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Executive Information System: Think Infrastructure, Not Software

The infrastructure in which an executive receives this information is called, fittingly, an executive information system (EIS). This infrastructure is not to be confused with the software for managing information.

In any company, it can be difficult to feed relevant information up to the executive level. In large enterprises, it is especially difficult to do this. The infrastructure in which an executive receives this information is called, fittingly, an executive information system (EIS). Below I will discuss several implications of building an EIS.

First and foremost, it is important to note that a variety of tools are available that assist in the management of this infrastructure, but a successful EIS first depends upon how well it is built - not the tool itself. Say, for instance, that you have an enterprise with over 1,000 employees, how does the CEO evaluate the data gathered from all those employees? Even with software, some information may seem gibberish to the CEO but may actually be very valuable to a CFO. Then, on the other hand, a budget expense that may seem gibberish to the CFO may actually be very valuable to the team buying a tool vital to the work they do. Even further, a team leader or project manager may find that an individual's small tasks are unnecessary while the individual knows that in order to accomplish his or her initiatives, those tasks must be done. In the end, the CEO simply canít make sense of everything. Thereís too much data, and each number is the result of someone who is an expert in bringing about that data. It would be false to dismiss each individual.

All in all, it is a complicated matter, and the CEO is not the one to handle the tasks of thousands of employees. He or she needs each person in the company to aggregate data in a way that does not dismiss the value of that personís job role. The potential for data miscommunication is the reason why it is so important to have a well-built executive information system. Because the executives are those responsible for making the big decisions, they need to know what is happening.

Once the structure of the executive information system is recognized, that is when a company can truly benefit from EIS software. However, EIS software cannot stand alone and should not be a separate tool from portfolio software or project management software. Though each of these disciplines require different function, having them as separate tools can potentially break the efficiency of the executive information system. The last thing a large enterprise (and any company for that matter) wants to do is place barriers between the translation of data to different technologies. By the time tasks are translated to projects, projects translated to portfolios, and portfolios translated to business initiatives, a lot of accuracy can be lost. Then, not only is it lost, but the time spent translating the data is wasted.

That said, having the EIS functionality built into an overall enterprise management tool is the key. Reporting can then be automated, and nearly instantaneously visible. Once team members, managers, directors, and departments are all on the same pagePsychology Articles, that is when an executive information system can truly succeed.

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Combining his personal experiences, social observations, and a variety of philosophies, Robert Steele provides easy-to-understand explanations of business management basics. He currently focuses on understanding the implications of managing an executive information system in modern business.

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