3 rd Module: Information Systems Strategy and Planning: Structure: 1.Strategies and Plans 2.Information Systems Application Strategy and Plans 3.Information Systems Resource Strategies and Plans Slide 2 What does strategies and plans mean in this context? An Information System strategy is a plan that integrates the Information Systems functions major goals, policies and actions into a cohesive whole. (Duncan, 1997) For example: if new information systems are implemented, e.g. if Cambridge University decided to make a contract with Oracle, almost all levels within the organisation are affected, and communication about the information systems function, goals, policies, actions etc. are necessary. It is also necessary to estimate the cost, the benefits, and to make plans about how much support is needed. Slide 3 Strategies are plans for the future, and as future outcomes are often unknown and uncertain, strategies must remain adjustable and flexible. Strategy formulation is often considered a practical skill rather than a result of rational intellectual exercise. Thats why this course will focus on many practical exercises. Strategy formulation typically takes place within an organisations planning and control structures. Slide 4 Strategies vs. Plans Strategies and Plans are hardly separable, but there exists a fine difference: A plan is usually formulated at a higher level within an organisation and subsequently becomes a strategy for lower levels in the organisation. However, there are important differences between application strategies/plans and resources strategies/plans. Slide 5 Information Systems Applications Strategies and Plans There are a number of approaches for application strategies and plans, e.g. Earl (1989), Jackson (1986), Robson (1997). They differ in terms of whether planning is top down or bottom up or a combination of both. Top down means the analysis of organisational objectives prior to its implementation. Bottom up means evaluation of existing systems and refinement based on them. Slide 6 Most approaches evaluate the potential strategic impact of information systems prior to their implementation. One of the biggest problems in this context is how to separate Information Systems objectives from organisational objectives. It is not easy to translate business perspectives and strategies into information system requirements. Expressed differently: how can the business knowledge and plans be applied in order to build the necessary information systems? Slide 7 This translation from business knowledge to an information systems application is considered a top down approach. In contrast, bottom up approaches typically start with surveys for evaluation of existing Information Systems infrastructure. It follows a comparison between the existing structures and application portfolios with known requirements. Subsequently, refinement takes place. The portfolio approach has been considered useful for classifying information systems. In any case, application strategies are important due to the many changes in IT. Slide 8 The amount of methods/techniques available raises the question what the best method/technique is. There is no simple answer to this, because different approaches have proved successful in different types of businesses, depending on the individual characteristics of the particular organisation. Slide 9 Information Systems Resource Strategies and Plans There are many different resources that can deliver Information Systems services to an organisation. What are resources? Service Operations (providing the services for the users). IS/IT Architecture (hardware/software, applications, networks, databases, etc.) Human Resources (they are always the most important resource, not only because people are the actual employees and users, but also because all efforts were in vain without them). Slide 10 There are many different resources that can deliver Information Systems services to an organisation, so that many people get confused. However, some guidelines are available. In general, the development of each resource should consist of 3 levels. Slide 11 Guidelines for resource strategies and plans, Duncan (1997): Level 1: Parameters essential needs, constraints, and preferences that each resource needs to satisfy. Level 2: Policies Guidelines, procedures and standards which define how resources are to be used. Level 3: Plans Specific goals, actions and schedules for the development of the resource. Slide 12 References: Earl, M.J. (1989). Management Strategies for Information Technology (Chapters 4 and 5). London: Prentice-Hall. Jackson, I.F. (1986). Corporate Information Management. London: Prentice-Hall. Duncan, W.M. (1997). Information Systems Management. London: University of London Press. Robson, W. (1997). Strategic Management and Information Systems. London: Pitman. Slide 13 References for students who are interested in further reading can also be found on pages 11 to 12 of the study guide.