Nateela Shabbir Student ID: 1079925
INTRODUCTIONThe company being discussed in this report is Widget Supplies. Widget Supplies is a young but rapidly expanding ISO 9001:2000 certified distributor of medical equipment. It sells several major product lines from a variety of manufacturers. Each product line is managed by a different department and sales are divided by region and office. Widget Supplies original sales and invoicing systems were established when the business was quite small, and were a typical blend of off-the-shelf retail management software and basic Excel spreadsheets. Widget Supplies key stake holders range from individual medical professionals to large hospitals and health care centres. (Case study)The information management issues that have come across the case study is Widget supplies is that they were unable to provide critical information and data in a timely manner. Because of this essential sales, budgeting commission and profit reports all suffered from these delays. (Case study) Other information management issues faced by the company were that some of the changes on the database had to be done manually, which can be very time-consuming and cause human error. This also made it very difficult to update as manually the new data was difficult to manage and caused a lot of constraints in getting the decisions needed. The sales database in place was too complex to and difficult for even advanced spread sheets to work with. A spread sheet formula entered incorrectly caused an error and provided incorrect information. Therefore the hand-crafted reports as outlined in the case study became too time consuming, complex, prone to error and difficult to audit. (Case study)
The Gartner Group believes that customer data degrades at a rate of 2 percent per month, making poor data quality a major obstacle to successful customer relationship management implementation (Klau, 2003, Laudon,Laudon 2006: 243).
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AIDS DECISIONS Any organisation that relies heavily on their information system need to ensure there are able to reach their strategic goals and meet all requirements for their suppliers, stakeholders and consumers. The major impact of information management is able to make a decision that gives you long-term success. So looking at decision, if you firstly look at what a decision is. A decision is like a physical force. A force changes the speed or direction of an object, such as block of wood sliding on a table. A decision changes the speed or direction of the events to which it is applied. Except if it was a decision to do nothing. (Laudon, Laudon 2006: 115)
RELEVANCE, TIMELINESS, ACCURACY AND USED.There are certain principles of information that need to be determined in an organisation to ensure a smooth flow of data. The four principles of managing information are relevance, timeliness, accuracy and used. These principles further on in this report will be discussed in detail in regards to how these principles can be implemented by Widget Supplies.
A general briefing on these principles can be outlined as:Relevant: What is needed? It can be said information is only relevant, and therefore needed it is used to make decisions.Timeliness: When is it required? Information is only required when decisions needs to be made.Accuracy: How is it required? Information needs only to be sufficiently accurate to make a decision. Used: What is already being done? Information that has already been available can aid to make decisions.Firstly when the company is looking at what information they need regularly, they need to determine what their objectives are, as well as decide what decisions they need to make to achieve those objectives. The company also needs to think of what information is necessary to support those decisions, and determine when the decisions need to be made. And finally decide on the accuracy necessary to make the decision. Therefore because information is relevant does not imply is it complete or in the most effective format (i.e simple). Other elements would also need to be considered alongside the relevance. Widget Supplies main objectives are to achieve the main information management characteristics, which for many organisations are, relevance, timeliness, accuracy and completeness. These characteristics are joined with other objectives of the company such as a good support of its business process and operations. Information management also supports decision making by its employees and managers and also support of its strategies for competitive advantage, and gaining a strategic advantage. RELEVANCEA company needs to decide if the information they are receiving is relevant by making good decisions to have good information. Therefore all the information that is relevant is there but none which is not relevant. There are implications to this principle can be if you receive information and do not make a decision based on it then you dont require that information. However if you request for more information this is not a decision, it shows you didnt get the right information you required in the first instance. And a decisions to do nothing can be seen as a decision, for example if Widget Supplies seen that their report showed an increase in sales the budgeting had been done correctly and no changes would need to be made until the report had to be run again, or any further implications had shown up.Decisions you make cannot change the past, only the future therefore information should only be primarily be concerned with forecasting. This has also been seen in the case study, as the future plans for WidgetSupplies includes a XempleX project to properly calculate, integrate, track and report sales commission. They have also looked at ways where the stock control and supply chain solutions are on the table, this is the decisions they are making now aiding with future decisions. Widget Supplies had to ensure the information they have is adequately relevant as the continued growth of the company made more information available and it was important to know which information is actually needed. XempleX solutions were brought on to aid with this. XempleX a data mining and reporting solution understood Widget Supplies requirements. XempleX as a business intelligence solution had a modest approach. They created new data entry forms were required to collect additional data, this was to ensure that all the relevant information was included and no vital data was excluded. The objectives of the company need to be communicated as well as the related decision to your providers. Widget Suppliers was facing problems with this as they could not simply answer the questions they needed to ask. Information providers need to tailor the information they provide to the recipients requirement. To ensure you have relevant information the company needs to make sure that the information to be provided will be sufficient to make the decisions, therefore no more or less.Widget Suppliers need to ensure they made it clear to their provider what decision they wish to make, and if its confidential be clear in their own mind what it isTIMELINESSEvery company has deadlines to meet, and information must always be produced as soon as possible. There is always a speed that information is required, and a company needs to make strategic decisions on this information. It needs to be determined the urgency of the information required. Most decisions are required urgently, but this isnt always the case. This is because other required information may not yet be available or it isnt complete therefore the decision cannot be made just yet. The implications of timeliness can be discussed as being the relationship between the position of the information user in the organisational hierarchy and the speed at which they are provided with information often results in information being made available in totally the wrong places at the wrong time. (Mason, Swanson:1991)XempleX provided WidgetSupplies a business solution that ensured the most important and relevant information was accessed as soon as required. As WidgetSupplies used manual forms and spreadsheets this caused a lot of