Strategic Planning, Information Systems Alignment, and Architecture

Strategic Planning, Information Systems Alignment, and Architecture

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2527-3.ch001
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This chapter looks at some background to strategic planning, information systems alignment, and architecture, and introduces the main topics and their interaction that all have an impact of the primary aim of this investigation. Topics of governance, teamwork, and communication are reviewed, because they should also be considered when developing a strategic plan. Planning problems are mentioned, and the need for performance measurement and planning formality are introduced.
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What have the principles of IT architecture got to do with organisational strategic planning? This chapter will introduce the main topics of strategic planning, information systems alignment and architecture that have an impact of the primary aim of this investigation and will review the importance of their interaction; the topics are all expanded in later chapters. There will be discussion on the interaction of strategic planning and information systems, information systems and architecture, architecture and strategic planning. There is a discussion on an essential idea of alignment between organisational strategic planning (OSP) and strategic information systems planning (SISP). If there is to be better alignment between these planning projects, there needs to be better communication of intentions and therefore there has to be better documentation of the organisational strategic plan which is the primary aim of this book.

The development and planning of information systems for business organisations and in particular for the planning and development of the management information systems (MIS) and/or executive information systems (EIS), require a detailed analysis of the business and its requirements. This analysis of a business and its requirements is a complex and difficult process and especially so within large organizations. Many practitioners of information technology (IT) advocate using IT architecture to guide this multipart development process, and the relationship between information systems development and IT architecture is examined for its ability to shed light on the planning and development process of strategic planning.

To develop a comprehensive information system for an organisation it is necessary to first determine what the organisation is currently all about and its strategic direction. It would be useful as part of this process to review the business strategic plan; however this is often a substantial and verbose document that is often not clearly aligned with the current processes and procedures of the organization and rarely mentions the information system, so the question is, whether the strategic planning document can be improved to better perform the function of communicating to all stakeholders the strategic intentions of the organisation. The proposition is therefore that to provide an improved format for the presentation of strategic planning information, there is a requirement to examine the principles of architecture and derive the guiding principles. These guiding principles are used to create an information architecture which will in turn provide structure to the format and assist in presenting the essential information. Because of the importance of this topic an introduction to the need for information architecture will be presented in this chapter.

This chapter will also introduce the topics of transparency of governance, teamwork and communication and the requirement for performance measurement in strategic management; all these topics are suitable additions (perhaps even essential) for discussion in conjunction with strategic planning for an organisation. There will in addition be a brief look at problems associated with strategic planning. Later chapters will look at all of the above topics in more detail.

There is a debate in the literature between advocates for and against formal organisational strategic planning (Hill & Jones 2004; Bailey & Peak 2003; Collins & Porras 2002; Mintzberg 1994). At one end of the spectrum is the idea of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a predominant single goal espoused by a chief executive of a company as proposed by Collins and Porras (2002). In their book Built to Last, Collins and Porras (2002) advocate that a BHAG is more efficacious for better organisational performance than formal strategic planning. At the other end of the spectrum, Hill and Jones (2004) review a number of organisations and conclude that on average, strategic planning improves organisational performance.

For many organisations, a strategic plan may be needed to communicate goals and directions to the staff in order to be competitive. Without a plan, the organisation can only react to market and other changes and may therefore lag behind more successful competitors.

A number of themes related to the concept of strategic planning recur throughout the literature (Hill & Jones 2004; Bailey &Peak 2003; Collins & Porras 2002; Mintzberg 1994). Some of these themes that should be considered in the process of developing an organisational strategic plan are:

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