Organizations and Information Systems

The Business Dictionary describes an organisation as a social unit of people that is structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals. Organisations require an organisational structure that will ensure different activities and roles are divided to its respective members in a manner that ensures the output produced is larger that the sum of its parts. It is the task of the management to come up with the organisation structure (Organising). The levels of organisational hierarchy can largely be classified into:

  • Strategic Level
  • Tactical Level
  • Operational Level

The strategic level largely consists of the top level management e.g CEOs, Presidents who are tasked with controlling and overseeing the the operations of the whole organisation. They rely on information from the tactical level managers to determine the direction the company is taking and and if any changes need to be made. The most important responsibility of this level of managers is to come up with the companies vision and making executive decisions that will affect the companies future. One of the most common information system used by this managers to help them achieve their goals is the Executive Support System.

Executive Support System

Executive support systems are intended to be used by the senior managers directly to provide support to non-programmed decisions in strategic management. These information are often external, unstructured and even uncertain. Exact scope and context of such information is often not known beforehand. This information is intelligence based:

  • Market intelligence
  • Investment intelligence
  • Technology intelligence

An African scenario where Executive Support Systems are used is in healthcare organizations.The leading ESS provider for healthcare organizations in Africa is Meditech Ltd which is located in South Africa and its products are targeted at Hospitals, Clinics, Laboratories and other healthcare organizations in Africa  and the Middle East.

The second level of the organisational hierarchy is the tactical level. This consists of middle level management whose sole purpose is to execute organisational plans set by the top level management that conform to the company’s policies, they do so by setting goals for their individual departments. These managers act as an intermediary between the strategic and operational levels of the organisational hierarchy. Some of the systems that assist these managers with their activities include Decision Support System and the Management Information Systems

Decision Support System

A decision support system (DSS) is a computer-based application that collects, organizes and analyzes business data to facilitate quality business decision-making for management, operations and planning. – Techopedia There are three categories of DSS. These are the Model Driven DSS which use models to aid in analysing decisions or choose between different options. e.g. Mathematical models to what-if analysis, Data Driven DSS which uses large amounts of data in order to draw up conclusions and Communication Driven DSS that is target to internal teams and is used to conduct meetings and for users to collaborate. The components of a decision support system are:

  1. Model Management System
    • Co-ordinates the use of models in the DSS
  2. Model Base
    • Provides the users of the system with a variety of models to aid in decision making
  3. Dialogue Manager
    • Provides an interface for the user to access and manipulate the DSS
  4. DSS Database
    • A storage location that stores all the data that is used to make decisions e.g. Data from the Management Information System.

An example of a system in Kenya is the TB Tech project that created a Clinical Decision Support System for Integrating Tuberculosis and HIV Care.

Management Information Systems

MIS is a computer based system that assists mangers in performing their functions such as planning. i.e Provide the information that management need to run an enterprise. An example of an MIS is the Kenya National Health Management Information System Program (AfyaInfo) which works to establish an integrated Government-owned and managed health management information system that is coordinated at national and county levels.

The last level of the operational level which consists of low level managers and most of the employees. This is where the rubber meets the road. The managers at this level are majorly tasked with directing and controlling their fellow colleagues in order to effect the goals set out for their different departments. In summary it can be said that the operational level is concerned with ensuring that the day to day operations of the organization are carried out effectively and efficiently. Information systems used at this level include TransactionProcessing System and the Enterprise collaboration System

Transaction Processing System

A transaction process system (TPS) is an information processing system for business transactions involving the collection, modification and retrieval of all transaction data. Characteristics of a TPS include performance, reliability and consistency. An example of TPS is the Smart Retail Point of Sale. Smart Retail is a state-of-the-art system that enables retailers to improve their profitability through swift POS tendering, accurate inventory management, continual operations, holistic reports & analysis with an ideal combination of customisation, functionality and controls. It is in use in some Kenyan supermarkets. Another example of a Transaction Processing System in Kenya is the Central Bank’s Kenya Electronic Payment and Settlement System. It is a Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) System in which both processing and final settlement of funds transfer instructions take place continuously from one bank to another. Settlement of payment transactions occurs in a transaction-by-transaction basis.

Enterprise Collaboration System

An Enterprise Collaboration System (ECS) is an information system used to facilitate efficient sharing of documents and knowledge between teams and individuals in an enterprise. ECS tools include the Internet, groupware, various forms of software and hardware and internal and external networks. An example is the Think Tank collaboration system that is used by procter and gamble.