Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Untitled Poem 2

Hey guys, I need your suggestions to complete this. The poem was actually composed for quite some time now and I think I've lost the 'nerve' to complete it coz I think it was already gone. Uhm, you know, that sort of thing you've been thinking when you construct the words and when you try to get it done you're not in the same enthusiasm anymore... Well here it is..

You flashes smile to everyone
And make them glance your way
All of them want after you're gone
is for you to stay.

One day you went past me
At the corner of the building past three
Again I told myself I shouldn't stare
You're just nobody so I don't care.

But hey I got lose control
When you turned around and faced me
You held out a hand and greeted "Hi!"
All I could ever think of is "My, oh my..."
Never thought it would begin that way
That casual friendship others would say 

Untitled Poem 1

 Candidate title: I Hate Falling In Love For You

I pondered upon my memories
In the midst of the dark, cold night
The soft raindrops and the gentle breeze
Brings the story of you and me in sight.

I felt nothing when I first saw you
Looked upon you as nothing extraordinary
Yet the longer the time extends
My heart goes wild every time you pass by.

I could think of a way of hating myself
I hate to admit but I'm already falling,
falling for the one I'm thinking through
You take my time and crawls into my mind
Feels like it's hard to get you off from my memory

Everyday I've got to think of a way
To get rid of this strange feeling I have
My mind tells me that I should not
My heart betrays me somewhat
I try to stop it but I simply can't
Coz I guess I'm forever wanting you.

And now that we're apart
We no longer see each other, and
Though there's an inner wanting
deep inside of me
I tend to brush away your memories
I can only look back these times
When I had that feeling for you
Now I wondered what if I told you...
Would you then be mine?

The story behind:

The poem was composed in late evening when me and my group mates were in the making of the MIS 1 major paper. Inspired by the light rain in the outside, with the 'high'-effect of Jethro's 8-in-1 coffee and of course, the overwhelming aura of Marren's emotions, I was a bit overflowing with words to complete the poem. I know this poem is not yet polished so I welcome your suggestions. I am also planning to put some chords so to make out the melody but I couldn't finalize the whole song. Maybe you could help.. (^_^)

Especially dedicated to Marren... Well, as promised, I mentioned your names here, guys. He-he.. Be sure to comment. Tnx.

Steps to "Critical Success Factors" Approach

 (Note: This is a reply to Mr. G.'s thread in USeP-IC Web Forum - Assignment 6: Identify and discuss the steps for "critical success factors" approach?)

In the world of business, there are so many things that need to be noticed. With a lot of issues in the organization that gains your attention, it is quite difficult to oversee them all and take charge all at once. There is a tendency that you might not also notice some important matters and it will be left behind. This is one of the reasons why you are not alone in doing business; you have your colleagues and business associates which may help you in looking after the concerns of the company. But it could also be difficult for you to get them into looking at the same directions and share with your concerns and eventually get them into action. This is probably the reason why there are “critical success factors” being set in the organization.

By definition, Wikipedia describes a critical success factor, or CSF, as the term for an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission. It is a critical factor or activity required for ensuring the success of your business. The term was initially used in the world of data analysis, and business analysis. Some other definitions include any of the aspects of a business that are identified as vital for successful targets to be reached and maintained. Critical success factors may change over time, and may include items such as product quality, employee attitudes, manufacturing flexibility, and brand awareness. They are normally identified in such areas as production processes, employee and organization skills, functions, techniques, and technologies.

Technically, critical success factors are important for an organization to focus their attention and actions to certain common goals and to achieve it by making efforts in ways that the critical success factors they have set will be attained. In the event that all of the human resources of the company, especially the management team, are all busy doing their own respective tasks, although the firm’s vision mission statements or goals and objectives are on their minds, it is highly important that there are certain points on which they are to base their actions to achieve these goals. Identifying critical success factors therefore will aid every individual in the organization to have a common point of reference to know exactly what the most important thing to do is, and this might help them perform their tasks in the right perspective so to pull them together into the same overall aims.

Actually, the concept of “success factors” was developed by D. Ronald Daniel in 1961 and was then refined and popularized by John F. Rockart in 1986. Rockart defined CSFs as:
"The limited number of areas in which results, if they are satisfactory, will ensure successful competitive performance for the organization. They are the few key areas where things must go right for the business to flourish. If results in these areas are not adequate, the organization's efforts for the period will be less than desired."
He also concluded that CSFs are "areas of activity that should receive constant and careful attention from management."
The critical success factors (CSF) are just connected to the vision and mission of the organization and the goals and objectives in particular. The mission and goals provides the company a direction on what is to achieve and focuses on the aims. The critical success factors on the other hand, focus on the most important areas which guides every member of the organization on what to achieve and how to achieve it.

Basically, there are four (4) types of critical success factors (CSFs) (RapidBI): Industry CSFs (resulting from specific industry characteristics), Strategy CSFs (resulting from the chosen competitive strategy of the business), Environmental CSFs (resulting from economic or technological changes), and Temporal CSFs (resulting from internal organizational needs and changes).

Some of the common critical success factors are: money, customer satisfaction, quality, and many more.

There are five (5) key concepts or main aspects of critical success factors according to Rockart and Bullen: the industry, competitive strategy and industry position, environmental factors, temporal factors, and managerial position.

Industry position. Each organization does actually differ in some sort of ways from one another based on the industrial aspect. Every firm has unique characteristics thus making unique critical success factors. Companies which are operating in the same industry have logically almost the same common CSFs. This is because they may have similar goals. On the contrary, diverse industries do not have similar CSFs since there are different sectors having dissimilar orientation.

Competitive strategy and industry position. There may be cases that although firms that belong to the same industrial category have dissimilar CSFs. This is because every organization defines its own unique strategies, resources, and capabilities. Furthermore, the firm’s current position in the industry will characterize the company’s suitable CSFs at a given point in time.

Environmental factors. Such changes that may occur should also be considered in formulating the CSFs of the company. Some of these include economic and political factors, regulations in the industry, and population trends. These are important factors which the firm cannot control yet should be taken into account.

Temporal factors. These issues are usually related to short-term situations and short-lived ones. A best example of this could be crisis in the industry. Organizations should take into account some possible turning points in business giving way to formulating important critical success factors necessary in the situation.

Managerial position. This is significant to the manager of the company most importantly if the CSF's are considered from an individual’s point of view. For example, a manager’s performance in a particular area of responsibility is being taken into account, this may be critical to the success of the firm. Managers of departments which focus into customer satisfaction, a CSF for managers in this section would typically be customer relationship management.

To have an actual example, let us use the case analysis presented by Mind Tools: Farm Fresh Produce mission aims to become the number one produce store in Main Street. To achieve these, the firm set the following goals: to gain market share locally of 25%; fresh food from farm to customer in 24 hours for 75% of products; sustain a 98% customer satisfaction rate; expand product range to attract more customers; extend store space to accommodate new products and customers. To be able to identify the possible critical success factors (CSFs), we must examine the mission and objectives and see which areas of business need attention so they can be achieved. The critical success factors could be: create successful relationships with customers, attract and satisfy new customers, and secure financing for expansion.

