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Failure to do so may result in excessive waste of materials and labor. Maintenance keeps the firm’s machinery and other manufacturing facilities in running order. The manufacturing process relies on its plant and equipment and cannot tolerate breakdowns during peak production periods. Therefore, the key to maintenance is prevention—the scheduled removal of equipment from operations for cleaning, servicing, and repairs. Many manufacturers have elaborate preventive maintenance programs. To plan and coordinate these activities, maintenance engineers need extensive information about the history of equipment usage and future scheduled production.

The level of detail and the nature of the information these groups receive differ considerably. For example, managers cannot use the highly detailed information needed by operations personnel. Management information is thus more summarized and oriented toward reporting on overall performance and problems rather than routine operations. The information must identify potential problems in time for management to take corrective action. External stakeholders, on the other hand, require information very different from that of management and operations users.

We should note that action does not necessarily mean a physical act. For instance, a purchasing agent who receives a report showing that inventory levels are adequate will respond by ordering nothing. The agent’s action to do nothing is a conscious decision, triggered by information and different from doing nothing because of being uninformed. The distinction between data and information has pervasive implications for the study of information systems. If output from the information system fails to cause users to act, the system serves no purpose and has failed in its primary objective.

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Accounting Information Systems by J. Hall

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