Management information systems in cooperatives and its
application to network development
K.L. Nalwaya, Executive Director, National Cooperative Union of India
The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has brought increased competition at home and abroad, and cooperatives must revitalize themselves to face the challenge. This requires cooperatives to build databases, develop a sound cooperative information network and strengthen the policy decision-making process.
It has rightly been said that "information like knowledge has to flow", and "knowledge gained, but not shared, is of no use". This sends a clear message to cooperatives either to adopt the IT approach to remain in the mainstream, or operate outside the global network.
The latest management approach for institutions is to be equipped with modern systems and to use IT applications to strengthen their management information system (MIS). The Management Information Systems in organizations are designed to provide specific information for decision-making at various levels. The information system has to be related to the decision-making system in the organization. The design and selection of an appropriate MIS depends on the process of decision-making and the nature of decisions it supports.
The output of MIS is information that serves managerial functions. If a system provides information to persons who are not managers it will not be considered as part of an MIS. For example, an organization often processes lots of data which it is legally required to furnish to various government regulatory agencies. While such a system may have interfaces with MIS, it will not be part of it.
The National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) as an apex organization of the Indian cooperative movement is establishing its Wide Area Network linking all training institutions (Institutes of Cooperative Managements) of NCCT to NCUI. NCUI interacts regularly with the data banks at the ICMs and is also exchanging data related to the Indian cooperative movement from different states over an internet network, so called 'Electronic Mail'. NCUI is establishing TCP/IP connectivity for web browsing and file transfer of the cooperative data available all over the world. NCUI website: www.ncui.net.
Computerization for the agricultural cooperatives in
Thanit Chanprateep, Cooperative Technician, Cooperative Promotion Department, Government of Thailand
The computer software available for agricultural cooperatives in Thailand includes MicroBanker, which is used by about 20 cooperatives; Rangsit Software, used by about 30 cooperatives; POS for Cooperatives, used by about 30 cooperatives; COOP50, used by about 40 cooperatives; Rayong Software, used by about 200 cooperatives and Accounting for Cooperatives, used by about 500 cooperatives. About 60 to 70 percent of cooperatives have computers but only about ten percent use programmes specific to cooperative operations.
The problem with the software relates to standardization of the data and process, the cost of developing and maintenance, and the training needed in the language in which the software is programmed.
All sub-district "Transfer and Agricultural Technology Centers" are planned to be computerized in 2004. All agricultural cooperatives in the sub-district have their own computer and internet connections. Internet costs are already very reasonable and high-speed internet will be available in the near future.