Deciding how to organize the Information Systems function within a business is not as easy as deciding how to organize other functional areas. After all, sales and marketing has a much different mission than production and manufacturing. Information Systems on the other hand has similar tasks regardless of the functional area it is supporting. Sales and marketing needs access to data the same as production and manufacturing.
Larger companies and organizations develop an IT governance that helps decide the best way to organize the IT department for the benefit of all. Some of the issues to be decided upon are:
- Strategy and policies for using IT
- Accountability toward the organization‘s strategies and objectives
- How much centralization will take place within the IT function
- Does the organization receive a positive return on its IT investments?
Systems For Functional Areas
The typical information systems that support each of major business functions are: sales and marketing systems, manufacturing and production systems, finance and accounting systems, and human resources systems. These systems serve at every organizational level. Sales and Marketing Systems
Sales and marketing function is responsible for selling the organization‘s products or services. Marketing is concerned with identifying the customers for the firm‘s products or services, determining what they need or want, planning and developing products and services to meet their needs, and advertising and promoting these products and services. Sales is concerned with contacting customers, selling the products and services, taking orders, and following up on sales. Sales and marketing information systems support sales and marketing activities.
These information systems are arranged by organizational level. At strategic level, these systems monitor trends affecting new products and sales opportunities, support planning for new products and services, and monitor the performance of competitors. At the management level, these systems support market research, advertising and promotional campaigns, and pricing decisions; they also analyze sales performance and the performance of the sales staff. At the knowledge level, these systems support market analysis activities. At the operational level, these systems assist in locating and contacting prospective customers, tracking sales, processing orders, and providing customer service support.
Manufacturing and Production Systems:
The manufacturing and production function is responsible for producing firm‘s goods and services. Manufacturing and production is concerned with the planning, development, and maintenance of
production facilities; the establishment of production goals; the acquisition, storage, and availability of production materials; and scheduling of equipment, facilities, materials, and labor required to fashion finished products. Manufacturing and production information systems support manufacturing and production activities.
These information systems are also arranged by organizational level. At the strategic level, these systems deal with the firm‘s long term manufacturing goals, such as where to locate new plants or whether to invest in new manufacturing technology. At the management level, these systems analyze and monitor manufacturing and production costs and resources. At knowledge level, these systems deal with creating and distributing design knowledge or expertise to drive the production process. At the operational level, these systems deal with the status of production tasks.
Finance and Accounting Systems
The financial function is responsible for managing the firm‘s financial assets, such as cash, stocks, bonds, and other investments in order to maximize the return on these financial assets. It also manages the capitalization of the firm (finding new financial assets in stocks, bonds, or other forms of debt). The finance function must also obtain a considerable amount of information from sources external to the firm in order to determine whether the firm is getting the best return on investments.
The account function is responsible for maintaining and managing the firm‘s financial records (such as receipts, disbursement, depreciation, payroll) to account for the flow of funds in the firm. Finance and accounting information systems support finance and accounting activities.
These information systems are also arranged by organizational level. At the strategic level, these systems establish long-term investment goals for the firm and provide long-range forecasts of the firm‘s financial performance. At the management level, these systems help managers oversee and control the firm‘s financial resources. At the knowledge level, these systems support finance and accounting by providing analytical tools and workstations for designing the right mix of investments to maximize returns for the firm. At the operational level, these systems track the flow of funds in the firm through transactions.
Human Resources Systems:
The human resource function is responsible for attracting, developing, and maintaining the firm‘s work force. This function support activities such as identifying potential employees, maintaining complete record on existing employees, and creating programs to develop employees‘ talent and skills. Human resources information systems support these activities.
These information systems are also arranged by organizational level. At the strategic level, these systems identify the manpower requirements (skills, educational level, types of position, number of positions, and cost) for meeting the firm‘s long-term business plans. At the management level, these systems help managers monitor and analyze the recruitment, allocation, and compensation of employees. At the knowledge level, these systems support analysis activities related to job design, training, and the modeling of employee career paths and reporting relationships. At the operational level, these systems track the recruitment and placement of the firm‘s employees.