Analysis of Management Information Systems

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Methods used in valuation of information systems and the data they contain, their advantages and disadvantages, and overall rationale for the value of information systems

Many methods are employed in valuing information systems (IS) and the data they contain. Some of the commonly applied methods include cost benefit analysis, return on investment (ROI), information economics, measurement systems, and the strategic value system (Kaplan 2004). All these methods have both merits and demerits depending on the basis on which they are used and the extent of their application. Nonetheless, these methods have some common principles which are generally applied in valuing information systems and their content (Hallows 2005).

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The cost benefit analysis approach is applied by comparing the value of resources expended in installing given IS and the benefits that accrue from the same installations (Hallows 2005). Hence, the method evaluates the cost effectiveness of IS. For instance, the worth of having a computer network in a university campus can be evaluated by comparing the perceived benefits of the network to the university fraternity and the costs that arise due to the project such as maintenance costs and amount expended on charges such as electricity. Some of the advantages of this method include the point that it is simple to use and also appealing. However, the method may appear complex to some users and is also not reliable since some values cannot be quantified (Kaplan 2004).

Return on investment involves the use of perceived income generated in an IS versus the expended input into the project (Hallows 2005). For instance, a hospital may invest in a computerization project and later value its impact on services and profitability. The advantages of this method include the fact that it makes it easy to determine the value of IS components and also allows room for suggestions on improvement. On the other hand, the method is unsuitable in non-profit ventures as well as where long term projects are involved.

Information economics as a method of valuation involves use of the relationship between the information availed by an IS infrastructure and its impact on the general economy (Kaplan 2004). It is much similar to the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) which measures the benefits or negative consequences of a project relative to economic development (Shigeki 1999). The advantages of this method include its ease of use if the people involved are qualified and its specificity to fine details. Nevertheless, since it requires skilled staff, it cannot be used everywhere and is expensive.

Measurement systems involve the calculation of the IS and their data by quoting their cost estimates (Shigeki 1999). The value obtained is assumed to be the value of an IS and its contents. The merits of such an approach include ease of application and quick gathering of data. However, since the method only gives estimates, it is not reliable since it assumes most of the IS contents.

The final method of valuation in this discussion, strategic valuation, involves an account of all the IS including software, infrastructure, computers and so on. This method gives a clear value but since it goes into fine details, it is undoubtedly slow.

It is not easy to find one method that will completely suffice the needs of valued information systems. This is because of difficulty to evaluate different situations in different settings. Therefore, it is prudent that whenever possible, all the methods discussed should be used in combination to obtain more reliable valuation results.

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Using a mixture of architectures – open architecture desktop computing with proprietary operating systems: the problems involved and strategies for overcoming them

Many organizations in the world are venturing in the use of open architecture desktop computing with proprietary operating systems. This is in opposition to the use of closed architecture desktop computing with operating systems that can run several types of computers. Proprietary operating systems are operating systems that can run only one type of computer (Greenberg, Ferguson & Morris, 2002). By having this property, proprietary operating systems restrict the ability of programs to run on multiple computer systems and also impose limitation to the market of a majority of the application software.

Many organizations use computers to accelerate clearing of information workload within their premises, change the face of the world by making huge profits and increase their specialty as market leaders (Proctor 1997). This is defined by how the organizations purchase computer hardware and software. To capitalize on the market opportunities, computer hardware and software makers ensure that the application of software is limited only to particular machines (Tinnirello, 1999). Thus, organizations limit their purchases to manufacturers and sellers of their choice. Such a strategy not only ensures that the organizations that buy computers and computer accessories have regular suppliers but have constant genuine suppliers.

To illustrate the point above, an organization that chooses to use Windows operating system always has to update their software with the latest versions from Microsoft Corporation. In the same way, organizations that use the OS X operating system have to always limit themselves to OS X. This has an advantage since the risk of getting substandard or contraband software is highly limited. On the other hand, Linux is an open software that can be used with many types of computers (Tinnirello, 1999). A notable advantage that organizations derive by mixing architectures is that once they get a reliable operating system, they will stick to it and thus prolong the lifespan of computers in use.

Despite the seemingly many advantages of mixing architecture, it is obvious that doing so has considerable problems. For instance, too much reliance on proprietary software limits an organization’s opportunities in seeking up to date software (Proctor 1997). This means that an organization may have to rely on one type of operating system for as long as it still has computers that are compatible with the program. The problem here is that the operating system may be too expensive or lack some features, but the organization has no alternative but to keep on buying it. A major problem may occur if the software developer withdraws from business (Greenberg, Ferguson & Morris 2002).

To solve problems such as that highlighted above, organizations need to diversify the computer types that they buy. This is because many computers are made each day and they may come with appealing features, but an organization may find it difficult to buy any due to operating system limitations. Organizations need to focus on buying computers whose software is versatile so that they mix the computer architecture in a way that is beneficial in a multifaceted way.

