Management Information Technology
The company selected for this paper is Tesco plc. It is worth noting that Tesco plc operates in the retail industry entailing grocery and general merchandise. Management Information System (MIS) would play a vital role in boosting the company’s competitive advantage in the retail industry around the globe. The explication of Management Information Systems and its relationship to Tesco plc’s competitive advantage ambitions would be guided by the theoretical perspectives of Porter’s Five Forces Model and the Porter’s Generic Response Strategies that focus on information systems and competitive advantage. A critical understanding of the key features and elements of the MIS and their applicability to the functions of the organisation would boost efficiency in the operation of the company. Some of these features and elements include hardware, software, people, procedures, and data. Additionally, some of the potential problems are difficulties in accessing data stored in central locations, down time, interference with data accuracy, and training and knowledge requirements. There should also be an understanding of the effectiveness criteria for MIS including skill level, hardware capacity, software features, the quality of data, and the efficiency of procedures.
This report provides a critical assessment of the role that MIS plays in the enhancement of Tesco plc’s pursuit of gaining a competitive advantage.
Company Profile and Background
Tesco plc is a British retail company that specialises in grocery and general merchandise. According to Mentis (2013, p. 26), Tesco plc is headquartered in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, England. Jack Cohen founded the company in 1919 as a group of market stalls before it was named Tesco in 1924. The first major retail store of the company was opened in Burnt Oak, Middlesex in 1929. The company continued to grow tremendously and had about 100 stores across the country by 1939. It was mainly focused on grocery retailing before it started diversifying its range of products in terms of other areas including electronics, books, petrol, software, clothes, and financial services. Currently, the company is ranked as the second-largest retailer in terms of revenue and the level of profitability. It also operates in 12 countries in different continents including Europe, Asia, and North America. The company has maintained an admirable corporate social responsibility record by staying in touch with the community. For instance, it started the “computers for school programme” to support technology in schools (Macdonald 2013). Tesco plc is also listed in the London Stock Exchange and continues to perform in the best manner possible in the UK and other parts of the globe where it operates its stores.
Features and Elements of Management Information Systems
The Management Information System (MIS) is relevant because it provides information that Tesco plc needs to operate efficiently and effectively. The MIS is made up of significant features and elements that would support the functional areas of Tesco plc.
One of the key features and elements of Management Information System is hardware. The hardware system entails the physical components that make up the MIS within the organisation. Alcami and Caranana (2012, p. 22) affirm that some of the key hardware parts that are available in the MIS elements of Tesco plc include the mouse, monitor, computer data storage, system unit, and the hard drive disk (HDD). These are the parts that make up the computer hence enhancing the smooth operation of the company towards the desired direction. This supports the functional areas of the organisation such as the finance department, the human resource department, and the marketing department by ensuring that data is inputted easily into computers. For instance, keyboards ensure that the required information is typed into the computer while the storage areas promote the storage of this information. Hardware parts would make the maintenance of records in the functional areas of the organisation easier and manageable for employees working in those areas.
Another vital feature and element of the Management Information System is the software parts. The software parts of the computer refer to the computer programmes that support the operation of the organisation’s systems. Software could be clearly divided into system software, application software, and malicious software. Some of the key software components that constitute the MIS include executable files, scripts, and libraries that ensure efficient functioning of the computer systems put in place by the organisation (Gupta 2011). The system software supports functional areas of the organisation in terms of maintenance of computers and assurance of the required systems of operation. The software features and elements of the Management Information System ensure that information in the different functional areas of the organisation such as the human resource department is stored efficiently. It also makes it easier for the organisation to create portals through which employees have the opportunity to understand the company better. Therefore, the software features and elements of MIS are vital for the running of the functional areas of the organisation in a smooth manner.
The third vital feature and element of the Management Information System is people. The feature of people entails individuals and groups within the organisation. Tesco plc has people with diverse skills who ensure the performance of different functions in the organisation. More so, groups form part of those people who work towards the success of the organisation. Simovic, Varga & Ore?ki (2012, p. 18) reiterate that people support the day to day operations of the organisation. The organisation is not able to succeed without the input of people in terms of marketing, finance management, and human resources management. Individuals and groups are always there to oversee the operations of the company in the best direction possible. They also develop programmes that facilitate efficient management in the areas of the organisation. The developed programmes promote the planning function of the organisation hence leading to the desired objectives fulfilled at the required time. Therefore, people form a key element of the MIS that would ensure that the organisation operates in a quality manner that would lead to the realisation of its targets in the retail industry.
