Manufactured Homes 101 – The Things You Need to Know!

Everyone has dreamed of owning their dream house. A place they can call your own. It’s a place of sanctuary to shelter you and your family. Manufactured homes have always been a good option. Putting your money into it is worth while, although, a lot of people are still unsure whether to purchase one.

Factory built houses come in all shapes and sizes. They come in various floorings and fashion that it is easy to find one that will suit your taste. Aside from being way cheaper than houses constructed right on the location, these homes also give you a chance to design your home. Ranging from $20,000 – $100,000, they are ready for transfer to any location you’d want your house to be set.

A Factory Built Home: What is it?

Also known as a prefabricated house, manufactured homes are units of houses constructed in a huge factory. After purchasing, it is then dragged to the site where it can be put ready for transfer to another location or mounted on the ground through masonry groundwork.

Prefabricated homes are constructed upon certain set of codes which administers mobility, fire safety, effectiveness, style and sturdiness. All of these sets of guidelines are closely monitored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The same set of guidelines also manages the electrical, heating and plumbing systems.

The Basics About Prefabricated Homes

Here are some of the things that you need to know about manufactured or prefabricated homes.

  • They are houses built in large factories.
  • After they are constructed from the factories, they are wheeled to the chosen site for the house. It is done by transporting the whole house one portion after the other.
  • Prefabricated home cost less than the houses constructed right on the site.
  • They are used to be regarded as mobile or trailer houses. They come in many designs.
  • They are constructed under the guidelines set by the HUD or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • After transferring the house’s portions in the site, they are put into pieces.
  • Its market value depreciates as time goes by.

So, now that you have the basic knowledge about what a factory built home is, I guess you can clear up your mind and start weighing things. Buying a house is really a good investment of your hard-earned money
and considering the given details about prefabricated homes, counting it as an option is not a bad idea after all.

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The Role of Managing General Agents

Managing General Agents (MGAs) are leaders of the wholesale insurance market place and function as an intermediary managing the relationships among policy holders, retail producers and the insurance carriers. These agents provide underwriting and administrative services and have the authority to accept and appoint placement from retail agents on behalf of the insurers they represent. Generally, MGAs market more unusual coverage, such as professional liability, for which a particular expertise is required. Insurers benefit from MGAs where such expertise is not available within the company and would be costly to develop.

The purpose of MGAs hired by insurance companies is to supervise their business in a particular territory and they are often referred to as wholesalers, but in no way do they compete with brokers and do not deal with customers directly. MGAs have a unique relationship with their carriers. Depending on the relationship, a MGA may perform tasks normally performed by an insurer; which include, handling claims, issuing policies, sub-contracting with independent agents, collecting premiums and negotiating commissions to name a few. As agents of the insurer, they perform the basic insurance functions for the carrier of underwriting and policy issuance.

According to the American Association of Managing General Agents, an MGA can be used in any line of insurance and includes insurers who are “admitted or not, direct or otherwise, broker or agent system, contract/appoint or open-broker sub-production, or any combination of these.” Typically, MGAs are utilized most in the excess and surplus lines insurance market, but are also found in the commercial and personal insurance market.

When thinking about how MGAs work, it’s best to consider traditional insurance market access where it flows from the insurance company to the retail agent and finally to the insurance buyer. Now consider how the surplus lines market access flows. It works in much the same fashion with one major difference. The MGA acts as the intermediate between the insurer and the agent. In this way, market access flows from the insurance company, to the intermediary, the retail/out of state agent and finally to the buyer.

MGAs are generally entitled to a contingency commission on all business written within their territory. They take a percentage of the commission that would usually go to the producing insurance agent. Being an MGA means personal accountability as well as responsibility for producers. MGAs take on the significant costs involved in being a wholesaler and the investment needed to succeed.

Importance of Acquiring Knowledge in Business

Knowledge is a resource referred to as knowledge capital or intellectual capital in a business. It is the essential element that allows businesses to operate in the market sector. The knowledge of the organization is within the human capital of the organization. Despite the rapid global changes, knowledge addresses key issues that can lead to successful management within organizations and can be used as leverage in collective bargaining of existing knowledge and creating new ones.

Understanding customers’ needs and the business environment is a huge interface of information. If a market research is done, then the knowledge of the market can be integrated to the target clients specifically in developing new products/ services and improving existing ones.

Having knowledgeable staff sets the business on a competitive edge because it helps the business run more smoothly and efficiently. For example, knowing customers’ needs and feedback to develop products or services to ensure that their needs are met.

