At the onset of this discussion, it is vital that we establish the basic nature and character of a “Management Information System.” According to G. Davis and M. Olson in the publication “Management Information Systems” (1984, p. 5-6): “There is no consensus of the definition of the term ‘management information system’…”
In fact, these highly regarded authors continue by saying: “Some writers prefer alternative terminology such as “information processing system”, “information and decision system”, “organizational information system”, or simply “information system” to refer to the computer-based information processing system which supports the operations, management, and decision-making functions of an organization […].”
So as to better articulate the issue, these same authors state: “A definition of a management information system, as the term is generally understood, is an integrated, user-machine system for providing information to support operations, management, and decision-making functions in an organization. The system utilizes computer hardware and software; manual procedures; models for analysis planning, control and decision-making; and a database. […].”
Now, from the birds-eye-view of things, we must concede that the latter arguments are quite rational and intellectually compelling. With this accepted, it can be further asserted that the intersect between MIS and Six Sigma is pragmatically circumscribed by the information systems that support the many business, operations, management, and decision-making processes associated with the deployment and implementation of Six Sigma. For example, it is widely understood that the aims of Six Sigma are under girded by the valid and reliable reporting of certain business, operations, and process level metrics (performance measures such as defects-per-unit, yield, on-time delivery, and so on).
Without the support of a management system to efficaciously govern the collection, organization, analysis, display, transmittal, and utilization of performance information and data, it is highly doubtful that the aims of Six Sigma could be realized in a timely and meaningful manner. Of course, there are many other “information oriented systems” that must also be managed – accounting, training, communication, reward, recognition, just to mention a few.
Related to this topic, it should be duly recognized that the will of sound leadership, the effort of knowledgeable employees, the vision of Six Sigma, and the ways and means of MIS, is what drives the global realization of corporate-wide breakthroughs in business performance. In closing, this author would like to quote Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). He stated: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Such is the nature of any attempt to intersect the aims of MIS with the mandate of Six Sigma.