Executive Information Systems (EIS): Upper Management Decision-Making Tools

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  • 0:05 What Is an EIS?
  • 1:17 Characteristics of an EIS
  • 2:41 Executive Dashboards
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul has a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught Geographic Information Systems, statistics and computer programming for 15 years.

An Executive Information System is a specialized information system used to support senior-level decision making. Learn how senior management uses an executive dash board to keep a close eye on how well their organization is doing.

What is an EIS?

Let's say you are the Chief Executive Officer of a large company. You have 35 locations in 12 countries with 20,000 employees. How do you keep track of everything that is going on in the company? In order for you to be an effective leader, what information are you going to need? You don't have the whole day to read through dozens of reports or listen to a series of presentations. What you need is an Executive Information System.

An Executive Information System, or EIS, is a specialized information system used to support senior-level decision making. An EIS is not only for the CEO but for any senior manager or executive making strategic decisions to improve the long-term performance of the organization. An EIS is also referred to as Executive Support Systems, or ESS.

Senior management is responsible for a number of different tasks within an organization, including defining an overall vision, strategic planning, strategic organizing and staffing, strategic control and crisis management. An EIS is designed to support these various activities.

Characteristics of an EIS

An EIS is a type of Decision Support System, or DSS, but is unique in a number of ways. First, in many organizations there may be a number of different DSSs in place to support specific decisions by individual units. An EIS, on the other hand, combines critical information from all areas within the organization so senior management gets a complete overview.

Second, a typical DSS is designed for one specific decision. An EIS supports decisions that are more strategic in nature and long-term. These differences influence what information is being used and how it is presented.

Consider the example of maintaining an airplane. There are numerous critical parts to an airplane that have to be carefully inspected after a certain number of flight hours. A DSS could be used to assist safety inspectors in making sure no critical parts get missed and that any issues that come up are dealt with appropriately.

Senior management is not specifically interested in the one-time inspection of a single plane. They are interested, however, in making sure the company has an outstanding safety record, and they need to know that the inspection program is working effectively. So the safety inspection program as one unit would be part of an EIS, but the details on individual plane inspections would not.

Executive dashboards typically show KPIs and critical company information
Executive Dashboard

Executive Dashboards

An EIS typically extracts information from the various information systems used in an organization. This information needs to be summarized in a meaningful manner. One popular approach to do this is to use an executive dashboard.

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