Moreover, monitoring and reporting the changes in the business world is also needed. Knowledge in building networks by professional associations and trading partners can provide an easy way to find out what the competitors are doing and to see the latest innovations in the market sector. Making product research and development is a vital source of knowledge that can help in retaining competitive edge.

Furthermore, using knowledge more effectively can improve goods/services offered. It can increase customer satisfaction. Knowledge of the market can result better awareness of what customers want and what the staff require. Knowledge or information sharing can also improve staff productivity.

In order to manage the utilization of knowledge, there is a need to build a culture in which knowledge is valued across the business to retain the competitive advantage and understand the characteristics of the target market.

Knowledge of the business can help entrepreneurs evaluate and understand the needs of potential customers and develop products/ services that meet customer satisfaction since possible customers show different behavior patterns and preferences such as brand loyalty and the like.

Through knowledge acquisition, business supply chain management is visible everywhere and anywhere. It leads to faster growth and development. It also impacts the competitive advantage and become strategically important to understand knowledge transfer in a more predetermined fashion. The sustainability of organization depends largely on the acquisition of knowledge with a continuous learning process.

Hence, knowledge is vital to any organization because it empowers entrepreneurs to take informed decisions, improve services, produce better marketing decisions and increase profitability.

Strategies Management Adopt in Handling Change

Theoretically, there are various strategies that explain how change can be successfully initiated and implemented. However, let us first take a look at some of the common things to consider, before you embark upon an organizational change:

What do I want to change? Typically this might point towards a specific “problem” area.

Is this the fundamental thing that needs to change or is there a deeper “reason” lurking behind the “problem” that needs to be addressed? This question is particularly important because many times, after the change process has been run halfway, it is realized that a problem exists at a more basic level. Focus then shifts between new change areas that are discovered and the energy of change efforts get dissipated.

Why do I want the change?

How will I achieve the change? This will involve weighing the risk and incentives, balancing them out and addressing any gaps between intended process to achieve the change and issues related to these processes.

What about the finances required in implementing the change?

Will business possibly continue as usual during the change phase or will it get affected adversely?

What type of resource (external or internal consultants) should I use, given the size of my organization and knowledge base?

How, if at all, will the change impact the work culture or vice versa?

How critical is the situation and how much time do I have to respond to it?

Does my core change driver team have the contextual and operational knowledge, capability and influence to survive the change process or do I need to empower them in some way?

Once you have precise answers to these elementary questions, you can decide upon the strategy you want to adopt. Theory offers at least four different change strategies. In practice, we typically use a combination of some or all of these to address change situations. These four strategies are: The Empirical-Rational Approach, the Normative-Reeducative Approach, the Power-Coercive Approach and the Environmental-Adaptive Approach.

All four provide you with different insights into the type of change environment that may exist in an organization. The type of change environment broadly varies with the ideology of the informal organization or the cultural consensus that they may share and the type of change being introduced. The relevance of the different change strategies lies in the fact that they explore different assumptions about human motivation and behavior in order to understand or anticipate response to change. Thus, they take into account the psychology of the informal organization, and hence help effectively manage the human side of change.

Their beauty, however, is that they are never mutually exclusive, and different strategies may be used at different stages in the change process. Thus, depending on your change environment, you must decide on the appropriate mix of strategies, to be used to push change.

EMPIRICAL-RATIONAL STRATEGY

A “classic” approach to change management, developed by Robert Chin and Kenneth D. Benne, this strategy is built on the premise that, in general, human beings are rational and can be reasoned with.

Hence, although change innately is resisted, people can be won over by the genuine logic behind the change, and by what is there in it for them.

If people are convinced on these two aspects of change, the process becomes easily navigable. Thus, this strategy uses persuasion to make individuals accede to change, through planned, managed dissemination of information, which makes the incentives of change clear to them. Thus, this strategy demands skillful use of communication in selling the benefits of change. The emphasis is on providing correct information; education and training that inspire people to change of their own volition. Also, it is important to identify potential carriers of change – people who willingly accept the change, and are influential enough to spread the same.

The role of the CEO is important here. Being the leader of the organization, not only is he an influential figure, but also has relatively more credibility than anyone else in the organization. Hence, he can play a major role in securing the buy-in of his people and inspiring them to embrace the change.

However, by virtue of rationale again, people are seen to be generally resistant to change, if it has an imbedded downside that is not balanced or offset by an equal upside. Hence, a foolproof plan for successfully initiating change, or at least managing the human side of it, must work out the following:

A strong basis for initiating the change

Linkage to actual benefits or incentives to be derived from the change

The pros and cons, including an exercise on possible measures to negate the “cons”

This strategy works well only if you can balance the incentives against the risks in a profitable manner i.e. only if you are able to show that the value-add from the change is proportionately much higher than the risk involved.

