Strategic alignment as a determinant of information systems success
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This thesis adopts the hypothesis that the development and communication of an information systems strategy aligned to the business strategy is a prerequisite to information systems success. This, it is argued, is achieved through the creation of a positive information systems culture within an organisation; i.e. a culture in which the development and application of consistent and meaningful critical success factors can take place. There is a significant body of literature on information systems success and the importance of a strategic approach to systems procurement and development. The literature review explores the main themes, and establishes relationships between the creation of a positive information systems culture, strategic alignment, and past and current approaches to success measurement. What emerges from the literature is a failure of current measures to fully recognise the role of strategic alignment in the assessment and measurement of information systems success and its influence upon organisational culture. The case study adopts a multi-method approach to data gathering. Questionnaires are used to investigate group differences when considering what is important to information systems success. Those differences that transpire are then more thoroughly examined via in-depth semi-structured interviews with senior managers representing those groups. A number of key themes, sub themes and issues surfaced from the qualitative analysis, and are presented and discussed individually in the context of the literature review. It is concluded that the differences that exist between the users and developers of information systems preclude any meaningful application of the critical success factor method. It is further concluded that the process of aligning the development of information systems to the business strategy can facilitate the development of a positive information systems culture, where common terms of reference can be developed that define those factors that constitute success. Finally, a model for information systems success is proposed that addresses many of the key themes that emerge from the research and which may form the basis for research in the future. The model employs the structure of a building as a metaphor for those elements that constitute information systems success and the relationships between them. It identifies three components that form the foundation for success: continuous multi-disciplinary education and development, a business strategy, and communication. This foundation supports the information technology and business professionals who act as the pillars to the building and provide the integrity of the whole structure. They also support the roof - the information systems strategy – both pillars being equally important in their supportive role.
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