Information Architecture For IS Function: A Case Study

Information Architecture For IS Function: A Case Study

Nelson Carriço, João Varajão, Vítor Basto Fernandes, Caroline Dominguez
DOI: 10.4018/ijhcitp.2014040103
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Today's complex, unstable and competitive society raises several difficulties to organisations. In this context, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and information itself have become resources of vital importance. The pressing need for Information Systems (IS) to meet several business requirements, in addition to the complexity involved in technology and business management, turns the IS Function one of the main areas of influence for success of modern organisations. Through its capacity of representing activities, management objects and corresponding relations, the Information Architecture of the Information Systems Function (IAISF), a technique derived from the well-known Information Architecture but exclusively focused on the Information Systems Function (ISF), allows not only the conceptualization and understanding of the ISF itself, but also of its interactions with other areas within organizations. This paper presents the main results of a case study related to the application of the IAISF technique in a computer service centre of a University.
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2. The Information Systems Function And The Chief Information Officer

There is no doubt that information systems (IS) are the backbone of today’s organizations (Muhic & Johansson, 2014). ISF is seen as the functional area in an organization, responsible for the information resources and for the planning, development, exploitation and management of the IS. It is considered a key area due to the increasing importance of information technology (TI) and to the strategic opportunities promoted by IS and ICT.

ISF includes a set of features and activities that must be tuned to organization’s size, culture, structure and to several business issues like, for instance, environmental aspects. ISM must address all these aspects.

ISF can be conceptually described by four main groups of activities (Varajão, 1998; Varajão, 2005): Information Systems Planning (ISP); Information Systems Development (ISD); Information Systems Exploitation (ISE) and Information Systems Management (ISM).

The ISP is responsible for the identification of systems that the organization need, preceding the ISD which is responsible for their development. The ISE follows, being responsible for ensuring the correct use of the IS. ISM coordinates all the ISF activities.

The ISP allows the creation of a long term vision, identifying the potential systems to be created and defining management policies.

It is assumed that ISP is aligned with business planning, taking into account that ISP itself is a way of planning organisational changes, reachable through ISD (Varajão, 2002).

ISF activities must be “tuned” to each organisation (and its IS), according to its own idiosyncratic, most suitable models, methods and techniques (Reis, 1987).

Due to its nature, ISF can be seen both as cyclic and as continuous (Varajão, 2005): its activities feed each other mutually in every system generation cycle, in a tightly coupled way.

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the main responsible for the ISF.

The CIO’s profile requires technical skills in the areas of ICT and IS, as well as an in depth knowledge of the organization itself (Trigo, Varajão et al., 2007).

The CIO’s importance is today well recognised. It is demonstrated by the position CIOs occupy in most organizations: CIOs report their decisions and activities, to a large extent, to the organisational top manager (CIOMAG, 2007).

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