendars.

Management information systems provide managers with reports based primarily on data pulled from transaction processing systems, have an internal orientation, and have limited flexibility. Examples of management information systems include sales management, inventory control, and capital investment analysis. Decision-support systems function at the management level and provide analytical models and data analysis tools to provide support for semi-structured and unstructured decision-making activities. Examples of decision-support systems include sales region analysis, cost analysis, and contract cost analysis.

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Executive support systems function at the strategic level, support unstructured decision making, and use advanced graphics and communications. Examples of executive support systems include sales trend forecasting, budget forecasting, and personnel planning.

The systems form a level of systems, with all types either formatting or processing the information from a lower level. For instance, the office systems provide reports or presentations on the information or data in transaction processing systems. Decision-support and executive support systems often use office systems in presenting information extracted from transaction processing systems and management information system. Management information systems depend on data from transaction processing systems. Some systems, including knowledge work systems, decision-support systems, and executive support systems may use external information, such as stock market information and design information from suppliers

DECESION SUPPORT SYSTEM:

DSS provide sophisticated analytical models and data analysis tools to support semi structured and unstructured decision-making activities. DSS use data from TPS, MIS, and external sources, provide more analytical power than other systems, combine data, and are interactive. ESS support senior managers with unstructured strategic-level decision making. They may be less analytical than DSS with less use of models such as linear programming or forecasting. However, they often rely on external data and rely heavily on graphics.

TRANSACTION PROCESSING SYSTEM:

Transaction processing system mainly includes five systems they are as follows

Sales/marketing systems provide sales management, market research, promotion, pricing, and new product functions. Examples include sales order information systems, market research systems, and sales commission systems.

Manufacturing/production systems provide scheduling, purchasing, shipping/receiving, engineering, and operations functions. Examples of manufacturing systems include machine control systems, purchase order systems, and quality control systems.

Finance/accounting systems provide budgeting, general ledger, billing, and cost accounting functions. Examples of finance/accounting systems include general ledger, accounts receivable/payable, and funds management systems.

Human resource systems provide personnel records, benefits, compensation, labor relations, training, and payroll functions. Examples include employee records, benefit systems, and career path systems.

Other types include admissions, grade records, course records, and alumni for a university. Examples of transaction processing systems for a university include a registration system, student transcript system, and an alumni benefactor system

CHANGES BROUGHT IN BY MIS IN ORGANISATIONS:

Information systems are driving both daily operations and organizational strategy. Powerful computers, software, and networks, including the Internet, have helped organizations become more flexible, eliminate layers of management, separate work from location, and restructure work flows, giving new powers to both line workers and management. The flattening of organizations is probably one change that students are likely to cite, particularly with the concern over downsizing. The parallel increase in information and in the decision power of line workers (empowerment) also increased the workers’ corresponding work satisfaction as management span of control is broadened. The empowering of the line worker means managers can spend more time thinking more strategically.

CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN BUILDING,OPERATING, MAINTAINING INFORMATION SYSTEMS:

Strategic business challenge

Globalization challenge

Information architecture and infrastructure challenge

Information systems investment challenge

Responsibility and control challenge.

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.

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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 belongs to the virgin groups.this private railways has has done a reinforcement if 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.

GENERAL OBJECTIVES:

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.

HALCROW:

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 the 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 analysed.

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.

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MIS AT EACH LEVEL OF VIRGIN:

MIS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE:

Virgin has a 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 Blutooth 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 IN EMPLOYEE MANAGEMENT:

Virgin has a new system which is used to maintain the employees in the organization.The system is called the crew planning system.with the help of this system it is possible to allot the employees their shifts based on their trains.It helps in systematically allocating the employees according to their shifts.It helps a great deal when there are shortages of staff due to a staff member going on leave,retirement of staff members etc.It is very much useful when to manage the employees particularly during the times of disruption.the crew planning system was provide by Atos origin to the virgin trains.

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,Decesion 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 trial;s for a roll out of handheld devices.Tese devices will be given to the driversv of the trains and tese devices vare equipped with Vodafone supplied PDA’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 supplier of softwares for the system.

SWOT ANALYSIS:

STRENGHT:

The virgin trains has 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 a advanced stage and also in a strong position to face its competetors.

WEAKNESS:

The maintanace 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.

OPPORTUNITY:

As mentioned before the revamping of the IT processes at the virgin is a greatr opportunity for the organization to rectify the shortcomings of the old system and to have an effective new system.

THREAT:

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.

CONCLUSION:

In this project we have seen briefly about MIS and its function in an organisation.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 goin 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.

REFRENCE:

http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/06/02/241427/CIO-interview-Virgin-Trains39-IT-remains-on-the.htm

http://www.halcrow.com/Areas-of-expertise/Rail/Data-management-and-management-information-systems/

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