State characteristics of good management information system (MIS) (10 marks)

Flexibility: all organizations are dynamic and changes occur for a wide range of reasons. A good MIS must be able to adopt in order to meet these changes. Flexibility in the way system is designed is crucial.

Reliability: reliability is crucial to management and can be ensured only through checking and testing. Good standards help to make the MIS reliable as do validation and security routines.

Simplicity: simplicity in design will find its way through the system. Anyone can design a complicated design system but it takes real skill and experience to design simple systems which are easy to operate and control. Systems are obstruct and therefore, not apparent in complicated MIS.

Economy: the MIS should be cost effective. There are many hidden costs in the design, development and operation of systems, the most important of which is the time of the people involved. Costs should be carefully monitored once the system is working and compared with the original planned costs.

Helpfulness: unless the MIS helps in the planning, operation and control to the business, it is superfluous.

Consistency: information system should be consistent. There must be a line between all the data/ data should be collected by the same method and scale and should be presented at equal intervals.

Management oriented: it means that the development of the information system efforts should start from an appraisal of management needs and overall business objectives. Such a system is not necessarily for top management only. It may also meet the information requirements of middle level or operating levels of management as well.

Management directed: because of management orientation of MIS, it is necessary that the management should actively direct the system development efforts for system effectiveness. It is necessary for management to devote their sufficient time not only at the stage of designing the system but for its review as well, to ensure that the implement system meets the specifications of designed system.

Integrated: Developed system of information should be an integrated one. It means that the functional and operational information sub-system should be tied together into one entity. An integrated information system has the capability of generating more meaningful information to management.

Sub-system concept: Even though the information system is viewed as a single entity, it must be broken down into digestible systems which can be implemented one at a time by developing a phasing plan. The breakdown of MIS into meaningful subsystems sets the stage for this phasing plan.

2. Introduction of computer based information system in an organization can generate some amount of fear to change on part of the user.

a) List and explain six reasons for such user resistance

Lack of understanding: the user may not understand the benefits of using the computer system in their jobs. Thus, this will create resistance since the computer will be overlooked upon as an intruder.

Fear of losing their jobs: people usually associate the computer with loss of jobs and hence, they will be afraid that they might end up losing their jobs.

Fear of failure: since the computer is very new in a given working environment, the people will be afraid that they might never adapt to it.

Loss of control: the management will be afraid that once a computer is implemented, they might lose the control of the organization.

Threat to status: supervisors may fear being downgraded to the level of technician.

Isolation: a top manager deprived of personal information is made to depend on computer outputs.

Time rigidity: Total systems require programmed, coordinated action similar to mass production assembly line.

Job complexity: the introduction of computers requires new skills and hence need for training.

Threat to ego: use of unskilled operators to replace skilled clerks.

b) Advise the board of management of your organization on how this problem of user resistance can be resolved.

Advance planning and management of change is necessary: changing structure, behaviour, and technology requires total system orientation (i.e. the whole organization and its system would be required to make adjustments as change in one area inevitably affects many other areas.)

Explaining and discussing change before implementation can answer questions and reduce fears: employees should also where possible be involved in the planning and implementation of the change. (This participative change approach argues that allowing people to play a part in the process reduces psychological uncertainty and insecurity.)

Selecting positive people: only those people that are flexible upward mobile, capable, intelligent and self confident ought to be selected to participate in the process.

Avoiding coercive tactics: coercion will increase covert resentment and tension.

Providing valid information e.g. information of facts of both the positive aspect of change.

Minimum social changes: social relationships are important to individuals and should not be disrupted by the change. Informal relations should be maintained as far as possible. Avoiding pre-occupation with technology: the process must be sensitive to human factors. The appropriateness of technology is crucial but should consider people too.

Making change tentative: the process should begin on trial basis. This enables employees to test their own reactions and obtain more facts about new situations. It also helps to unfreeze attitudes and encourages people to think objectively about the proposed change. Change should be introduced gradually and in peace meal for people to adjust well.

3) Explain the factors considered when selecting the right computer hardware (10 marks)

It is important to check whether or not the computer has several sockets called port to connect to the external devices, such as printers, hard disks and communication devices. A greater number of ports give more flexibility. If new needs arise in the future, you can simply buy the required device and attach it to the computer.

Most microcomputers come with a monitor and keyboard. It is important to check the monitor’s resolution; high resolution is more pleasing and less straining to eyes.