This strategy becomes difficult to execute, if your risks outweigh your incentives, and especially so, if the general perception is that your company is in a relatively comfortable position, even without the change. A good idea then might be to show people some genuine reasons as to why the perceived comfort is just a passing phase and won’t last long.

In such a situation, some people may buy your logic, some may not. If you find the buyers to be capable of influencing the rest, endeavor to form a class that can serve as interpreters between you and the mass of people, and hence serve as drivers of change.

For the empirical-rational approach to succeed in the later phases of change, you also need to build your case on a strong Current Situation Analysis, proceed with proper training and development programs, initiate appropriate education, and carry out relevant research and development to support the change. Hire the services of field experts and Organizational Design and change specialists if required. Once these backups are in place, people will inevitably become much more confident of shouldering the responsibilities of change. Also, while you may initially identify a representative class to drive the change, eventually you must graduate to a phase where every team player is encouraged to come up with creative solutions aligned towards attaining a “best-of-all” situation.

However, the Empirical Rational Approach disregards the fact that while employees may understand the need for change or the rationale behind change, they may still not like to undergo change, because of the emotional troubles, adjustment issues etc. that come with transition.

NORMATIVE – RE-EDUCATIVE STRATEGY

Another “classic” approach to change management, this strategy takes wings from the fact that humans are social beings. Hence, they always have the inherent urge to conform to social norms and standards.

It does not deny that humans are rational and intelligent creatures, but views their behavior as being guided by socio-cultural norms and their allegiance to these norms. Restructuring their normative orientations and inducing them to commit to new norms introduce change.

Often, a cultural shift in the organization becomes imperative to adapt to market situations and survive competition. For example, your competitor may be producing twice your output because of their technological advancement, whereas you lag behind because you still rely on manual operations. This needs you to shift work culture from a manual to a technology oriented people set, which in turn requires you to appropriately train and prepare people for the change. Normative – Reeducative Strategy is defined as a strategy that believes that norms in an organization can be purposely shifted to attain higher productivity, through collective people efforts.

Given that culture and norms quickly become a part of who you are, an initial resistance to anything non conformist or maverick is quite expected. Ironically, norms and standards too are not constant over time. If they had been, evolution of society would never have been possible. Just like a stream of water that changes its course, when it meets a strong obstruction, culture and norms can also be re-established and redefined.

This approach believes that changing the attitudes, values and culture leads to an automatic change in behavior. The very logic that makes initial resistance to such change inevitable is used to explain how, over a period of time, this kind of a change tends to adhere. Thus, although it may be paradoxical, it is actually practically observable that once a new culture sets in, people instinctively feel the need to conform, simply in order to survive.

An important tool in initiating this change is the presence of a magnetic and dynamic personality, who can considerably influence people and their perspectives. This personality can be a leader, a change agent or most effectively, the CEO of the company. Given his visibility, prominence, credibility and authority in an organization, he possesses all that is required to effect a change.

While a culture change is possible, it is never immediate. For it implies considerable adjustments to the hitherto established thought patterns and mindsets. As a result, it can emerge only as an outcome of a gradual process. Hence, this strategy is applicable only if you have a longer time frame at your disposal for enabling the change.

The Normative – Reeducative Approach is perhaps the most widely used strategy in present times. When using this strategy, it is important to remember that it is better to try and work through the existing culture, collaborating with people, and helping them see a new and better possibility, than to wake up one fine morning and replace it with a new culture. After all, you cannot change culture the way you change clothes, because it connects to a deeper part of you and how you operate. So, this approach calls for an honest endeavor to work in sync with people, identify problems and facilitate solutions. It should be directed towards improving problem-solving capacities, upgrading processes within a system, and fostering new attitudes, skills, and norms for people. While the bright side is that when your efforts engage people so much, chances of resistance are minimized. But on the other side of the coin, this approach is too dependent on employee cooperation. For instance, new software developed for a certain insurance company was found to be left unused even till months after, because the employees did not want to step out of the comfort of the “old way of doing things.” Often, such a change involves unlearning and relearning, and while the change may ultimately trigger simpler solutions to their work problems, the transition phase comes as a real challenge, often leading to resistance.

This strategy could be used in conjunction with a change in the employee performance management systems that reward people who facilitate change and penalize those who oppose it. This may help to beat the resistance and build a more cooperative atmosphere. Further, since work culture falls as much within the domains of the formal organization as the informal organization. Therefore, a change to the work culture can succeed only if an amiable relationship exists between these two counterparts, or at least if leaders of the informal organization buy the proposed change.