I have searched some suggested steps on how to write good critical success factors (CSFs). Here are some important principles: (1) ensure a good understanding of the environment, the industry and the company. Of course, in identifying factors you have to get to know the company and the industry where it belongs including the environment where it is involved; (2) build knowledge of competitors in the industry. Knowing the competitors’ positions in the industry, their capabilities and resources, can possibly identify how it will give impact to the organization and could result in strategic CSFs; (3) develop CSFs which result in observable differences. It is important to write critical success factors which are observable versus those that cannot be measured. CSFs that are possible measurable in certain aspects would be easier to focus on these factors; (4) develop CSFs that have a large impact on an organization’s performance. Since critical success factors are the most critical factors in the organization or an individual, it is highly important that identification of these factors should be well taken care of especially that they are the ones which could give the largest impact to the company.

Additionally, here are the steps which will help identify the critical success factors (CSFs) for your company or project:

1 – Establish your business’s or project’s mission and strategic goals. This is basically the first thing to do. The company’s mission and goals and objectives and critical success factors are intertwined with each other. But before identifying the specific factors one must first recognize the mission of the company and its business objectives. Here is a sample template that could help:

Vision / Mission / Profile (What do we want to become / what is our purpose: )


Strategic Goals (What do we have to do to get there: )

Strategic Goal #1:
Outcomes / Critical Success Factors (How we will get there: )

Strategic Goal #2:
Outcomes / Critical Success Factors (How we will get there: )

Strategic Goal #3:
Outcomes / Critical Success Factors (How we will get there: )

Strategic Goal #4:
Outcomes / Critical Success Factors (How we will get there: )

2 - For each strategic goal, ask yourself "what area of business or project activity is essential to achieve this goal?” By answering the questions, you could develop your critical success factors.
3 - Evaluate the list of candidate CSFs to find the absolute essential elements for achieving success. Not all candidate CSFs you have identified can be your final critical success factors. Sometimes it is useful to limit the number of CSFs so to maintain the impact and give good direction and prioritization.
4 - Identify how you will monitor and measure each of the CSFs. Naturally, your critical success factors must be measured, supervised and evaluated.
5 - Communicate your CSFs along with the other important elements of your business or project's strategy. Since your critical success factors are somehow related to your business goals, these are factors that need to communicate with the company’s strategies and overall plans.
6 - Keep monitoring and reevaluating your CSFs to ensure you keep moving towards your aims. It would be very useful to identify how to monitor and evaluate your CSFs as this will measure how far you have reached in your business strategies.

In general, critical success factors (CSFs) provide the critical points which serve as target points for the organization to achieve their goals.

I would like to acknowledge the following resources as my references:

Critical Success Factors: Identifying the things that really matter for success, MindTools Essential Skills for an Excellent Career

Critical Success Factors – Analysis: Determine the Critical Success Factors for your Organization, RapidBI: Knowledge, Understanding, Action, May 2009

Microsoft Encarta Dictionaries

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Radical Type in the Spectrum of Organizational Change

(Note: This is a reply to Mr. G.'s thread in USeP-IC Web Forum - Assignment 5: In the spectrum of organizational change, which is the most radical type of change: automation, rationalization of procedures, business reengineering, or paradigm shifts?)

It has been a cliché to say “nothing is permanent in this world except change.” Dramatically, this proven proverb led many people to accept change than to oppose it. In this world where technology is at its height and still in progress, change has become widespread and fast. To cope with this, people especially those in the corporate world who, are mostly affected, need to have strategic plans to address such unforeseen changes in the organization.

Carter McNamara in his Organizational Change and Development article wrote that “significant organizational change occurs, for example, when an organization changes its overall strategy for success, adds or removes a major section or practice, and/or wants to change the very nature by which it operates.” This, according to him, also occurs when an organization evolves through various life cycles, just like people must successfully evolve through life cycles. Like what I have stated previously, change can not be avoided nor stopped. But one can effectively succeed in overcoming the effects these changes might bring to a business by modifying some strategies to accomplish its goals. An organization also needs change to develop, for an organization can not retain its competency for a long time without keeping pace with the modern technology. What I meant here is that, it is not technology alone bringing these changes but I suppose it is one major factor why most organizations undergo changes in development. Just like human, a person can not gain more knowledge and experience if he has not gotten into another cycle of his life where he grows and matures.

In an organization, there are major risks and uncertainties in systems development that need to be addressed by the management. Determining when new systems and business processes can have the greatest impact is involved in these challenges. This may be the reasons why organizational change and development is becoming a common scenario to talk about involving management, organizations, business, and leadership. If I am going to say it in simple words, building new systems produce organizational change. And since building new systems is incorporated in the organization, managers should really take a considerable concern not only on the hardware and software aspects but also in people ware, particularly the organizational structure of information flow. In other words, the company agent faced with these changes should have at least a broad understanding of the framework of the change attempt. In this way, the basic systems and the organizational structures including their principles, roles, terms, will be understood by the leadership and management of the organization.

With the fast-changing environment, business conditions bring consequences in management both in inner and outer factors. That is why in most cases, most of the managerial activities revolve around decision – making. Knowledge plays a major role in organizational development.
Organizational changes are also usually described, including management and employee training requirements, recruiting efforts, changes in business processes and changes in authority, structure or management practices.

Information technology can promote various degrees of organizational change, ranging from incremental to far-reaching. There are actually four types of organizational change enabled by information technology: automation, rationalization, reengineering, and paradigm shifts.

This figure shows the four degrees of organizational change. Automation is the easiest and the most common form of change. Being the most common form of IT-enabled change, the using of computer to speed up the performance of existing tasks is an example of automation. This involves assisting employees perform their tasks more efficiently and effectively.

Although automation speeds up performance of tasks, it does not guarantee a very high effectivity in business success. It is just the same as repeating the old manual way of disorders but in a faster way. However, this type of change, although common, is slow – moving, thus producing slow returns. Organizations using automation produce the same products and services as before but changes the way the organization functions. Example of automation in business are calculating paychecks and payroll registers, and giving bank tellers instant access to customers deposit records.

Rationalization of procedures causes the organization to examine its standard operating procedures, eliminate those no longer needed, and make the organization more efficient. It is the streamlining of existing operating procedures, eliminating obvious bottlenecks so that automation makes operating procedures more efficient. Rationalization follows quickly from automation.

Both types of change cause some disruption, but it's usually manageable and relatively accepted by the people.
A more powerful type of organizational change is business process reengineering, in which business processes are analyzed, simplified and redesigned. Using information technology, organizations can rethink and streamline their business processes to improve speed, service and quality. Business reengineering reorganizes work flows, combining steps to cut waste and eliminating repetitive, paper intensive tasks. It is usually much more ambitious than rationalization of procedures, requiring a new vision of how the process is to be organized. Business process reengineering in simpler words is Radical redesign of processes to improve cost, quality, and service, to maximize the benefits of technology.

