Thorough management information systems can also aid the company in gaining a competitive advantage. By monitoring job progress, collecting data about percent complete against target, a good system can help the organization adapt more quickly to changes in either the internal or external environment. In the financial area, a proper system can eliminate much busywork, thereby allowing office staff and managers to focus on priorities, such as customer service.
Therefore, management information systems should be designed to provide the meaningful financial and operating information necessary to plan a company’s direction. The costing, pricing, and scheduling systems produce information necessary to control expenses. Similarly, work schedules, purchasing systems (purchase orders or the equivalent), and supplier files establish the framework for orderly completion of work according to budget. An accurate reporting system is required to maintain financial controls. However, many of these systems take on characteristics over time that may not aid the company in achieving optimal efficiencies. Only through review and analysis of the documented assumptions behind the systems and the logic of the systems themselves can the executive team determine whether reporting can be improved.
An illustration of one area in which management information systems can shape corporate planning is in inventory listings for a manufacturing or retail company. Inventory classifiable as old or having low margins can be highlighted for increased marketing focus to increase sales turnover. As sales increase, interest carrying costs diminish. Carrying costs include the cost of capital, insurance, theft, obsolescence, repair, financing costs, maintenance, and loss of use of capital.
Management Structure and Characteristics
The structure of a company contributes to its strengths and weaknesses. In turn, the form of management, motivation techniques, and employee job skills dictate the structure of the company. If management and employees are not motivated to perform their jobs or lack the skills to do so, the entire business suffers. Every company must be based on three essential elements:
- mission statement
Many executives carry their company’s mission statement around in their heads but fail to share it with employees in a way that encourages them to share the enthusiasm and commitment. Committing the mission statement to writing in language understandable by all interested parties lays the groundwork for the joint development of company goals and objectives. This mission statement should explain the product, the operating focus, and the distinguishing characteristics of the company’s vision. The statement should remain valid for the life of the company.
Goals and Objectives
Goals that take shape through employee input usually result in shared dreams. If the goals, objectives, and tactics needed to accomplish the mission are agreed upon by all at the outset, they become a standard against which performance can be judged. An example of a goal would be to achieve 15 percent market share in the Gen Y demographic in a certain geography within five years. An objective would be to sell X number of units in one to three years. A tactic would be to sell X number of units in a given channel in a given price range by a certain date within one year.
A review of organizational charts reveals much about the work flow in a given operation. The actual flow of work needs to be compared against planned work flow and adjusted periodically to achieve efficiency. In addition, job descriptions need to reflect reality and effectiveness. Employees should be asked to write both what they have been hired to do and, additionally, what they actually do. After receiving the employee descriptions, the executive team can draft job descriptions that promote effective work completion.