Management information systems (MIS) are methods of using technology to help organizations better manage people and make decisions. Managers use management information systems to gather and analyze information about various aspects of the organization, such as personnel, sales, inventory, production or other applicable factors. Management information systems can be used to evaluate the performance of the organization as a whole, certain departments or even individuals. Other management systems, such as supply chain management and project management, are often included under the label of management information systems.
Tool for Managers
In many companies, management information systems are used to create reports on things such as sales, revenue and production. These reports are provided at regular intervals to managers at all levels to help them evaluate their companies' performance. By comparing daily, weekly or monthly reports to previous reports, managers are able to spot trends, such as revenue growth or reduction.
Before the development of MIS computer programs, managers often had to rely on their own observations or assorted reports compiled manually. MIS technology, however, allows all of the information to be gathered, organized, processed and analyzed more efficiently. In many cases, information is automatically fed into an organization's MIS programs as it entered into the organization's computer network. For example, as soon as a sale is recorded, the company's MIS could be updated with that information, allowing a manager to see sales reports in real time, if necessary. In theory, having information that is current, accurate and well-organized will help managers make better decisions for their organizations.
In some organizations, the management information systems department is the same thing as what other organizations might refer to as the information technology (IT) department. In these instances, the MIS department manages the computer and technological resources for the organization. These kinds of management information systems also involve all of the data and information that is necessary to run the organization but are more focused on the technology for gathering and organizing it than on generating reports for managers. Providing security for the computer network and the information that is stored on it is another area of focus for these kinds of management information systems.
As a Field of Study
Many colleges and business schools offer MIS degrees. People who earn these degrees might go into careers such as business analysts, IT consultants, network administrators and information systems managers. Some of the qualities of people who are successful in this field include communication skills, problem-solving skills, the ability to use technology for strategic purposes, the ability to think creatively to solve problems and the ability to put their ideas into practice.