Data is another key feature and element of Management Information System that needs to be understood by the organisation. Data refers to the unprocessed information that is utilised in the formulation of decisions within the organisation. Data supports the functional areas of the organisation such as the marketing department and finance department by ensuring that effective decisions are made. It gives managers an opportunity to make plans that would lead to the success of the organisation (Sousa & Oz 2014). It works as the preliminary stage of planning hence ensuring that appropriate objectives are set by the organisation. This would give it an easier ground in its movement towards a competitive advantage in the industry.
Lastly, Tesco plc is also characterised by procedures as a key element and feature of the Management Information System. Some of the key procedures in the organisation include documentation, design, research, and product development. Procedures support the functional areas of the organisation by ensuring a smooth transition from one activity to another. For instance, it ensures that everyone is involved in the decision-making process through significant mechanisms that start from the top management. Again, it promotes innovations in some sections such as the marketing department because of the procedures undertaken to discover new markets that could offer room for the growth and development of Tesco plc in terms of its competitive advantage.
Evaluation of Possible Problems Associated with Information System
It is vital for Tesco plc to understand that the computer-based information system is associated with some problems that could hamper the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.
One of the possible key problems of the computer-based information system is down time. This implies that the computer-based information system has the possibility of going down hence inhibiting the operations of the company. Abdelhak and Dalel (2010, p. 10) agree that the system could fall unexpectedly hence stopping overall operations of the company and accessibility to some of the key information of the company. This means that losses would be experienced because some information might end up being lost completely hence hindering the speed of decision-making within the organisation. The down time problem would make it difficult for the company to fulfil customers’ orders, respond to customer enquiries, and conduct any other forms of business meant for the success of the organisation. This problem is likely to take a long time to be solved hence requiring the company to delay its activities before it is restored. This would lead to the loss of customers and other potential market opportunities that would have been vital in ensuring the success of the organisation as a retail company trusted by customers across different countries. Therefore, the computer-based information system is likely to lead to the down time problem that would affect both internal and external operations of the organisation.
More so, the computer-based system is associated with problems of data accessibility. There could be a possible problem with data accessibility hence limiting the decision-making process within the organisation. As noted earlier, the management requires data for effective decision-making in line with the happenings in the organisation. In the computer-based information system, data is always stored at a central location and this poses a potential risk to the safety of the data. The central location of data is only efficient in instances where it is accessed only by the required persons. However, there is always a potential threat of such data being altered by hackers hence making it difficult for the authorised people in the organisation to access and use it. According to Kimble and McLoughlin (1995, p. 13), the loss of access to the central data is always likely to interfere with the normal functioning of the organisation because of the limited decisions that the management is required to make. Thus, the central storage of data in the computer-based information system has the possible problem of affecting the data required for decision-making. Managers would experience difficulties in accessing information in instances where the system is hacked by unauthorised parties.
The computer-based information system is also likely to bring about possible problems relating to training and knowledge management within the organisation. There would be possible automatic problems relating to the training and management of knowledge among employees. Some of them are likely to resist the computer-based information system because of the belief that it is likely to replace them in the organisation. It takes time and extensive financial resources to establish the computer-based information system and ensure that individuals are able to use it in the best manner possible. The slow rate at which employees understand the computer-based information system would be problematic to the organisation because of the challenges posed in meeting the goals and needs of the organisation focused on achieving a competitive advantage (Littlejohns, Wyatt & Garvican 2003). The high costs experienced in the process of starting the computer-based system and training individuals towards embracing it makes it difficult for the organisation to realise its goals. Thus, the computer-based system poses problems relating to training and knowledge development in the organisation because of the high costs involved and the high potential of failure in instances where it is not given adequate thought.
Lastly, the computer-based system is associated with problems relating to the input of accurate data. As much as the entire system might sound simpler to use, there are possible problems with the accuracy of the data inputted into computers for decision making in the later stages of operation. The information contained in a computerised system is always put into a computer by individuals. There are instances where people could make intentional or unintentional errors hence leading to the storage of inaccurate information in central locations within the computer. Inaccurate information leads to confusions within the organisation terms of billing and the evaluation of different demands of consumers within the organisation (Perry 2005, p. 27). The absence of supervisory measures in some instances makes it easier for employees to make errors while inputting vital data into the computer. Thus, the computer-based system is likely to promote the existence of inaccurate data especially in instances where it is not done in the correct manner. This explains why the organisation would need to invest heavily in the training of employees within the organisation for accurate input of data.
Identification and Description of the Effectiveness Criteria for the MIS
The effectiveness of the Management Information System (MIS) is described as the measure of the output quality in terms of accessibility, completeness, usefulness, and timeliness.