Business process reengineering can cause radical disruption. The mere mention of the term nowadays strikes fear in the hearts of workers and managers at all levels. Why? Because many companies use it as a guise for downsizing the organization and laying off workers. Business process reengineering causes planners to completely rethink the flow of work, how the work will be accomplished, and how costs can be reduced by eliminating unnecessary work and workers. Business process reengineering is said to be expensive, strikes fear, very risky, and is extremely difficult to carry out and manage. In business process reengineering, the organization can develop the business vision and process objective. It can identify the processes to be redesigned (core and highest payback) and understand and measure the performance of existing processes. It can also identify the opportunities for applying information technology and build a prototype of the new process.

To have a better perspective of the relation of BPR and information technology, let me reprint this excerpt from an article by Yogesh Malhotra (1998): Hammer (1990) considers information technology (IT) as the key enabler of BPR which he considers as "radical change." He prescribes the use of IT to challenge the assumptions inherent in the work processes that have existed since long before the advent of modern computer and communications technology. He argues that at the heart of reengineering is the notion of "discontinuous thinking -- or recognizing and breaking away from the outdated rules and fundamental assumptions underlying operations... These rules of work design are based on assumptions about technology, people, and organizational goals that no longer hold." He suggests the following "principles of reengineering": (a) Organize around outcomes, not tasks; (b) Have those who use the output of the process perform the process; (c) Subsume information processing work into the real work that produces the information; (d) Treat geographically dispersed resources as though they were centralized; (e) Link parallel activities instead of integrating their results; (f) Put the decision point where the work is performed, and build control into the process; and (g) Capture information once and at the source.

Davenport & Short (1990) argue that BPR requires taking a broader view of both IT and business activity, and of the relationships between them. IT should be viewed as more than an automating or mechanizing force: to fundamentally reshape the way business is done.

Business activities should be viewed as more than a collection of individual or even functional tasks: in a process view for maximizing effectiveness. IT and BPR have recursive relationship. IT capabilities should support business processes, and business processes should be in terms of the capabilities IT can provide. Davenport & Short (1990) refer to this broadened, recursive view of IT and BPR as the new industrial engineering.

Business processes represent a new approach to coordination across the firm; IT's promise -- and its ultimate impact -- is to be the most powerful tool for reducing the costs of coordination (Davenport & Short 1990). Davenport & Short (1990) outline the following capabilities that reflect the roles that IT can play in BPR: Transactional, Geographical, Automatical, Analytical, Informational, Sequential, Knowledge Management, Tracking, and Disintermediation.

Teng et al. (1994) argue that the way related functions participate in a process - - i.e., the functional coupling of a process -- can be differentiated along two dimensions: degree of mediation and degree of collaboration. They define the Degree of Mediation of the process as the extent of sequential flow of input and output among participating functions. They define the Degree of Collaboration of the process is the extent of information exchange and mutual adjustment among functions when participating in the same process. In their framework, information technology is instrumental in Reducing the Degree of Mediation and Enhancing the Degree of Collaboration. Also, innovative uses of IT would inevitably lead many firms to develop new, coordination-intensive structures, enabling them to coordinate their activities in ways that were not possible before. Such coordination-intensive structures may raise the organization's capabilities and responsiveness, leading to potential strategic advantages.

Now we will take a look at paradigm shifts. It is about changing the very nature of the business and the structure of the organization itself, whole new products or services that didn't even exist before. In other words, paradigm shifts deals with major disruption and extreme change. Paradigm is a complete mental model of how a complex system works or functions. In other words, a paradigm shift involves rethinking the nature of the business and the organization. It is a complete reconception of how the systems should function.

For an example, higher education is undergoing a major paradigm shift in the online delivery of education. Classes are now offered through the Internet so that students don't even go to classrooms. Many tried-and-true teaching methodologies are being radically altered to accommodate this shift in how education is offered. Paradigm shift is a radical reconceptualization of the nature of the business and the nature of the organization. Deciding which business process to get right is half the challenge to the management. It is said that seventy percent of time programmatic reengineering efforts fail. But still organizations change. The reason is because the rewards are high. Paradigm shift involves great risks, but great returns too.

The Internet is causing all kinds of industries and businesses to alter their products, their services, and their processes in radical ways. Entire organizations are being created to handle the paradigm shifts involved in e-commerce. Look at the automobile industry as an example of this type of change: Traditional dealerships are being disrupted by auto malls and online buying opportunities. How can a local dealer compete on price with these two environmental challenges? What is the dealers' role in the revolutionary changes taking place all around them?
If business process reengineering and paradigm shifting are so disruptive and so dangerous, why even try to do them? Because companies realize they have to take on the challenges in order to stay competitive. They have had to cut costs and streamline their operations because of global economic pressures, in addition to meeting the demands of their shareholders. And done well, the rewards can be tremendous.
Now that we have discussed various aspects related to the four types of organizational change, maybe we can now think of which of the four is the most radical. I was quite confused by this question because there are actually two characteristics of ‘radical’ which came to my mind: one is radical being fundamental or basic; and the other being far-reaching or deviating by extremes. Nevertheless, I will try to explain my side on both.

We have learned that organizational change carries risks and rewards. And such is illustrated in the above figure about the risks and return of the four type of change. If we talk of a radical type of organizational change, that is, the basic one. I can say that it is automation having the lowest form of risks and returns. It is noted that automation is the most common type of organizational change. Because they are slow – moving in terms of returns or rewards, it poses low – level risks. Not much as those in the highest two (business reengineering and paradigm shift).

However this does not relatively gives us an impact on the organizational change matter. So I will take ‘radical’ being the progressive, advance, and revolutionary one. Based on what I have read, from articles and white papers and sources from the internet, reengineering and paradigm shifts constitute the faster and more comprehensive change among the four. These two carries high rewards but offers substantial chances of failures.

If we are going to look at the chart, the paradigm shift makes the farthest reach. It gains the highest level of rewards to the organization yet it also expands the greatest related risks. Be it noted that in business process reengineering alone, the business workflow has changed. The steps involved in the major processes has been reorganized and redesigned to improve organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

Take a look at this journal excerpt. Consider the following scenario - before re-engineering
Customer: "Customer 165 here. I would like to order 36 units of Product X."
Order Clerk: "Certainly, Sir. ... Oh, I see we are out of Product X at the moment. I'll check with the Warehouse. I will call you back within the hour to let you know when we can expect more of Product X into stock."
Customer: "No don't bother, I need to know now. Please cancel the order."
Now consider the same scenario - after re-engineering:
Customer: "Customer 165 here. I would like to order 36 units of Product X."
Order Clerk: "Certainly, Sir. ... Oh, I see we are out of Product X at the moment. One moment while I check with our suppliers. ... Yes, we can deliver 36 units of Product X to you on Wednesday."
"By the way, do you know about Product Y. It allows you to use Product X in half the time. I can send you 36 units of Y as well for only 20% more than your original order. If you agree, we can deliver both to you on Wednesday."
Customer: "OK. Thanks for that suggestion, and Wednesday is fine. I look forward to receiving 36 units each of Products X and Y on that day."
Order Clerk: "We find that customers using Product X also enjoy Product Z. Have you used this? It has the characteristics of ... ... and costs only ... ... Can I include 36 units of Product Z as well in our Wednesday delivery?"
Customer: "Yes. Thanks again. I confirm that my order is now for 36 units each of Products X, Y and Z - all to be delivered on Wednesday."