Another perspective on this strategy tells us that while most of the time, individuals prefer to stick to established conventions; the story is different when people within the system are not happy with the status quo. This is a situation where people are actually looking out for change. In this scenario, the preliminary step that the management needs to take to trigger a change is to evaluate and clarify organizational norms and culture. This can be done through interactions, discussions and at a personal level, introspection by the employees of the organisation. So, more often, this strategy will intimately involve people in the “process” of change rather than have them face only the “impact” of change.

Hence, the normative-reeducative approach targets attitudes and values. It tends to produce long lasting changes as it usually involves group goals, group norms or common values. The reason is that once a new norm sets in, after being initiated either by the formal or the informal organization, it eventually becomes part of the system – “the way things are” – and therefore stabilizes over time.

POWER – COERCIVE STRATEGY

This “classic” strategy bases itself in the power of “power”. According to Hans Morgenthau:

Power may comprise anything that establishes and maintains the control of man over man. Thus power covers all social relationships, which serve that end, from physical violence to the subtlest psychological ties by which one mind controls another.

Applied to our context, this strategy advocates “power” in the form of threat sanctions, and believes that people are, in general compliant, and will ultimately bow down to those who possess greater power.

At times, when the change is not radical but moderate, the company may also use subtler forms of power or hegemonic power to attain its objective. In fact, the Normative Reeducative Approach or the Empirical Rational Approach ultimately uses hegemonic power very subtly, to navigate through the change process. Hegemony is like an internalized form of social control, which makes us feel we are choosing when really we have no choice. The 20th century French Marxist Louis Althusser called this ‘trick’ as Interpellation.

In both these cases, when a change has been decided upon, people have no choice but to accept it. They may resist for some time, but ultimately must go with the flow. However, instead of using force, these strategies use “reason” and “collaboration” to make the “change situation” seem like a choice that will lead to a better situation than the status quo. So, while the idea that the change will lead to a prospective better situation is true, it is ultimately never open to choice. Hence, indirectly even these strategies use some form of subtler hegemonic power. However, the difference is that while these approaches secure the support of the people through logic or collaboration, hence ensuring that change endures and stabilizes over time, the direct use of imposing power, as advocated by the Power – Coercive Strategy, runs the risk that once the power is removed, people may revert to their original behavior.

But many times, exerting authority, subtly or otherwise, in the form of political and economic sanctions, legislation, policies, “moral” power etc. may seem the only way to bring about a change. This happens when people in the organization collectively fail to perceive a threat that is, in reality, grave and must be resolved within a restricted response time. Use of power may also be necessary when people become obstinate and intractable in the face of a change, which has lots at stake. So, people may become even during times of an exigency. The trick applied here is to have it your way and leave no other option for your people but to accept the change. While political sanctions usually reward non-conformists with imprisonment, economic sanctions curtail financial incentives to those who resist the change. Thus, the use of coercive power is an attempt to make people yield to change by inducing fear or using actual force.

However, the use of power may not always be negative. For instance, one power – coercive strategy uses the behavioral psychology concept of “the carrot and the stick”. In this approach, power can be used to both reward employees who support change through financial incentives and punish those who don’t with political or financial consequences, through sanctions. Thus, power can operate both ways.

The success of this strategy, however, depends on the general temperament of the organization.

Some organizations, as a part of their culture, believe in the authority of seniority, and appreciate the role of the hierarchy in issuing guidelines or directives for organizational development. If your people are attuned to a system of healthy authoritarianism, this may come easy. But in an organization where liberality has long been practiced, Hitlerian tactics will face resistance. Still, with Power-Coercive strategies, people have little option but to accept change, since most of these strategies use stringent policies, where impunity is ruled out. However, to ensure that the foundations of change are built on unanimity rather than repressed fear or dissatisfaction, it is important to evaluate the nature of your organization, the problem at hand and the time frame at hand, before embarking on this strategy, as a last resort.

Robert L. Kahn observed that:

To say that A has the power to change B’s behavior necessarily implies that A exerts some force in opposition to some or all of the previously existing forces [including B’s own needs and values] on B. This is conflict….The exercise of [coercive] power, thus, necessarily creates conflict…

Thus, while the use of authority structures and threat sanctions can accomplish change, they may breed hatred and contempt for the organization or the senior management, which is harmful to organization in the long run.

ENVIRONMENTAL – ADAPTIVE STRATEGY

The Environmental-Adaptive Strategy, suggested by Fred Nickols, is built on the premise that while people innately resist change, they also eventually adapt themselves to it, when they are left with no choice.