The level of skills is one of the key effectiveness criteria for MIS within Tesco plc. The skill level describes the competency of individuals using information systems within the organisation. Feliciano (2007) asserts that the systems would be efficient in instances where people working on it exhibit high levels of competency, experience and dedication. For instance, the hiring of information system experts within Tesco plc would play an instrumental role in facilitating the effectiveness of its MIS system. However, the effectiveness of the MIS is affected by the lack of competency and experience of information system users. This means that the company should be in the position of supporting skill acquisition through continuous training of individuals in the organisation.
The second vital effectiveness criterion for MIS is the hardware capacity. The hardware capacity describes the amount of space available in the organisation for the storage of vital data. The company needs to keep improving its hardware capacity and ensuring that adequate data is able to be stored for the organisation. This comes about with the understanding that managers rely on data for decision-making. It is difficult for the organisation to move forward with low volumes of data because of the problems that would be encountered in the decision-making process (Fortune & Peters 2007, p. 55). In instances where the hardware capacity is low, the processing speed is always reduced hence interfering with the normal operations of the organisation. On the other hand, a large storage space is always vital to ensure that high speeds are achieved for the effectiveness of the MIS. Tesco plc needs to keep using high capacity hardware parts for effectiveness to be realised in its operations.
Another vital effectiveness criterion for MIS is the software features. The nature of features exhibited by the software plays an instrumental role in influencing the effectiveness of the MIS of the organisation. Effectiveness is highly reliable on the software features put in place by the organisation to enhance its operations. The organisation requires additional advanced software features that would make it efficient in the realisation of its objectives hence achieving the competitive advantage in the retail industry. For instance, the human resource department could come up with additional software features that would show the characteristics of employees such as the time worked and the nature of work done. Strong and advanced systems are instrumental in enhancing the effectiveness of the MIS within the organisation. However, normal software does not come with an added advantage for the realisation of a competitive advantage in the retail industry.
The quality of data is also a crucial effectiveness criterion for the MIS within Tesco plc. Data plays a vital role in determining the quality and quantity of output that would be realised within the organisation. Tesco plc would only be able to achieve the competitive advantage within the retail industry in instances where it continues focusing on the use of adequate data for its activities. The reliance on quality data would automatically translate into quality decision-making within the organisation hence leading to the effectiveness of the Management Information System (Kornkaew 2012). On the other hand, insufficient data is likely to interfere with the decision-making process hence affecting the effectiveness of the organisation in terms of its performance. For instance, the high quality of data that the management at Tesco plc has relied on in the formulation of decisions relating to recruitment and customer management has been instrumental in bolstering its position as one of the most successful retailers around the globe.
Procedural efficiency is also a vital effectiveness criterion at Tesco plc. As noted earlier, procedures are helpful in terms of achieving the goals of the organisation. The absence of satisfactory procedures implies that the organisation would be in a difficult position to make the required progress as it moves towards cementing its position in the competitive advantage (Petter, DeLone & McLean 2008). Proper procedures at the company would undoubtedly be crucial in leading it to a competitive advantage by ensuring that all goals are achieved in the easiest manner possible. For instance, the procedures relating to the making of orders and the subsequent distribution of goods to customers would only be termed to be effective in instances where they are followed in the correct way. Defective procedures are harmful for the expected level of efficiency within the organisation hence limiting the achievement of the competitive advantage.
Analysis and Conclusion
The report has effectively highlighted some of the key features and elements of the Management Information System, the potential problems of the computer-based information systems, and the effectiveness criteria for MIS. It is vital for Tesco plc to understand the diverse elements of Management Information Systems that guide its operations as it moves forward to become the best retail company around the globe. The report is clear in the description of the fact that adequate improvements need to be made by the company to realise the desired level of competitive advantage. Porter’s Five Forces and Porter’s Generic Response Strategies have been the guiding theoretical basis of this report. This is especially because of their emphasis on the effective information systems that would enable the company to remain competitive in the market. For instance, Tesco has to keep adopting efficient information systems that would enable it to stay ahead of competitors and reach other competitors such as Walmart plc.
In conclusion, Tesco plc is the second-largest retail company around the globe. Some of the key features and elements of the MIS of the organisation include hardware such as keyboards and mouse that facilitate the input of data. Software such as the system software and people who work in the organisation facilitate its proper operations. Data is a key feature that ensures that proper decisions are made by the top management. Nevertheless, the computer-based information system is associated with the problems that might hinder operations at the organisation. For instance, the computer-based system suffers from failures in some instances hence affecting the operations; it is associated with problems relating to the training of staff, data accessibility, and errors that lead to inaccurate data. The effectiveness of the MIS would be highly reliant on the quality of data used for decision-making, the features of software, capacity of hardware parts, the competency of staff members, and the nature of the procedures employed in the organisation.