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7.01 - Information Systems Strategy


Today’s manufacturing business competes in an increasingly volatile and complex environment. It is the purpose of an Information Systems (IS) Strategy to support the management of this complexity and target those areas where most leverage can be gained from IS to achieve competitive advantage. It is an integral part, when used selectively, of a competitive improvement process.

The Requirements

The information Systems Strategy integrates Information Technology (IT) with each element of business strategy. The IS strategy is a statement of a number of key elements:-

  • Business information requirements of the core business processes and organisational control mechanisms.
  • Information management strategy
  • Information Support needs of the Change Project management Strategy.
  • Disciplines and Structures for Data Management

This strategy also defines the standards, guidelines and ‘house-rules’ to be applied to the IT implementations.

An IS strategy has very little chance of success if it is overlaid on inappropriate organisational structures and ineffective business processes which are high in non-value added activities.

There is a need to ensure that IT is carefully integrated with the management of total business processes (e.g. New Product Introduction) supported and controlled by the most effective organisation and control mechanisms. It can centralise and control the total process rather that the traditional approach of department centred IT. Within these total core business processes, there are generic elements of building blocks that make up the process (e.g. manufacturing assembly).

Developing IT to Support Business Processes

Developing IT to Support Business Processes

The Solution

The basic steps involved in developing an effective Information Systems (IS) strategy are:-

  • Develop business strategies
  • Organise the simplest business processes that meet strategic objectives and required measures of performance
  • Carefully define the information requirements and frequency for each business process
  • Define the best and simplest organisational structure and control mechanisms (e.g. generic meetings) that can most effectively support the business process. Determine from Input / Output analysis the information requirements.
  • Establish baseline use of IT within the business by carrying out an audit of existing applications to determine the effectiveness of the current investment (e.g. percentage utilisation of PC’s, common software utilisation).
  • Develop strategic IS implementation project plan that defines IT implementation based on achieving business critical success factors and matches requirements of the business processes and organisational structure and responsibilities. The plan must address both the requirements of each of the process generic elements on the value-added chain and the administration and support activities as well as the need to control processes at the cross-business level and not the functional level.
  • Define operational practices to maintain disciplines of data management:-
    • List the IT needs of each generic element in a business (e.g. Commodity Software application packages and any specially developed packages in addition.
    • Summarise the IT elements to be integrated to support each business process and the means of networking within each business process as well as the interfacing required between each process for information transfer.
    • Insist on a set of standards and house rules to facilitate integration and synergy exploitation.

Defining measures of performance and critical success factors for business processes and generic elements to match the top level business performance benchmark, establishing the Measures of Performance (MOPs 5.21 ) is a critical first step in the design of an information flow system.

Further Reading