ICTICT517 Match ICT With Strategic Direction :
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Match ICT needs with the strategic direction of the
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Application of the unit
This ICTICT517 Match ICT With Strategic Direction unit describes the skills and knowledge required to ensure information and communications technology (ICT) products and systems match the strategic direction of the organisation.
It applies to individuals whose responsibilities may include improving, evaluating, acquiring, maintaining and supporting ICT for organisations.
No licensing, legislative or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.
Learning goals include:
- evaluating current strategic plan and propose changes
- evaluating effect of changes
- planning implementation of changes.
This ICTICT517 Match ICT With Strategic Direction unit is about making sure an organisation’s ICT systems and products aligns with its strategic objectives. This means that a company has a much better chance of achieving objectives with an efficient and effective ICT system.
An organisation’s strategic plan outlines where the company is going, so that everyone is working with the same information toward the same goal. It helps to ascertain what the organisation is, exactly what it does, and why it does it, focussing on optimising future potential.
An organisation would consider the following when developing an organisational strategy:
- Mission, vision and value statements
- A strategic analysis that can be in the form of a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) or situational analysis (internal and external environments)
- Strategies and tactics
- An action plan
- Budget and operational plans
- Monitoring and evaluation strategies and reporting.
Standard strategic planning model
The following steps can be seen as the standard process for undertaking strategic planning:
Describes why the organisation exists, and its basic purpose.
This is setting the goals that the organisation has to reach if it is to turn the vision into a reality. These can be general statements about what the organisation needs to accomplish, along with any other major issues they need to address.
Identification of the strategies that the organisation will use to reach their goals. This can include examination of the external and internal environments of the organisation.
These are needed to implement each strategy and are the specific activities that each person or project team must undertake to ensure the effective implementation of each strategy.
As actions are taken progress must be monitored to ensure successful implementation of actions.
An organisation must look at its current situation to understand the resources available and future trends to enable the organisation to respond to changes in its environment. The following methods, tools and techniques can be used to gain a complete perspective of an organisation’s current situation.
This consists of the external and internal environment.
External environment – an understanding of the external environment will help an organisation to understand their current situation and predict future trends, this includes:
- outside forces that influence the organisation,
- consideration of how external factors affect the organisation (such as customers and competitors).
Internal environment – establishes the internal factors that influence the organisational strategy and the competitive advantage that the organisation has. It can include:
- resources such as employee skills, finance, equipment
- capabilities of employees (knowledge and skill level)
- core competencies (the activities that create the unique value)
- competitive advantage (the ability of the organisation to do better than its competition in their key performance areas).
This analyses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organisation.
These are the business objectives translated into actionable goals. Organisational objectives can be short-term and/or medium-term goals that an organisation seeks to accomplish.
Goals should support the strategic plan – the goal development process looks at the strategy and determines the necessary steps to get there. Goals are short term milestones/benchmarks that must be achieved in order for the long-term objectives to be reached. Many organisations use the SMART goal model to do this.
An action plan clearly articulates how the strategic goals will be accomplished. This includes specifying each activity and who is responsible, with the expected results and timelines for achieving these.
The action plan should also outline how to monitor and evaluate the goals and objectives using performance indicators.
SWOT Analysis & SMART goals
If you need a refresh on how to conduct a SWOT analysis, review the following information:
Review the following article by Mind Tools which provides a standard procedure used by organisations to undertake a SWOT analysis:
https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm SWOT analysis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ4uVsSqQ9k (03:04) Example SWOT analysis
Business Queensland provides an example of a SWOT analysis:
To provide some depth of understanding in undertaking a SWOT analysis for an organisation, learn how to do a Personal SWOT analysis. Use the following website to help you:
These can be seen as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. The following article provides some examples of using SMART goals: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/smart-goal-examples-2951827
Keeping up to date with IT trends is especially important because the business needs to make sure that all its ICT systems are kept up to date with current best practice, otherwise systems may not be working to optimal efficiency or they may be dysfunctional in some manner.
Tracking and following trends is vital because it ensures that a business is always keeping up with, or is ahead of, its competitors in its use of technology therefore giving it a competitive advantage in its field. Technology becomes old very quickly – therefore systems will need to be adaptive and flexible to manage constant change.
ICT strategic planning
ICT strategic planning aligns technology with business goals, which should support the organisation’s overall business strategic objectives.