Also known as the “die – on – the – vine” strategy, it takes its cue from the common observation that while individuals are quick to oppose change that they find threatening, they also have an innate ability to adapt quickly to a new set of circumstances. Applied to our context of organizational change, this human psychology translates to a strategy of first creating a new environment and then gradually moving people from the old to the new system. Thus, rather than proactively trying to “change” the organization by effecting a “change” in the behavior, processes, culture and norms of people, this strategy recommends that a new set of circumstances be created, and the innate nature of humans to eventually adapt be exploited, in letting the change “sink in”. Therefore, in this strategy, the ball shifts court from the management to the people, as the responsibility of regularizing the change now lies on the people and how they adapt to the change. They practically have no choice to accept or reject the change, unless of course one prefers to quit the organization altogether. Here, the change is made, and the individuals merely adapt themselves.

This strategy is best suited for changes that are radical in nature rather than those that are gradual. Say, you want to introduce the SAP-HR system to increase efficiency and speed of HR related work. This is an incremental change that will happen over time, as your Business HR personnel gradually learn how to operate the new system and shift from the old manual practice to the new systematized process. If you were to use the Environment Adaptive strategy here, creating the environment and leaving them to adapt to it in their own way, the transition phase, very likely would stretch too long. This is because, your managers already operate within a framework that they are comfortable with, and so they may be reluctant to shift to a new system. Here, you might have to use a mix of the empirical-rational and the normative-reeducative strategies instead to change that comfort culture and enable them embrace the change.

Now, consider the example that Nickols gives, of a radical change handled in the Environmental-Adaptive way. Rupert Murdoch wanted to shift to an entirely new operating structure, on terms that were very different from the current one at Fleet Street. So, he set about quietly establishing an entirely new operation in Wapping, some distance away from Fleet Street. As soon as the new system became operational, he informed the printers at Fleet Street that he had some good news and some bad news for all of them. The bad news was that they would have to shut down their operations at Fleet Street. So, everybody was fired. The good news was that a new operation had jobs for all of them, albeit on very different terms.

Now, most people in this situation will embrace the new option – a radical change, tackled using the Environment-Adaptive strategy. Of course, the strategy is a mix of the empirical rational and power coercive strategies, and that is only a reinforcement of the fact that practical situations often need a mix of different strategies to effectively manage change.

Many years ago, my work took me to a slum infested area. I was pained to see the kind of life those people led, the abject poverty everywhere, the bowl that every child held out in his hand, not for food, but in the hope that a kind passerby may drop some alms.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity of revisiting the same place to run an education camp, and was pleasantly amazed at the buildings that stood in place of the slums – an obvious outcome of a rigorous rehabilitation program! It was only when I ventured inside that I realized, that barring the safer, better and more decent dwelling place to live in, nothing much had really changed. The litter was still around, the kids still ran about in the mud in tattered clothes and they still held out their hands for alms. The rehabilitation program had done well in shifting them to a new place, but perhaps something more remained to be done to have them live a new, more meaningful life. Their “homes” had changed, their way of life hadn’t.

And to change that culture, they needed to be educated, to be shown that a better way of life existed, and existed within their reach. But even for that education to show its impact, I was now beginning to understand; I needed more kids like Jana, Neil and Don. Among the close to thirty kids I had been asked to supervise, there were only these three who were genuinely interested. The rest were happy with their life, as it was.

The above incident links to an important factor that you must consider before using this strategy. Ensure that you have at least a few capable, influential and probably “non conformist” employees, in your organization, who will embrace the change and drive the others. These are your “seed” employees – people who will foster a new and more effective work culture in the newly established setup. Correspondingly, Nickols uses the term “bad apples” to refer to people from the old culture, which are detrimental to the new culture and must be done away with.

If there is no buy-in on the change, at-least at the “seed” level, the strategy may not work. Rather, it may lead to a situation where you have a new workplace that continues to work in the old manner and follow the old culture. Effectively then, there hasn’t been much change.

Understanding Logistics

According to Ghiani (2004), logistics can be defined as the planning and controlling of products and information in an organization. It aims at delivering materials to a given destination for another trying to optimize a particular measure and ensuring satisfaction of a particular set of constraints. These definitions can be simplified to mean the managing of the flow of goods as well as services from the point of manufacture to the point of consumption ensuring that the requirements of the consumer are observed. Activities under logistics include information integration, warehousing, packaging, inventory, security, transportation, as well as handling of materials. Logistics compliments supply chain by add value to place, as well as time utility.

Logistics are identified in different fields due to performance value. These fields include procurement, after sales, production, disposal, as well as distribution fields. This paper will identify the areas where organizations involve logistics as well as the essence of an effective logistics to an organization.

