Initially in business and other organisations, internal reporting was produced manually and only periodically, as a by product of accounting system and with some additional statistics. Data was organised manually according to the requirements of the organisation. Though conceptually, MIS does not need computers, almost all the modern organisations have computerised their MIS. The concept of MIS evolved over the years. In the 1950s and 1960s, many organisations realised the potential of computers to process large amount of data with speed and accuracy. Early business computers were used for simple operations such as tracking sales or payroll data, with little detail or structure. Over the years, these computer applications became more complex, hardware capacity grew, and technologies improved for connecting previously isolated applications. The term MIS arose to describe such applications that provided managers with information about sales, inventories, and other data that would help in managing the enterprise.
Since computers are extensively used for the design, development and application of MIS, to an observer, computer systems and information systems may appear synonymous. But both are different. Computer systems provide only the technology (or automation) component, while successful information systems call for an understanding of organisational dynamics, processes as well as control systems in the organisations. Information systems are specific to an organisation or managerial context. In other words, they focus on solving problems specific to an enterprise. The successful MIS supports an organisations long range plans, with feedback loops that allow for the improvement of every aspect of the enterprise, including recruitment and training. MIS not only indicates how things are going but why and where performance is falling to meet the plan. These reports include near- real-time performance of cost centres and projects with detail sufficient for individual accountability.