A composite framework for the strategic alignment of information systems development
Information systems are corporate resources, therefore information systems development must be aligned with corporate strategy. This thesis proposes that effective strategic alignment of information systems requires information systems development, information systems planning and strategic management to be united. Literature in these areas is examined, breaching the academic boundaries which separate these areas, to contribute a synthesised approach to the strategic alignment of information systems development. Previous work in information systems planning has extended information systems development techniques, such as data modelling, into strategic planning activities, neglecting techniques of strategic management. Examination of strategic management in this thesis, identifies parallel trends in strategic management and information systems development; the premises of the learning school of strategic management are similar to those of soft systems approaches to information systems development. It is therefore proposed that strategic management can be supported by a soft systems approach. Strategic management tools and techniques frame individual views of a strategic situation; soft systems approaches can integrate these diverse views to explore the internal and external environments of an organisation. The information derived from strategic analysis justifies the need for an information system and provides a starting point for information systems development. This is demonstrated by a composite framework which enables each information system to be justified according to its direct contribution to corporate strategy. The proposed framework was developed through action research conducted in a number of organisations of varying types. This suggests that the framework can be widely used to support the strategic alignment of information systems development, thereby contributing to organisational success.