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  1. This course aims to introduce students to the rapidly changing field of management information systems. Computer-based information systems have become pervasive within modern business organisations and are increasingly affecting individuals, society and organisations in a variety of ways. Information systems can facilitate a range of organisational functions and business processes and even help improve business competitiveness. This course focuses on important organisational and management, rather than technical, issues involved in the effective design, development, implementation and use of information technology within business organisations.

  2. As we discussed in Topic 1, the use of computer-based information systems in organisations has changed rapidly since their early introduction to automate data-intensive activities and repetitive business activities. Increasingly, information systems are used to help organisations achieve some sort of strategic leverage over competitors. In this topic, we will discuss the different types of information systems that support different levels of management decision-making.

  3. In the previous topic, we classified information systems on the basis of the organisational level they helped support as well as the nature of the decision problems that were being addressed. In this topic we will classify information systems using a different perspective, i.e. the business functions that the systems support. Every business function within the organisation uses some kind of information system. For instance, we can think of systems that help support sales and marketing functions, manufacturing operations, human resources planning as well as finance and accounting. More recently, the concept of the enterprise system has become popular with the arrival of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that effectively integrate all the different functional areas thereby eliminating the need for separate functional applications.

  4. Few machines have changed human life as drastically as the electronic computer; it has revolutionised the way that we gather and process data to produce information. It is important to have a basic understanding of the technological concepts to make sure that managers apply technology effectively in their organisation and can communicate with technical staff when discussing their requirements for new systems. This topic will provide you with the knowledge to make intelligent decisions about computer hardware and software for your job. Hardware, in computer terms, refers to the physical components of the computer. Software refers to the sets of instructions that direct the hardware to perform particular tasks.

  5. In this topic, we will examine the opportunities and challenges raised by the phenomenal growth of the Internet and electronic business. We will discuss the development of the Internet and the significance of Internet-based applications such as intranets and extranets. We will also explore some of the driving forces behind the dramatic growth of e-business as well as some challenges faced by businesses in utilising e-business technologies effectively.

  6. In this topic, we will explore the concept of knowledge management (KM) and examine the increasingly important role played by knowledge management systems within business organisations.

  7. In previous topics, we have looked at the different types of information systems and their potential contribution to modern business organisations. However, what we did not explicitly state at that stage is the fact that the mere presence of information technology in an organisation will not make any difference to its overall performance. What matters is how this information technology is used and in what ways it addresses actual organisational objectives. For this, organisations need an information systems strategy to link to their overarching business strategy. In this topic, we will examine the concept of an information systems strategy and its relationship with the rest of the organisation. We will also look at certain popular tools and frameworks for business information systems strategic analysis.

  8. In the previous topic, we talked of the importance of aligning information systems with business objectives. We examined various tools that can enable managers to ensure that information systems address specific business goals and objectives. In this topic, we will examine the role played by information systems in what is called business process re-engineering or business process redesign. Here, the main emphasis is on redesigning an organisation’s business processes to make it more efficient and effective, often using information technology.

  9. As you have already seen in Topic 7, ideally an organisation should put together an information systems strategy that is based on its business needs, meets the demand for information to support business processes and provides applications for key functional areas of the business. If the necessary business information systems (BIS) to fulfil all of these requirements are not yet in place, the information systems strategy will include priorities for acquiring them. With a range of alternatives from which to choose, it is important that managers have a good grasp of the different factors that should influence the choice of the acquisition method. So we will look at the critical considerations of time, cost and quality, together with a range of other factors that the manager should take into account.

  10. The organisation needs a suitable framework to guide the acquisition or development of individual business information systems. One such is the systems development life cycle (SDLC), a series of logical phases that each successful BIS acquisition should go through. I shall outline each of the phases of the SDLC in this topic in preparation for more detailed discussions in later topics. However, the SDLC is only a framework not the solution to all information systems development problems. It has its own drawbacks, which we shall examine as a prelude to investigating alternative methodologies for information systems.

  11. In this topic we will look at the activities that need to occur in the project initiation phase and which can minimise the risk of failure later.

  12. In this topic we will look at the analysis stage.

  13. In this topic we will look at the activities that need to occur in the design phase.

  14. In this topic we will look at the activities that need to occur in the systems build and implementation phases. We will also look at the maintenance and reviewing once the system is complete.

  15. In view of the prevalence of end-user computing the information systems manager in the modern organisation needs to carry out a range of tasks to support end users. The highest priority should be the management of user information within the organisation – ensuring that it is secure, backed-up regularly, that its quality is maintained and that it is delivered to the user in a reliable and timely way. The latter requirement is facilitated by ensuring provision of an effective network and reliable access to the applications needed to work with the data. The information services manager also needs to administer other services provided to end users, including advice, troubleshooting and assistance in developing their own applications. This topic will focus on the management of such services and examine how they should be integrated into a company’s overall IS strategy.

  16. In this topic we will look at how data was managed before databases were in use, before going on to examine the ways in which a user may interact with a database. We will briefly examine the relational model and the questions it raises for the design of databases. Lastly we will look at the importance of database technology for Web-based commerce and to aid in decision support.

  17. As information systems become all-pervasive and as more and more individuals and companies are connected to the Internet, the potential for computer crime and fraud or unauthorised access, with the consequent loss of personal and company information to criminals, has increased. In this topic, we will examine the importance of information and information systems security within organisations as well as a variety of security controls that can help make systems more secure. We will also discuss the need for a security policy for organisations.

  18. The pervasive use of information systems has created new opportunities and challenges for individuals, companies and society. Individuals and companies can interact with each other more rapidly than ever. Businesses can be distributed globally and can reach customers and suppliers in even the remotest corners of the globe. The development of the Internet and related technologies has made it easier than ever before to share and access information worldwide and it is used to facilitate social and economic development projects to enhance the livelihood of communities in rural and less prosperous regions. While the benefits from the rapidly increasing use of information and communications technologies are manifold, it has also led to some new challenges and difficulties that need to be overcome by individuals and society, businesses and governments. In this topic, we will examine some of the social, ethical and legal issues raised by the rapid growth in the use of information systems.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Critically understand the importance of management information systems in business organisations as well as the variety of applications of such systems in specific business functions;
  • Be able to apply information systems management concepts within the context of the modern business organisation;
  • Be able to understand the strategic use of information systems and electronic business within organisations;
  • Be able to understand widely used techniques, tools and methodologies used in the analysis and design of information systems;
  • Be able to develop an appreciation of potential management and organisational challenges during implementation of information systems;
  • Be able to critically examine some of the social and ethical implications of using information systems.

Assessment

This module is assessed by a three hour unseen written examination.

Essential reading

  • Operations Management (Paton et al.)