Since 2005, international organisations, including the ICA and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other parts of the United Nations (UN) system, have been insisting on the introduction of horizontal and vertical management information systems. The Cooperative Union of Serbia (CUS) will be the central node in this system, which will link it with co-operatives and, ultimately, individual farms, allowing the Alliance to track farming conditions, production, and marketing. On the other hand, the Union will be connected with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and other authorities relevant for co-operative farming and agriculture in general (government ministries, statistical offices, banks, and research and development bodies and institutions).
The National Co-operative Management Information System (MIS) will promote the development of agriculture in Serbia and help feed agricultural data into an integrated business information system for the country. The MIS will also allow Serbian farmers to adapt to modern developments and requirements for transition countries.
The CUS is a complex system, and each of its many members has a specific set of needs whilst also sharing some general requirements with all other members, primarily related to access to information.
The CUS’s goals include:
- Improving agricultural production;
- Enhancing the performance of its members;
- Improving productivity and increasing revenues;
- Helping co-operative members access health and social insurance and other types of social security;
- Improving the quality of life for co-operative farmers;
- Assisting with the transformation of agricultural production and rural communities; and
- Helping co-operatives develop business plans to improve production.
The primary objective of the CUS MIS will be to support the achievement of the CUS’s goals. The MIS will have to allow CUS members to access information relevant for their operations which will inform their decision-making and performance monitoring. The MIS will also promote the development of an integrated management information system for Serbia’s provincial and district co-operative alliances. Finally, the CUS MIS will facilitate the day-to-day operation of the CUS Secretariat.
The CUS MIS ought to allow the CUS to collect the relevant data and process these into information required for the operation of the co-operative network, in particular members of the CUS, its management, and working parties (such as committees and commissions). The MIS should facilitate co-operation and expedite exchange of information between co-operative unions.
Finally, the nature of the CUS and its regional network (comprising provincial and district co-operative alliances) means an MIS is both needed and practically possible.