The Evaluation of the Management Information System (MIS) for the Leave System in Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC)
The evaluation of the Management Information System (MIS) for the leave system in Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC)
“This dissertation is submitted in part fulfillment of the Masters in Business Administration”
“I declare that this dissertation is the result of my own independent investigation and that all sources are duly acknowledged in the references”
Date 26th, April 2007
This project - The evaluation of Management information system (MIS) for the leave system in Gulf Petrochemical industries company (GPIC) - is an attempt to evaluate the automated leave system in GPIC (the management information system) according to four criteria which are: MIS design quality, user satisfaction, performance measurements and the quality of MIS technology and technical support; and then to provide some recommendations to improve the system.
In order to evaluate this system, some time was spent to study the system and then some information were collected which helped a lot in evaluating the system correctly.
Table of Contents
Introduction ………………………………………………………………………… 7
Chapter One ………………………………………………………………………… 9
1.1 Basic concepts…………………………………. ……………………….10
1.1.1 Data versus Information……………………………………...10
1.1.2 Characteristics of Information………………………………..10
1.1.3 What is MIS?…………………………………………….. ….11
1.2 Background of the study ………………………………………………. 11
1.3 Purpose and importance of the study ………………………………….. 12
1.4 The guiding research problem and sub problems ………………………12
1.4.1 The main problem …………………………………………...12
1.4.2 The sub problems ……………………………………………12
1.5 Objectives ………………………………………………………………13
1.6 Limitations ……………………………………………………………...13
1.7 Terms …………………………………………………………………. .13
1.8 Assumptions ……………………………………………………………13
Chapter Two ………………………………………………………………………...14
2.1 Literature review ………………………………………………………..15
2.1.1 Definition and component of MIS …………………..…..……15
2.1.2 The importance of MIS evaluation ………………………...…19
2.1.3 MIS evaluation criteria………………………………………..20
2.1.4 Types of evaluation ………………………………………… . 21
2.1.5 Objectives of IS evaluation ………………………………..…24
Chapter Three ……………………………………………………………………...25
3.1 GPIC profile ……………………………………………………………26
3.2 Overview of the manual leave system ………………………………....29
3.3 Description of the automated system ………………………………….31
3.3.1 Important features of the automated system ……………..….32
3.4 Context diagrams for the manual and the automated leave systems…….33
3.5 Data flow Diagrams for the manual and the automated leave systems….36
3.6 Flow charts for the manual and the automated leave systems…………...42
Chapter Four ………………………………………………………………………..44
4.1 Methodology ………………………………………………………..….45
4.2 Data Collection ………………………………………………………...47
4.3 Findings and analysis …………………………………………………...49
4.4 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………60
4.5 Recommendations ………………………………………………………62
Appendix I …………………………………………………………………..66
Appendix II ………………………………………………………………… 68
Appendix III …………………………………………………………..72
Information is a critical resource in the operation and management of organizations. Timely availability of relevant information is vital for effective performance of managerial functions such as planning, organizing, leading, and control. An information system in an organization is like the nervous system in the human body: it is the link that connects all the organization's components together and provides for better operation and survival in a competitive environment. Indeed, today's organizations run on information.
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 systems in organizations thus provide information support for decision makers. Information systems encompass transaction processing systems, management information systems, decision support systems, and strategic information systems. Management information systems can be defined as information systems that provide reports which assist the managerial monitoring and control of organisational functions, resources or other responsibilities ( 1998)
Information consists of data that have been processed and are meaningful to a user. A system is a set of components that operate together to achieve a common purpose. Thus a management information system collects, transmits, processes, and stores data on an organization's resources, programmes, and accomplishments. The system makes possible the conversion of these data into management information for use by decision makers within the organization. A management information system, therefore, produces information that supports the management functions of an organization (1984). However, the explosion of other organisational applications of IT has led MIS – at least as defined above – to retain only a small foothold in many more recent publications. Despite their book titles, for example, (1993) devotes just one chapter to MIS, whilst (1998) devote just a few pages. Nonetheless the fundamental importance of MIS has meant some writers continue to provide a broad and deep discussion of the topic ( 1992;1997). The State of Vermont in the US developed a human resources management information system (albeit both over-time and over-budget) that coverd a number of these reporting functions ( 1995). Similar experiences are reported in the development of a personnel information system with MIS capabilities for Northamptonshire County Council, a local government body in the UK (1993).
The primary focus of this project, The evaluation of Management information system (MIS) for the leave system in Gulf Petrochemical industries company (GPIC), is to evaluate the automated leave system in the company that is used for the leave application process and to provide some recommendations to improve the system.
In order to achieve our objectives, we have joined the company in the development of the management information system for the leave system of the personnel department.
Before the development of the automated leave system, The Company was using a manual leave system (using paper-based leave application forms and the data stored on a mainframe manually) that just performs data processing (generating reports that do not help the managers in making the right decisions). Now the automated leave system has helped the managers in making better decisions.
1.1 Basic Concepts
1.1.1 Data versus Information
Data refers to raw, unevaluated facts, figures, symbols, objects, events, etc. Data may be a collection of facts lying in storage, like a telephone directory or census records.
Information is data that have been put into a meaningful and useful context and communicated to a recipient who uses it to make decisions. Information involves the communication and reception of intelligence or knowledge. 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.
Computers have made the processing function much easier. Large quantities of data can be processed quickly through computers aiding in the conversion of data to information. Raw data enter the system and are transformed into the system's output, that is, information to support managers in their decision-making.
1.1.2 Characteristics of Information
The characteristics of good information are relevance, timeliness, accuracy, cost-effectiveness, reliability, usability, exhaustiveness, and aggregation level. Information is relevant if it leads to improved decision making. It might also be relevant if it reaffirms a previous decision. If it does not have anything to do with your problem, it is irrelevant.