Space: if space is scarce, you may want to consider the size of the computer and its peripheral equipment. The footprint is the area that a computer occupies. A smaller footprint will leave more desk space for the other devices.

Ergonomic: is the study of comfort and safety of human beings in their working environments. An ergonomic computer does not strain the eyes and arms e.g. keyboard must be comfortable to work with. Traditional keyboard cause muscle pain when used for long session.

Inquire about the reliability of the vendor. The warrant policy and the support you may receive after the warrant expires. Try to asses how soon he equipment will be obsolete.

Cost: the initial and the recurrent cost to be weighed against the expected benefits and/or operational characteristics of the facility.

Speed: this is the crucial factor because if quicker response is required than a fast method of data collection /input.

Volume: the facility selected should cope with the data volume to be input within appropriate timing.

Accuracy: the data being input should be accurate and give confidence and appropriateness in the intended application.


Discuss the generation of computer system citing their main characteristics (15 marks)

Computer generations

This gives a grouped summary of the gradual developments in the computer technology. The historical events are not considered individually or in terms of individual years but in classifications or durations more than a year, known as generations. The transition from one generation to another generation was and is influenced by the amount of research towards further development of the computer and the related facilities. The computers of like technological characteristics are grouped into a generation.

First generation computer:

These were the earliest time computers which were in use from around mid 1950s to late 50’s. They use big physical devices in their circuitry and hence were very big in their physical size. Their circuits incorporated e.g. the thermionic valves as a major logic element which was non-solid state electronic device. These computers consumed a lot of power and generated a lot of heat and hence, unreliable as the circuitry components were prone to failure.

They had limited internal memory which was based on the use of e.g. delay lines and the processor worked at slow speed as compared to the speed of the computers of today. Their design was based on the John Von Neumanos’s criterion. Examples of the first generation of computers are e.g. Univac a commercial computers known as LEO (Lyons Electronic Office)

Second generation computer

These were computers of the closing of the 1950’s to early 60’s which used transistors. They consume comparatively less power and therefore, resulting computers were more reliable and comparatively small in size.

The transistors and the diodes were based on the solid state technology, that is, the electrical pulses were not to flow through a vacuum as the case for the thermionic valves of the first generation computers. Their internal storage was higher than those of the first generation computer. The core memory replaced the delay lines and the magnetic drums internal memory of the first generation computer.

The processor operated at a comparatively higher speed than the first generation computers and the design of these computers/processors were on family basis that one family of computers have a set of related technological characteristics. These computers had programming languages whose vocabularies are close to the second generation computers include IBM 300 series ATLAS.

Third generation computers

The computers of this generation came into being towards mid 60’s and they used integrated circuits to replace the second generation physical transistor diodes e.t.c. The integrated circuits combined several physical electronic components within a small crystal called the silicon clip IC (integrated circuit).

The ICs are much smaller as compared to the physical electronic components hence the resulting computer was reduced in size as compared to the second generation computer. The smaller circuitry that resulted, improved the processing speed for pulses e.g. data pulses can flow faster from one module to another as compared to the flow within the longer circuits, where they travel considerable distance.

They have higher main memory capacity, reliable than the second generation computers. These computers are of increased processing power as compared to the second generation computers i.e. these computers have capacity of holding more than one set of instructions (programs) and operate on them apparently, what is described as multiprogramming. These computers can support more than one user at the same time, as connected through communication links from the work station, which can be situated over a long distance or within the same locality of the host computer, that is to say in short that these computers have got the capability to support communication facilities. Examples of such computers are ILL 1900 series and IBM 360.

Fourth generation computers

The fourth generation computers were a modification of the third generation computers technology. They use complex circuitry, an enhancement of the IC technology of the third generation computer. The design of this generation of computers is based on large scale integration (LSI) of circuitry and very large scale integration (VLSI) of circuitry. This generation marked the origin of mini computer which are in use today.

Fifth generation computers

The design of these computers was based on the VLSI technology, the micro clip technology that gave rise to the smaller computers, known as the micro-computers in use today. Examples of micro computers are IBM PCs, IBM personal computers) BBC micro etc. the micro computers are usually described as PCs or stand alone or desk top computers because they were designed primarily to serve single person at a time, though the trend is to have micro computers that can support more than one person at a time. The fifth generation is still a state of art of technology that relies on predictions and further technological refinements. For example the audio technology is still under technological refinement.


Oz, E., (1998), management information system, London: Cengage Learning

Saleemi, N. A., (1997), management information systems,

Saleemi, N. A., (2001) systems theory and management information systems simplified

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