Management information system, usually referred as MIS, has been defined by different authors in different ways. We can describe MIS as the interrelated collection of all the facilities and processes in an organization that provides to its managers the information used by them.
The facilities used by the management information systems today ranges from simple pen and paper to highly complex and expensive computers, and communication systems including transoceanic communication cables and communication satellites. Though MIS in most of the big companies today make extensive use of computers and other advanced information technology tools, the use of computers is not an essential or important component of MIS.
The processes of the MIS accomplish tasks such as acquiring raw information from various sources, processing and storing the information for subsequent use, retrieving required information from the stored collection of information, and making it available to managers. These processes can be totally manual using simple facilities like pen and paper, or highly complex and automated using latest information technology.
Thus MIS is a system using formalized procedures to provide management at all levels in all functions with appropriate information, based on data from internal and, if desired, external sources to enable them to make timely and effective decisions for planning, directing, and controlling the activities for which they are responsible.
There are five types of processes that may take place within an MIS.
Data Capture: Coding of the input data in a form suitable for processing by the system. Typically there are many different type of methods used for data capturing. The most common form of manual data capture is a person observing something and describing his observation orally or in writing. In computerized systems the most common method are the keyboard.
Data Storage and Retrieval: The most common method of storage is the paper record. Aadvanced technology now offers many different types of data storage system, both within the computer system, and as external storage mediums. Some examples include memory chips, CD and DVD, and flash memory. Linked to storage process is the retrieval activity to locate the required data and make it available for analysis and presentation.
Analysis: This process transforms raw data in information. In business some of the most common analysis involve simple operations as totaling, average, classification, sequencing, and ratios. Presentation of information in more easily understandable form is also one of the analytical tasks.
Information Presentation: This involves converting the information a form understood by the user. Thus giving a oral or written report are two of the ways of information presentation used in manual systems. In computerized systems the printer and the display terminal are the most common devices used for presentation. For transfer of information between systems to be fed directly to computers the external electronic storage media may also be used for presenting the output.
Transmission: This Transmission refers to transfer of information over some distance. Traditional paper based mail was one of the first organized information transmission system, which was later followed by telegraph and telephone.