Timeliness refers to the currency of the information presented to the users. 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). When this amount of time is very short, we describe the information system as a real-time system.
Accuracy is measured by comparing the data to actual events. The importance of accurate data varies with the type of decisions that need to be made. Payroll information must be exact. Approximations simply will not suffice. However, a general estimate of how much staff time was devoted to a particular activity may be all that is needed.
1.1.3 What is MIS?
One definition of MIS is a system which provides historical, present and predictive information derived from both the internal operation of organization and the external environment. MIS supplies accurate, selective and timely information and supports the information needs of management at all levels of management activity to assist in decision-making (Al-Alawi, 1991).
1.2 Background of the study
Several factors contributed to the need for a management information system in GPIC:
1- The managers’ requirement for simpler, more flexible system.
2- The need to replace the obsolete, non-integrated reporting and data system.
3- The managers’ need for accurate, up-to-date and easy access to the information.
4- The need to get information that is relevant to the decision-making.
For these reasons, GPIC developed a management information system for the leave section in the personnel department since the manual system (the old leave system) was unable to meet these requirements.
The automated leave system helped the managers to make decisions about whether to allow the employees to go on leaves or not.
In this project, we have evaluated the management information system (the automated leave system), because we knew that the information that will be gathered from the evaluation of management information system would help the company in improving that system.
1.3 Purpose and Importance of the study
This project is to evaluate the management information system for the leave system of the personnel department in GPIC.
This study is important to the company, because it will supply the feedback needed to make crucial changes to the management information system. The evaluation will help in the effective management and continuous improvement of the MIS. Also, this research has a personal importance to us since it will provide us with experience for our future jobs.
1.4 The Guiding Research Problem and Sub problems
1.4.1 The main problem
· Evaluating the automated leave system (MIS) in GPIC.
1.4.2 The sub problems
· Evaluating the quality of MIS design.
· Determining the level of user's satisfaction.
· Measuring the system performance.
· Evaluating the quality of MIS technology and technical support.
- To evaluate the management information system.
- To provide suggestion to improve the system.
- Some of the information and the resources needed were confidential, such the system database.
· The automated leave system: is a system in which an employee can apply for a leave using the computer.
· MIS (Management Information System): is a computer-based system that optimizes the collection, transfer, and presentation of information throughout an organization, through an integrated structure of databases and information flow.
· GPIC: is Gulf petrochemical Industries Company.
- The company has a good database for the automated leave system.
2.1 Literature Review
A substantial body of theoretical and empirical literature on Management Information Systems has been produced within the last twenty years. With the rapid growth of the computer industry, the study of automated information systems has expanded in a number of directions. Information system analysis has found its way into such diverse fields of study as sociology, electrical engineering, cognitive psychology, and organizational behavior ( 1990). This body of literature was reviewed to provide an understanding of the definition of management information systems and to focus on the importance and the types of MIS evaluation.
2.1.1 Definition and Components of MIS
Management information systems, and the acronym MIS, have been given many different meanings. One of the more comprehensive definitions was provided by (1986):
The system which monitors and retrieves data from the environment, which captures data from transactions and operations within the firm, and which filters, organizes, and selects data and presents them as information to managers is called the management information system.
It is important to distinguish between Transaction Processing Systems (TPS) and Management Information Systems (MIS). TPSs capture, store, and report data. MISs go further, they organize and transform data into information; for generating management reports in the form of:
1. Summary periodic reports to monitor organizational performance.
2. Operational exception reports to highlight potential problems or identify new opportunities.
3. Strategic planning and control reports to analyze decision options. ( 1986).
High-level management information systems are sometimes called Decision Support Systems (DSS) (1976). This label highlights the managerial role of the system and focuses attention on the difference between DSS and lower level Transaction Processing Systems (TPS) that are primarily concerned with the techniques and procedures for data storage and retrieval. The differences between transaction processing systems and decision support systems are described in Figure 2.1
Figure 2.1: Comparison of TPS and DSS
The key operational terms for a TPS are efficiency, reliability, and consistency. To be useful the TPS must keep both hardware and staff uses to a minimum and still moves data rapidly and reliably from input to report formats. The criteria for evaluating a DSS are quite different. To be valuable, a DSS must be capable of combining data creatively and flexibly and extracting operational parameters that improve management control systems.
Some analysts distinguish communication support systems from decision support and transaction processing systems as different elements of a comprehensive information management system ( 1989). Figure 2.2 outlines the contents of these three different types of information systems.
Figure 2.2: Types of Information Systems
Before the technology explosion of the 1980s, virtually all efforts at MIS development concentrated on transaction processing. This emphasis was made necessary by the high cost of electronic data processing hardware and the limited availability of trained staff capable of operating it efficiently. Reporting of data of necessity, emphasized development of list oriented transaction records. These systems, usually designed around several subsystem databases, are expensive to integrate and generally take a long time to design and install properly.
(1989) notes an increasing shift toward the development of decision-making support and communications systems in recent years.
These more recent systems are designed to:
- Meet immediate needs of managers for information
- Respond to time pressures to solve problems
- Focus on specific problems (often short lived)
- Require some pre-analysis or manipulation of data
- Incorporate data from a variety of sources
Decision-making support systems tend to be less elaborate in design than transaction processing systems. Involvement of organization members in identifying the goals of the system and the immediacy of the data analysis problem precludes long software and data collection development times (1989).
