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The term information system usually refers to a computer-based system, one that is designed to support the operations, management, and decision functions of an organization. Information is data that have been put into a meaningful and useful context and communicated to a recipient who uses it to make decisions. The characteristics of good information are relevance, timeliness, accuracy, cost-effectiveness, reliability, usability, exhaustiveness, and aggregation level.
Information has a great impact on decision making, and hence its value is closely tied to the decisions that result from its use. Economists distinguish value from cost or price of a commodity incurred to produce or procure the commodity. The concept of normative value of information has been developed by economists and statisticians and is derived from decision theory. Information supports decisions, decisions trigger actions, and actions affect the achievements or performance of the organization. For most information systems, particularly those supporting middle and top management, the resulting decisions often relate to events that are not strictly defined and involve probabilities that cannot be quantified.
Simon (1977) describes the process of decision making as comprising four steps: intelligence, design, choice, and review.
Each of these databases can be summarized and converted to single tabular presentations of information of interest to management.
Information obtained from these kinds of analyses is normally summarized in a two-way tabular format.
Information regarding these various attributes helps managers to make more enlightened decisions. The choice of an appropriate management information system (MIS) category primarily depends on the nature of the decisions it supports.
National agricultural extension systems, especially in developing countries, tend to be very large.
As suggested above, at every phase of the management process, managers need information in order to make effective decisions. The main purpose of management information systems is to provide management information to decision makers at various levels in the organization. The following are suggested steps to follow when designing a MIS for a national agricultural extension system. An investigation needs to be conducted into the types of decisions that extension managers have to make.
The number of information groups within an agricultural extension organization has to be decided because each group potentially will require a different type of information.
Data processing consists of identifying each item of data and systematically placing it within a scheme that categorizes data items on the basis of some common characteristic or feature. Documentation (storage and retrieval) involves storing items of information in an orderly manner.
Storage media are materials such as ordinary office paper, magnetic tapes, magnetic disks, microfilms, film strips, and a few other devices. Presentation of information should be in a form and format suitable to the needs of extension managers. Flexibility means the ability to retrieve information from a system in whatever form it may be needed by decision makers.
Data are usually generated at the field level through transaction-processing systems, but once the data are captured, any echelon along the organizational hierarchy may use them, provided that information requirements have been well defined, appropriate programmes have been implemented, and a means has been arranged for the sharing of the data. The term database may refer to any collection of data that might serve an organizational unit. The idea of a large corporate database that can be flexibly shared by several applications or model bases has been realized by means of software packages specially devised to perform such tasks.
The two principal blocks that facilitate development and use of MIS are DBMS and telecommunications. A completely centralized information system handles all processing at a single computer site, maintains a single central database, has centralized development of applications, provides central technical services, sets development priorities centrally, and allocates computer resources centrally. A completely decentralized system may have no central control of system development, no communication links among autonomous computing units, and stand-alone processors and databases at various sites. An advantage of centralized information systems is that they provide for standardization in the collection of data and the release of information. Observations indicate that user motivation and satisfaction are increased under a decentralized environment.
It is likely that for national agricultural extension systems, neither a completely centralized nor a completely decentralized system is desirable. The widespread use of personal computers and computer-based workstations has brought with it the age of end-user computing. A national agricultural extension system is a nationwide system managed by the national government. Keeping in view the requirements of the extension system and the budget constraints of the states, a typical design of the computer-based MIS is shown in Figure 2. In this chapter, we have defined and described the basic concepts of a management information system. We consolidate expertise used in automobile production process management systems and support the management and control of the processes of body manufacturing, painting, and assembly at vehicle factories. SEQUENCER : Accurately drafts production sequence plans for automobile manufacturing factories. POP : Controls production instructions and result collection for the manufacturing process for sub-lines. Unit processing : Controls the casting, forging and processing processes for unit products in a lot production system. Unit assembly : Controls the assembly and inspection process for unit products in a mixed-flow production system.
NXAUTO is a software package that supports the automobile manufacturing process as a core system aiming to ensure Q, D and C - the basics of creative manufacturing. Reducing inventories by providing information about synchronous production and parts supply, etc. To integrate in a package our more than 30 years of experience with automobile manufacturing control systems. To cover the functions peculiar to automobiles that cannot be fully covered by a universal MES package. To follow autonomous decentralization technology, industrial standard technology, Web technology, and other advanced technologies.
Data may be a collection of facts lying in storage, like a telephone directory or census records.
Large quantities of data can be processed quickly through computers aiding in the conversion of data to information.


Currency of data or information is the time gap between the occurrence of an event in the field until its presentation to the user (decision maker). Obviously, the value of a product must be higher than its cost or price for it to be cost-effective. The basic premise of the theory is that we always have some preliminary knowledge about the occurrence of events that are relevant to our decisions. If we can measure the differences in performance, we can trace the impact of information, provided that the measurements are carefully performed, the relationships among variables are well defined, and possible effects of irrelevant factors are isolated.