Advantages and disadvantages of modern connected methods of working

Today, a lot of employees are spending the better part of their working hours away from their place of work. Often regarded to as ‘teleworking’, this kind of working includes home working, hot-desking, and mobile working. Telecommuting is a term used about a work arrangement that allows employees to benefit from flexibility in terms of working hours and locations (Leonhard 1995).

What this means is that telecommunication links substitute the act of having to daily commute to a central working place. While a majority of the telecommuters work from home, there is yet another group that makes use of information technology, meaning that they are capable of working from various locations (Leonhard 1995).

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These are often referred to as web commuters. The adage, work is what one does, and not a place for one to travel to, appears to apply in this case. For a telecommuting program to be successful, a style of management that is results oriented, as opposed to a sealed scrutiny of an organization’s employees (as individuals), ought to be applied.

On the other hand, hot desking has its origins from the practice of a given employees of an organization to be the temporary occupier of an office space, or a work surface (Harris 1992). Hotdesking is especially used about a rising trend for professional, managerial, as well as other staff members of an organization to spend more of their working time away from their offices (Golzen 1991).

Whenever they happen to be in the office, these members of staff usually share their desks with fellow staff members. A lack of a stable domain for any specific worker ensues, and the work station thus becomes a mobility center (Harris 1992). This is a regular practice in those places that do not require all the employees to be present at the same time.

Advantages

For the employees, telecommuting accords the flexibility. For the working parents, their burdens are dramatically eased, as they can now work from home. Moreover, the productivity of workers goes up. For the employers, having virtual offices enables them retain valuable employees (Harris 1992).

Employers are also more able to hire employees who would otherwise not have been available. Besides, telecommuting assists the employers to implement processes of customer service and order management in the organization. Hot-desking is capable of providing savings to an organization with regard to facilities such as office space (Leonhard 1995).

Moreover, productivity also tends to improve, given that people are spared the daily distractions that are characterized by the office way of life and politics. Furthermore, there is a drastic reduction time-wise; in as far as travel time is concerned. Besides, rates of turnover and absence have also been shown to reduce drastically (Leonhard 1995).

Disadvantages

Telecommuters may find that their workload increase once they start working from home. Furthermore, organization loyalty may wane, when workers increasingly work away from the office (Leonhard 1995). Home space also reduces, and telecommuters have to be keener in handling fat to avoid its loss, as no technical assistance is readily available.

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For an employer, connected methods of working means added investments into the latest information technology. Worker compensation and liability aspects are other concerns that a manager of an organization that has invested in connected modern methods of working (Golzen 1991).

Modern methods of data collection in organizations

Surveys

Surveys facilitate an organization to collect descriptive data. In addition, a survey often tends to cover numerous topics, meaning that an organization obtained multivariate data. Besides, surveys tend to be comparatively inexpensive in terms of usage (Groves et al 1995).

Furthermore, the data so obtained renders itself to a variety of software that helps in its analysis. On the other hand, self-reporting by the use of surveys could be a source of biased reporting. Although data from a survey fives a general picture of for example, an organization’s performance, it nevertheless is deficient in terms of depth. Besides, surveys may not offer sufficient information in terms of context.

Interviews

Interviews are an opportunity for an interview to investigate the topics being studied into greater depths. At the same time, interviews allow for a “face-to-face contact” between the interviewer and a respondent, thus giving this data collection method the much needed personalized touch (Groves et al 1995). Also, the interviewer is at a position to either explain or offer a clarification to the questions at hand, and this enhances the chances of obtaining valuable responses (Whitten et al 2001).

The drawbacks of interviews include the fact that an interviewer could manipulate responses, and that the respondent on their part, are capable of distorting the information that they give out by way of a selective perception, recall error, and a wish to gratify an interviewer. Moreover, some of the clarifications by an interviewer could as well lead to inconsistencies (Groves et al 1995). In an event whereby the volume of information obtained tends to be quite large, data recording may be difficult.

Observations

Through conducting an observation, researchers can gather direct information as regards the behavior of individuals as well as groups. Besides, behaviors let an investigator to both enter into as well as appreciate a context under investigation. In any case, observations are unstructured, and often exist in natural and flexible setting (Groves et al 1995).

Conversely, observations are normally expensive and demand a lot of time. Besides, observations could as well impact on the behavior of the participants. There is also a possibility that observer may not after all be objective, and this affects results obtained (Whitten, & Dittman 2001). Also, the behaviors being observation might as well not be after all that typical.

Performance/achievement tests

These provide objective information regarding what the individual taking such a test knows, and also what they are also capable of achieving. It is also possible to design performance tests to suit certain curriculum, or even a set of various skills. Moreover, achievement tests might as well be designed in a manner that is straightforward (Whitten, & Dittman 2001).

On the other hand, tests could be superficial and oversimplified, with a possibility that they could be complex, without as much as testing the actual knowledge of those being tested (Whitten, & Dittman 2001). Tests are not only time consuming, they also could be biased against a certain section of those undertaking a test. Furthermore, tests could be exposed to corruption by way of cheating or coaching.