As noted by ( 1990) there is a substantial overlap between decision support and transaction processing system functions. They label the data storage and retrieval as well as the operations control associated with automated data manipulations as administrative data processing. Figure2.3 illustrates how these authors reserve the term MIS for the systems that include information analysis and automated control of structured decisions.
They conclude by defining an MIS as:
An information system that makes some managerial decisions and provides managers at all levels of an organization with the information needed for making other decisions ( 1990).
Figure 2.3: Structure of Systems in Organizations
2.1.2 The importance of management information system evaluation:
Frequently, information technology is used without a full understanding of its applicability, effectiveness, or efficiency. IS managers often lack the tools they need to decide if they are accomplishing the right activities (1984). The productivity of the information systems function has proven difficult to define and measure ( 1991). "Companies have come to realize they are paying big money for technology that isn't being used" (1978).
Evaluation is essential to supply the feedback needed for the effective management and continuous improvement of the MIS. "Just as a human being needs a diversity of measures to assess his or her health and performance, an organization needs a diversity of measures to assess its health and performance" ( 1979). Systematic measurements are needed to guide management action. Without quantitative feedback, managers are dependant upon only experience, intuition, and judgment. As firms become more complex and fast-paced, relying on experience and intuition alone is increasingly problematic ( 2001).
Much of the research on the effectiveness or success of information systems has relied on psychometric measures of user satisfaction also referred to as 'user information satisfaction' or UIS (2002).
An alternative measure offered by some is system usage, which is based on the principle that if the system is being used it must be effective and the more it is used the greater the effectiveness ( 1999).
A more ambitious proposal is to define the effectiveness of the information system as the degree to which the goals, for which the IS was deployed, are actually achieved. (1994).
Information gathered from the evaluation of management information systems helps organizations abandon unsuitable, limited and faulty solutions ( 2000). Inefficiency in MIS means that managers do not receive good information that helps them in making their decisions (1992), which can, in the worst case, have bad consequences.
2.1.3 MIS evaluation criteria
Six key elements are regarded as essential to the successful evaluation of MIS (1991), which are:
1. Determination of the Corporate needs: which is the clear overall strategic goals and objectives of the organization.
2. Management commitment: which is directed to the level of management commitment to the MIS and the importance attached to MIS by management at different levels.
3. User attitudes: which is directed to whether users have positive or negative attitudes to MIS.
4. Organizational issue: It is concerned with how and when users take part in the development of MIS and the influence that users can exert over MIS development.
5. Performance measurement: it is a measurement of the effects or changes to the organization’s performance that can be attributed to the introduction of MIS.
6. Measurement techniques: it is the second tool addressed to judging the value of operational MIS.
There are four criteria to evaluate MIS (2002):
1. Product: technical properties of software system.
2. Process: changes in the decision process.
3. User-oriented: user attitudes towards the system.
4. Productivity: Impact on decision outcomes
2.1.4 Types of evaluation
Figure 2.4 makes a distinction between three types of IS evaluation activity (2000):
1. Strategic Evaluation: Sometimes referred to as pre-implementation evaluation, this type of evaluation involves assessing or appraising an IS/IT investment in terms of its potential for delivering benefit against estimated costs.
- Formative Evaluation. Formative evaluation involves assessing the shape of an IS whilst in the development process itself. Formative evaluation may be used to make crucial changes to the design of an information system or to make critical decisions concerning the degree of project abandonment.
- Summative Evaluation. This type of evaluation occurs after an IS has been implemented. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as post-implementation evaluation.
Strategic evaluation is an activity, which attempts to establish the balance of costs and benefits in terms of an intended IS project. It is normally used to initiate a go/no-go decision in terms of a given project. It may also be used to prioritize a number of IS investments. The most popular techniques applied in this process are return on investment and payback period (1978). Such techniques are effective ways of evaluating tangible costs against tangible benefits. One of the most popular frameworks, which include facilities for an assessment of intangible costs and benefits, is Information Economics (1978).
Formative evaluation should be an inherent part of the project management process. Development projects should be continually assessed against objectives and careful attention should be paid to this activity to avoid project escalation. Project escalation is defined as the continued commitment to an IS project in the face of continual negative information from formative evaluation exercises. Major stakeholders in an IS project may be reluctant to withdraw support because of heavy investment in personnel and other resources devoted to a project.
At some point in this process a decision may be made to either wholly or partially abandon a project. In either case, the organization should engage in another form of IS evaluation called here a Post-Mortem analysis. This should attempt to determine the key reasons for such total or partial failure.
The results of such an analysis are important in suggesting ways in which the organization may improve its development practice. It is for this reason that the document produced from the Post-Mortem analysis needs to be disseminated to senior management, project management and members of the project team. This, of course, can only be done effectively if assurances of non-recrimination are given to all project participants.
Wherever possible post-mortem information should be made public. This is important in enabling the validation of IS development practice and the effective progression of the profession of IS.
The figure also emphasizes another important organizational learning feedback loop. Even if a project reaches completion, it may fail in some sense when it comes to be delivered. Therefore, at some suitable time after a system has been delivered the organization should engage in a summative evaluation of the system and its project. One framework proposed for the summative evaluation of IS is benefits management ( 1978). Even at this point it is possible that the system may be wholly or partially abandoned, in which case it should also be the subject of a Post-Mortem analysis, as above.
It is important to emphasize that no system is ever complete. A summative evaluation is likely to suggest a number of ways in which the system may be modified or extended – normally both classed as systems maintenance. This is the third feedback loop illustrated on the diagram. The conclusion is that effective evaluation leads to effective management of maintenance.
2.1.5 Objectives of IS Evaluation
- Determine the value arising from IS and IT and whether the information deliver key business benefit for the organization.
· Determine changes needed to the Information system.
