Information Systems in the Business environment
An information system is a vital asset in any organization seeking to gain a competitive advantage over other players in the market and command a large customer base. It focuses on the gathering and analysis of the information required by the management to make strategic decisions. Each level of the organization utilizes the information system differently depending on the information being processed.
For example, at the operational level, the information system gathers, authenticates and registers transactional data relating to the purchase or sale or the distribution of the organization’s scarce resources amongst the various departments that have a high demand on the resources depending on the organization’s criteria for distribution. At the operational planning is the basis of all the activities that are to follow since they will be directly dependent on the findings at the operational level. An important characteristic to note is that at the operational level, the Information system will be detailed in nature and also repetitive since data is loaded into the system in its very raw form. The data may also be predictable and draws a lot from past events and occurrences.
The other level of management in an organization is the tactical level where the information system is specially tuned to give the middle-level managers adequate information to monitor and control the operations of the organization. Due to the middle-level manager’s position that receives information that is more synthesized and can, therefore, allocate the organization’s resources more efficiently. The tactical information system may be a little different from the operational information system. This is because the operational informational system is predominantly used to support the execution of duties and tasks whereas the tactical information system takes more of a supervisory role as well as the synthesis of the information received from the operational level to more refined information for the top level managers.
The topmost level of management also uses a different information system where the information used is the kind that will help them make long term decisions for the organization with minimal speculation. The information being handled is sensitive and therefore measures are taken to reduce the risk of making wrong decisions by an emphasis on accuracy of the information. They, therefore, use the strategic planning system to forecast long-term company objectives.
The organization is a mortgage and finance brokerage firm with a head office located in Rhodes. The information from the clients is received either directly to the head office but there are also other means of relaying the information either via email or by making a call.
Another finding is that the chain of information flow is short since the information is passed directly from the client to the managers in the organization and then an appointment is set up to discuss the details of the matter.
A needs and analysis worksheet is used to critically analyze the requirements for every case and it is also the basis for determining the validity of the client’s request for a loan. The needs analysis worksheet bears records of previous transactions and is also used to determine how much loan the client is entitled to based on the information received.
There is a list of all the financial institutions and the loan rates of interest that comes with every loan package for the client to choose the rate that he is most comfortable with. The mortgage and finance brokerage firm comes in to help the client narrow down his options by selecting four of the best financial institutions based on the client’s desires and needs as well as his ability to repay the loan and the specific requirements for the financial institution.
To fully qualify for the loan there is a list of requirements that are needed for identification and also as security and this includes the driver’s license, passport, medical card, bank card and a personal income statement to prove the client’s ability to service the loan and also reduce the default risk.
Upon successful application for the loan, the brokerage firm presents the documents to the financial institutions and two out of the four will present their terms and the client is allowed to select only one of the two.
Another finding is that the organization/brokerage firm receives a commission from the financial institutions depending on the number of clients that they have helped secure loans with them. The data collected is kept at the head office and all the documents of security are scanned and also secured in a vault. Important information is also secured in a disk kept by the firm’s manager.
It is also worth noting that the organization’s forecasts are based on the previous periods and the only determinant as to whether the company has improved in its performance can only be noted at the end of the financial year while filing for company tax.
Analysis of the findings.
The mortgage and finance firm does not have specific information systems for specific levels probably due to its nature of business. Instead of having the operational, tactical planning and strategic planning information system, they all seem to have been merged into one general information system where the raw data is collected, recorded, analyzed and interpreted to make decisions.
There is a low level of bureaucracy since the information received by the client does not have to go through many levels of analysis from the bottom to the top management but it is transmitted directly to the managers who respond promptly. This reduces the chances of information break down.
The needs and analysis worksheet helps to classify the information received by providing a platform for effectively analyzing the data and drawing conclusions based on previous period cases that are closely related. The worksheet also forms a crucial part of the document that is to be secured by the organization for future reference and they will also help to upgrade the information system used by the organization.
Short term and long term forecasting are a vital process in any organization seeking to gain competitive advantage. The organization has poor ways of future forecasting since it depends only in the previous period’s performances and the company tax filings at the end of the financial year.
The organization should seek to establish the three levels of information systems that will help it have a competitive advantage over the other players in the market for loan brokerage. The three-level information systems are based on the three levels of management, operational, middle-level, and top-level management.
It should also improve on its basis of forecasting other than depending on the previous year’s performance or the filing at the end of the financial year. The organization could do an analysis of competitors and how they perform and could benchmark their performance using their competitor’s performance as well as their own performance.
The organization can also develop a website that will help it increase its customer base. The website will be able to reach a larger pool of clients and will also enable the organization to monitor the information flowing through the website, get feedback and recommendations from the clients or potential clients.
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