Strategic Information Systems Planning

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2010 ASCUE Proceedings

Strategic Information Systems Planning
Thomas A. Pollack Duquesne University 600 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15282 412.396.1639 pollack@duq.edu

Abstract Strategic Information Systems Planning has been a topic of considerable importance and interest to IS professionals in both the business and academic communities since the 1970's. Planning is recognized as a critical competitiveness issue. Today, because information systems serve as the driver of many organizational transformations, there is increased pressure on organizations to leverage their investments in technology and information systems. Success usually occurs when an organization is able to achieve congruence between IS and organizational planning, and this is achieved when the technical and general managers of an organization work collaboratively. The strategic information systems planning process is intended to ensure that technology activities are properly aligned with the evolving needs and strategies of the organization. This paper will examine the research on this ever-important topic and suggest a process that will assist in the achievement of planning success. Introduction Over the years, many organizations have made technology decisions and acquisitions that impact organizational information systems (IS) on the basis of what they believe or recommendations from vendors or colleagues from other organizations. The end result of this approach toward decision making and expenditure of funds has been quite unpredictable. The pervasive nature of IS in today’s organizations coupled with increased pressure to leverage technology assets has dramatically increased the importance of strategic information systems planning (Bechor, Neuman, Zviran and Glezer, 2009). Today, most organizations insist that technology and ISrelated decisions be made with a clear understanding of business and organization strategy and direction. Hoque, Sambamurthy, Zmud, Trainer, and Wilson, (2005) in Winning the 3 Legged Race define alignment as “the situation in which a company’s current and emerging business strategy is enabled, supported and unconstrained by technology.” Piccoli (2008, p. 155) states that organizations “achieve a high degree of fit and consonance between priorities and activities of the IS function and the strategic direction of the firm” when they are able to achieve this socalled strategic alignment. Alignment has become one of the top issues and concerns of IS management executives (Gutierrez, Orozco, and Serrano, 2009).

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2010 ASCUE Proceedings A framework that helps to clarify the importance of information systems in today’s organizations is the Information Systems Strategy Triangle. The message conveyed by the triangle is that it is important for the three elements of the triangle, namely Business, Organizational and Information Systems strategies to align with and complement each other. It is important to note that Business Strategy resides at the top of the triangle. The triangle is depicted as follows (Pearlson and Saunders, 2010, p.23).

The Information Systems Strategy Triangle

Pearlson and Saunders defined the three elements of the triangle as follows: Business strategy starts with a mission and is a coordinated set of actions to fulfill objectives, purpose and goals and serves to set limits on what business will seek to accomplish (p. 23). Organizational strategy deals with the people, work processes, structure, hiring practices and plan that allows for achievement of business goals (p. 380). Information systems strategy is the plan an organization uses in providing information services (p. 379). The direct or implied suggestions about strategy that are derived from the framework include the following (Pearlson and Saunders, 2010, p.23): “Successful firms have an overriding business strategy that drives both organizational and information systems strategy.” “IS strategy can, itself, affect and is affected by changes...
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