A management information system is a computer system that collects data and aggregates it into information that supports management decision making. The baseline system typically contains a prepackaged set of reports that are constantly updated, and which authorized users can access at any time. A more advanced system includes a query capability that allows users to create their own reports and conduct "what if" simulations. A management information system can be used to address specific problems that crop up with an organization, or to support tactical or strategic changes. Among the more common outputs generated by this system are:
- Financial statements
- Departmental expense reports
- Cash flow analyses
- Budget vs. actual results
- Variances from expected operational results
A management information system can give a business a competitive edge, since its managers have a better grasp of how the organization is operating, and so can make adjustments more quickly than competitors.