There is virtually no organization that can operate without information systems in the current economic environment where keeping up with the level of changing technology is a necessity. A firm can operate efficiently hence reducing costs if state-of-the-art information systems are put in place. Though information needs are different in various organizations, it is a general agreement that all these firms depend on the information system just as a car depends on the engine. Different sections of an organization have different roles, hence they require different types of information systems. I researched to find out how management information systems are applied and their effectiveness in one department of an organization.
I visited a company which is involved in the supplies of equipment and office stationery. The organization is relatively large and has four branches in four different towns, with each branch expected to operate almost independently, except for the financial and human resource departments. The organization has more than 250 employees in all four branches, under the payroll maintained by the head office. The information about the period for which each employee has worked and the number of days are sent to the head office at the end of each month, and payment is done by the seventh day of the following month. Purchasing is done by the head office, and each branch maintains the records of all the products that have been received from the head office and sold.
The turnover of the organization averages about $200 million per year, with the main branch accounting for a higher percentage of this. There is one human resource manager at the head office who operates managers in every branch. Each department has a general manager who reports to the managing director, and a sales supervisor who is given the responsibility of overseeing all the sales that take place and also developing new business opportunities. Because the human resource manager is one for the whole organization, his information requirements must be higher, and this made me choose him for the interview.
As a human resource manager, he is expected to recruit new staff to the organization, as well as oversee the general well-being of all other employees in the organization. A well-managed human resource department will have a high retention of employees and good interrelations between the personnel and management. It is the responsibility of the human resource manager to ensure that a uniform organizational culture is promoted through encouraging positive employees’ relationships and building their morale to improve productivity.
The human resource manager is expected to discover the weaknesses of the organization, which occur either due to lack of training or insufficient knowledge and provide necessary solutions, which may include inside training. The responsibility of ensuring that the employees are free to air their goals, and consequently provided with facilities to make them achieve their professional and personal aims is also the human resource manager’s duty. A continuous new process needs to be invented which will mitigate risk and propel accountability in the organization, while creating a sense of belonging for the employees, and this is the thing that is expected from the human resource manager as well.
Organizational strategies need to be implemented properly for effective change to be noticed, and this is done by the staff who, if not well managed, will end up either not implementing the strategies at all, or implementing them in the wrong way which may be disastrous to the organization. Furthermore, it is expected that the human resource manager generates a system through which the employees can forward their grievances, or job-related stress and action are taken into account in that regard.
Employees expect to be promoted up the ranks; therefore, the human resource manager is once again called upon to come up with a method of evaluating the employees’ performance and the criteria for promotions. It is the expectation of the organization as a whole that the human resource manager will be able to see the career goals of employees and their talents through discovering the employees personally, and hence he should assign the duties accordingly.
The human resource manager needs to know the attendance of various employees, their tax deductions, and wage rates to prepare the payroll. He also needs to get information on the records of employee performance, and all the details appertaining the date of recruitment, age, job qualifications, and expected retirement date to be able to prepare for promotions and job advertisements. In addition to that, the human resource manager also needs to have a way of providing continuous online training to the staff to increase the competitiveness of the business environment.
Since the human resource manager is also an administrator and pressed in time to relate to every employee on personal grounds, he, therefore, needs a way through which employees can be able to query the human resource office directly online. Being a high-rank manager, the human resource manager also needs information on how other managers under his control are performing so that he can be able to implement changes where necessary.
To meet the information requirements that he faces, the human resource manager must have in place various information systems. He finds the payroll module very important because, at the end of each month, employees expect to receive their salaries. The payroll module will help in the collection of data about time worked by each employee, their attendance, tax, and other statutory deductions, as well as compiling the tax returns. The work time module is also another vital system that is present and helps in the processing of work and time-related issues. It helps in determining the number of employees in the organization, the number of hours each person has worked for, and the type of job performed. The main aim here is to analyze the cost of labor and the efficiency in the execution of duties.
It is also important to have a benefits administration system to ensure that each employee is evaluated and rewarded fairly. There are many employees in the organization, and the human resource manager may not be able to have the information about every employee of the head. This type of information system also takes into consideration the insurance information, each member’s share of the profits, the expected time of retirement of each employee, and the compensation requirements due to various reasons.
The Employee Self-Service module was also an important requirement since employees need to retrieve or update some piece of the information without manually going through the files. Since the manager needs to make some decisions in his line of duty, support is required to enable him to make the decisions quickly and timely. Decision support systems should be in place for this purpose. The human resource manager needs to have information concerning each employee of the organization for managerial purposes; therefore, personal and organizational-related information of every staff member should be available at the human resource manager’s office.
This information includes name, sex, marital status, address, citizenship, years of service, previous experience, education level, salary rate, history of employment within the organization, retirement, and health plan choices among other information which the organization may deem necessary. The employee information system is also comprised of the information on the work experience of every employee, work preferences, and special skills as these facts help the manager in the allocation of his duties.
The position control system is used to identify various job positions present in the organization, current employees serving the position, and the job title within the position. This helps the manager to know which positions are supposed to be filled. A recruitment information system was also in place to enable screening of job applicants, evaluation, and selection to fill open positions. It is important to note that a performance information system is present and contains data related to the appraisal and productivity information of each employee.