These fields of logistics determine specific activities. Procurement logistics involve make/buy decisions, supplier and other management, as well as market research. Production logistics’ key principle is to connect procurement to distribution logistics. This field of logistics determines the capacities of production under available resources in response to distribution logistics. Distribution logistics deal with delivering of finished goods to the consumer or rather customers. Its components include processing, warehousing, as well as transportation. This logistics is most essential since the time, place as well as quantity of production vary from the time, place, and quantity of consumption.

Today, logistics have been simplified through technological advancements. Complexities which hinder effective logistics management can now be visualized, modeled, optimized and analyzed through particular simulation software. These complexities have necessitated the use of this software. Successful businesses are using this software to case the work of logistics analysis and hence providing effective strategies of managing supply and demand. Problems in logistics majorly occur in organizations that engage in product delivery but they can also occur in firms producing services (Ghiani, 2004). Examples of this include garbage collection, after sales services, as well as mail delivery, among others. Maintenance and operational cost of logistics is another hindrance of its use. Research conducted in the United Stated in 1997 proved that organizations used 862 billion dollars as the total logistics expenditure. It is hence essential for organizations to understand how to minimize logistics cost (Rushton, 2000).

Reliability and sustainability are other factors which affect the efficiency of logistics. Reliable systems as well as equipment’s should be able to perform intended purpose for the identified period under stated conditions through effective logistics. Inefficient logistics will lead to a wrong probability on performance capabilities of systems hence causing massive losses. Reliability will thus project the probability of systems and equipment in an organization (Landford, 2006).

In conclusion, the main issue under logistics is deciding how and when raw goods and finished products will be shipped, transported, and stored. This unlike other operations management is most evident in modern societies. A logistics system comprised of facilities that have been corresponded to the transportation services. Facilities include locations where goods are processed, and they include manufacturing centers, distribution centers, transportation terminals, as well as dumpsites, just to mention a few. The transportation services move goods between the facilities.

Information System and its Trends

Information System and technologies have become a vital component of successful businesses and organizations.

Information System means an interconnected set of information resources under the same direct management control that shares common functionality. A system normally includes hardware, software, information, data, applications, communications and people, while an information system is the arrangement of people, data, processes, presentation of data and information technology that supports our everyday needs. It is actually technologically implemented medium for recording, storing, and disseminating linguistic expressions, as well as for drawing conclusions from such expressions. The computer technology is used for implementing information systems.

TYPES OF AN INFORMATION SYSTEM

Information System can be divided in two basic forms

1. OPERATIONS SUPPORT

SYSTEMS

It is further subdivided into

the following

o Transaction Processing System (TPS)

o Enterprise Collaboration System

o Process Control System

2. MANAGEMENT SUPPORT

SYSTEM

It is further subdivided into the following

o Management Information System (MIS)

o Decision Support System (DSS)

o Executive Support System (ESS)

TOOLS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN INFORMATION SYSTEM

The steps which are involved in the development of an Information System are:

Analysis, Feasibility Study, System Design, Testing, Implementation, Documentation.

TRENDS IN INFORMATION SYSTEM:

It is generally accepted that information is a vital commodity for the successful operation of today’s organizations. Nowadays modern business organizations are using computerized information systems in order to obtain desired information. However, as the technology advances rapidly the main issue is how can an organization should effectively use such an information system which its management sometimes can be unpredictable in order to effectively help the whole organization structure to improve and take the most out of it.

It seems fairly obvious that Information systems have played an important linking role even before the advent of the Internet. Thus, for example, the possibilities offered by Information systems have strongly influenced the way managers were able to exercise control and therefore constituted an important factor in the organization of large-scale enterprise and their geographic extension. The same is true for governments and their statistical apparatus. The recent integration of computer networks and electronic data exchange facilitated the creation of common databases and policies among governments, speeding up developments, which had started earlier. It also created new possibilities for business, for example enabling companies to develop new organizational practices (e.g. just-in-time).

However, the role of Information systems in the organization is shifting to support business processes rather than individual functions. The focus is outwards to customers, rather than inwards to procedures. Businesses are changing more and more rapidly.

This poses a challenge to existing Information systems, which are often inappropriately structured to meet these needs. It also poses a challenge to the people who design, work and use these systems, since they may hold outdated assumptions.

To ensure the services provided by Information systems whenever needed and their failure will not cause catastrophic disaster their reliability and efficiency become extremely important. Imagine what would happen when a banking system malfunctions due to some critical faults in the system or when a healthcare information system provides wrong advice for patients.

