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Multi-National Corporation (MNC) Information Systems Planning

An information system is a set of people, data, and procedures that work together to provide useful information. It is essential to the functioning of a complex multi-national corporation (MNC). The need for an effective Management Information System (MIS) function is particularly crucial for the survival and success of MNC’s. Because of their international structure, MNC’s are vulnerable to the uncertainties associated with the multiple political, cultural, and economic systems within which they operate.

An organisation’s MIS is a system for obtaining, processing, and delivering information that can be used in managing the organisation in order to improve the performance of the organisation through the implementation of Information Technology (IT). Modern technology allows organisations access to information regardless of the physical distance between the source and the use of the information. The newfound MIS capability not only allows more timely decision making, it also enables better control of foreign subsidiaries or operations.

Strategies to Create Global Information Systems

Akmanligil and Palvia provide the following primary strategies for developing a Global Information System:

i)                    Development with a multinational design team

The participation of personnel from multiple sites can help create a plan the meets the requirements of all regions and can also increase the likelihood of mutual acceptance of the software and adhering to international standards.

ii)                   Parallel Development

By this process the construction of the various subsystems are performed at the local sites and integrated.  The various systems are coordinated via common development methodologies via shared software tool and e-mail.

iii)                 Central Development

In this process the system is developed at the headquarters and then installed at the subsidiaries. The advantages of the process are lower costs, certainty of a standard operating procedure, and better communication. However the disadvantages may include resistance by subsidiaries or incompatibility with the requirements of some regions

iv)                 Core vs. Local Development

This process relies on a centralised system that develops a common global solution while taking into consideration and accommodating the regional needs of the subsidiary. This process can allow the subsidiary to alter the centralised approach to suit their separate requirements. This process can minimise local conflicts and also increase coordination.

v)                  Best In-Firm Software Adoption

The process involves selecting the best software currently in use within the organisation and implementing it throughout the group. However, this process may require some modifications due to the differences in technological resources. In such instances, it may be beneficial to provide a region with its own modified version of the required software. Such a process can increase maintenance costs.

vi)                 Outsourced Custom Development

Outsourcing provides that the system is developed by an external company. Outsourcing can be used to implement and enforce global standards along with reducing costs. The disadvantages to this process may be that management lose a certain amount of control and may also lose a competitive advantage.

vii)               Unmodified Package Software Acquisition

By this process the organisation simply purchase the required software instead of developing it themselves. With such unmodified packages, agreements can be made with vendors to provide better support and ensure that future modifications will be compatible. The disadvantages may be that the standard packages may not completely meet the requirements of the firm and modification may be necessary.

viii)              Modified Package Software Acquisition

By this process the software required is modified by the vendors prior to acquisition. In many cases, only minimal modification is recommended due to the high costs of development and maintenance that can be incurred.

ix)                 Joint Development with Vendors

This process involves the hiring of vendors to create and help administrate the system in its entirety. This process can have the advantages of ensuring that the latest technology is available and can allow be implemented quickly.

Conclusion

Choosing the best process is not a foolproof plan but some of the items that should be taken into consideration include the characteristics of the organisation, the requirements of the system, the differences between the headquarters and the subsidiaries, and the standards and skills of the staff. Choosing the correct process is essential to the success of any IS project. However, its success is not solely based on the successful implementation of one of the above processes, but may also be based on the quality of the information, satisfaction of the user and the impact that the system may have on the organisation.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) exam,  a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • Other key considerations for US-based MNCs (I.C.i.)
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