Don’t MIS the six Rs
It is said that 70% percent of our time at work is spent in recording, searching, processing and communicating. Seventy percent on a regular eight hour day- roughly 5.6 hours! Imagine how much time an entire company can save by just making sure that its information is accurate, secure and in the right place. In short: time is money, and a company’s Management Information Systems (MIS) have a direct impact on all of it.
There are plenty of definitions of Management Information System (MIS), but I usually describe it as an integrated user-machine system for providing information to support operations, management and decision-making functions within an organization. Simply stated, MIS refers to the processing of information through computers and other intelligent devices.
The heart is often described as the central part of the body; in order for the body to work, the heart needs to pump out clean blood to all the body’s parts and without this function, the body can’t work properly. MIS perform the same function for a company, acting as the “heart” that instead of pumping out blood, pumps out information to the company's various parts. This “heart” ensures that the blood is reaching the right part of the body, in the right way, when it is needed.
Get it Right
I can see a number of similarities between a company’s MIS and the heart. Actually, we want our systems to work just like the heart, and this can be achieved by developing MIS through the six “Rs” - guidelines for information when developing MIS in order to meet six essential goals. These are:
1. Right information
2. Right person
3. Right way
4. Right time
5. Right place
6. Right cost
To me, these guidelines are very important because in today’s workplace and world lack of information isn’t the problem, it’s actually the opposite. So what can we do? By implementing the six Rs an organization can function with a good amount of information, but in reality, the six Rs are not so easy to achieve!
Three ways to avoid pitfalls
When working with MIS it’s important to have in mind that there are plenty of challenges, and I would like to share three methods I have used to avoid some of the pitfalls.
1. Make sure that you have a good management system
Sadly, even an excellent Management Information System can’t make up for a poor existing management system. This is because MIS is based upon the management system. If the building materials within a house are not of good quality, the finished house will also be of a lesser quality. It is vitally important to ensure that the management system in place is correct before you begin to develop your MIS.
2. Limit information
As a society, we have gone crazy for information which has led to an information overflow. How many times have you found the same information in several places? The same files or documents in multiple folders throughout the network? This is an example of information overflow and a poorly developed MIS; this has the potential to make MIS impersonal.
3. Define the organization
Attempting to start developing MIS before the company's purpose and goals are clearly defined is a common problem for many companies. Lack of information could later lead to unnecessarily wasted time investigating problems. If there is a clearly defined mission statement these problems could be dealt with routinely. Avoid reinventing the wheel!!
We’re developing through co-operation
As the Business Support & Analyst at Troax, my job is to make sure that our company fulfils the six Rs. This is an endless process, as both the company and the outside world are constantly developing just as we want it to do.
In order to meet the six Rs, I’m constantly working on getting ideas, thoughts, and suggestions from my contacts around the world. As it says in my title, my role is to support the organisation and this can only be done by listening and discussing new ideas and solutions with my contacts.
To better illustrate this, my contacts are the body's “electrical impulses” that make the heart pump its blood. My contacts contribute information that assists me in developing better MIS after analysing it through the six Rs, ultimately leading to an impulse that causes our finely tuned MIS to pump out information to the organization. Without new thoughts and ideas about how I can develop our MIS, it stops, leading to ageing and, in many cases, inaccurate information. Therefore...
I will do anything in my power to ensure that Troax’s MIS “heart” continues to beat, over and over again.