· To know whether the information system do what is required. (Paul, 2000)
3.1 GPIC Profile
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company was established on the 5th December, 1979 and is jointly owned by the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Petrochemical Industries Company of Kuwait and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) by equal shareholdings. The Company is considered a successful model example of fruitful particularly in the field of petrochemicals.
The company produces the following:
Ammonia: Ammonia is one of the most important basic
chemicals in the world and the compound from which nitrogen fertilizer is made
worldwide. Natural gas is considered the best for the production of Ammonia
compared with other raw materials such as Naphtha and Coal. 90% of the
international production of Ammonia is produced from natural gas or oil.
Ammonia is produced by reaction of hydrogen and nitrogen under high pressure
in the Ammonia Converter. Hydrogen is produced by steam reforming of natural
gas, while nitrogen is supplied from air, which contains approximately 79% of
It is of great importance to mention that it is possible to use CO2 to convert to Methanol. Therefore, to produce Ammonia and Methanol in one complex will lead to a reduction in the costs of production.
· Methanol: Methanol is Methyl Alcohol and at the present 99% of the production of Methanol in the world is produced either from natural gas or gases out of oil. The reformed gas is compressed and passed to the Methanol reactor. Carbon monoxide and Carbon dioxide react with hydrogen over a catalyst to produce methanol. Also it is possible to produce Methanol and Ammonia in one complex by using CO2, which is produced from Ammonia plant to produce Methanol and Urea.
· Urea: Ammonia is needed to make all nitrogen fertilizers. GPIC first produces Ammonia from natural gas, which comes from deep in the ground where oil is found. Urea is made by mixing liquid Ammonia with a gas called carbon dioxide. A special process turns this liquid into round granules, which can then be shipped in bulk cargo containers or packed, into polythene bags.
In recognition of the Company’s environmental protection efforts, following awards and merit certificates were received from local and international institutes and organizations:
- The best environment protection company presented by the Ministry of Housing, Municipalities and Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The award was received on Arab Environment Day, held in Bahrain in 1997.
- Best Industry in Bahrain for Environmental Activities in 1998, first ever GCC Environment Award.
- Recognition for participating in the Ozone Layer Protection Agreement in 2000.
- Recognition for participating in the Environment Day in Hawar islands, Bahrain July, 2001
- The 2001 International Sector award “RoSPA” for excellence in sustained safety, health and environment program on 6th September 2001 at Glasgow, Scotland.
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company has an administration personnel system, which consist of the following systems as shown in figure 3.1:
- Time Attendance System
- Employees Record system
- Expatriate Contract System
- Insurance System
- Leave system
Figure 3.1: Administration Personnel systems
We have Chosen the automated leave system (MIS) of the Administration system to evaluate in our project.
3.2 Overview of the manual leave system
The process of the manual leave application is described in the following steps:
1- At least two weeks before the commencement of annual leave, the employee should raise a Leave Application Form (LAF) (see Appendix I) and submit it to the Section Head for approval. In the case of compassionate or maternity leave, appropriate supporting documentation should also be attached. Otherwise, relevant certificates or document should be forwarded to Personnel Section upon the employee's return from leave.
2- The Section Head must approve the (LAF), subject to operational requirements and pass all copies to the Department Head for authorization, and onward transmission to Personnel Section.
3- Personnel Section must check the application against the employee's Leave Record, and calculate the leave taken, whether paid and/or unpaid, and enter leave days taken carried forward on the employee's leave record.
4- The are five copies of the (LAF) that are distributed as follow:
· WHITE Finance Department (to prepare leave advance)
· PINK General Services (to prepare Air Ticket for expatriates)
· GREEN Personnel Section (to retain on vacation file)
· YELLOW Employee's Department (to confirm leave recorded)
· BLUE Employee.
5- On return from leave, the date of resumption is entered in the space earmarked below sections of the leave Application by the Supervisor/Department Head. A copy is retained by the originating Department and the original sent to Personnel Section. Personnel record the appropriate adjustment (if any).
6- If the employee returns late from leave, he raises another (LAF) covering the additional period. This form duly approved should be passed to Personnel Section with a copy of the previous Leave Application Form for appropriate entries in the leave record.
3.3 Description of the automated leave system
The automated leave system is running on a Lotus Notes and the records are stored on a mainframe. This system is a management information system, since it help the manager in taking the correct decision about whether to approve the employee’s leave request or not. Every morning, the system updates the employees leave days automatically.
The process of the automated leave system is described in the following steps:
1- When the employee enters his ID and Password, the system will recognize the user and will retrieve his data (Name, Department, position, etc.). So, he can simply apply for a leave by clicking on “Apply leave” icon (see Appendix II, figure1). Then, he can choose the type of the requested leave (Marriage, annual or others) and he can specify if a check is required. An important feature of this system is that a calendar will appear automatically when the employee start entering the beginning and the ending dates of his leave so that he can avoid selecting dates that will be non-working days for the beginning or the ending of his leave. Finally, the system will calculate the working days when the employee click on the “*” button and the information will be sent automatically to the department head (see Appendix II, figure2).
2- The department head will check the employee’s leave balance, which provides the last thirteen records of the employees leave history (see Appendix II, figure7), to decide whether to accept or reject his request. Once the department head approves the leave request, the approval will be sent by the system to the personnel section. Otherwise, the request rejection will be sent back to the employee (see Appendix II, figure3).
3- In the Personnel section, the leave application will be checked against the employee’s leave record that will be displayed automatically so that it can be approved (since the leave application is approved by the department head) and any remarks can be added (see Appendix II, figure4).
