Management information systems, or MIS, help people, technology and organizations interact. They exist to improve workflow and improve communication. Academics and business experts study MIS to learn how individuals, teams or departments and organizations as a whole generate and use information to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of decision making.
MIS is often used to manage the financial and other numbers-based data a company has. For instance, an MIS might be a computer database of accounting information that managers use to make decisions about the company's financial well-being. An MIS can also used to help companies generate goals and performance indicators for sales, marketing return on investment and shareholder gains. The three main objectives of an MIS are to provide managers with accurate information, connect data to the organization's strategy and identify competitive advantages.
Providing Managers With Accurate Information
An MIS provides managers within an organization with access to up-to-date and accurate information on the company's "numbers." These can be anything from daily sales reports, stock levels or number of clicks on a webpage. Different managers require access to different kinds of data, and an MIS can provide that specific access, allowing managers to think tangibly of how to save money, control spending or improve efficiency and productivity.
Connecting Data to Strategy
Outlining an organization's goals and plans for the foreseeable future is an important part of strategic planning. Most major companies and many smaller businesses use an MIS to help manage the strategic plan. The MIS prevents the plan from simply sitting on the shelf and collecting dust. It provides the company's leadership with a way to gather and analyze data that relate to targets. For example, if a company wants to increase the number of new clients by 20 percent over the next three quarters, it can use an MIS to constantly monitor progress while providing transparency about the steps employees are taking to achieve that goal.
Gaining a Competitive Advantage
Having data available through an MIS isn't an automatic advantage to a company. Barry Beracha, the former CEO of Sara Lee Bakery Group, says managers still need to make decisions based on that data and properly manage the information to create a competitive advantage over other businesses in the same market. It has to offer customers better value by lowering prices or providing more benefits for the same cost.