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All firms have an MIS. It might not be computer-based, and it might be lacking in many respects, but there is one. What we are talking about is a computer-based MIS designed to support particular management decision. This goal is achieved by assembling the MIS resources identified earlier. Some firms are farther along in this assembly process it needs. The process of developing an MIS is never ending, as firms strive to take advantage of new technology and methodology. Although much has been accomplished in MIS design in recent years, much more remains to be accomplished. firms will be involved in MIS implementation projects for years to come.
The MIS life cycle
The evolutionary process that is followed in achieving an MIS is called the MIS life cycle. In some respects, the MIS is like a living organism—it is born, it grows and matures, it functions, and sooner or later it dies. A given MIS will eventually be replaced by a newer or better one as the firm’s needs change.
As the MIS develops, it passes through several phases. In Part Five of this book, the MIS life cycle phases are identified as:
Analysis and design
Operation and control
Management responsibility for the MIS
The manager is ultimately responsible for the MIS. She or he is responsible both for developing it and for using it. The information specialist, the systems analyst or programmer, serves as a valuable technical assistant. As the MIS evolves, the manager must plan the life cycle and then control the various specialists as they set out to achieve the new system. After the MIS has been implemented, the manager must control the resources to keep system performance within tolerances. The manager’s overall responsibility and phase-by-phase support of the information specialists is illustrated in figure 1-1.
The information specialists play a vital role in the development of an MIS. They often trigger the manager’s interest in a new system by informing the manager of a new technology or method. The specialist is trained to solve systems problems and knows the correct procedure to follow to convert an ill-defined problem or symptom into a specific description of how the MIS can help solve the problem. Both the manager and the specialist follow this procedure to identify, evaluate, and select alternate solutions and to identify appropriate hardware and software. The specialist recommends a particular system design, but it is the manager’s responsibility to approve implementation. Once the manager makes the decision, it is the information specialist’s responsibility to implement the system.