4- Then, the General Services will add the necessary data (adding the tickets or the services required, which is done only for the expatriates) (see Appendix II, figure5) and will send them to the finance department, in which the authorization to process the purchase order can be approved (see Appendix II, figure6).
3.3.1 Important features of the automated system:
1- The automated system provides more security to the user.
2- The approval of the leave is done electronically.
3- The automated system provides a history of the employees’ leaves, which will help the managers to take the correct decision about approving the employees leave applications.
4- The automated system provides search features.
5- The employee can forward his information (his form) via e-mail.
6- The automated system provides a notification feature that alerts the manager about receiving a leave application, which requires his approval.
7- The users just will see the sections of the leave application form that pertain to them.
3.4 Context diagrams for the manual and the automated leave systems
The common and simplest way to design data flow diagram is to begin modeling the system by one process. The diagram that does this is known as context diagram.
A context diagram presents an overview or a general illustration of a system. It shows all external entities that interact with the system and the corresponding data flows between these entities and system. Figure 3.2 shows the context diagram of the manual leave system. Figure 3.3 shows context diagram of the automated leave system.
Data Flow description for the Context Diagram for the Manual Leave System:
- Entity Employee should provide leave form and support document, relevant document after return, new LAF + old LAF copy in case of being late, and confirm of returning LAF.
- Entity Personnel Section is providing the leave days.
- Entity Employee is receiving the number of leave days, LAF blue copy and rejected form.
- A record called Vacations (For General Service Department) receives LAF pink copy.
- A record called Vacations (For Finance Department) receives LAF white copy.
- A record called Vacations (For Personnel Department) receives LAF original and green copy.
Figure 3.2: Context diagram for the manual leave system
Data Flow description for the Context Diagram for the Automated Leave System:
- Entity Employee is providing the User ID and Password, and leave type and dates.
- Entity Employee receives the rejected form or the approved form.
- A record called Employees provides employee data such as name, position, department…etc, and also provides the leave balance.
- A record called Employees receives leave records.
- A record called Vacations receives approved form.
Figure 3.3: Context diagram for the automated leave system
3.5 Data flow Diagrams for the manual and the automated leave systems
Data Flow Diagrams (DFD):
The data flow diagram is one of the most important and initial tools used by the system analyst. It should be used by the system analyst to model the system components.
These components are system processes, the data stores (files) used by these processes, external entities that interact with the system and the data flows in the system.
Figure 3.4 represent a data flow diagram for the manual system and figure 3.5 represent a data flow diagram for the automated leave system.
Symbols and Components of DFD:
Most dataflow modeling methods use four kinds of symbols. These symbols are used to represent four kinds of system components:
- External entities.
- Data stores.
- Data flows.
External entities are the physical entities that interact with the system either by supplying the data into the system or by making use of the process outputs. External entities are outside the boundary or the scope of area under study over which the designer has no control. External entities are also called source or destination. These are represented by a rectangle.
Processes show all different activities done by the system. The process activities are described by its nature, which essentially must be an imperative verb, such as Compute, Verify, Validate, etc. Each process has unique name and a unique number, representing it. Each process accepts one or more data inputs and one or more data output. These are represented by a circle.
A data store is a logical file that stores information in term of logical records. It is a repository of data. Processes can add input data into data store or retrieve data from it. Each data store has a unique name and unique number. Data stores are represented by an open-ended rectangle from one side.
A data flow is used to show flow of data between system components. An arrow indicates the direction of the flow. It is labeled by the name of the dataflow.
Flows of data in the system can take place:
- Between two processes.
- From a process to a data store and vice versa.
- From a process to an external entity and vice versa.
Flows of data in the system cannot take place during these instances:
- Between two entities.
- From an entity to a data store and vice versa.
Description of the processes for the Manual Leave System:
- Check Leave Days: In this process the Personnel Section will check the leave days available for the employee. The input for this process is the leave days and the output is the number of the leave days.
- Approve LAF: In this process the Department Head will either approve or reject the leave application form. The inputs for this process are the leave form and the support document. The output is the approved LAF or the rejected LAF.
- Forward Relevant Documents: In this process the Personnel Section will receive the approved LAF (by the Department Head) and then the Personnel Section will complete filling and approving the leave form. The input for this process is approved LAF and the output is the LAF reaming copies. In case the employee is late, this process will receive the New LAF and Old LAF copy. Moreover, when the employee returns from the leave, the process will receive the relevant documents.
- Prepare Air Tickets for Expatriates: This process will prepare the air tickets for the foreign employees. The input for this process is the LAF remaining copies. The outputs are LAF pink copy, LAF white copy and LAF blue copy.
- Prepare Leave Advance: In this process the Finance Department will prepare the leave advance. The inputs for this process are the LAF remaining copies. The outputs are LAF blue copy and LAF white copy.
- Confirm Leave Recorded: After return from leave, this process will confirm leave recorded. The input for this process is the confirmation of returning LAF. The outputs are LAF yellow copy and LAF original copy.
Figure 3.4: Data Flow Diagram (Manual Leave System)
Description of the processes for the Manual Leave System:
1. Define the User and Retrieve his Data: This process defines the user as soon as the employee's ID and password is entered into the system. It retrieves the employee's data from the employees' database. The input for this process is user ID and password for the employee and the output is the retrieved employee data.
2. Apply Leave Form: In this process the employee apply for a leave using the e-mail. The input for this process is the retrieved employee data and the leave type and dates which will be entered by the employee. The output for this process is the leave form.
3. Approve the Leave Form: In this process the Department Head either approves the employee's leave application form or reject it, depending on the employee's leave balance (the number of leaves days available for the employee and the number of employees on leaves). The input for this process is the leave form and the leave balance. The output is the rejected form or approved form.
