Activities of an Information System

Basic information processing activities that take place in an information system include input of data resources, processing of data into information, output of information products, storage of data resources and control of system performances.

1. Input of Data Resources

Data about business transactions and other events must be captured and prepared for processing by the input activity. Input typically takes the form of data entry activities such as recording and editing. End users typically enter data directly into a computer system, or record data about transactions on some type of physical medium such as a paper form. This usually includes a variety of editing activities to ensure that they have recorded data correctly. Once entered, data may be transferred onto a machine readable medium such as a magnetic disk until processing takes place.

For example, data about sales transactions can be recorded on source documents such as paper sales order forms (a source document is the original formal record of a transaction). Alternately, sales persons can capture sales data using the computer keyboard or optical scanning devices (ie. input devices).

Methods such as optical scanning and displays of menus, prompts, and fill-in the-blanks formats make it convenient for the end user to enter data correctly into an information system. Therefore, these methods also increase the efficiency of the input activity.

2. Processing of Data into Information

Data are typically subjected to processing activities such as calculating, comparing, sorting, classifying, and summarizing. These activities organize, analyze, and manipulate data, thus converting them into information for end users. The quality of any data stored in an information system must also be maintained by a continual process of correcting and updating activities.

For example, Data received about a purchase can be

(1) added to a running total of sales results,
(2) sorted in numerical order based on product identification numbers,
(3) classified into product categories (such as food and nonfood items),
(4) summarized to provide a sales manager with information about various product categories,
(5) used to update sales records.

3. Output of Information Products

The goal of information systems is the production of appropriate information products for end users. Information products in various forms is transmitted to end users and made available to them in the output activity. Common information products include messages, reports, forms, and graphic images which may be provided by video displays, audio responses, paper products, and multimedia depending on the requirement of the end user of the system. We routinely use the information provided by these products as we work in organizations and live in society.

For example, in order to check the performance of a Sales Executive, a Sales Manager may print a sales report, accept a computer-produced voice message by telephone, and view a video display of an executive carrying out a sales presentation.

4. Storage of Data Resources

Storage is a basic system component of information systems. Storage is the information system activity in which data and information are retained in an organized manner for later use.

For example, just as written text material is organized into words, sentences, paragraphs, and documents, stored data are commonly organized into a variety of data elements and databases. This facilitates its later use in processing or its retrieval as output when needed by users of a system.

5. Control of System Performance

An important information system activity is the control of system performance. An information system should produce feedback about its input, processing, output, and storage activities. This feedback must be monitored and evaluated to determine if the system is meeting established performance standards. Then appropriate system activities must be adjusted so that proper information products are produced for end users.

For example, a manager may discover that in a sales report which lists monthly and yearly sales of the organization up to two years, the total monthly sales of year one does not add up to the total sales of the same year.

This might mean that data entry or processing procedures need to be corrected. Then changes would have to be made to ensure that all sales transactions would be properly captured and processed by a sales information system.


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