Intervention strategies

Regardless of the method of data collection that a researcher uses, the mode of data collection must be conducted within the realm of laid down legal framework. This is with regard to matters ethics, so that the information obtained can only be used for purposes of the research at hand (Champoux 2006).

Furthermore, the data collection methods ought to be conducted with the full consent of the respondents (Whitten, & Dittman 2001). Moreover, there is a need for a researcher to prepare respondents psychologically before collecting data to dispel any fears that such respondents may be harboring as regards the whole exercise of data collection.

Extent organizational behavior and organizational structure dictate a company’s choice of an information system

A majority of the managers in the present day and age would not hesitate to concur that attitudes, shared values, overall thinking patterns that have been ‘socially constructed’ between the individuals in an organization, as well as the beliefs of such members, normally gave a profound impact on such an organization’s enduring performance and effectiveness (Champoux 2006).

The influence of a suitable organizational culture with regard to the interests of a business establishment has unequivocally been acknowledged by a majority of the researchers of organizations. The culture of an organization has been viewed at as the combination of behavior patterns, shared values, symbols, mores, normative ways, and attitudes of undertaking business for such an organization and its identity, relative to the other organizations (Durrance & Karen 2005).

Additionally, culture may persuade the organizational approaches that get selected, and if at all they turn out to be a success (Champoux 2006). It is often assumed that culture helps explain the success behind some of the organization’s successes, if it does symbolize a vital component of an organization’s strategy.

Moreover, the culture of an organization has also been claimed to impact on the strategies often assumed by organizations, as well as the implementation of the same. Following these claims, it becomes clear then that culture indeed does play a significant role in as far as the overall implementation of organization strategies is concerned.

There seems to be a paradigm shift with regard to the organization structure of companies, in tandem with the advances within information systems (Lamont et al 2000). Indeed, this novel organization paradigm appears intertwined with an organization’s structure, as well as its information systems.

The older organization paradigm was characterized by comparatively inflexible systems of information. Indeed, the information system structure of an organization has been recognized as a crucial factor in the transformation of such an organization (Lamont et al 2000).

Transformations in information systems have been known to lead to an alteration in the structure of such an organization so that the two systems may blend. In any case, the adoption and implementation of newer information systems are dependent on the organization structure (Champoux 2006). It is thus important that such a stricture is flexible enough to accommodate changes in the information system

Information system has been recognized as a key element of the structure of an organization, a concept that seems to be gaining popularity in some organizations (Whitten & Dittman 2001). For example, ‘networked’ organization structure is slowly replacing conventional organization structures that are defined in hierarchic terms, with a view to speeding up the decision making process and the performance of organizations.

Thanks to the implementation of information technology in organizations, flexibility and creativity appear to set in organizations. Moreover, it also becomes quire easier to utilize information systems on a wider scale at an organization level, while at the same time also facilitating coordination across the various functional boundaries of organizations (Lamont et al 2000).

Furthermore, information systems, from the perspective of a matrix organization structure simplifies operational expenses by facilitating the ease of information sharing by the various functional managers (Champoux 2006). On the other hand, information systems in flat structures not only sustain communications within a firm, they also facilities an easy offloading of additional work.

Bibliography

Champoux, J, 2006, Organizational behavior: integrating individuals, groups and organizations (3rd Ed). Ohio: South-Western.

Durrance, J.C & Karen, E. F, 2005, How libraries and librarians help: a guide to identifying user-centered outcome. Chicago: American Library Association.

Golzen, G. “Cut the office in half without tears”, The Sunday Times, 1991.

Hallows, J 2005, Information Systems Project management: How to deliver function and value in information technology projects, AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, New York

Harris, D, “Turning office desks into hot property: facilities management focus, The Times, 1992.

Greenberg, W R; Ferguson C H., & Morris, C R. 2002, Computer wars: The post-IBM world, Beard Books, New York

Groves, R.M, Biemer, P.P, Lyberg, L.E, Massey, J.T, Nicholls, W.L & Waksberg, J, 1995, Telephone survey methodology. New York: Wiley

Kaplan, B M 2004, Information Systems Research: Relevant Theory and Informed Practice: IFIP TC8/WG8.2 20th Year Retrospective: Relevant Theory and Informed Practice-Looking Forward from a 20-Year Perspective on IS Research, 2004, Manchester, United Kingdom, Springer, New York

Lamont, B. T, Sambamurthy, V, Ellis, K. & Simmonds, Paul G “The influence of organizational structure on the information received by corporate strategists of multinational enterprises”, management international review, 2000.

Leonhard, W, 1995, The underground guide to telecommuting. New York: Addison-Wesley.

Nilles, J.M, 1998, Managing telework: options for managing the virtual workforce. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Proctor, F M 1997, Open Architecture control systems and standards: 1996, Boston, Massachusetts, SPIE, Michigan

Shigeki, I, 1999, An Assessment Approach using CVM for Information Systems, IEIC Technical Report (Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers) 98: 637 p. 47-57

Tinnirello, P C 1999, Systems development handbook, CRC Press, London

Whitten, J, Bentley, L & Dittman, K, 2001, Systems analysis and design methods. (5th Ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

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