Public Admin Case Study essay

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Public Administration

The Role of Management Information System in Decision Making in Public Administration (Case Study on Hungarian Central Statistical Office)

Organizations require appropriate information in the form of proper databases and reports which plays a pivotal role in decision making. The quality of data holds significant importance as the top management of large organizations derives its high level decisions mostly from the available data rather than inspecting the in depth core activity components. This fact is depicted by the analysis of a case study pertaining to the implementation of a Management Information System (MIS) in the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, which has ultimately improved the quality of information flow within the organization. This paper examines how the implementation of an MIS within HCSO lead to the standardization of report formats and operational data collection procedures. Not only this, the paper will also highlight the role played by an MIS in providing the users with current information on the operation of the entire organization and all the monitored fields easily and quickly, ultimately supporting the decision making process.

The Role of Management Information System in Decision Making in Public Administration (Case Study on Hungarian Central Statistical Office)

It is a vivid fact that there exists a natural demand from the top management of an organization to receive up-to-date or at least very timely, relevant information on the operation of the enterprise, which is well-catered through the implementation of an appropriate Management Information System (MIS) within the organization. The core problem encountered within an organization is the requirement of a complex set of indicators, data or reports by the top management. Such content lies with several responsible units within the organization. Thus an "MIS" is commonly used to refer to the group of several information management methods tied to the automation or support of human decision making and integrating different data sources together. So, an MIS supports high level decision making by analyzing the most important information extracted from different data sources within an enterprise.

Public administration in Eastern or Central European countries is suffering from acute problems like fragmentation, insufficient information flow and unclear responsibilities in the hierarchy of the organization. This has manifested the need for an effective tool which can handle operations in a better way and make the decision making process easier and more effective.

Case Overview

Keeping in view the above mentioned problems, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO) launched a comprehensive strategy in 2005, pertaining to the establishment of a new information management system within the organization for presenting and collecting different operational data and reports in a standardized way. The HCSO is a large organization comprising of 1800 employees working in 19 different county units. So, the organization required an effective control over different operation through the establishment of a new management information system.

Reasons Leading to the Need for an MIS within HCSO

Several reasons manifested the dire need for the implementation of an effective management information system within the organization. The core reason was the fact that the top management required operational information in a standardized form but the sources providing the information were very dispersed within the organization. The current system in HCSO lacked effective monitoring of the new management techniques introduced for starting projects relating to different development purposes. The organization also faced problems pertaining to the communication and feedback of presidential reports. There existed only a one way information flow within the organization with much less feedback from top to down. Not only this, there existed an emerging demand of forming a more transparent operation on mid-level management which manifested the need for a solution linked with information flow.

Analysis of Potential Demands for MIS Implementation within HCSO

The availability of limited resources led to the implementation of a new management system within HCSO in two phases. The first phase, involved the identification of potential demands of management, collection of MIS requirements and planning of the new system accordingly. The study conducted during this phase highlighted the areas requiring new developments. The study indicated that the managers do have relevant operational information present with them, yet it gets difficult to find that information due to the lack of knowledge of the managers regarding the existence of the information. The findings presented the fact that some groups of information need to be defined in a standardized way and the requirements of quality also varied highly. The current system lacked a single pipeline for submitting information requests due to which managers have to manage information queries at their own.

After the first developmental phase at the HCSO, a paper-based MIS was established due to the availability of limited resources. The paper-based MIS catered the top and mid-level management and they started receiving continuous standardized reports without asking for them at all, ultimately yielding favorable consequences within the organization. During the implementation of the paper-based MIS, the content, the format, the responsibilities and the frequency of the introduced reports were clarified. The implementation phase involved changing the contents of the reports on the basis of feedback provided by the managers and also defined the real owners of the specific data. The president then asked them to fulfill the data requirements. The process took a year in getting the people acquainted with the reports and information. The Planning Department was made responsible for the coordination of the entire process and eventually the department became responsible for the entire deployment of the system and later on launched the IT-based MIS (Karpati 2007).

The Implementation of IT-based MIS and its Advantages

After the implementation of the paper-based MIS, the second phase of the proposal involved implementing an IT-based MIS. This aimed at the automatic creation and publication of reports with unified format and fixed content. The reports were thus specified in a standardized format on one platform to reach the detailed database and analyze it. The implementation of IT-based MIS fostered easy publication of tailor made analyses, provided an opportunity for monitoring key processes in a transparent way and distribute information in a very wide circle (news, documents, graphs, tables etc.) through the portal.

The core difference existing with the IT-based MIS in comparison to a paper-based system was the fact that standard reports were now required through a single pipeline, which was the Planning department. If the top management considered an information requirement to be an important one, it was given the status of a standard report which would be developed and produced regularly from the time it was introduced. This resulted in a drastic decrease in the amount of single, direct information queries from managers to the owner of data. As the reports were made in accordance with a commonly agreed format, HCSO was able to produce time series in specific areas. The implementation of IT-based MIS actually succeeded in decreasing the information distribution via e-mails. Previously the email system was over burdened by sending documents for opinion and approval, and sending large report files with graphs and tables. With the IT-based MIS implementation these files were now stored on an online MIS server, which was easily reachable by everyone in the organization (HCSO Strategy 2005-2008-2005). The users were also orientated to the key topics, as MIS has an own starting page with a clear structure and a headlines-column.

Core Components of the MIS Implemented at HCSO

The HCSO management information system comprises of four core components. The real IT specialist of the entire system is the "Database administrator" who is responsible for access management, operation supervision (log files etc.), updates, patches and hardware-software maintenance. The "MIS Content administrator" actually supervises automatized input processes and is entrusted with the responsibility of semi-automatic data conversion from standard files. His job also comprises of the task of the management of news and documents. Except for the MIS Content Administrator nobody else is entitled to publish something or to insert some changes or new lines in the databases. This job role varies from an IT specialist in the sense that it is related with the support of users on the service and can be considered as a "power user" of the applications. As some parts of databases are maintained directly by separate persons, there are "Subpage administrators" in MIS as well. "Data Owner" is another pivotal part of the MIS, who is not directly linked with the system maintenance. The data owner has the responsibility of checking, or sometimes also sending automatically produced data files or the manually created data table or documents to the MIS Content administrator, who then spreads the data on the portal after properly checking it (Karpati 2007).

Organizational Structure of HCSO's MIS

A standardized nomenclature was introduced by the HCSO for its programs and the different steps of the workflow (activities). Eventually, these nomenclatures were widely and obligatorily used for the identification of human resource and financial data in planning, the electronic working time registration (electronic time sheets), project monitoring and accounting also. The nomenclature codes act as unique identifiers thereby…[continue]

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