4. Check the Employee's Record and Approve the Form: In this process the Personnel Section will approve the form and will add their remarks. The input for this process is the approved form (by the Department Head). The output is the approved form (by the Personnel Section)
5. Add Ticket or Service Required if the Employee is Foreign: In this process the ticket or any required service would be added in case that the employee is foreign. The input for this process is the approved form and the personnel remarks. The output is the form and the ticket or the service.
6. Approve the Purchase Order: In this process the Finance Department will approve the purchase order. The input for this process is the approved form and the personnel remarks, ticket or service in the case of the foreign employee. The output is the approved form.
Figure 3.5: Data flow diagram for the automated leave system
3.6 Flow charts for the manual and the automated leave systems
The system flow chart is a graphical representation of information processes (activities, logic flows, inputs, outputs, and data storage), as well as the related operations processes (entities, physical flows, and operations activities). Figure 3.6 represent a flow chart for the manual system and figure 3.7 represent a flow chart for the automated leave system.
Figure 3.6: flow chart for the manual leave system
The method followed in conducting the research is both quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative method is used to answer questions about relationships among measured variables with the purpose of explaining, predicting and controlling phenomena, while the qualitative method is used to answer questions about the complex nature of phenomena, often with the purpose of describing and understanding the phenomena from the participants' point of view.
Originally, five types of data collection methodologies were proposed to investigate the research questions:
The sources of the primary data:
(1) Questionnaire administered to the employees
(2) On-site visits and observations
(3) Telephone interview with the IT manager
(4) Face-to-Face interview with the Development Head and the System Developers.
The Sources of the secondary data:
(5) Information from the Internet.
Based on the literature review, we have created our own criteria to evaluate the automated leave system, which are:
1- MIS design Quality, which include:
· What are the steps that have been followed when designing the MIS for the leave system.
· The end user participation in the system development.
2- User satisfaction (User-Oriented), which include:
· Whether the system has met the needs of the users.
· Whether the automated system has solved the problems associated with the old one and whether the employees are using the automated system (and if not, why).
3- Measuring the system performance, which include:
· The gains in efficiency that have been realized by GPIC using this system.
· The impact of the system on the quality of the information.
4- The Quality of MIS Technology and technical support, which include:
· Whether the system interface and the technology used in developing the system are of high quality.
· The quality of the technical support, training and responsiveness to problems.
4.2 Data Collection
A questionnaire (see Appendix III) was administered to the employees for the purpose of knowing the major problems that were associated with the manual leave system and to know whether the employees are using the automated leave system. So, we can know whether the automated system has solved these problems. The questionnaire was distributed to a random sample of size 120 employees.
One of the challenges considered when conducting the survey is the assurance of an adequate and representative sample of the population being surveyed. The IT manager sent letters to the employees requesting their cooperation and participation in the study.
Approximately one week after the distributing questionnaire, reminder letters were sent to the participated employees to solicit any questions or comments, and request that they return the completed instrument as soon as possible. Thank you letters were also mailed to the respondents upon receipt of the completed questionnaires.
2) On-site visit and observation:
The purpose of the on-site visit was to assess the interface of the automated system so that we can suggest whether it needs to be improved.
3) Telephone interview with the IT manager:
The telephone interview with the IT manager (Mr. Adnan Al-Mahmoud) was conducted to ask him the following questions:
· Has the new system solved the problems associated with the old one?
· What are the gains in efficiency that have been realized by GPIC using this system?
· What is the impact of the system on the quality of the information?
4) Face-to-Face interview with the Development Head and the system developers:
The purpose of the interview with the Development Head was to know the quality of the technical support, training and responsiveness to problems and whether the system has met the needs of the users, while the interview with the System Developers was conducted for the purpose of evaluating the technology used in developing the system and the quality of the security issues. The interview’s questions with the Development Head (Mr. Yousif Khalfan) are:
· Did you provide training to the end users?
· Did you respond to the users problems after the training?
· Was there any participation from the end users during the system development?
The interview’s questions with one of the System Developers (Mr. Karthikeyan Srinivasan) are:
· What is the technology used in developing the system? Why?
· What are the security issues that you have considered when developing the system?
· What are the steps that have been followed when designing the system?
5) Information from the Internet:
The Internet provides us with more information about the technology used.
4.3 Findings and analysis
The Questionnaire’s results were as follow:
· 43% of the respondents were females while 57% were males (see Appendix III, figure 1).
· 4% of the respondents were under 25 years old, 22% were between 25 and 35 years, 54% were between 35 and 45 years, 18% were between 45 and 55 years, and 2% were above 55 years see Appendix III, figure 2).
· 22% of the respondents have completed school, 56% have completed college, 10% were post graduates and 12% have chosen other (Most of them have studied in institutes) (see Appendix III, figure 3).
· The respondents’ positions varied from Departments managers to operational employees.
· 14% of the respondents receive a monthly income below 300 B.D., 47% receive a monthly income between 300 and 500 B.D., 28% receive a monthly income between 500 and 700 B.D., and 11% receive a monthly income above 700 B.D. (see Appendix III, figure 4).
· 54% of the respondents’ work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 15% of the respondents work from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 13% of the respondents work from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., 11% works from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and 7% of the respondents have specified other working times (see Appendix III, figure 5).
· 78% of the respondents are familiar with using the computer while 22% were not familiar with using the computer. Which means that the system will be used by most of the employees (see Appendix III, figure 6).
· 52% of the respondents always had troubles with the old manual system, 36% sometimes had troubles with the manual system, 10% occasionally had troubles with the manual system and 2% Never had troubles with the manual system (see Appendix III, figure 7).
