must have close contact with the purchasing department when it is considering changes to materials and components or introducing advanced machinery and equipment. Production staff also has to exchange information with employees in requirement, training, marketing and transport.
The quality of information.
The essential characteristics of an efficient information system are that the right people receive the right information at the right time. The information communicated should be:
. internally relevant to the needs of the recipient
. accurate and concise
. comprehensive, avoiding a time-consuming request for extra information
. clear - it must be presented and communicated without ambiguity or possible misunderstanding.
The person receiving the information must have confidence in the ability of the sender and, therefore have the confidence to take decisions based on the contents of the communication. The person sending the information must be confident that the receiver has the ability to understand, use and take effective decisions based upon the information supplied.
This information system, the communication media and the kind of information provided should be review on a regular basis. The information system should be adjusted to take into account any developments within the organisation such as changes in its organisational structure or management style. This review should also take into account external factors such as advances in information technology.
Vertical and horizontal information flows should be clearly defined. If individual are not sure about from whom the y should receive information and instructors, this can lead to the growth of information flows which are not part of the formal system. If there are two information flows running at the same time, there can be confusion and a fall in productivity. These informal systems can generate alternative sources of information and create a situation where the different levels of management receive inconsistent, inaccurate or even conflicting information.
Many businesses, however, accept that some tasks would not get completed if they only used formal channels of communications and chains of command. It may be necessary to short cut the formal system if a matter is very argent or a clash of a personalities is creating communications problems. Some informal channels may be tolerated if groups of workers have formed good working and personal relationship outside of the formal channels. Informal channels may even be the most effective way of communicating some kinds of information.
All organisations have a grapevine, which communicates information informally through personal contact between employees both vertically and horizontally throughout the organisation. The grapevine can be a quick way of communicating information to the workforce as a whole as it tends to operate by word of mouth. It can be used to pass on important information before an official announcement and, depending upon the feedback generated, the company may modify its intentions before the formal announcement.
The problem with using the grapevine is that information can get distorted or exaggerated as it is passed on. Proposal to cut a workforce, through 10% natural wastage and 5% redundancies, may soon get changed to 15% compulsory redundancies as it spreads through the grapevine. This may be useful as the actual announcement may prove to be much more acceptable than the distorted version on the grapevine.
Efficient internal communications are important, but an organisation's external communications are vital. Its business prospects will be seriously threatened if it neglects its external communications. An organisation needs to communicate externally with:
. customers and clients
. suppliers of materials, parts, machinery, other physical inputs and business services
. local, national and European authorities that deal with matters such as taxation, planning permission, environmental protection, competition law, investment grants, trading standards, and health and safety
. pressure groups concerned with issues such as consumer protection, animal welfare, environmental matters and the welfare of law paid workers
. the media and the general public on matters that can either damage or enhance the company's public image.
Organisation must ensure that the quality of their external communications is as high as possible and select the most effective media for communicating information. It is obviously important that organisations maintain effective communications with their customers, and most businesses invest heavily in market research promotion to attract and keep customers.
Many companies now recognise the importance of providing a communication channel which allows customers easy access to the company. Some companies advertise a customer care telephone number or an E-mail address on their packaging or promotional literature. The customer care section will be stuffed by people trained in the kinds of communications skills needed to deal with customers making complains. Larger companies may employ specialists press officers and public relations officers to handle dealings with the media, pressure groups and the general public.
Organisations relying on other companies for materials and components can find themselves in financial difficulties of their external communications lets them down and orders are not placed at the right time. This may led to shortages of parts and materials, and production may be held up. Relations with suppliers may also be affected by poor verbal communications skills which can cause confusion of the exact nature and delivery of an order. It is for this reason that any changes to an order made verbally should be supported by some form of written or electronic confirmation.
Opened and restricted channel of communications
In most organisations, some internal channels and communication media are open to all employees; stuff at all levels can access the information.
Organisations want to provide some information to all their employees. This would include, for example, information on health and safety regulations, environmental management policies, incentive chemist and any response to resent adverse publicity. This downward information flow from the top of the hierarchy would be open to all.
The content of much downward and upward information flow sis fairly routine, and organisation are not too concerned about people beyond the sender and recipient being aware of what is being communicated. However, access to some information and channels of communications may be restricted. Some information is sensitive - and if it becomes known to people other than the intended recipients, it could create either internal or external problems.
Information and communication technology
Both internal and external channels of communication are increasingly supported by information technology, with computers generating and managing information flows. A computer-based information management system provides the mean to communicate, collect, store, summarise, analyse and present information in a way that best suits the controlling and decision making needs of different managers. Inform received by one department or section can be further processed before it passed onto other departments through the organisations computer network.
Computer systems can help organisations:
. react changes in the business environment
. process complex information
. provides administrative support
. increase job certification
. collect information at source
. communicate via the internet.
The Data Protection Act 1984
The Data Protection Act was introduced to ensure that organisations structured and managed the data held on their computers in a responsible way. These are its main provisions.
. Organisations must register the kind of information it keeps on individuals with The Data Protection Agency (DPA).
. Data must be obtained and processed fairly. People should know if the information they give to organisations will be kept on computer and why it is needed.
. Organisations can only collect the kind if information that they have registered with the DPA, and the data must not be used outside of the purpose for which it has been registered.
. The information held on individuals must be accurate and, where necessary, up to date and it must not be kept longer than necessary.
. Organisations must take precautions against unauthorised access to the information they hold on individuals.
. Individuals are allowed access to the personal data held
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