What has happened in this second scenario? X was out of stock, so the Product Supply process automatically displayed all suppliers of Product X. The Purchasing function has been re-engineered so that the Order Clerk can link directly into each supplier's inventory system to check the availability and cost of X for each alternative source of supply. For the selected supplier, the Clerk placed a purchase order for immediate shipment and so could confirm the Wednesday delivery date with the customer.

Next, the Product Development process displayed related products that met the same needs addressed by Product X. This suggested that Product Y may be of interest. An order for Y, based on the current order for X, was automatically prepared and priced - and Y was in stock. This extension to the order only needed the customer's approval for its inclusion in the delivery.

Finally, the Market Needs Analysis process knew that customers in the same market as Customer 165, who also used Products X and Y, had other needs that were addressed by Product Z. A further extension to include Z in the order was automatically prepared and priced. Z was also in stock and was able to be included in the delivery, if agreed.
Instead of waiting for stock availability from the Warehouse in the first scenario based on separate, non-integrated processes for each function, the re-engineered scenario let the Clerk place a purchase order directly with a selected supplier so that the customer's order could be satisfied. And the Product Development and Market Needs Analysis processes then suggested cross-selling opportunities based first on related products, and then on related needs in the customer's market.

Of course, this example does not illustrate a new approach to re-engineering. It is used every day in the travel industry. Any travel agent, after a flight is confirmed, will cross-sell accommodation, car rental and perhaps tours of the destination: as the confirmed travel booking indicates possible related needs. However data dependency ensures that re-engineering opportunities from inter-dependent processes are not overlooked. Let us look further at the benefits of data dependency analysis.
But paradigm shift is something more than what the business reengineering gets. When business process reengineering causes planners to completely rethink the flow of work, how the work will be accomplished, and how costs can be reduced by eliminating unnecessary work and workers, paradigm shifts talks about changing the very nature of the business and the structure of the organization itself. Not only new products, services, work flows, processes but the very nature and business of the organization. Such is what they call as complete reconceptualization of the business of the organization. Just imagine how extreme the change will be and how great the corresponding risks will yield as consequences.

But lays a great question of why are companies still trying to do business reengineering and paradigm shifts even they are so dangerous. It is because organizations must realize they have to take these challenges to be competitive and to meet the demands of their clients. These changes do not actually promise pure risks and great success. It is up for the management on how to take these challenges and make responsive actions that will alleviate if not prevent risks and absorb the benefits.

study I would like to give credits to the following sources in reference to the above statements: study

Finkelstein, C., 1993, 'Business Re-engineering: Three Steps to Success', Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd.

Malhotra, Yogesh. "Business Process Redesign: An Overview," IEEE Engineering Management Review, vol. 26, no. 3, Fall 1998. (URL:

Sujan Sarkar - CIS Instructor, Chapter 14 - Redesigning the Organization with Information Systems, Santa Rosa Junior College

Panagiotis Kanellis, Redesigning the Organization with Information Systems

Redesigning the Organization with Information Systems

Ziga Turk, Assoc.Prof., University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering
Zaliwski, A., Organization, Structure and Information Technology, Dept. of Computer Science, Cracow Academy of Economic, Poland

Microsoft Encarta Dictionaries 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Suggested Steps to Expedite IS Plan Implementation in the University

(Note: This is a reply to Mr. G.'s thread in USeP-IC Web Forum - Assignment 4: You were invited by the university president to prepare an IS plan for the university, discuss what are the steps in order to expedite the implementation of the IS Plan.)

It has been discussed in various studies by most experts in the past years until now that strategic planning for the business operations of an organization is a very crucial part in targeting towards the success of the company. An information system, as I have discussed in my earlier posts, contains so much of the essential data and gathered facts about the company that it is considered as a critical unit inside the company. That is why planning which is prepared primarily for the business operations and processes alone as most people perceive it to be, also has to be tactically deliberated for the information system (IS).

Information Systems Strategic Planning

Let me talk first about IS plan and its strategic approach. So why plan? Any organization needs to plan to obtain resources. A business unit needs to allocate funds for the financial support of the company’s ongoing functions. And with the day-to-day operations of the business, it needs to have facilities and equipments which aid to perform its functions. The people support is another concern. Of course finding the appropriate staff to execute the tasks needs to be done carefully. Who else will make use of the facilities and equipments for the business functions but the workforce? The right persons for the right jobs should be well taken care of. The next reason is that, strategic planning has to be done to align information system (IS) with business. Since the information system holds the vital information of the business it is then important to make plans for this department and to make it parallel with the major company’s operations. The IS plan is needed to establish goals, schedules, and milestones in order to track progress of the business. And IS being in the background, the IS plan is important to provide an opportunity for communication with top management and user management.

If we will be able to track the progress of most corporations today, changes that are taking place is very fast compared to the business world of the past years. This is one of the effects of the use of technology and its applications to business. So, you see, the integration of IT brings more advancement and efficiency especially to the competency of the business in the conglomerate world. IS strategic planning has to be done to identify needed applications. This are just few of the motivations why the information system (IS) plan should be aligned with the business plan in such a way that its goals and objectives should be addressed also by the major operations accommodated by the IS.

Sometimes most people are doing plans of which attitude is sometimes confusing. It is like deliberating over preparing the outcomes of the tasks to be done or outlining the processes of the operations. There is actually a discrete distinction and a likewise similarity and connection between planning and forecasting. Forecasting, as what most people tend to do, is predicting the future. That is how they have a tendency of guessing the outputs of their projects, calculating their expenses, expecting some varied changes in the rates and conditions of their products, and the like. It is like foreseeing the status of your business in the forthcoming years. Whereas in planning, you are making steps in preparing for that future. I guess some people especially those who make up the management team of the company were able to ‘forecast’ their business status but failed to implement plans they made to address whatever may be brought by the changes they expected to happen in their organization. Or there may be chances that the company was able to forecast their future, made respective plans for the expected status or condition, but what they have imagined turned out to be the opposite of what they have been looking forward to.

That is how and why strategic IS planning comes into view – to handle the adjustments that may happen. Strategic planning involves establishing a mission statement. The key people involved should know the general purpose of the organization, and its major role and functions in the community. The mission states who you are and what you do in the company, not what you are supposed to achieve. These are the services that you are responsible for; it is your place in the organization.