When planning the ICT needs of an organisation, the overall strategic direction of the organisation needs to be understood so that it can work towards those objectives.
Therefore, an ICT strategic plan outlines how technologies would be used within an organisation to assist it in achieving its business objectives.
The internal and external operating environments
There can be both competing demands and complementary factors when an organisation is deciding on implementing a new ICT system.
Competing can be costs, which is an external factor, versus actual resources, which is an internal factor. For example, if the cost of the new system is high, the organisation may not have the budget to be able to purchase and implement the required system.
A complementary factor may be the organisation’s need for a new system (internal factor) that is actually met by products offered by suppliers (external factor).
Activity: Group work
Divide into small groups. Ensure you divide the work equally.
Grow Management Consultants specialises in providing leadership development services to a range of clients. The company is based in the CBD but plans to expand into other capital cities. It employs 20 staff.
The current ICT set up is as follows:
All 20 workstations currently have Windows 7 and Office 2010 installed on all computers. The network operates using Windows Server 2008 (R2). PCs are all approximately 6 years old.
There is no cloud system in place and staff can only access data at work through their computers.
They have asked for advice about implementing an ICT system for their business that will cope with future demands including multiple locations and staff working from home.
Conduct some research in a group, discuss your ideas and make assumptions where relevant to analyse the following:
- Industry environment the business operates in
- Identification of internal and external constraints
- Organisation’s strategic goals
- A review of the current ICT infrastructure in place including advantages and disadvantages of upgrading the current system
- Gaps and improvement opportunities (three for each)
- Technical issues that might present a challenge
- Recommendations for the business.
Report your findings as a group in any way you choose – this could be a ICTICT517 Match ICT With Strategic Direction report or slide presentation or other suitable format.
Submit all work as professionally written documents within the timeframe allocated. Your trainer/assessor will provide your group with feedback.
ICT systems can be seen as either an overall system or part of a system and can be seen as comprising:
- Network infrastructure
- Internet/web pages
- Social media
- Digital communication/telecommunications
- Peripheral devices.
Changes likely to occur could be:
- an upgrade to a new system
- an upgrade to particular hardware components
- a replacement of an ICT infrastructure
- software upgrades
- additions to current systems
- replacement of old hardware with compatible, newer replacements
- new systems in place requiring new components and software for integration.
Most organisations already have an ICT system in place. This can be referred to as the legacy. When reviewing a system, a list of current hardware, software and network infrastructure in place will provide an overview of what is already in place i.e. the legacy. This could be a list of all hardware such as current computer makes and models and installed software, network components such as network adapters and cabling, peripheral components and application/server software purchased.
To obtain this information you would need to:
- conduct a walk through
- look at previous records of documented inventory logs if available
- create a log and record of any additional hardware or software
- interview teams or managers
- conduct an audit of hardware and software installed and in storage or on loan.
Most large organisations have software and hardware asset management systems which stores all the ICT information for future reference.
Determining ICT requirements
As well as the hardware and software asset management audit, there are also several other information gathering techniques used to determine future system requirements. These can be:
- Staff interviews
- Surveys and questionnaires
- Observation of tasks
- Study of policies and procedures
- Reading documentation or records of current systems
- Looking at any reports on lessons learned.
A systems analysis can be done using the following methods:
Gap analysis is a technique that a business can use to determine what steps need to be taken to move from its current state to its desired, future state.
Gap analysis consists of a number of steps including identifying the ideal future system, analysing feature and performance levels of the current system, analysing the gap between the current and future system, determining what factors are responsible for the gap and establishing remedies, actions and proposals for bridging the gap.
A comparison of advantages and disadvantages of the current and proposed system should be made in relation to:
- resistance to the change
- hardware/software requirements
- constraints such as time and costs, resources and skills
- further improvements to productivity
- any risks.
These can be documented and presented in a table format for comparison and decision analysis.
Problem trees can assist with systematically identifying causes and effects. A problem tree is a diagram of boxes and arrows that show causes at a low level, leading to effects at a higher level. The causes are the roots of the tree, and the effects are the fruits.
