1. LorryMer is a leading corporation for specialised motor vehicles in North America. It ensures high standard technologies and quality to its customers. After facing several business challenges, LorryMer decided that change was necessary to survive especially with the rising competition. Previously, the company’s IT strategy only dealt with maintaining legacy compliance in sync with government regulations. The role of IT would be defined by IT itself or given vaguely by business units. It was not integrated to provide beneficial outcomes. Other IT investments included spending on e-business websites and marketing. This was not sufficient to sustain the business in the future. In order to remodel the business strategy, it was found that the IT sector could play a fundamental role in shifting to a more sustainable change. The alignment of IT with business strategies allows for business goals to be more realised. All aspects of a sound IT strategy must reflect the goals and missions of the company. Hence, it was decided that the IT department be enhanced and was subject to vigorous reorganisations. The company chose a joint strategic plan that allowed for outcomes to be dictated by end users. It allowed for IT to achieve overall business related goals rather than just IT goals. Every activity or initiative carried out by them would be to enhance the business value. This also enhanced the connection between what the company sells and what is required by the users. This would allow for more long term benefits as the needs are updated through IT systems.
In order for a successful alignment and integration, leadership also plays a key role. Such teams should know the importance of the IT resources. They should understand the role and contribution that IT can play in leading a successful business. The functional approach was replaced by a matrix approach that allowed for IT be at the forefront. They made additions to applications like IT application developers and service providers. They also enhanced the management of programs by appointing program managers and business system analysts. After this, the concept of a business advisory group was initiated. To provide business units with an IT focus, they included value account managers in the advisory group. They acted as the IT voice of the customer and conveyed the needs and requirements of users. The IT alignment can also help the company’s chances against competitors, and enhance their response speed to key changes in market flows. A successful alignment between IT functions and business strategies includes mutual leadership and also accountability.
The benefits of such alignment are many. It improves business performance by creating efficient processes. Processes that are more need oriented and are in line with customer demands. It also allows for faster response times, and supply chains to be more adequate. Through this alignment, not only are all aspects working towards comman business goals but are also aware of each and every move that others make. IT integration allows for better collaborations between departments. This adds value to the business strategy and allows the exploration of new heights in the business. Such integration makes it easier to control potential risks as well as detect when something has not gone according to plan and helps find the exact point of disconnect with company goals. The faster the detection of problem, the quicker it can be solved. Managing risks is crucial for running a smooth company. And transfer of such threats to the relevant bodies in order to save the situation in a timely manner is also enhanced by the IT functions. As the data keeps being updated, the decisions too result in better quality of work and outcomes.
While IT and business strategy alignment has many benefits, it can also result in a few drawbacks. It is paramount that regular updates between business goals and IT programs be carried out. This can be done through regular feedback, reviews, assessments and realignments according to needs. When priorities change, all departments must be made aware of it in order to work towards the new ones. Developing strategies can take time but it is important that all strategies be aligned with the company’s objects and goals. They must include the adjustments IT would need to make in order to support their new developments. This must be carried out in line and consultation with the IT department.
2.Explain how company’s alignment process was accomplished by the alignment chart?
In order to carry out a smooth alignment of the IT strategy with the goals of the company, LorryMer initiated several IT activities and programs. The most important of this was the IT strategy alignment chart made by the IT team. This provided a strategic mapping plan of the company’s goals, business value and the IT programs. The chart helped to understand the various intersections in goals, business value and IT functions. This also helped departments to see who they are working in line with and who will be working in line with them. The chart allows for a more exposed and open environment where employees feel needed and are able to contribute to the growth of several departments at once.
Financial measures must not be the only measure in the evaluation of a project. The projects must be aligned with the strategies and goals of the company. Strategic alignments also allow for business drivers such as market share value and efficient distribution. It also takes into account customer satisfaction and quality improvement. Alignment charts allow for strategically aligned projects, as well as, step by step execution.
The chart is easy to understand with lines, arrows and bubbles. The lines carving paths and the alignments are represented wherever the lines meet with a bubble. The bubble indicates an alignment. The ultimate goal of this chart with the alignment bubbles is to ensure that IT programs contribute to the positive growth of business outcomes. The alignment chart acts as a helpful catalyst that allows for the company to realise the various alignments needed for an integrated workflow. Not only does it help standardize a simple language within the company but also ensures that all IT investments and initiatives are aligned with the specific needs of the organisation.
