MIS usage in Supply Chain Management
Usage of Management Information System in Supply Chain Management
A project management information system is of critical importance to Supply Chain because it is one of the key delivery systems for effective project management and Supply Chain. It thus presents a means for building solid relationships and trust that can eventually lead to effectiveness and efficiency in suppling products and hence in productivity. In the process of building this important communication link, the management information system integrates project data into a management description that is in line with the project’s performance (Brown & Vessey, 2003).
Any project has the potential to produce multiple varieties and large volumes of data. This data is very essential in supply chain management because it is not very useful in supporting management decisions in its raw form. Management Information System plays a critical role through addition of value by selective moulding of the project data into information products that are used in the management of the project, reporting as well as in decision making (Shield et al, 2001). Automation of management systems usually supports important portions of the task that are associated with operating a Project management Information System. Normally, tasks that are performed manually can be found at various stages along the Management Information System information path.
There a few occasions during the project’s life cycle when all the different activities and processes that are related to the particular project converge at the same time during the project’s life cycle. Normally, these moments occur during the management’s decisions to initiate, plan for, execute or terminate the project. At all these important decisions, there is need to focus attention on providing a solid synthesis of information relevant to the project’s progress and a comprehensive snapshot of the project’s development profile (King, 2005).
If a management Information System designed to support milestone decisions is aligned, it has to be aligned in accordance with the decision maker’s directives and usually through their leadership perspectives. Further, it has to take into consideration the provision of information necessary to manage all intermediate tasks that lead to the realization of the milestone targets and objectives.
MIS is responsible for defining Requirements before Planning the Project
A management Information System cannot be relied upon to effectively provide what is not designed into its product coverage. Before planning for a project, all the management Information System projects status reporting and decision makes have to be determined both at the project level and also with the stakeholders of the project. There can arise very heavy penalties if a project’s Project management Information System products are not established at the beginning of tat project’s lifecycle (Monk, Ellen; Wagner & Bret, 2006).
One of the most important risks here is the potential to make decisions based on inappropriate or insufficient information. One other risk is the possibility of friction between stakeholders and the project’s team members due to mismatches in expectations for information. The third risk is the unexpected cost of planning again or having to manually extract data from the plans to use on correcting the deficiencies arising from stakeholder’s information needs. There can be no logic in expecting the project-planning data to match the management and stakeholders informational needs.
What to Include in Management Information Systems relevant to supply chain
The specifications for effective management Information System products are derived from answering the following fundamental questions:
What is the status of the particular project’s accomplishments in relation to the project’s scheduled commitments? This is important in determining the type and kind of supply to make.
What is the status of the actual cost of the project as compared with its initial budgeted cost?
What is the actual effort consumed by the project as compared with the effort provided for in the original budget?
What is the level of the current deficiencies as compared to target standards and previous work levels?
How many changes have been made in respect of the project’s requirements and processes used in developing the projects products and services?
Information requirements for any project vary with the five questions as identified above and these are relevant to supply chain management. The resulting management profile thus describes the current status of the project and tends to point towards the future. All the information products derived from these five key areas provide the necessary intelligence required for efficient and effective management of the project (Sheilds & Mureell, 2001).
Tailoring the project management information system to a specific Project
Tailoring of a management Information System product to meet the specific needs of a specified project is very important to the project’s organization. Before the actual beginning of the planning process there are three basic tailoring tasks that have to be taken into consideration. These are:
Definition of data elements to ensure integrity of meaning
Establishing the level of detail needed for each data element
Defining the time duration of the respective work packages
Tailoring of management Information System products in all these three areas as highlighted above promotes harmony which enables data input to the management Information System to follow a natural sequence for performing project tasks. This is normally provided for from data exists in the organizational information systems for instance the financial tracking system (Lowery & Gwen, 1994).
It is important to define data items so as to ensure integrity in data items and what they mean to both the management and the stakeholders. Defining of data items is also important in ensuring the integrity of the resulting project profile. For instance, if an organization’s financial system provides cost tracking system for projects, then it would be imperative for the project and its financial system to use similar definition of data elements.
Normally, the definition of costs associated with people’s efforts includes more categories than the usual salaries and benefits. In addition, people’s overtime efforts may not include additional provisions for vacation, retirement, or ill-health benefit costs. The only practical test for data consistency is the ability to produce Project management Information System management products by way of comparing similar products that have consistency in their definition (Wylie, 2009).
How MIS is important to Project integration and thus supply chain
Project management is an integrative process in which the addition or failure to take an action in can as well affect all other areas of the project. Thus project integration is an essential process in project management. There have been relatively few efforts made in the literature of project management with regard to the development of the theory of project integration management. The development of the concept of project integration has been assisted largely through the application of system theory. It has been widely claimed that one of the most pervasive intellectual tradition to intellectual.
Project integration is derived from treating the project as a system. The integration of a system is usually applicable to almost all projects because all projects are inevitably a system in one way or the other. Major system thinking gives a highlight on the interdependencies inherent between project elements and as such provides a way of thinking appropriate for effective project integration. This is further enhanced by identifying all the systemic relationships. System integration is normally facilitated especially when all project participants including the project manager adopt a holistic stand on the project. This helps set clear coordination in the performance of the project as well as in information flow between the various stakeholders and project management.
Project integration is important especially when one is dealing with different parts of the process and wishes to combine them to form an integral whole. Thus project integration is essential because normally there are diverse projects or subsystems needed to be accomplished separately. This integration is important in the realization of the overall project success. The various project phases have to be interdependent otherwise no meaningful integration will work. The existence of interlinked but diverse project elements and subsystems can also be defined as project complexity. Hence such a system can best be expressed in terms of project differentiation and interdependency (Wylie, 2009).
Projects are normally characterized by the level of complexity that they exhibit. Complexity derives from the fact that different projects contain different sets of interdependent elements. It is a well established fact that interdependency and differentiation are two distinct elements that are managed by integration. When the level of complexity is higher, the difficulties and importance of integration increases so that the actual level of differentiation is matched by corresponding levels of integration. In order to effectively integrate complex project systems, a variety of integrative devices are available for use. A key device is the project manager. Integration can be effected by engaging someone to provide an integrating role. Consequently, integration is facilitated as a key role that is a responsibility of the project manager.
The primary goal of system analysis is to determine the nature of the problem and perhaps help fix the system. This important step involves the breakdown of the entire system into different components so as to analyze the situation and engage system users in defining what needs to be created. Analysis of system requirements may at times require individuals or teams from client and also service provider sides to provide detailed and accurate system requirements. Often requirement analysis and definition is the most crucial aspect which is normally coupled with several communication gaps which if addressed well can lead to validation of errors and bugs in the software program.
All the system development life cycle phases serve as programmatic guides to the development of project activity and thus provide a flexible and yet consistent way of conducting projects to the depth that matches the scope and requirements of the project. Each of the system development life cycle phase objectives is clearly described with the corresponding deliverables. In any project management system, it is essential that project managers establish and monitor the control of all objectives in any phase.
Controlling of objectives is very crucial as it helps to provide a well phrased statement of the desired results and purpose. To effectively manage and control any system development life cycle initiative, each project system will be required to implement some degree of Work Breakdown Structure. This helps capture and schedule the work necessary to complete all the work associated with the project (Yusuf, 2004).
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