Employees can use this tool to list different problems, and then connect each of the problems with arrows to show linkages. The exercise can be repeated several times until the problem tree is complete and logical. The problem tree then directs attention to fundamental, deep-rooted explanations. These explanations can then in turn be used to develop solutions.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Cost Benefit Analysis is a simple way of weighing up costs and benefits to determine whether to go ahead with a project. It can be used to make this decision on a wide range of projects.
In force-field analysis forces that hold a business back and driving forces that push a business forward are identified and then assessed as to the degree of influence to control them. If it can be determined which forces are holding the company back and which are carrying the company forward, then planning can focus on how to reduce the former and exploit the latter. The different forces for both importance and the extent of control over them are rated and then the high-rated forces are focussed on.
Joint application design approach
Joint application involves bringing together key users, managers and system analysts in a business to simultaneously discuss and document the current ICT system and to brainstorm and determine the requirements and goals of the new system. Typically, this may involve a workshop where the key users, managers and system analysts meet sometimes for several days to discuss future system requirements and to come to decisions.
If matching the ICT needs with the strategic direction of an organisation is undertaken correctly, the likelihood of the implementation of a new system will be a success. The consequence of course would be failure.
Contributing factors towards success could include:
- Vision and strategy
- Government support
- External pressure and donor support
- Rising consumer expectations
- Technological change, modernisation, and globalisation.
Enablers are the active elements present in society, which help overcome the potential barriers. Enablers can include effective project monitoring, coordination and change management along with a best-practise approach.
The factors for failure are those occurrences that constraint or obstruct the implementation of ICT projects. Barriers can be considered as those occurrences that hinder ICT implementation. Failure could be due to:
- lack of consultation
- incorrect infrastructure
- budget overrun
- poor data systems and lack of compatibility
- un-skilled personnel
- poor leadership styles, culture, and bureaucracy
Inhibitors do not necessarily prevent the implementation of ICT projects but they do prevent advancement and restrict successful implementation and sustainability. Some of these include the user needs not aligning with the technology, poor coordination or the current ICT policy not updated to suit changing or current practices.
The action plan
An action plan documents the steps that should be taken in order to achieve a specific goal. The purpose of an action plan is to clarify the tasks required to reach the goal, the timeline for when specific tasks need to be completed and to determine the resources that are required.
An action plan breaks the project down into smaller, more manageable goals.
Different organisations will have their own methods for developing and presenting their action plan, however the approach is fairly similar. After analysis, an action plan is developed which details the following:
- The overall goal to be achieved by implementing the action.
- A list of activities for completion and in the priority needed for completion.
- Responsibilities of staff for the completion of each activity.
- The resources required for completion of the activity such as money, time, staff and physical resources.
- Timelines for completion showing an exact time for the start and finish for each activity.
The action plan will also need to show how progress will be measured and how to determine that the goal has been reached.
Creating the action plan
The following steps are a rough guide as to how an action plan should be created:
- Select the goal and define objectives
- Brainstorm the action plan
- Choose steps that are SMART
- Identify who is responsible for each step and if any support is required
- Provide a schedule for completing each step
- List all the necessary resources
- Create a timeline for completion
- Review and update as it is implemented – changes can be made as the plan is progressed through implementation.
Any constraints or factors that may impact on the action plan should be taken into consideration. Constraints could either be internal or external and include the following types of constraints:
- Financial (available funds for the project outlined in the action plan)
- Operational (such as functional structure)
- Changes in job descriptions
- Staff rejecting the new system
- Legislation, for example, ensuring the Privacy Act is followed.
The internal operating environment of an organisation includes:
- infrastructure in place
- information systems.
The external operating environment includes:
- industry/government bodies.
Any new ICT project will ICTICT517 Match ICT With Strategic Direction incur some type of change in process, policy or business. Change management helps in defining these changes, quantifying them and planning for their implementation. Projects that use change management techniques have better chances for success.
The change management process is a set of steps or activities that a team follow to apply change management to a change in order to drive the transition and ensure the project meets its intended outcomes.
Change can be managed proactively and effectively by:
- Collaboration with staff using the system
- Identifying and explaining to all stakeholders the changes that are to be made and the reasons why
- Developing the steps for change to happen and documenting these as clearly defined goals and roles
- Training and skill development for staff who will be using new systems
- Involving relevant staff in each step of the process
- Having systems in place to ICTICT517 Match ICT With Strategic Direction measure success
- Making adjustments as and when needed.
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