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Strategic Information System Planning (Essay Sample)

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An essay on strategic information system planning. Includes a discussion of the various strategic information systems planning methodologies.

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A Review of Strategic Information Systems Planning
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Table of Contents
 TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u  HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878405" Introduction  PAGEREF _Toc370878405 \h 2
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878406" Background  PAGEREF _Toc370878406 \h 2
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878407" Evolution of SISP  PAGEREF _Toc370878407 \h 6
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878408" The case for SISP  PAGEREF _Toc370878408 \h 7
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878409" The Planning Process  PAGEREF _Toc370878409 \h 9
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878410" Strategic Information Systems Planning Methodologies  PAGEREF _Toc370878410 \h 11
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878412" Impact Methodologies  PAGEREF _Toc370878412 \h 12
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878413" Value chain analysis  PAGEREF _Toc370878413 \h 12
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878414" Critical success factor analysis  PAGEREF _Toc370878414 \h 13
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878415" Alignment Methods  PAGEREF _Toc370878415 \h 13
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878416" Business systems planning (BSP)  PAGEREF _Toc370878416 \h 13
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878417" Strategic systems planning  PAGEREF _Toc370878417 \h 14
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878418" Information engineering  PAGEREF _Toc370878418 \h 14
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878419" Achieving Sound IS  PAGEREF _Toc370878419 \h 14
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878420" Conclusion  PAGEREF _Toc370878420 \h 16
 HYPERLINK \l "_Toc370878421" References  PAGEREF _Toc370878421 \h 17

Introduction
The role played by information systems (IS) in organisational growth cannot be underrated. It is because of this fundamental role played by IS in business that the topic of strategic information systems planning (SISP) has become a critical issue among business managers and researchers. Currently organizations even have special positions for SISP personnel which coupled with increasing strategic IS studies, rise in SISP consultancy firms and an evolution of IT and IS curricula in higher learning institutions indicate how crucial IS has become to organisational success. The top management across organizations have realized the need to link information systems planning and functions to corporate strategy. SISP is an important tool through which organizations can accomplish their goals. Further, organizations can make use of SISP to impact their strategies. SISP can be defined as a process of assessing organisational computing objectives and identifying potential computer applications essential for implementation. A couple of SISP methodologies have been developed and tested. The opportunities and challenges for SISP are numerous and hence the need to incorporate SISP from a strategic planning perspective. If implemented strategically, SISP has potential to transform businesses and enhance their competitiveness. However, if done poorly, SISP can result into a great waste of companies’ IS resources and loss of opportunities. This paper seeks to discuss SISP in detail through a review of published literature.
Background
SISP refers to the process of analyzing an organisation’s information and processes through use of business information models along an evaluation of requirements, current needs and risk (Bergeron, Raymond & Rivard, 2004). As such, an action plan results and it informs the management of the desired course of events that are essential in aligning the organisation’s information use and needs with the organisation’s strategic plans. SISP is usually an ongoing activity through which an organisation gains the ability to develop priorities for IS development. There are three general types of IS that are developed mostly for general application in organizations and they include: operational systems, financial systems and strategic systems. SISP has been evolving over time and each time its impact on businesses has been enhanced. The journey towards implementation of a successful SISP involves selection of certain methodologies by the implementing organisation followed by the establishment of committees comprising of IS planners that includes IT managers, business managers, top managers as well as user manager. Advances in Information Technology (IT) coupled with the growing complexity of Internet technologies drive SISP to seek to fit both business and IS strategies with the culture, environment, skill and experience of the organisation (McNurlin & Sprague 2006).
It is worth noting that due to the rapid evolution of IS/IT and business environments, a consideration of organisational resources’ capability during the formulation of appropriate IS/IT strategies for the organisation has become critical. For superior and sustained performance of an IS strategy, it is important that there be an effective interplay between organisational factors and environmental conditions. According to Philip (2007), the difficulties that companies experience while trying to adapt to these considerations are an indication why from a practitioners point of view, SISP is a topmost managerial concern. Nonetheless, organizations have shown undying efforts to have their SISP goals address their corporate strategies. Research reports show that organisational leering and knowledge are core elements of organisational performance. What this implies is that SISP should basically emphasize on the role of knowledge as well as knowledge based processes within organizations.
This explains contexts in which some researchers have argued that firms should regard SISP as a learning process instead of a problem solving process. Teubner (2007) points out that if taken as a learning process, the success of SISP is influenced by the extent of the impact of SISP practice in influencing the thinking and actions of IS planners. However, this approach, which relates SISP success to organisational learning has not been adequately studied. Much of the current literature focuses on the role of environmental factors, organisational factors and managerial managerial factors.
The growing focus on SISP follows organisation’s implementation of strategic management principles in their processes. Planning is considered an important element of organisational competiveness. IS has been an important driver of most organisational transformations and as such, businesses face intense pressure to leverage their investments in information systems and technology. A successful SISP journey is marked by an organisation’s capability to achieve congruence between organisational planning and IS. Successful SISP is usually a collaboration between the general and technical managers within an organisation. The SISP process aims at ensuring that there is a proper alignment of technology activities with the strategies and changing needs of the organisation. The dramatic rise in the value of SISP to organizations is attributed to the pervasive nature of IS in modern organizations together with an increased pressure to leverage technology assets (Teubner, 2007). Important steps in effective SISP decisions are made following a clear understanding of the strategy and direction of an organisation.
Today’s organizations have evolved into being largely knowledge-based. As such, proactive management of knowledge has become a top priority for strategic management. This explains why the integration between corporate strategy and IS functions has become a core activity of the top management. It is clear from the wide range of organizations using IS to enable them weather the hostile competitive environment of modern business that SISP is a core function of the organizations’ knowledge management strategies. Unlike eras when IS was mistaken to be synonymous with organisational data processing and hence addressed as if it was a back-room operation to support daily routine tasks, SISP has made IS rise to become an essential strategic management element (Teo & Ang, 2000). Strategic information systems are now commonplace and they play the role of shaping or supporting competitive strategy. This is because SISP makes IS capable of transforming business operations hence giving firms a competitive advantage.
Pollack (2010) suggests that the benefits of IS and hence SISP in the modern business environment can be derived from the Information Systems Strategy Triangle illustrated in figure 1.

Figure 1: the Information Systems Strategy Triangle
The triangle makes it clear that the three elements of the triangle: organisational, information systems and business strategies must align with and be able to complement each other. However, business strategy is positioned at the top to indicate that it stands for the corporate’s mission. According to Pearlson and Saunders (cited in Pollack, 2010), the three elements can be expounded as follows:
Organisational strategy focuses on individuals, hiring practices, structure, work processes and plan that enables organizations to accomplish their goals.
Business strategy is basically founded on a mission and it refers to a coordinated set of actions established to fulfill a purpose, objectives and goals. Further, a business strategy establishes limits on what an organisation seeks to accomplish.
An information systems strategy refers to the plan that organizations utilize in providing information services.
The above framework asserts the importance of SISP in an organisation. According to the framework, it is undeniable that organizations seeking to remain competitive in business establish an overriding business strategy for the purpose of driving their organisational strategy. IS strategy has been shown to lead into certain consequences, whether intentional or not in the context of the organisation’s and business’ strategies...
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