P3 7-8/2021 en

What Does it Mean ...

Management Information System

Education Gap


The term “Management Information System” is commonly used - as a catchphrase, however, it often only causes glassy eyes. Before he started working for the publishing house, the author Stefan Breitenfeld was, among other things, a research assistant in the Working Group Business Informatics - Management Information Systems at the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Magdeburg. He tries to define the term briefly but precisely.

A management information system (MIS) is a software-based information system that is intended to support the operational and - within limits - strategic management of a company by reducing the complexity of its tasks (analysis, planning, control, resource management, decision-making ...). In recent years, the term has increasingly become part of everyday language, which means that in theory and practice there are different, sometimes fuzzy, historically determined or even contradicting definitions, which we will not go into further here.

At its core, a MIS supports the user by reproducing a real image of the current company status - this includes internal as well as external factors (e.g. the market situation). The mapping is usually done via reports or previously defined key figures, which are condensed in a suitable form into so-called key figure cockpits or can be incorporated into a balanced scorecard. A correctly configured system can be used for planning and communication, but also for optimizing business processes. As with every information system, the MIS is also based on the idea that usage depicts a process that should lead to continuous improvement, which in the best case means a competitive advantage.

The need for a MIS in the company is therefore not met with the installation of the software. Rather, it is crucial for the application's benefit that the relevant parameters have been recognized and determined in advance (although some systems can use data mining methods to provide additional information that would not be known or apparent without the use of AI). Imperfect, incorrectly selected or too complex key figures are not corrected by a MIS, as are unrealistic goals or poor strategies. In extreme cases, the unreflective use of such software can endanger the company's success. Consequently, it may make sense to combine the introduction of a management information system with an external consulting service. The service provider should not only know the industry, but also have in-depth knowledge of business management and economic interrelationships in general.