It is even not over-saying that our lives are already under control of computer systems but their reliability and efficiency has become extremely important

APPLICATIONS OF INFORMATION SYSTEM:

There is a wide range of applications of information system that are implemented in today’s world. To name a few such as

1. Sales analysis, production performance and cost trend

reporting system

2. Product Pricing, profitability forecasting and risk

analysis system

3. Sales and inventory processing and accounting System

4. Geographic Information systems

5. Health Care Information Systems

6. Banking Information System

7. Petroleum Refining System

8. Power Generation System

9. Steel Production System

What Services Do Property Management Companies Offer?

Owning real estate is a wonderful feeling, especially for those who have really toiled for many years to become a property owner. Though it might sound a little materialistic, but a property is actually a mark of someone’s hard work. Thus, when a family has to relocate to some other place far from their land or property, due to job commitment or any other reason, it is a natural concern to be worried about the property. Managing the property effectively, without keeping an eye on it regularly, is almost impossible for the landlord. This is exactly when a property owner should start looking for a professional property management company. However, it is good to know what services these property management companies offer before you go ahead and fix a meeting with any agency. This would actually give you a clear idea of what you should expect and ask for while interviewing the property manager.

Basically, these companies deal with flats, villas, independent houses, rental apartments and commercial properties. Once you sign a legal agreement with any of these companies, it actually becomes their responsibility to rent out your property by searching suitable tenants. To look for right tenants, they advertise your property through the local media. The replies that come to the property advertisement are promptly attended by the company. Their expert staff then shows the whole rental property to the prospective tenants. In fact a clear and detailed report is provided to the landlord on all those potential tenants who had come to check out the property. This is to ensure that the landlord makes a right decision. Once the tenants are finalized, then the company would execute a rental agreement.

The responsibility of the company does not end here. They collect monthly rent on the landlord’s behalf and deposit it into his bank account. Apart from the timely rent collection, the professionals would also visit the property regularly, in order to make sure that it is efficiently maintained and not harmed by the tenants. Professional photographers are hired to take the photographs of various parts of a property to be sent to the landlord. Though these visits by the property managers are periodical, they are always keen to help tenants if they find anything objectionable.

Also, in case there is a repair work to be done, the company takes care of it by appointing an external contractor to fix the problem areas. Another very important service offered by a property management agency is conducting an inventory audit. It is conducted when a property is rented out to a tenant and when he/she vacates it. The reason for conducting this audit is to make sure that all physical assets of the property are in a good condition. To summarize, the services proffered by a property management company play a pivotal role in reducing the burden of a landlord, owning multiple properties. Therefore when you actually enter into a contract with such a company and you can indeed be totally assured of getting quality services.

Guide to Upgrading Your Business Information Systems

Upgrading your business information system is a necessary process that every successful organization should implement. This process could exist in a formal or an informal way wherever a business uses information technology. Since this will require you to become a customer to a number of different vendors, the process of upgrading your information systems becomes a lot about management skills, and requires that one is knowledgeable about the subject before taking it on.

Information systems in your business involve more than just hardware and include operating systems, telecommunication service providers, equipment and applications procured from outside providers.

Given the technical knowledge and managerial skill sets that are required to successfully upgrade your business information systems constantly, many businesses often end up spending more than they should while performing this operation because of insufficient planning. In this age when the economy is recovering from a financial crisis, it is important to optimize the upgrading process and save money by planning well. Managers of large corporations in charge of the upgrading process concern themselves with making the process more efficient, and with this aim in mind will use tools like procurement cards and EDI. In addition to this, they work to reduce the cycle time of their contracts and use various tracking systems to manage business assets.

In smaller businesses, these measures may be unnecessary; however if an organization is considering upgrading their business information system, it might be a good idea to have one or more dedicated staff members oversee the process. This person, or team, will be required to maintain an inventory of all the assets owned by the business, and perform routine checks on the equipment. In addition to this, they will need to identify the equipment that needs upgrading, and the level of urgency. They will also need to interact with vendors to ensure that you get the best value for your new procurements, and that the new equipment meets all the requirement of your business.

Since business information systems need constant upgrading, it is important to develop a working relationship with certain vendors, and maintain this relationship to ensure better service and more efficient processes. It is also important to ensure that there is a strict benchmark maintained in performance standards, and all equipment and assets in the company. This will affect all further procurements and discards. You will also need to constantly update your plan for upgrading with an eye on your current business model and goals.

Limitations Of Management Information Systems

A Management Information System (MIS) is a precious technology that organizations use to measure the efficiency of their business operations as well as performance of their employees. The MIS endows with thorough insight of a company and supports management for making decisive business decisions. Though the MIS provides big number of advantages, but yet it also comes with a few limitations. In this article, we will be focusing on that part of management information system.

