Unit 3 - Assignment 1

Using Information

This section of the flyer will explain how data is produced and used in these specific functional areas. I will also describe the different type of information they produce and use.

Information types:

  • Qualitative data - Qualitative data is often information which is descriptive. It is often non-statistical data, opinion based, subjective and quicker to process. A simple example of qualitative data could be a review or your favourite colour.
  • Quantitative data - Quantitative data is very factual and based on numbers. Quantitative data is obtained using precise methods. Examples of quantitative data could range from height to age as they are shown as numbers.
  • Primary data - Primary data is data which is often collected personally or from a very close source. Some example of primary data are; direct observation, surveys, interviews and logs.
  • Secondary data - Secondary data is collected externally by someone else. Some examples of secondary data are; online using the internet, written articles and television.

Functional areas:

  • Marketing - Marketing carries out research, advertising and product promotion. The information they obtain can then be used by the sales department in order to distribute good & services to specific locations. They test out new products and make sure they are suitable. Marketing are also responsible for advertising new products to increase profits.
  • Purchasing - Purchasing is tasked with purchasing all materials and goods required for production/use. The purchasing department works in a tight relationship with the manufacturing department, sales department and marketing department in order to make sure all purchases being made allow for good profits.
  • Manufacturing - Manufacturing takes care of producing goods, making sure standards of the goods are correct. They also make sure they are on schedule. The manufacturing department must plan schedules and stick to them. They keep records of the quantity of materials they have in order to make sure they don't run out or purchase too many. These figures are given to the purchasing department in order for them to make sure all materials are stocked.
  • Finance - Finance provides records of all money coming in and going out of the business and prepares accounts for financial reasons. They keep records of all purchases and sales made by the company which can then be used to identify areas for improvements. They are also responsible for giving financial assistance in order for managers to make better financial decisions. Finance often help in the calculation of staff pay (wage/salary) and the distributing of pay raises.
  • Administration - Admin provides operational support, and deals with feedback from customers. Administration keeps records of all feedback and reviews. They work with marketing in order to achieve more profit by trying to satisfy customer complaints and reviews. They also take care of the system that all the departments use and try to fix problems which occur with haste in order to reduce costs.
  • Personnel/HR - Human resources are tasked with recruitment, training, health and safety + pay negotiations with workers etc. They handle interviewing potential employees, taking them through induction and training - on and off the job. They also handle job dismissals and redundancies. HR are tasked with allocating the correct amount of manpower for specific tasks within the company.
  • Sales - Sales deals with all aspects of selling goods/services to customers. Sales gather information relating to how many sales are being made over a specific amount of time, what sales are being made and all the information can be used for market research in order to achieve a higher profit. They also give all sales figures to finance in order to keep records up to date.

Good Information

When using information for business purposes and storing information within a system it is important that the information is good and helps you make the correct business decision.

The key characteristics of good information are:

  • Valid - Valid information is information that is always correct and can be used for the specific purpose that it is needed. Examples of valid information could consist of information supplied by the government, such as tax rates.
  • Reliable - Reliable information is information that you can rely on being correct. This means the information will be from a valid and trusted source. Information such as sales figures provided by your sales department and supplied to the financial department would be reliable information as the information comes from an internal source.
  • Timely - Timely information is information from the correct time period, if a company wishes to analyse data on current profits and losses then the data must be current. Sales figures from years ago won't help at all.
  • Fit for purpose - This is information which is relevant to what you need the information for. E.G. if you are looking for a shopping hotspot in a specific area - information about another area wouldn't be fit for purpose. But information about the most popular hotspots in the specific area you wish to set up a store would be information which is fit for purpose.
  • Accessible - Information which can easily be accessed is considered accessible information. Information needs to be available within a moments notice for most jobs. An example of this is how cash registers can print all sales made within that day. This is simple, quick and easy to do. If this took hours to print it wouldn't be considered accessible information.
  • Cost Effective - This is whether the information acquired is worth the time and money it would take to produce it. Cost effective information is usually information that allows you to maintain a high profit margin vs costs. An example of cost effective information could be paying someone £500 to do market research into creating an app to sell which will appeal to the public. If you then created the app and sold it on an appstore for an overall profit of £200 a month then the information would have been very cost effective. The higher the profit margin, the more cost-effective the information.
  • Accurate - Accurate information means there are less potential errors that could cost time and money. It also allows you to make better business decisions as you know the information is up to date and accurate. For example - If sales figures sent to the finance department weren't calculated correctly it could have several knock on effects. Such as less investment options, reduced wages, potential job redundancy's etc.
  • Relevance - Relevant information is quite similar to information which is fit for purpose. This is information related to your business need. For example, if investors were searching for a strong new clothing store to invest in, information on a grocery store would be irrelevant to their business need.
  • Detail - This means that information should contain the right amount of detail for what it is needed. For example, if a store manager wanted to see sales figures for the whole year in order to compare profits to previous years, information showing the profits quarterly would probably contain too much information - as opposed to information showing profits annually.
  • Confidence in source - This means that the information being obtained is from a trusted and reliable source. For example, if you wanted information on taxes you would contact the government as they are a very reliable source - as opposed to a business competitor.
  • Understandable - This means the information acquired or being used is understandable. If someone less familiar with sales figures and terminology's wanted to see profits annually over the course of 5 years - handing them information containing such jargon may confuse them and wouldn't be considered understandable information. But handling them a chart that simply shows profits for each of the 5 years next to each other would be understandable for that specific purpose which means the information is understandable for its business need.

How information flows

There are three ways information can be passed through an organisation and this is described as the flow of information. The flow of information is the movement of the information relevant to where it was produced and to where it can be used. Efficient information flow is key in any successful organisation. Information within an organisation can flow:

  • Downward - Downward information is how high ranking managers e.g. Senior managers inform the rest of an organisation of extremely important changes.
  • Upward - Upwards information is how the staff can report information to higher ranking members of the organisation. This includes progress reports, successes/failures and problems which need to be addressed.
  • Across - Information passed between parts of an organisation in order for them to work coherently towards a specific goal.