The decision-making process often is obscure and the outcomes are scaled by multiple and incomparable dimensions. The intelligence stage encompasses collection, classification, processing, and presentation of data relating to the organization and its environment. Mason and Swanson (1981) describe four categories of management information systems: (1) databank information system, (2) predictive information system, (3) decision-making information system, and (4) decision-taking information system. The responsibility of this information system is to observe, classify, and store any item of data which might be potentially useful to the decision maker. This system goes one step further in the process of decision making and incorporates the value system of the organization or its criteria for choosing among alternatives. Examples of decision-taking information systems are not usually found in an extension organization. Management is so confident in the assumptions incorporated in the system that it basically relegates its power to initiate action to the system itself. While unstructured decisions may use MIS-category (I), the highly structured ones, such as production schedules in an industry, may use MIS-category (iv). For example, in India, the national agricultural extension system employs about 125,000 people.
For example, village extension workers (VEWs) seek solutions to their problems from their supervisors. As an example, in India, the reorganized national agricultural extension system can be grouped as shown in Table 1. Data not organized into a meaningful pattern can serve almost no useful purpose to those who must use them to make decisions.
Storing information means recording it on storage media from which it can be made available when needed.
Once the information is recorded on these storage media, the system can generate, on demand, information required for making decisions, solving problems, or performing analyses and computations. Generally, information is presented in reports, statistical summaries, analyses, and so forth in the form of text, figures, charts, tables, and graphs. Therefore, data need to be collected in some detail so that they can be rearranged or summarized according to the needs of managers. This would imply that the same data can be used by different sets of programmes; hence we distinguish between the database (a set of data) and the applications (a set of programmes). A database on a given subject is a collection of data on that subject that observes three criteria: comprehensiveness (completeness), nonredundancy, and appropriate structure.
The former makes data integration possible, while the latter brings information closer to the end users, who constitute nodes in a telecommunication network.
The system's remote users are served by transporting input and output data physically or electronically. Each unit funds its own information-processing activities and is totally responsible for all development and operation. This is attained because users feel more involved and more responsible, systems are better customized to their specific needs, and they usually get better response time in routine operations as well as in requests for changes. End-user computing is a generic term for any information-processing activity performed by direct end users who actually use terminals or microcomputers to access data and programmes. In India, agriculture is a state subject under the division of powers between the national and the state levels.
The characteristics of good information, namely, relevance, timeliness, accuracy, cost-effectiveness, reliability, usability, exhaustiveness, and aggregation level, have been described.
The advantages and disadvantages of centralized versus decentralized systems have been examined.
Approximately 30 systems are operating at automobile manufacturers all over the world, in order to support global SCM. Information systems encompass transaction processing systems, management information systems, decision support systems, and strategic information systems.
Thus a management information system collects, transmits, processes, and stores data on an organization's resources, programmes, and accomplishments. It appraises and notifies, surprises and stimulates, reduces uncertainty, reveals additional alternatives or helps eliminate irrelevant or poor ones, and influences individuals and stimulates them to action. Raw data enter the system and are transformed into the system's output, that is, information to support managers in their decision making.
When this amount of time is very short, we describe the information system as a real-time system. Its value is related to those who use it, when it is used, and in what situation it is used. Additional information might modify our view of the occurrence probabilities and consequently change our decision and the expected payoff from the decision. The measured difference in performance due to informational factors is called the realistic value or revealed value of information.
In such cases, we may either attempt to perform a multiattribute analysis or derive an overall subjective value.
The classification is based on the level of support that the information system provides in the process of decision making. Predictive information systems provide for the drawing of inferences and predictions that are relevant to decision making.
Managers can then use such information to make predictions, for example to forecast costs of particular undertakings for budgeting purposes or as a basis for predicting results if a given change is made, such as change in the number of demonstrations with a given change in staffing. Extension managers at various levels need relevant information in order to make effective decisions. It does not include purely functional information or technical information, such as packages of practices for rice or wheat cultivation. In turn, supervisors need to be in a position to resolve these problems and to document how problems were solved for future reference.
They need information on staffing, transport, research-extension linkages, staff training activities, and successes (or lack of them) in solving technical problems.
Information retrieval refers to the ability to take different types of data in the storage media and to array information in some desired and meaningful format. Some input devices allow direct human-machine communication, while others require data to be recorded on an input medium such as a magnetizable material (specially coated plastic flexible or floppy disks and magnetic tapes). In a decision support system (DSS), this set of programmes is the model base (Keen & Morton, 1978). Comprehensiveness means that all the data about the subject are actually present in the database.