Besides serving as supportive documents during promotion, retention, transfer, and termination of an employee, it also serves as evidence in employees’ grievances and helps in several decision-making processes. To cope with the dynamic job environment, the organization deems it essential to continuously train its staff as well as encourage skill development through employee training and development systems. These systems enable the manager to ensure that the training offered meets the specific requirements within the organization and that it is directed to those who are meant to benefit from it according to the skills inventory system.
Data from the interviews with supervisors and affirmative action guidelines need to be processed and decisions are made on the same. Job analysis and design information systems are in place to help to deal with this need while providing job descriptions and specifications to order to maintain workers in the organizations, their grievances must be addressed with a lot of importance, and this is mostly done through their unions.
The system supporting labor negotiations is present, and it collects information from various sections, to be able to match the labor union’s and the organization’s positions with the current economic conditions. This also ensures timely delivery of information which helps in the facilitation of the negotiation process. Expansion is part of the plans of the organization, and to achieve this, the available workforce needs evaluation to determine whether it can help attain these plans or additional labor will be required. To get this information, the information systems supporting workforce planning help in gathering the most essential information.
While interviewing the manager, I realized that there is no infrastructure in place to ensure that all the governmental requirements are met, and this was left to the payroll module. There should be a separate information system implemented to ensure compliance with governmental regulations and organizational expectations, hence reducing costs associated with employees. The information system that is used to oversee the overall process of filling an empty position is given the function of controlling the recruitment application, selection, and placement, which is a very complicated demand from the information system.
The system that controls the recruitment exercise and oversees if all the requirements are met should be different from the selection and placement system, to ensure that only those who meet the requirements are selected, and to avoid the interview panel from having prior knowledge of who the interviewees are. The organization has a single software that handles all the training needs of the company, but various departments have different training requirements which would fit the targeted group. The organization will, therefore, benefit if each department gets customized software that controls the training and development needs of the department.
The collection of attendance information and the number of hours worked is carried out only by a section supervisor who does it manually by recording the reporting time of the employee and the time of leaving. This can lead to canvassing between the employees and supervisors to earn even on time not worked for. This system needs to be backed up with some electronic system which would be sensitive to hands or certain cards of the employees. Thus, the employee would have to log in when reporting in the morning, using his/her palm or a password, and log out in the evening.
Technologically the organization is advanced and uses the most recent innovations in technology. There is a department of information technology, which advises the members who might find it difficult to use the systems present in one way or another. The information technology department is also responsible for the implementation and ensuring smooth transition whenever a new information system is introduced into the organization so that the normal operations of the organization would not be affected.
Because of the continuous advancement in the technology used by the organization, the IT department is bestowed with the responsibility of ensuring that the staff is well trained on how to use the system before implementation. The IT department is also expected to continuously advance the level of technology used in the organization to increase efficiency, hence reducing costs as well as increasing productivity per unit of input. The organization implements the most efficient technology,
as this is the precondition to success in the industry, in which the organization is operating. To ensure that no wrong technology is applied, the information technology department is called upon to ensure that before implementing any software or technology, the laid down requirements and tests for any defaults should be met.
Though the organization has tried to implement most of the information systems required for the proper functioning of the day-to-day activities, there is a little dissatisfaction among the employees whom I managed to talk to. To start with, they are not happy with the time it usually takes for an employee who falls sick to be reimbursed the money used for treatment, and they complain that the system of reimbursement is not working well for them. The employees prefer to receive some medical cards that would be used in the specified hospitals as an identification mode for them to be treated and the organization to pay the bills.
The employees also want the process of promotion to be carried out in a way that they would also be asked to nominate any among them who, they think, performs well. They suggested improvising a way to rate the supervisors on their work performance by allowing the juniors to give comments through a secret ballot on how their managers relate with them to enable the manager to make well-grounded decisions.
The human resource manager is satisfied with the information systems in place as they allow him to perform his functions faster. But he complained that some of the systems require him to undergo training before he can use them and still he cannot use them effectively. He is also not comfortable with the output from some of the information systems which he is unable to operate due to the technical expertise they require, and are, therefore, operated by the information technology experts. To some extent, the manager is not satisfied because he operates a comprehensive human resource information system software, which is a bit complicated for him, and wishes he could get a simpler version.
Controls in place to secure the systems from computer crimes do not satisfy the human resource manager. If his worries are taken into consideration, then in the future, there might be systems’ changes to advance for the security of the organization. Due to advancements in the way that the law will want information technology to be handled, changes in the law might bring about changes in the way the organization handles its information needs. Regarding that, there are continuous inventions and advancements in the area of information technology that keeps on affecting the way the organization operates, and this will influence the use of specific information systems in the future.
An information system is inevitable in any organization; and, therefore, efforts must be made towards customization of the systems to fit the requirements of the organization. Employees may lack the knowledge needed to run the information systems, hence a specialized department of information technology should be incorporated in the organization to ensure that everything involving the information system is given a proper concern.