· 55% of the respondents said that their main problem with the manual system was the delay in the approval and this problem has been solved since the automated system made the approval process much faster, 20% said that losing the leave application form was their main problem with the manual leave system. This problem has been solved by the automated leave system since the leave application is sent via the e-mail. 25% specified other problems with the old system (see Appendix III, figure 8), which are:
1. The manager might approve a leave application form for an employee who had many leaves recently and reject a leave application form for an employee who had no leaves for a long time, which might create a conflict between the employees. The automated system helped in solving this problem, because the manager has an immediate access to the employee’s leave balance that provides the employee’s leave history. This helped the manager in taking the right decision.
2. With the old system, the employees must contact the personnel department to know the leave days available for them. The automated system has solved this problem, because the employee has immediate access to his leave days.
3. The employee might choose nonworking days as the beginning or the ending of his leave. This problem has been solved because the automated system displays a calendar once the employee starts entering his leave dates.
4. The employee might compute the number of the leave days incorrectly. This problem has been solved using the automated system because the number of the leave days will be computed automatically when the employee click on the “*” button.
5. The department manager might approve leave application forms for many employees, which will result in few employees working in his department. This problem has been solved by the automated system because it provides the manager with the number of the employees who are on leaves in the department, which allow the manager to make the correct decision.
6. The employees who are working at night must come in the morning to apply for a leave because their supervisors are working during this time. The automated leave system solved this problem, because it provides the employees with the ability to apply for a leave 24 hours a day.
· 50% of the respondents said that the automated leave system solved all of their problems, 4% said that the automated system solved some of their problems, 22% said that the automated system solved most of their problems and 24% said that the automated leave system did not solved any of their problems (see Appendix III, figure 9).
· Those who said that the automated leave system did not solve any of their problems where classified as follows (see Appendix III, figure 10):
1. 31% said that they do not trust the computer.
2. 20% said that they like contacting with people.
3. 45% said that they do not use the computer.
4. 4% specified other reasons, which was about the security issues.
· Some of the respondents specified some comments which are:
1. Some of them believe that the automated system will solve their problems, but they are not familiar with using the computer and they are demanding for heavy training.
2. Some of the respondents demand that the manual system remains with the automated system because they do not trust the computer.
3. Some of the respondents said that the automated system has solved most of the employees’ problems and it is a good system, but they think that it will not replace the manual leave system in their company and it will not replace the manual system because there are some employees who are not familiar with using the computer.
2) On-site visit and observations
From our observations we found that Lotus Notes has a single screen interface, and all windows (Inbox, Compose etc.) open within the main Notes interface. This avoids cluttering up the taskbar and allows easy switching to and from Notes and other applications.
Also, we found that the interface is similar to the format of the paper-based Leave Application Form (LAF), which will allow the users to apply for a leave through the automated system more easily.
The system’s interface looks simple and easy to learn and use and it helps in reducing the data entry errors, since the developers have used option boxes to select the type of the leave and calendars to insert the leave dates. Moreover, the employee’s data is retrieved from the database rather than keyed in by the employee. The system interface is designed, avoiding being technology oriented. Thus it is a well designed and it is a kindly user interface. The developers have reduced the computer's complexity, which will increase the employees' inclination for using information technology in the leave application process, because the more interesting and friendly user interface is, the more employees will try to use the automated system.
3) Telephone interview with the IT manager:
From the telephone interview with Mr. Adnan Al-Mahmoud, we found that the system is really solved most of the problems, specially the delay in the approval process, that were associated with the manual leave system since the submission of data is done electronically and because of the ability of the automated system to display the employees leave balance (which shows the employees previous leave records and the leave days available to each of them).
So, the staff hours have been reduced as well as the cost to enter data. This will have a positive impact on the management of information, time and cost savings and the utilization of information. Also, we found that GPIC has realized gains and efficiencies for management decision-making and data monitoring.
Moreover, the information is more accurate since the leave days are computed electronically and a calendar appears once the employee begins entering the leave dates. The information is more accessible, up-to-date and timely, because of the search features and the electronic updates of the employees leave days every morning.
4) Face-to-Face interview with the Development Head and the System Developers
a. The interview with the Development Head ()
From the interview with the development head, we found that the training period is insufficient since it is provided for a period of one to two days. So, this limited training would be a source of dissatisfaction for many employees, which can impact the efficiency of the MIS. The IT department is very responsive to the users problems after the training and the technical support appeared to be sufficient from the interview and discussions with the development head.
Overall, the most common support requests are related to: networking problems, data corruption issues due to physical failures of drives or network connections and problems with programs.
Users were involved in the development of the MIS and the users input included in the development. The users informed the developers what they wanted in the system and these requests were considered in the development of the system.
Users' participation is one of the strengths of the MIS, as it provides the developer and the users with the opportunity of raising concerns and coming up with an appropriate resolution.
b. The interview with one of the System Developers ()
From the interview with Mr. , we found that they have used Lotus Notes to develop the system, because Lotus Notes R5 client is a mail client (much like Outlook Express or Netscape Messenger) designed almost exclusively for large and medium enterprises. Apart from the usual characteristics of any mail client, its collaborative/workflow functions keep it way ahead from the rest of the pack.
Also, we found that the sensitive data is automatically protected. The modules own structure restricts data viewing to those who are authorized. Only the users, their manager, their administrative assistant and approved human resource personnel are allowed to see sensitive data, e.g. reason for sickness. Any concerns about adhering to company procedures and security are handled by the powerful security features found in the Lotus architecture. To ensure the approval security, an electronic signature is required for the document approval.
Also, we found from the interview with Mr. that they have followed three steps when designing the MIS for the leave system, which are:
Step One: Assessing Information Needs for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation
An investigation needs to be conducted into the types of decisions that the managers have to make.
