CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)

Department

Center for Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Jacques Levin

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Junping Sun

Abstract

The managers of a corporation have an obligation to make the best use of available organizational resources for daily operational activities of the corporation and for long-range development. This requirement for efficient management certainly obtains for higher education, as declining student populations and shrinking funding sources argue for an even greater need to manage well. One important aspect of efficient management is having sufficient information for decision making. This dissertation addresses the need for electronic tools to assist officers of a higher education institution in the management of the institution by improving access to information. College administrators need information about the status of their institution, projections of enrollment and funding, and comparative data from other institutions. This dissertation presents a systems analysis model for provision of that management data in the form of an executive information system (EIS).

A review of the literature on executive information systems reveals extensive EIS activity in the commercial environment, but very little EIS activity within higher education. Recent declines in hardware pricing and the appearance of economical productivity software have made the development of an EIS more feasible within higher education. The literature review includes a discussion of information requirements for executives, historical development of executive information systems, and commercial executive information systems.

The design section of the dissertation presents a framework for development of an EIS for Cedarville College. The recent installation of a campus-wide network has provided desktop computing access to administrative officers of the college, but there is not yet an appropriate software system which would utilize this network for administrative information delivery. The design framework includes a requirements analysis, a preliminary feasibility study, testing procedures, and an implementation plan for the development of an executive information system for Cedarville College.

The requirements analysis performed as part of the study are based on interviews with administrators and middle-managers at Cedarville College. The identified requirements include a description of major decision making to be supported and the types of data which are typically used in support of that decision making. Following the requirements analysis, the author presents a review of five commercially-available EIS software packages. The review includes a description of each product, pricing information, and an overview of the data structures used by each product. As part of the analysis procedure, a prototype EIS was designed and implemented in three of the packages. The entire EIS design and prototype implementations were reviewed by Cedarville College participants and by four external reviewers. The systems analysis efforts performed as part of this study have resulted in an increased awareness of information requirements within the College administration and middle-management. The proposed EIS design and corresponding prototypes have demonstrated the feasibility of improving executive information support within the College. Such a design can provide an effective EIS for Cedarville College. However, development of the EIS prototypes has highlighted the importance of continued active participation by executives and systems analysts in the ongoing evolution of the executive information system. While EIS software costs can be identified and kept within a fairly small budget, personnel support issues may outweigh any software costs involved in an EIS project. Thus, delivery of an economical EIS for Cedarville College and other similar colleges remains an area for ongoing research.

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