delays but XempleX implemented a new easy-to-query reporting database with automated import/export routines, as well as autmodated calculations for mark up, margin and commission. WidgetSupplies system were now using automated systems that didnt give them many implications and problems which they faced earlier of not getting hold of the information as soon as required and the lengthy time it took to gather the information. When information is requested and provided relates to the urgency of the decision that needs to be made. Organisations need to allow the time needed to understand the information before making the decision. This will almost certainly result in providing information for people at the sharp end of the organisation (i.e the people dealing with the customers or clients) before providing it for the strategists)Another implication to keep in mind is when there is a rush for information it presents risks. It can then therefore be inaccurate and incomplete. This can then be more expensive to be produced because you might require more staff or pay overtime to current employees. Timeliness can also be a delay in the production of information which is needed at that time to make urgent decisions. The use of the internet or other data wireless connections also highlights another rish, and out of date information. Therefore unless the data is clearly dated, out of date information may be used for decision making. Therefore the decisions made are based on out of date information and impact the organisation hugely with a financial loss. ACCURACYAccuracy is often considered to be an indication of rightness or wrongness. But in practice when measuring for example a distance (kilometres) profits (dollars) or time (hours) there can only be degrees of rightness. The accuracy with which we can measure something not only depends on our measuring apparatus but on what we are measuring. Accuracy cannot be absolute and we need to therefore consider why need the required information. i.e what decisions are to be taken, before defining the accuracy necessary. The degree of accuracy you will be able to provide can depend on the past data you have and your confidence in the assumptions you have to make. Some decisions may involve information of varying accuracies. This has been seen in many organisations where a lot of factors influence the decision, and accuracy plays a very vital part in this. Kumar 2004 and Lucy 2005 have stated that Management information systems have been seen to be accurate and provide up-to-date and correct information when they are based on factual data. Data that is inaccurate, untimely or inconsistent with other sources of information can create serious operational and financial problems for the business. WidgetSupplies was experiencing the same issue until they came up with a quick solution. When fault data goes unnoticed it can lead to incorrect decisions, product recalls and hugely impacts the financial losses within the organisation.
The information that has been captured is actual information which is most relevant data that is processed and stored to provide an access to it when it is actually required. Important organizational decisions are based on the information provided by a management information system, due to which their accuracy is essential. All processed information derived from an accurate and correct management information system is typically free of flaws, consistent and complete. (Laudon,Laudon; 2010:330-335)Widget Supplies would need to estimate the sales and make a decision on this,therefore the information gathered has to be as accurate as possible. The information XempleX gathered helped to achieve how the information required. XempleX satisfied WidgetSupplies advanced reporting and analysis requirements with a custom-built solution that spread sheet users found familiar and easy to work with. Users could still produce basic reports directly from the original sales system, or use the new reporting exclusively. In some ways you have to make fewer guesses and those you do have to make are based on reasonable assumptions. USEDInformation has a great impact on decision making, and hence itsvalue isclosely tied to the decisions that result from its use. Information does not have an absolute universal value. Its value is related to those who use it, when it is used, and in what situation it is used.A XempleX solution extends the life and range of existing business systems. Complex legacy data sources are treated and merged with new data or produce comprehensive reports. XempleX solutions seen what WidgetSupplies had already done with their database and reporting system and in some cases they had to only adjust a few things. As mentioned in the case study most of the original sales data entry forms were adequate so these were left in place. Therefore they seen the vital importance of managing information where the used information can be useful in generating and assisting in new ways and forms as a business grows you require better and quicker systems in place. According to the Data Warehousing in Seattle, inaccurate and low quality data cost U.S businesses $611 billion each year in bad mailings and staff overhead (Laudon,Laudon 2006: 243Audit plans organisations create need to be efficiently prepared. All the relevant information has to be visible. It can be said that for any organisation information is vital, as the information provided aids organisations to make decisions. And decisions are necessary to achieve the organisations objectives. And this all comes down to the initial audit, and having a good information system in place. (Lucas:1990)An organisation has to have focused aims and all the information will fall in place in a simplistic way that is suited to the organisations way of doing things and carrying day-to-date duties as well as the long-term objectives the organisation wishes to achieve. Information Management Systems are very important and this case study has showed clearly the importance of a good solution in place.CONCLUSION Widget Supplies had to consider each and every are of their business to see if the information management objectives which are based on strategic decisions of the company need to be achieved. Firstly Widget Supplies had to consider did they want a system in place that would give them a quicker efficient database, or a database that as quick and efficient but also to give them long-term information that would aid in making long term decisions. The business process and operations from their current system had to be reviewed and analysed and XempleX helped to achieve this. Widgetsupplies knew what information is required to support the decisions that needed to be made. From this they helped XempleX to achieve a better understanding of their current system and their objectives. XempleX provided an efficient and effective cost-effective solution. They found that the visual object-oriented structure allowed them to navigate through different aspects of the solution far more easily than script-wizard or dialogue-based configuration systems. This in turn made it easier for WidgetSupplies to communicate needs and requirements during the development process. XempleX gave WidgetSupplies a new way to access data, and they no longer feel distracted nor forced into unwanted or premature changes to the business. To summarise deciding whether information is relevant is probably the most difficult of all. The difficulty is how to objectively judge relevance. Correct information is vital for correct decision-making and correct decision-making is vital for survival. Failure to use it properly must therefore be one of the biggest risks facing an organisation.Best practice needs to be applied for Information Management. Best practice is made from relevance, timeliness, accuracy and used elements of Information Management. Data quality represents the reliability and effectiveness of data. It cannot be achieved instantly; it is a vital and on-going process. A well-designed database and information policy will go a long way toward ensuring that the business has the information it needs
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