Planning should also include assessing the environment. This will give idea for the key people on how to play the game. Assessing the environment is important to evaluate the status of the organization in the community. By evaluating its standing, the key people might know on where and what area should they start in particular for making the necessary actions in the strategic plan. Specifically, this includes assessing the capabilities of the IT department. The IT department houses the important components operated by the personnel of the company, thus it is significant to check the capabilities of the division. If IT department should be evaluated, the readiness of the company to use IT should not be left unnoticed. Even if the IT components are very well geared up, these may not be taken full advantage of since the company lacks the eagerness to apply its concepts to its operations. The company should also check the status not only itself but its customers, of how they are doing, their relationship and service with them; and the status of the industry, of the economic condition, including the outside connections with colleagues and business associates. By knowing the economic standing of the society where the company belongs, it can gain ideas on how to plan and act or implement programs with regards to the demands of the community in the current situation of the industry. Remember that the company has its role to play and with the mission to guide it, it shall get its way to its vision in a manner that is beneficial and fairly advantageous to both internal and external aspects.

Correlation with the society, the environmental aspect, government regulations and the like should also be taken notice. Most importantly is, the current situation regarding technology. I have discussed in the aforementioned statements the role of fast-evolving technology to business. Now this is where the assessment of the company with regards to its competency in technological innovations and its applications to business comes in. Assessment is quite similar to SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In assessing the capabilities of the IT department and the readiness of the company to use IT is like evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the company. These components are internal and can be mainly found inside the company. While the status of the customers, the industry, including that of the economy, government regulations, environment, society and the like are external factors that they are involved in assessing the opportunities and threats of the business.

Through these we can set goals and objectives of the organization which will serve as guiding principles for the business to follow. These goals and objectives should, of course, be aligned with the vision and mission statement of the company. Goals are something which the organization wanted to achieve. Thus, it should set program objectives or measurable targets that specifically initiated or established and agreed by all the workforce of the company.

Since planning involves many processes, it should derive strategies and policies. These strategies and policies will serve as scheme and rules or program of actions from which they are based. Most successful organizations develop plans and strategies for their operations. Strategies that should be considered are for technology focus, of what and how the latest applications of innovations can be used in the business; personnel and career development – of course, there should be tactics on how to build-up and improve the skills and capabilities of the human resources who operate on IT, hence, appropriate trainings should be implemented; apart from that the strategies should mainly focus on ways to align the programs of the information system to the operations of the company in general. Corresponding policies that will be derived are for the following: funding criteria, of how much to spend on IT; allocation criteria – priority setting (with so many concerns to be taken notice of, there should be a well-balanced allocation in which essential components shall be regarded with the right level of priority.); organizational arrangements – how things should go along in the organization, of how the set of instructions and information details be taken and passed to; use of outside IT services (there might be common cases as in the company will consider outsourcing for some reasons. Hence corresponding policies should be accomplished to set boundaries and rules and regulation concerning the limits, contracts, etc.); selling IT services to outside organizations (apart from outsourcing, the company may think about off shoring their services to outside organizations. These may involve matters concerning with business relations to other companies and, as in outsourcing, certain policies shall be constructed to have guidelines and procedures for both parties to follow.)

There should also be long-, medium-, and short-range plans that will be developed. Of course, when you make strategic planning, you only not include preparations that are due for long years and even within a short period of time. There are actions that are and have to be implemented on ten-year basis, two to three years scheme, or even in months’ time. If ever plans are only made exclusively in a long-term basis or a short-term one, how can the management evaluate the outputs of the plans if not after the implementation? Most importantly, sudden changes which may occur in between these periods brought by varying factors will not be addressed immediately and efficiently. Short - range plans are made and are intended to be implemented within the next year, the next budget period, and common cases are mainly for developing and operating current systems. Medium – range plans are committing to development efforts for applications that will take more than one year to complete. That is, meeting management’s current information needs, projected into the future for as many years as needed to complete them. Most organization call these “long – term planning”. On the other hand, long – range planning is the preparation for the management’s future information needs. These are not application specific, unlike in short and medium – range plans where systems and programs are being specified and taken actions in particular; they are investments in infrastructure, that it is usually done for a longer period of time where the management can foresee the up and downs of their business status, hence can let them decide the steps for some improvements in their infrastructure in any way applicable; it is creating an information architecture, that within a span of many years, the structural design of the IS may expand, be developed, and interconnected to a larger scope of networks.

Lastly, if there are plans formulated, it should be implemented. Plans that are not carried out are considered writings on the water. They are useless if not put into action. Results of the applications of the plans made should likewise be monitored. Evaluation is an essential part of business strategies. If then, how can we check the positive and negative feedbacks of the plans? Not only after a certain phase has done that should an evaluation be made. As the project implementation is going on, the results and the outputs could as well be recorded and supervised. In this way, necessary actions could be made respectively which corresponds as to how these plans formulated are being carried out and yield results.

The University

A university is an institution of higher education that offers programs beyond the high school level. Colleges and universities provide necessary training for individuals wishing to enter professional careers. They also strive to develop students’ creativity, insight, and analytical skills. By acquainting students with complex ideas in an intellectually stimulating environment, colleges and universities can provide unique opportunities for personal enrichment while also preparing students for future careers. In most cases, state boards of higher education provide funds for these schools and oversee their programs of instruction. Most state governments establish systems of higher education. Institutions as state colleges and universities were originally founded to offer education in agriculture, science, and engineering, but most later expanded their curriculums to become large multipurpose universities. In some other places and countries, provincial governments establish boards of higher education responsible for allocating funds to provincial universities and overseeing their programs of instruction. In addition, the federal and provincial governments provide substantial funds for all institutions of higher education, including private colleges and universities. This public funding dramatically reduces costs for students. (Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.).

The University of Southeastern Philippines is just one of the many state universities in the region which offers quality education at affordable cost. Demands from incoming freshmen students to enroll in the university continues to increase every year because of the known quality of education that the University provides at an affordable cost. It has also been noted that USeP has highly satisfactory performance in standardized exams as evident in the past years where it has established its name as one of the many top high-percentage-passers-producer schools in the country. And a few more competitive advantages of the university include: strong research, development and extension, partnership with various international agencies in development undertakings, equivalency program and accreditation schemes, ladderized education system, and still more. The University envisions itself as a premier university in the ASEAN region. Its mission is to produce world-class graduates and relevant research and extension through quality education and sustainable resource management. Aligned with these mission and vision, the university specified goals for key result areas on instruction, research development and extension, and resource management. With six (6) major colleges comprising the university, and more or less than eighty (80) academic programs (bachelor, diploma, graduate), USeP shall address with the highest regards its status in the academic formation of tertiary education. Thus, the administration and management system shall take the latest development in organizational structure to be able to provide these offers to the students, faculty, and staff, and maintain and further improve its competitive status.

The university as a well-built institution with solid foundation needs a stronger information system that will serve as a developing center which aids the large scales of information processes. Being an educational organization and a center of excellence, it shall continue to make strategies in planning and make effective implementations to these plans to go along with the ongoing demands in the society. The success of the university lies greatly on the underlying critical factors and that is mainly comprised of its information system.

