Information Technology Process Improvement Decision-Making: An Exploratory Study from the Perspective of Process Owners and Process Manager

Information Technology Process Improvement Decision-Making: An Exploratory Study from the Perspective of Process Owners and Process Manager

Sandy A. Lamp (Capella University, USA), Kathleen M. Hargiss (Capella University, USA) and Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jsita.2012040102
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This article is derived from a qualitative multicase study with two settings that explored the way decisions are made in two IT organizations regarding process improvement initiatives by using face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 20 IT process owners and managers. The two participating organizations are a healthcare insurance company and a manufacturer of electronic interconnects. The study sought to uncover (a) how IT process improvements are prioritized and how approvals are attained, (b) how senior leadership is involved in decision making, (c) how security and risk are considered, (d) if and how formal process improvement methodologies are used, (e) if and how estimated and actual cost benefit analysis are conducted associated with decisions, and (f) how alignment with organizational goals is attained. The topic of IT governance was narrowed to explore the perspective of IT process owners and process managers, and their approaches and methodologies used with IT process improvement initiatives. The study found that pre-decision stages take place in IT investment decision making, and that process owners and process managers, participants other than senior leadership, and executive level decision makers are involved in these pre-decision stages and may be involved in the final decision stages.
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Organizational processes should be designed to achieve key goals, such as, cost/risk control, alignment of activities across the organization, and predictability (Tarr, Williams, & Halpern, 2008). Williams (2001) noted that IT governance is emerging as an integral part of enterprise governance with a goal of ensuring (a) there is IT alignment with the enterprise to maximize benefits, (b) resources are used responsibly, and (c) related risks are managed appropriately. In most organizations, no one person or area is in charge of the organization’s key processes because the organization is divided into functional pieces, or departmentalized by products (Vanhaverbeke & Torremans, 1999). IT decisions are expected to have substantial impacts on the enterprise as a whole (Ranganathan & Sethi, 2002). This drives IT decision-making processes to involve a consideration of a wide range of technical and organizational issues (Sabherwal & King, 1992).

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