Alignment charts allow for decisions to be made faster. Delayed decisions can cause a ripple effect within an organisation by affecting productivity and resulting is missed deadlines. Alignment charts make clear who holds the power to make decisions and leaves nothing ambiguous so as to ensure there is no conflict at the time of decision making. Alignment charts help to facilitate resources in the most beneficial manner. They clear differentiate the activities based on relevance like the activities that play a more important role versus those that play a supporting role. This ensure that the company uses its finances and resources on the right activities. This also helps the company to increase performance while also reducing costs. By clearly depicting the various intersections of work groups on the chart, the employees have a better work ethic. This allows them to interact with other departments and gives them a chance to learn more, experience more and engage more. Employees and departments will also have a clear picture of their role, duties and especially decisions. They can confidently take decisions within the scope of their role and are more accountable in their responsibilities.
The execution of the alignment chart can seem more of a challenge in practical use than when just seen on paper. Several factors need to be in place in order to carry out the alignment chart in a meaningful manner. LorryMer makes use of various formal and informal processes to ensure the IT and business strategy alignment is secure. The processes are established during the business formulation process and run throughout the existence of the IT programs. The alignment process includes six steps:
1. Strategic planning
2. Informal portfolio management
Strategic planning – this is the first step and includes the overall plan of the strategy for alignment. The strategic plan document lays out the plan for the company’s mission and business goals for a three-year time frame. The process is an evolutionary process that allows for movement as and when needed. Planning and programs are done in a step-wise manner and helps one to get closer to the set goals little by little. Strategic initiatives and programs that reflect the business goals and values are set in place. Business advisory group and the Program management competency centre help in setting the initiatives and programs. Tools for implementation include strategic plan documents, roadmap charts and alignment charts. Strategic plan document is an overall plan and includes the types of programs and their summaries, the estimated headcount and also pay checks required. Roadmap charts defines the company’s goals as well as the support it will receive by the IT department within the time frame of the next 3 years. Alignment charts show the business goals, the company goals and the IT programs in integration.
Informal portfolio management – it is an important part of the alignment process as it assesses the risks as well as the best possible programs that would benefit the company if invested in. The process is carried out in a method called the Business Value Assessment. These are graded tests in different sectors and allow for assessments through ratings. At the end of the portfolio phase, a program manager and a value account manager is appointed to overlook the program processes.
Envisioning and planning – this is majorly the role of the program manager. He lays out the plan of action from the beginning to the end. He makes use of traceability matrix that allows program tracing back to the initial stages, so as to ensure that the plan of action is still aligned with the requirements. He lists out the tasks that users will be able to achieve with the software and also includes the software responses to actions of users.
Development and deployment – after the program plans are approved by consultation with the PMO, the development and deployment of the programs start.
4.Key Elements of an Integrated Management system:
Integrated management system is one of the most comprehensive approaches that any company can take for its sustained growth. It is a well sorted method with proven results as seen in the LorryMer case study. Integrated management systems combine all aspects of an organisation and its systems into an original comprehensive framework that is tailored to meet the goals of that particular organisation. It empowers the entire organisation to work collectively as a single unit that is integrated towards unified goals and objectives. For a perfect company, it is essential that integrated management systems are equipped to meet and address the needs, demands and objectives of the company. They should be able to keep up with the changing needs of the company. It can be difficult to address the needs of all systems and departments that operate within a company. That is where integrated management systems play a key role in creating defined methods to integrate multiple networks that help achieve the goals of the company. Creating a unified system includes shared documentation, policies, procedures and processes.
Integrated management systems combine different aspects of an organisation together. This includes the systems of the organisation, the various processes, and regulations. All of these are merged into one smart efficient system. Such a merger has several benefits. Not only does it allow the management of the business to be streamlined but it also helps to save time. It also increases productivity in a manner that addresses the various elements of system management as one unit. An integrated management system allows for processes to be combined in a manner that covers all important aspects of standard-specific requirements.
Some of the key benefits of such a practise are as follows:
1. Consistency – systems that are integrated allow for less complexity. They are easier to understand and execute. Procedures become more logical and doable when systems are aligned and share processes. It also allows for common business goals to be more clear and defined in their objectives to achieve success.
2. Performance – procedures that are given direction and are streamlined lay the groundwork for improved performance. This also makes room for the business to grow in an environment that is safe, and has better quality, which in turn helps to increase productivity in the long run.
3. Cost effectiveness and speed – When tasks and processes are shared, it results in the costs and time needed for implementation to be reduced. This is all facilitated by integrated management systems. Audits and management reviews can help to speed up this process and even allow senior members to move onto more important tasks.
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