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Functions of Information Systems

Databases & Information Systems Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

What

do we mean by Information Systems?

Information

is data that have been put into a useful and meaningful context and communicated to a recipient who uses it to make decisions. Information involves the communication and reception of intelligence or knowledge. (Burch & Grudnitski 1989) An information system (IS) is a formalized computer information system that can collect, store, process and report data from various sources to provide the information necessary for managerial decision making.(Hicks 1993)
Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2 Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Definitions

and descriptions of information systems almost all define them in terms of computer technology.
However,

we need to divorce the concept of information systems from its technological manifestation. Information systems are concerned with a much broader domain of interest than purely computerised application of information technology. Information systems incorporates information
Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2 Lachlan M. MacKinnon

technology,

but is also concerned with information and organisational activities. Since it is concerned with activities which are defined as being relevant to different fields of knowledge, information systems can be seen as an interdisciplinary subject. However, all that this means in practice is that the information systems professional should not be hidebound into addressing issues from a single disciplinary perspective.

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Information
We

Systems Functions :

have identified that information systems is an interdisciplinary subject that must be seen as more than just computerised information collection, storage, processing and distribution. However, in order to justify this argument, we must also identify what other functions information systems perform. We can identify 5 functions of information systems (Jayaratna 1994), including the information processing function described earlier.
Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2 Lachlan M. MacKinnon

1. Information Processing and Usability Function

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

2.

Educating & Learning Function


Systems should provide learning opportunities for inexperienced and naive users. Enabling users to make best use of systems incorporates the effectiveness of the decisionmaking process based on the information provided. Continuous examination and modification of models and decisions is necessary where users have to operate in a dynamic environment. Expecting users to abandon the status quo in favour of a new and potentially threatening system is unrealistic without transition information and support (change management).

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

3. Information Systems Development Function (Methodologies)

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

4.

Management & Control Function The Management & Control Function is concerned with maintaining efficient and effective performance of the first 3 functions, and also providing performance information for the Information Strategic Function. The breakdown of of tasks identified as belonging to the Management & Control Function can be shown by using the other Information Systems Functions as headings :
So the Management and Control Function is

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

concerned with the following activities, relative to the :


Information Processing & Usability Function : acquisition of new hardware and software (including upgrades and amendments/extensions) budget management cost analysis guidelines and policies (both statutory & permissive) supplier and service contracts task prioritisation quality control, safety standards and service performance communication and procedural controls for client and user requests , complaints, revisions and amendments

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

target-setting and monitoring (i.e. MTBF, MTTR, down-time, lead-time, production targets) user management User Education and Learning Function : provision for user training/retraining budgetary control co-ordination of training effort with requirements of other Information System functions timetabling promotion/promulgation of guidelines, standards, policies and controls user awareness of competitive products, new technology and models

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Information Systems Development Function : Project Management Policy on performance and delivery targets Decisions on standardisation, controls, constraints amendment/upgrade to systems on basis of user feedback, competitive factors, new methods/technologies, etc.

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

5. Strategy & Planning Function


As we have already identified, the Management and Control Function provides performance data to the Information Strategic Function, which in turn provides the Management and Control Function with the strategy by which the system evolves. The relationship is that the Management and Control Function is informed by strategy developed by the Information Strategic Function in relation to the following activities :
The Manager Budgeting

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Time Constraints Production Planning Auditing Quality Assurance Law Market Factors Competitive Products Capital Available Manpower Skills Distribution Technology Location Infrastructure Economic Trends Management Techniques
Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

From this list we can see that the Information Strategic Function provides the following necessary facilities for the Information Systems Functional Model : Supports corporate strategy Executive Information Support Comparison of strategic position with marketplace and broader markets Aid in development of existing market/product-base and lateral movement Aid in deriving corporate strategy Altering balance of power with suppliers, competitors, etc Identification of new marketplaces, products, approaches, etc. An information system is strategic if it changes an organisations products or service or the way it competes
Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2 Lachlan M. MacKinnon

in its industry. (Wainwright et al, 1991)

Our consideration of the Information Systems Functional Model leads to the conclusion that the discipline of Information Systems is an interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary subject. We can identify five specific areas of study :
1. Information Technology 2. Information Systems Functions 3. Organisational Studies 4. Social Implications of Information Systems 5. Systems Integration

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon

Databases & Information Systems - F29IF2

Lachlan M. MacKinnon