As I was deliberating on the root question of this topic, that is, if I am invited by the university president to prepare an IS plan for the university, discuss what are the steps in order to expedite the implementation of the IS Plan, I had a very hard time organizing my thoughts on the major aspects of my would-be answers. I have discussed in my statements above the foreword concerning the Information System (IS) strategic planning. Now I just have to relate it to the university particularly to where I belong: the University of Southeastern Philippines. Being an Information Technology (IT) student, I have an amount or knowledge about the application of technology in various fields in the industry. I have also learned the wide scope of IT and its diverse effects and benefits to an organization. Only in my later years that I have been exposed to reality situations as in analyzing current circumstances not only outside the campus but also to our own university as well. With the span of time that I have stayed in the university, I have slight awareness of its major operations especially with regards to my course. Nevertheless, this may be the beginning that I should grab the information concerning the university and the school’s information system (IS).

I do not actually see high – end service and functionality in school if we talk of technology. Admittedly, we have meager resources, facilities that are there and being used but are just less than sufficient to say that we are competitively gaining edge over our co-universities and colleges. Even so, I can not blame it to the administration alone or those who are part of the management team of the school. Outside factors might have some influence. Taking into account the financial matter of the university alone, and just thinking that we are a state university (that is, government funded), I am just hopeful that this institution where I belong will still be able to earn competitive edge among others despite the lack of resources. And proudly to speak, we are surviving.

Nevertheless, it is not enough reason to sit, hope and wonder how all these things go along the way it should, without putting in mind the reason why the university exists, what does it do, and how on earth will it continue to bear the challenges and demands of the society taking in mind that it envisions to be a premier university in the ASEAN region. As it continues to excel as an educational institution, should not we, students, think of how can we may be able to spend efforts to help the university in its mission? We all have learned that the heart of an organization is the IS. Hence, it should be supplied with enough blood to be able to pump more to sustain the body. To function well, it should be regularly checked and maintained, if not improved, to play its major role.

Let me begin with a point of entry back to my main subject. To be effective in its business operation, the university shall have an Information System (IS) strategic plan which, more or less, is comprised with the aforementioned components. For its years of existence, I am confident that the university has made its IS plan and is continuing to make plans and implement it. Although there are problems that arise every now and then, these are just normal and the administration for sure, always finds ways to mitigate, if not possibly eliminate complications. Until now, it is evident that the information system we are currently using is undergoing construction and maintenance. After years of gaining experience in developing own system, to going outsourcing, to turning back to in housing, there has not been a situation, I should say, that the school had a stable IS. And we all know several aspects behind that. However, it is not enough to say that there are unstoppable factors beyond our control that influence the system that is why until now we could not have the stability we could ever dream of having. Maybe there are numerous key major points inside our organization that should be re-examined, and primarily, it is the Information System (IS) plan.

Financial matters

Michael M. Gorman in his published article online says that every year, $300-700 million dollar corporations spend about 5% of their gross income on information systems and their supports. That's from about $15,000,000 to $35,000,000! A significant part of those funds support enterprise databases, a philosophy of database system applications that enable corporations to research the past, control the present, and plan for the future.

If we take this as a basis for the budgetary case of the university, roughly speaking, we could not get this much money from our financial resources. Although the statements were taken from a study of business corporations and large scale companies, we could not deny the fact that the figures are just revolving around those numbers, and to think they are in dollars! We are all aware of the fact that our school is a government institution and perhaps one of the reasons why, even though the quality education offered here is at an affordable cost, facilities and maintenance are at stake. I think the university can not stretch their budget that far since it does not hold its own fundings and to think that before releasing it, the money matters has to undergo processes in the government before it goes to the school pocket.

Financial resources allocation is just one problem why the institution can not make its way to all-out implementation of their plans. That is why there should be appropriate actions to find ways on how should the plans be carried out in spite of the lack of resources.

Let’s take a break first on the financial approach. I have searched here a realistic basis of the characteristics of a quality Information System Plan which I think, if followed by most organizations, will yield favorable consequences.

The ISP must be timely. An ISP that is created long after it is needed is useless. In almost all cases, it makes no sense to take longer to plan work than to perform the work planned.
The ISP must be useable. It must be so for all the projects as well as for each project. The ISP should exist in sections that once adopted can be parceled out to project managers and immediately started.

The ISP must be maintainable. New business opportunities, new computers, business mergers, etc. all affect the ISP. The ISP must support quick changes to the estimates, technologies employed, and possibly even to the fundamental project sequences. Once these changes are accomplished, the new ISP should be just a few computer program executions away.

While the ISP must be a quality product, no ISP is ever perfect on the first try. As the ISP is executed, the metrics employed to derive the individual project estimates become refined as a consequence of new hardware technologies, code generators, techniques, or faster working staff. As these changes occur, their effects should be installable into the data that supports ISP computation. In short, the ISP is a living document. It should be updated with every technology event, and certainly no less often than quarterly.

The ISP must be reproducible. That is, when its development activities are performed by any other staff, the ISP produced should essentially be the same. The ISP should not significantly vary by staff assigned.

These characteristics are the ideal ones needed for an effective IS plan. If the organization needs to have an IS, it would be beneficial if the components will be checked and based on these quality characteristics.

Nevertheless, the strategic approach of the Information Systems (IS) plan is to deliver the most valuable business information at the earliest time possible in the most cost-effective manner. Gorman described the following Information Systems Plan Development Steps which will help and guide the analysts and management of the organization in implementing there is project at the right time and at the right sequence:

First, is to create the mission model. The mission model, generally shorter than 30 pages presents end-result characterizations of the essential raison d=etre of the enterprise. Missions are strategic, long range, and a-political.

Second, is to develop a high-level data model. The high-level data model is an Entity Relationship diagram created to meet the data needs of the mission descriptions. No attributes or keys are created.

Third, is to create the resource life cycles (RLC) and their nodes. Resources are drawn from both the mission descriptions and the high level data model. Resources and their life cycles are the names, descriptions and life cycles of the critical assets of the enterprise, which, when exercised achieve one or more aspect of the missions.

Fourth, is to allocate precedence vectors among RLC nodes. Tied together into a enablement network, the resulting resource life cycle network forms a framework of enterprise=s assets that represent an order and set of inter-resource relationships.

Fifth, is to allocate existing information systems and databases to the RLC nodes. The resource life cycle network presents a lattice-work onto which the business information systems and databases can be attached. Achievement of all the difference projects is the achievement of the Information Systems Plan.

Sixth, is to allocate standard work break down structures (WBS) to each RLC node. Detailed planning of the difference projects entails allocating the appropriate canned work breakdown structures and metrics. Employing WBS and metrics from a comprehensive methodology supports project management standardization, repeatability, and self-learning.

Seventh, is to load resources into each WBS node. Once the resources are determined, these are loaded into the project management meta entities of the meta data repository, that is, metrics, project, work plan and deliverables.

Eight, is to schedule the RLC nodes through a project management package facilities. The entire suite of projects is then scheduled on an enterprise-wide basis. The PERT chart used by project management is the PERT chart represented by the Resource Life Cycle enablement network.

Ninth, is to produce and review of the ISP. The scheduled result is predicable: Too long, too costly, and too ambitious. At that point, the real work starts: paring down the suite of projects to a realistic set within time and budget. Although the process is painful, the results can be justified and rationalized.