Security

This is the very significant area of management information system and it should be well secured. All the important as well as the secret data are there stored in an MIS and which is not supposed to seen by anyone outside the company or anyone who is not authorized to do so. However, it happens sometimes and the important data gets seep out of the organization. It affects the company a lot in business and hence the companies should focus more on this security part. Let’s discuss a few ways how the security of an MIS can be broken.

Hackers: At present, a number of people who have excellent IT knowledge hack this kind of system, maybe for money or for some other purposes.

Ex- employees: In some cases, it has been seen that the account of employees are active in MIS site even after they got out from there. Sometimes, these accounts can be used for some negative purposes.

Virus: While the employees of any organization use this system, they should make sure that their operating device or computer is virus free. If the device has dangerous viruses then these can be a concern for the security of the MIS.

Server

All the data are stored in a particular server, which is also known as the hosting server. The upload time of any server cannot be 100%. It may be 90% or 99%. But, never can be the fullest. So, the site can be down for anytime. Hence, this is another limitation for management information system.

Internet

Same as server, Internet is also a part where MIS has to be dependent. If someone cannot access the net services or the weather is cloudy or maybe the user is in remote or rural area where no network is, then he or she won’t be able to get access of management information system.

So, these are a few limitations that a management information system has to over come in future. However, with having those limitations, yet it helps a lot to the organization, the down line employees and top level managers to take proper decisions for the well of the company.

How to Evaluate Your Finance Department

Nobody knows your business better than you do. After all, you are the CEO. You know what the engineers do; you know what the production managers do; and nobody understands the sales process better than you. You know who is carrying their weight and who isn’t. That is, unless we’re talking about the finance and accounting managers.

Most CEO’s, especially in small and mid-size enterprises, come from operational or sales backgrounds. They have often gained some knowledge of finance and accounting through their careers, but only to the extent necessary. But as the CEO, they must make judgments about the performance and competence of the accountants as well as the operations and sales managers.

So, how does the diligent CEO evaluate the finance and accounting functions in his company? All too often, the CEO assigns a qualitative value based on the quantitative message. In other words, if the Controller delivers a positive, upbeat financial report, the CEO will have positive feelings toward the Controller. And if the Controller delivers a bleak message, the CEO will have a negative reaction to the person. Unfortunately, “shooting the messenger” is not at all uncommon.

The dangers inherent in this approach should be obvious. The Controller (or CFO, bookkeeper, whoever) may realize that in order to protect their career, they need to make the numbers look better than they really are, or they need to draw attention away from negative matters and focus on positive matters. This raises the probability that important issues won’t get the attention they deserve. It also raises the probability that good people will be lost for the wrong reasons.

The CEO’s of large public companies have a big advantage when it comes to evaluating the performance of the finance department. They have the audit committee of the board of directors, the auditors, the SEC, Wall Street analyst and public shareholders giving them feedback. In smaller businesses, however, CEO’s need to develop their own methods and processes for evaluating the performance of their financial managers.

Here are a few suggestions for the small business CEO:

Timely and Accurate Financial Reports

Chances are that at some point in your career, you have been advised that you should insist on “timely and accurate” financial reports from your accounting group. Unfortunately, you are probably a very good judge of what is timely, but you may not be nearly as good a judge of what is accurate. Certainly, you don’t have the time to test the recording of transactions and to verify the accuracy of reports, but there are some things that you can and should do.

  • Insist that financial reports include comparisons over a number of periods. This will allow you to judge the consistency of recording and reporting transactions.
  • Make sure that all anomalies are explained.
  • Recurring expenses such as rents and utilities should be reported in the appropriate period. An explanation that – “there are two rents in April because we paid May early” – is unacceptable. The May rent should be reported as a May expense.
  • Occasionally, ask to be reminded about the company’s policies for recording revenues, capitalizing costs, etc.

Beyond Monthly Financial Reports

You should expect to get information from your accounting and finance groups on a daily basis, not just when monthly financial reports are due. Some good examples are:

  • Daily cash balance reports.
  • Accounts receivable collection updates.
  • Cash flow forecasts (cash requirements)
  • Significant or unusual transactions.

Consistent Work Habits

We’ve all known people who took it easy for weeks, then pulled an all-nighter to meet a deadline. Such inconsistent work habits are strong indicators that the individual is not attentive to processes. It also sharply raises the probability of errors in the frantic last-minute activities.

Willingness to Be Controversial

As the CEO, you need to make it very clear to the finance/accounting managers that you expect frank and honest information and that they will not be victims of “shoot the messenger” thinking. Once that assurance is given, your financial managers should be an integral part of your company’s management team. They should not be reluctant to express their opinions and concerns to you or to other department leaders.