Step Two: Deciding the Levels of Information, Information Frequency, and Content
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. Data not organized into a meaningful pattern can serve almost no useful purpose to those who must use them to make decisions. Documentation (storage and retrieval) involves storing items of information in an orderly manner. Storing information means recording it on storage media from which it can be made available when needed.
Storage media are materials such as ordinary office paper, magnetic tapes, magnetic disks, microfilms, film strips, and a few other devices. 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. 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. A properly designed storage and retrieval system matches the related variables efficiently and accurately.
Presentation of information should be in a form and format suitable to the needs of the managers. The presentation of information should be precise, clear, and appealing.
Step Three: Ensuring System Flexibility and Adaptability Flexibility means the ability to retrieve information from a system in whatever form it may be needed by decision makers. Therefore, data need to be collected in some detail so that they can be rearranged or summarized according to the needs of managers. But system design should not be too complex because it must first serve the needs of the lowest levels of management that are likely to be instrumental in collecting important components of the original data. Therefore, considerable care must be taken in assessing what types of information are required by management at the different levels. At the same time, effort must be made to ensure that the information collected meets acceptable standards of accuracy, timeliness, and coverage for each level.
5) Information from the internet:
From the Internet, we found that the workflow process is basically defined whenever information has to flow amongst users in a predefined order and format. For example, when an employee applies for a leave (say a casual one) on Notes. His application is automatically forwarded to his immediate superior, who has the option of accepting or rejecting it. In case the application is rejected, the employee receives a mail stating that his application has been rejected and causes cite thereon (if any). In case the application is accepted, the application moves on to the next person up the hierarchy and so on. Finally after reaching the last stage, Notes can be configured to make requisite changes in the Employee/ Human Resource Database without manual intervention. Compared with a traditional paper-based process, we can realize why the business world is so gung ho about Lotus Notes.
Also we found from the Internet that Lotus is a wholly owned subsidiary of IBM. This effectively means it runs of a multitude of different platforms such as Windows (Client only), WindowsNT, AIX, Solaris, Compaq Tru UNIX and Linux. It can be configured over leased lines, ISDN or even dialup connections. Moreover, Lotus Notes is cheaper than the other technologies.
We can conclude that the automated leave system created many values to the company and it helped in solving the problems associated with the old manual system. The automation resulted in increased efficiency and productivity as the time each user spends on their particular task is minimized, and the workflow ensures that the right person performs each step in the process in the right sequence, at the right time.
The benefits of the automated system can be summarized as follows:
· Secure and reliable data:
- Sensitive data can be imposed by unauthorized access
- Electronic signature required for document approval
· Better communication
- New and updated information can be published quickly
- Improved communication within organization
· Simple one pass data entry
- Increased accuracy
· More efficient operation
- Operations (leave application process) are automated by well defined workflow model
- With usage of e-mail, greatly reduces the clumsy and error-prone paper document flow
- Reminder is being sent automatically to notify when a certain task is overdue
- Better efficiency
· Better record housekeeping
- Information can be retrieved quickly.
- Data are stored electronically.
The limitations of the automated leave system can be summarized as follows:
- The system interface needs a slight change.
- Some employees are resisting to use the automated system, because:
- They do not trust the computer.
- They are not using the computer.
- They like contacting with people.
- They think that the system is not secured.
- The company provides insufficient training to the users.
We think that these factors, which may inhibit the system usage, can be overcome by our recommendations (In the Next page) and GPIC has begun with the first step in overcoming them by allowing the users to participate in the system development.
Generally we can say that the management information system, the automated leave system, is really solved the employees’ problems and met most of the employees’ needs.
- When planning for training needs, factors such as age and level of education, should be taken into consideration to provide staff with the amount of necessary training to strengthen their abilities to use the system.
- It is recommended to add a report generation feature to the automated leave system.
- It is recommended to remove the “*” button that is used to calculate the leave days because it is unpractical. Instead, the leave days should be calculated by pressing “Enter”.
- It is recommended to motivate the employees; those who do not trust the computer and those who prefer dealing with people, to use the automated system.
- It is recommended to use case studies that demonstrate what happens to the company when employees don't use the new automated systems.
- It is recommended to use the latest Internet technology and come out with a new web based application – e-Leave – an electronic leave application system. The Electronic Leave System (ELS) allows leave application and approval by a person or persons with the authority to do so. ELS accepts leave applications, processes it and notifies the approving supervisors of approved leave electronically. The applicants can apply leave via any terminal anytime, anywhere (even from home). (See figure 4.1)
Figure 4.1: the H/R workflow after using the e-Leave system
The features of the electronic leave system:
A 'MUST' Human Resource Tool
The e-Leave system is designed to take over the tedious tasks of leave administration in any organization transforming its HR department from a mere administrative function to a Strategic one. It is a centralized platform for on-line and real-time leave application, approval and enquiries from employee and their respective approving manager.
Browser-Based Ease of Use
Running Creative Software's e-Leave system is as easy as surfing the Net. It works on a browser-based that can be deployed easily to employee.
Creative Software's e-Leave system is a scalable solution and easily deployed to suit the organization's infrastructure today and tomorrow. The same software can be deployed in any configuration from a stand-alone, peer-to-peer to Intranet and Internet platforms.
Investing in the e-Leave system is definitely cost effective. In addition, managers will be able to spend their time on more crucial non-administrative tasks such as compensation, recruitment and retention strategies.
We have suggested the following leave application form for the electronic leave application system. (See figure 4.2)
Figure 4.2: the suggested leave application form for the system
(The Questionnaire and its results)