The notion of telecommunications implies that some geographical distance exists between the computer site and the users' locations and that data are electronically transmitted between them.
A centralized system reduces the need for multiple hardware, software, space, personnel, and databases.
The manager as end user may be provided with powerful software (like DBMS) for accessing data, developing models, and performing information processing directly. Nevertheless, the national government supplements the financial resources of the states and provides coordination at the national level. Suitable programmes for the analysis of data may be designed to provide an interactive decision support system at the state level. The role of information systems in the process of decision making and the value of information have been explained.
The need for organizing databases and their integration and the need for programmes for decision analysis to evolve a decision support system have been explained.
Singh is Professor, Division of Agricultral Extension, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; and R.
The system makes possible the conversion of these data into management information for use by decision makers within the organization. The value of additional information is, hence, the difference in expected payoff obtained by reduced uncertainty about the future event. The subjective value reflects people's comprehensive impression of information and the amount they are willing to pay for specific information (Ahituv, Neumann, & Riley, 1994). During the decision stage, the decision maker outlines alternative solutions, each of which involves a set of actions to be taken. If data from the above examples were to be used in this way, it is possible to obtain information useful for making predictions or for drawing inferences. They include concerns for resolving farmer problems, increasing and providing for stability of farmer incomes, and improving the quality of farm life. Once activated, the system itself keeps the plane on course and at the proper speed and altitude (according to parameters determined by the pilot). In the absence of such information, they act only on the basis of their intuition and past experience. Management information is the information required by managers as they make their decisions, such as the number of extension personnel employed by category, their training requirements, career development plans, job descriptions, budgets, forecasts, benchmark surveys, reports on socioeconomic conditions of people served, and existing facilities (Ramesh Babu & Singh, 1987). Feedback is needed from field staff and farmers on farmer problems and on which recommended practices are helpful.
A properly designed storage and retrieval system matches the related variables efficiently and accurately. In addition, the system also must serve the needs of the district, regional, state or provincial, and national levels.
The keyboard of a workstation connected directly to a computer is an example of a direct input device.
This has brought computing directly under the control of the end users and eliminates their dependence on the information systems specialist and the rigidities of predesigned procedures. The state's administrative machinery is divided into districts, districts into subdivisions, subdivisions into blocks. Four types of MIS, namely, databank information system, predictive information system, decision-making information system, and decisiontaking information system, have been presented. For example, information about the weather conditions in Paris in January is relevant if you are considering a visit to Paris in January.
However, a general estimate of how much staff time was devoted to a particular activity may be all that is needed. For example, the value of a glass of water is different for someone who has lost his way in Arctic glaciers than it is to a wanderer in the Sahara Desert. The data gathered during the intelligence stage are now used by statistical and other models to forecast possible outcomes for each alternative. But they also including and providing for stability of farmer incomes, and improving the quality of farm life. Another example of decision-taking information systems is found in modem factory production.
Data that have been processed, stored, and presented properly will aid them in analysing situations and to make effective decisions. Therefore, considerable care must be taken in assessing what types of information are required by management at the different levels. Appropriate structure means that the data are stored in such a way as to minimize the cost of expected processing and storage (Awad & Gotterer, 1992).
A block is a group of villages and the basic unit for the administration of an agricultural extension programme. The role of MIS in management of agricultural extension programmes and the conceptual design of a MIS in an agricultural extension organization have been described. In Proceedings of the national seminar on management of information system in management of agricultural extension (p.
Sachdeva is Professor of Management and Head, Computer Centre, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India.
Each alternative can also be examined for technological, behavioural, and economic feasibility. But they also include an intent to provide well for staff members (training, adequate salaries, etc.) and to aid in the process of bringing about rural economic development.
In automobile production, continuous inventories of parts are maintained by computer as cars move down an assembly line.
They need to know if external factors have limited the success of particular efforts such as supply of credit or farm inputs and they need some assessment of farmers' responses to extension programmes (Raheja & Jai Krishna, 1991, p. In that way, information collected can be viewed in terms of the crops that are likely to be grown, agroclimatic conditions, soil types, irrigation facilities, resources of the farmers, and availability of various farm inputs.
They may write programmes, or may often use ready-made programmes stored in the computer, using the computing power of a local PC or the mainframe to which it is connected. Data collected at the block level need to be integrated at higher administrative levels to provide an integrated view at the district and state levels to support planning, monitoring, and decision making. In the choice stage, the decision maker must select one of the alternatives that will best contribute to the goals of the organization.
The districts and subdivisions would have direct access to the integrated database with proper authorizations assigned to them through their passwords. Past choices can be subjected to review during implementation and monitoring to enable the manager to learn from mistakes.
Figure 1 indicates the information requirement at each stage, along with the functions performed at each stage and the feedback loops between stages.



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