A modern manager is a person who does the most important task within an organization taking decisions. However, we can categorize his tasks among the categories of staffing, planning, controlling, organizing and leading. We would have to say that different managers at different levels spend different amounts of time and effort in each of these categories of activities.
Even though, most managers would be required to perform all the activities in their own domain of influence. For performing his tasks in each of the activities that have been mentioned above the manager needs information. Without information he cannot perform his work in any of the activities of planning, organizing, directing or controlling.
For example, a manager when performing the task of planning would need to know many things. Some of the issues in a generic manner that he needs to be aware of are the following:
- What is the objective for the plan?
- What are the parameters that need special attention while planning?
- What are the independent variables and what are the dependencies?
- What are the things one must be careful of to ensure that the plan is realistic?
- What is the context under which the planning is done?
- What are the key issues related to the plan.
- Who are the key people involved and affected by the plan?
The answer to all these questions will be required for the manager to come up with a suitable plan. However, each question even when considering from a generic sense would have several questions/issues embedded in it. As we can see a vast amount of information is required to even set the process of planning into motion. A manager in today’s modern competitive business environment may not be fully aware of all the issues and might not be personally aware of the information against each issue. This is the reason that makes the manager to rely on some system to provide him with this necessary information, Management information system bridges this gap by providing the manager with all the necessary information from different angles thereby making the task of the manager easier. The same is the case when the manager is performing tasks in organizing, directing or controlling. In each sphere of activity, the manager needs information such as in the case of planning. Normally, the means to get the information is through reports. Reports are formatted documents which arrange information in such a manner that the manager understands the meaning of the information being provided in the document easily and without any further analysis. Visualization of data and information is a common tool used to make the report easily understandable and to provide mangers with the insight on a particular issue. Visualization can be done in several ways. The easiest way to attain visualization is to use graphs in reports. A pictorial representation of data in the form of a graph conveys greater meaning to the manager than data being presented in plain text. Hence, reports have a bias towards graphical representation. Moreover, the pre-formatted nature of the report called the report structure helps the manager to access the information that he is looking for faster. He knows what information is available in which part of the report and can save time by accessing the particular portion of the report that he needs. This is another feature of report.
Role of CIO
Chief Information Officer is the head of the MIS department. He is responsible for the entire department. The CIO’s job is to ensure that the managers get the information they are looking for.
The key tasks that the CIO performs are:
- Ensuring that the MIS is managed properly. He creates and manages a team of people who are entrusted with the task on managing the system.
- Create security policy. He creates the security policy in consultation with the top management and decides on the type of information to give to different classes of employees.
- Limits the access of employees. In a centralized MIS environment all data is located in one place. If everyone accesses all kinds of information it will lead to chaos and confusion. The CIO in consultation with department heads decides on the type of access to be given to each class of employees in the organization.
The key skills required for a CIO are:
- Interpersonal skills. The CIO needs to interact with managers who are not fully aware of the complexities and possibilities on information systems. This leads to complications and conflicts. The CIO needs all the interpersonal skills to remain effective. He needs to be a good communicator to be able to connect to people to make them understand the limits of the system and understand their needs. He needs to be a good negotiator to negotiate conflict issues and resolve them. He needs to be a good manager to manage the diverse set of activities under his domain.
- Technical skills. The CIO needs to have technical skills as well as the ability perform particularly with respect to database management and system administration. The CIO needs to be technically competent to retain control over his team and to suggest solutions to his team in times of crisis.