Lastly, is to execute and adjust the ISP through time. As the ISP is set into execution, technology changes occur that affect resource loadings. Because a quality ISP is automated, the recasting of the ISP should only take a week or less.

I have also searched critical success factors that are identified to achieve successful implementation of the IS plan. This includes fundings and resources, project sponsorship and/or management, training, communications, and shared vision. Let me just use these as my basis for suggesting ways on how to expedite or speed up the IS plan of the university.

Supposed the organization followed all the good criteria mentioned in the previous statements, it does not guarantee full-blown success to the company if the actions are only done late. What can our best cards do if they are not operated at a time it is most needed? Such is a factor of failure, if we talk of delay. Thus, it is a must that strategic plans are to be implemented at the right time and at the right place. There are no rooms for improvements if we do not speed up our implementation.

Assuming the government and all our partner agencies is ready to allocate funds for our resources, that may lessen our worries of acquiring budget requirements of our ISP. But an effective approach here is, adequate resources, be it human or materials, must be committed to all projects that they must not be diverted to other competing demands unless such demands threaten the mission of the university. I’m talking here of a sample situation wherein all the operational projects of the university ask for a slice of the budget for their own implementation that a big part of it is taken and less is left for the critical IS implementation. The administration may consider this and think of a better way that is also fair for all. Equipments should also be available on time and are functional to the best way it could to perform its tasks efficiently and timely. If the capacities of these equipments are at risk, the institutional operations will be affected caused by the delay.

In project sponsorship and management, each and every individual that is part of the management team shall be dedicated and active in promoting the projects of the IS plan. There must be evident cooperation among all bodies and departments concerned, and that these bodies shall act quickly upon any necessary changes that may happen. Take note again, delay causes problems.

On the training aspect, the administration shall prepare functional and effective training plan to be implemented in a timely manner before and after the IS plan implementation. Personnel and technical resources should be trained appropriately.

There should also be a clear statement of goals and strategies including project timetables and it should be well-communicated frequently among concerned bodies. Communications during (or even before) the implementation project shall be clear and concise and must be maintained at a regular basis. This is very important since in starting a project, the one who are in charge of it should be updated of the whereabouts and be keep-informed of what should be, and what is going on the project.

Most importantly, the overall team shall have a shared vision. All the individuals who are part of the management, administration, and even those who are not involved in spearheading the implementation as long as affected by the IS implementation, must have a common vision. Ownership must be shared among all. It is by this that all can have the enthusiasm to contribute help to the implementation of the IS plan because everybody feels they belong to the success of it. If and then, this little factor can bring out active participation among the bodies, and the risk of delay caused by unwilling and passive members will be eliminated.

In addition, since the primary factor with regards to the implementation of the IS plan is time, I would suggest that the project team (which composed of varying responsibilities for each functional area, like the following: Advisory Team, Project Sponsor, Project Manager, Functional Lead, Technical Lead, Infrastructure Lead, Research and Development Lead, Data Conversion Lead, Interface Lead, Client Lead, and Security Lead) shall complete their tasks in a timely manner and reduce cases of actions that may cause delay and further risks. The said team should attend meetings as scheduled, follow-up reports and review of documents and revisions promptly. And should communicate regularly with each team members, relate issues, risks, and changes to management as needed, evaluate problems and provide necessary corrections to documentations, meetings, and in any way applicable.

It is not always on the content side of the Information System (IS) plan tends to fail but also on the methodologies and the management which implements it. It is therefore important to improve the strategic approach to these plans as it is one of the most critical issues facing the organization of today. Potential factors leading to some risks include also the organizational and managerial side. Thus, to expedite the implementation of the IS plan, the university shall make ways to organize well its project team, and follow the suggested steps above in defining an efficient IS plan, and implementing it.

Some of the written statements above are original statements from authors' articles. I would like to acknowledge the following articles and online reviews which helped me in constructing the essay:
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Information Systems Strategic Planning
E.R. McLean and J.D. Soden, Strategic Planning for MIS, Wiley-Interscience, (1977)

Michael M. Gorman, Information Systems Plan: Rationale for an Information Systems Plan, The Data Administration Newsletter, (Sept. 1, 1999)
Taken from

North Carolina State University Student Information System Implementation Project
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The Implementation of Strategic Information Systems Planning Methodologies
By: Albert L. Lederer, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260, Vijay Sethi School of Management State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14260

Microsoft Encarta Dictionaries

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nature of Relationship Between Business Plan and Information Systems Plan

(Note: This is a reply to Mr. G.'s thread in USeP-IC Web Forum - Assignment 2: What should be the nature of the relationship between the business plan and the IS plan?)

Planning is something very essential to anybody or any organization as it is a preparation of some things that need to be done. Encarta defines plan as a system for achieving objective. Thus, it is clearly stated that it is a method of doing something that is worked out in advance – a layout or just an outline of items to be included in certain tasks.

In any organization, planning is a basic tool in achieving its objectives and purposes. To earn success, people should have an effective business plan to be carried out. A business plan is any plan that works for a business to look ahead, allocate resources, focus on key points, and prepare for problems and opportunities( Basically, any form of business and/or establishments has business plans that set out its future strategies and financial development.

Since we talk of business plan and IS plan here, let us dig deeper the importance of planning. To have a better view on this I would like to present to you some key points I have gathered through my researches about business planning.

First, planning is a critical component of good management and governance, as agreed by most non-profit leaders and experts. In organizing and controlling the affairs of a business, a manager has to set out a layout of his plans which will guide him in doing tasks concerning the achievement of his business goals. This will also help him govern his business colleagues and associates and direct the whole company to its program implementations. Without this solid foundation that serves as a backbone for the organization, no business will be able to have a clear perspective of its accomplishment. Planning guides the organization on the right track keeping it focused and remains relevant to the needs of its community, the reason why it exists. It provides a basis for measuring the results and progress of the business development. The key important thing is it makes the organization move into a systematic and orderly way.

Because planning serves as basis for assessment of progress, most organizations understand the need for annual program objectives. When managers and leaders organize objectives for yearly program implementations, they usually set out goals made strategically to help them set the priorities of the organization and organize work. They need work plans that are focused on organization’s programs which then include operating and systematic plans for the development of the company’s resources.

And with the fast-evolving changes in our environment in the present, plans should likewise be made every now and then if possible so to handle the rapid amendments and transformations of various company programs and objectives intended for longer terms. Some definite objectives could not be anymore applicable in a certain period of time or it may be difficult to implement now that several changes are influencing the present status of the organization. That is why planning is an important factor to be considered by most leaders since this will help them in making some methods which will aid in defining ways to manage changes brought by internal and external factors in the community.

Nevertheless, not only managers and leaders are liable in making plans in an organization. Since implementing the goals and objectives to achieve the vision and mission of the company involves each and every individual, all must also take part in setting the layout of the plans of the organization. In most cases, those of higher positions like CEOs and Board of Directors are the usual creators of planning the business components of the company and the lower rank staff like those in the supervising and control staff and employees are hands-on to the implementation of the plans. Some have certain office divisions and departments which handles these planning strategies. But in common cases, planning are done primarily by the administrative division.

