In this lesson, we will explore computer and information controls in organizations related to performance limitations, behavioral limitations, and health risks.
Computers and Information Technology
In order to better understand the controls needed to perform essential tasks and to maintain the security of sensitive information, it is important to understand the role computers and information technology play in an organization's success. We use computers to collect and share information, develop new products, and control processes, as well as to communicate between workers and engage in electronic commerce.
In fact, we use computers for just about everything in an organization, from typing an email to researching a cure for a disease - even for fighting wars. Simply stated, computers are necessary in organizations today. In fact, can you imagine not having a computer at work? Can you imagine a time when workers were not 'plugged in'?
So, if computers are necessary to perform work, how can managers be sure that the information stored on computers is safe? Let's look at how Iris Tacks, manager of Iris' Tax Center, developed a set of controls in order to mitigate, or lessen the effect of, risk to the organization's security, employee behaviors, and health risks associated with computers and information.
Computers and Information Controls
As we learned, the benefits of having computers in the workplace are endless, but computers do not exist without human and financial limitations. We will explore three critical computer and information controls to mitigate the risk involved in technology:
- Performance limitations
- Behavioral limitations
- Health risks
Performance limitations are limitations on the actual performance or things a computer can do based on its age, quality, information storage capacity, and even the speed with which other technologies change.
When Ms. Tacks makes decisions about the purchase of equipment, upgrades on software, and even enhancing the performance of existing computers, the decisions are made carefully. Some important decision factors she considered are:
- Can the computers' hardware support the software advances we need for business?
- Is the downtime waiting for upgrades going to cause other problems?
- Will the software upgrades we make be compatible with other technologies we will need in the future?
- Should we just buy all new computers?
- How do I know if an advance in technology is right around the corner?
Behavioral limitations are limitations on the behavior of employees due to over-exposure to information, which can cause slower decision making and stress. There are also other behavioral limitations that result from having computers and information technologies available for employees. Limitations, like personal use of computers, access to sensitive materials, and even legal matters of intellectual property ownership, can limit an organization's control.
When Iris made decisions about the privileges given to employees to access information via computer systems, there were several things she had to think about:
- What type of information does each employee need access to?
- How will I monitor how employees use the information they need to make important decisions without feeling overloaded with information?
- Do I have enough security in place to deter employees from viewing or sharing sensitive information?
- Should I check employee email?
- Do I own the materials my employees create on my computers?
Ergonomic chairs, keyboards, and computer screens can help control health risks to employees.
Health risks involve illnesses and injuries that are directly related to the use of a computer, like carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back stress, and even vision problems.
Iris carefully considered the consequences of having her tax preparers work at computer stations for long periods of time during tax season. Since tax season is so busy, she had to come up with the ways to alleviate the health risks her employees may experience.
Iris controls as much of the health risks as possible by purchasing ergonomic devices, like specially-designed computer screens to minimize glare, correctly shaped computer keyboards, and chairs to reduce the tension of sitting at a computer for long periods of time. She also offers periodic breaks to employees.
In summary, there are several computer and information controls used to mitigate risks associated with performance, employee behavior, and health.
Performance limitations are limitations on the actual performance or things a computer can do based on its age, quality, information storage capacity, or even the speed with which other technologies change.
Behavioral limitations are limitations on the behavior of employees due to over-exposure to information, which lead to slower decision making and stress, as well as access to sensitive information and matters of intellectual property ownership.
Health risks involve illnesses and injuries that are directly related to the use of computers, like carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back stress, and even vision problems.
Once you wrap up this lesson, you should be prepared to identify computer and information controls that reduce risks concerning behavior of employees along with health and performance.