Having realized the efficiency brought by technology to the corporate world, information technology has long been integrated into the core of every business through managing and supporting its operations. The information system department is not far from the organization’s most important areas. IS people are treated as critical resources of the company. Thus it is then very crucial for the company to take high attention on the heart of the organization which holds its vital information. We have talked and mentioned about the information system and its significance to the organization before. The purpose and use of information systems in the beginning, according to a reference that I have found, is targeted towards reducing manual labor and increasing efficiency and thus reducing cost of doing business. In this case, the information system processes the essential elements of the company’s day-to-day business.

For this reason, planning should include not only the external part of the business components of the company but also the internal structure of the organization as well as elements comprising the information systems. The information systems utilizes technology to better serve the organization, the community where it belongs, to perform its mission, to achieve its goals through propelling business, to boost the economy. There are a lot more reasons to keep driving the information systems of the company. Every organization as we all know is continually striving hard to improve its competitive position in the global and local marketplace. Thus most organizations invest in information technology as it plays a critical supporting role in reaching the organization’s goals.

If we are going to look down specifically on the components of an information system and have a breakdown of each task, we will see the importance that each significant element holds. All the hardware aspects of the organization are essential tools of every individual utilizing these resources necessary for running the business of an organization. Of course these equipments are investments of the company because these are the things that aid in processing large amounts of data and helps produce more results while lessening the effort of the labor. Naturally, hardware components would not run without the software elements of the system. Moreover, in most businesses, there are lots of proprietary and open source software alike being used by various companies that could further improve processing their information. Some of these are those especially made for certain tasks and programs made for working on particular jobs. Needless to say, an information system would not be without the most important ingredient – human resources. Of course, who would operate on the hardware and software components of the business without the people who are working for it? The workforce of the company is the critical resource of the organization. And as with the information system, these IT people are treated as highly significant beings because all the crucial information about the business of the company is being processed in the information system department which is manned by people who are hands-on to the functionalities of the system.

Moreover, since the information system involves many functions and procedures, it is therefore necessary to have an Information Systems Plan where the processing, classifying, arranging, and calculating the data input to yield the necessary output of the business information.

There are lots of cases where some departments especially the large divisions of the company have set unique strategies that certain objectives are made according from what their division or department are primarily tasked to work out. To be able to carry out the mission and vision of the company as a whole, each and every subdivisions of it should align with the business strategy. This is where the business plan and information systems plan connect.

The nature of relationship between the business plan and the information systems plan is relative to business and IT. An information system plan is a road map indicating direction of systems development. Normally, the information system is linked to the business plans of the organization. This is because aside from the business strategies being planned out by the heads of the company, there are also new hardware and software technologies that an organization should be aware of. The management should also look up to how these technologies will benefit the organization as a whole. Apart from that concerns such as how the company should acquire and manage the firm’s hardware and software assets, and other mediating factors affecting the information technology and the organization should also be considered.

An organization is a stable, formal structure. It takes resources from the environment and processes them into outputs. The information system is in charge of doing these procedures that is why the IS plan should not be far from the overall business plan of the company. Each will benefit the other. The organization takes information from the environment and the information system is in charge with the production process of these data which will be generated into outputs given back to the environment or the community needing the services of the organization. The information system department is just one formal organizational unit inside the organization which is responsible of the information systems. In developing a program that will be used in business transactions, for example, the programmers write the programs while system analysts translate business problems into solutions. The program that will be made will be used by end-users or representatives outside the IS department where systems are developed. This is one significant importance of the IS in the firm. Without intensive business plan and integrated IS plan, these programs would not be possibly directly implemented and gain beneficial results for the business. The kinds of information systems like the operational, knowledge, management, and strategic level serves the groups of operational managers, knowledge and data workers, middle managers, and senior managers. As we can see, these people are also the same persons setting out the company’s vision, mission, goals, and objectives. They make up the team in making the business plans of the organization. But here, in various functional areas like sales and marketing, manufacturing, finance, accounting, and human resources, all are also concerned with the information system levels. Just one proof that business plan should not isolate IS plan. In fact, the two should be well-made and integrated for the organization to grow and develop. If in some cases the organization plans to bring business to the global scope with its clients not only in the local or national but also worldwide, for sure it needs enough information and communication from and to various firms and business partners outside. This can be done by networking digital firms and virtual organizations to link people, assets, and ideas so to create and distribute products and services without being limited to physical locations.

The factors to consider when planning and/or maintaining an information system is nevertheless similar to planning and organizing the business. Both will be concerned of the organizational environment, its structure and operating procedures. Because the IS is considered as the heart of the organization, its plans should be aligned with the business plans of the firm. Likewise, the business plans should take more into account the needs and functionalities of the information system since it is the core of the company’s operations. The information system is designed to assist the kinds of tasks, decisions, and business processes. Thus, the impact of the IS will also affect the organization as a whole. Information system and business strategy is an effective partnership and to gain efficiency in business, these two should work well together through strategic planning.

In general, I can say that the use of information technology in business strategies helps achieve competitive advantage of the organization in the global marketplace. This is because IS encouraging the sharing of knowledge across business units enhances competency. Information systems achieve great efficiencies by automating parts of the business processes. When the manual system poses threats to security and reliability of data due to redundancy, the automated system can bring fast, accurate, more reliable outputs which could then be utilized not just by one functional area in the company but to all that is concerned with the information being processed. This is what we call cross-functional business processes which go beyond the boundary between sales, marketing, research and development, and many other. Just like in an order fulfillment process, the methods involved in sales include generating and submitting the order. It could be passed on to the accounting section where the credit is checked and approved to generate invoice. If the credit is approved, the manufacturing and production can now proceed in assembling and shipping the product. Without the information technology as a tool, most organizations would spend lots of costly efforts and resources if the said transaction will be done manually and/or in a decentralized system where in fact all can be done more efficiently and quickly if appropriate IS procedures will be followed. Within the business, there are a lot of functions having its uses of information systems. Just imagine if the information system plan is not in line with the business plan or vice versa. The shallow thought connecting these ideas is this: the information system comprises of the different systems in which every process of each business function is made. Needless to say, both IS and business strategies is correlated to each other – business plans carry out the external factors of the organization while IS plans have to do with the information system and the company’s core issues.

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I would like to acknowledge the following resources I used as references of the above statement:
Arrow What is a Business Plan by Tim Berry in
Arrow The State of Tennessee 2008 Information Systems Statewide Plan by Bengel et. al
Arrow Administrative Information Systems Business Plan Exec. Summary by University of Iowa
Arrow Formulating an Information System Strategic Plan by BlastAsia Inc.
Arrow Commonwealth of Virginia Strategic Plan for Information Technology 2007-2011
Management Information Systems 8th edition by Laudon and Laudon materials:
Chapter 2 Information Systems in the Enterprise
Chapter 3 Information Systems, Organizations, Management, and Strategy
Chapter 12 Redesigning the organization with Information Systems