The role of IT Senior Management in the Strategic Planning Process
Over time, it has been noted that a large percentage of CIO’s or senior information technology managers are excluded in one way or the other from critical decision making forums most notably the strategic planning process. While this trend recently been seen to be changing, some U.S business organizations still exclude the senior information managers from the strategic planning process. In this text, I look at some of the reasons that may be cited for the exclusion of IT senior management from the strategic planning process. I also advance reasons why IT senior management should be included in the strategic planning process and lastly amongst other things state the justification for the capital outlay with respect to large systems funding.
The exclusion of IT senior management from the strategic planning process
According to Shav (2003), though the role of the IT senior management when it comes to the formulation of the businesses physical infrastructure as well as network access cannot be underestimated, some businesses still see them as largely a technical team. This is a stereotype which according to Shav (2003) is far from the truth. This opinion could be informed by the general understanding that the technical teams are mostly involved with implementation rather than formulation.
Hence in this regard, the IT senior management is left out of the picture when it comes to the strategic planning process and left to grapple with implementation. As it shall be discussed later in this paper, this may in fact jeopardize implementation efforts. Similarly, IT managers are largely considered to be more inclined towards ‘the technical side’ as opposed to the ‘business side.’ In that regard, the strategic planning process is largely considered to be a business undertaking requiring input from professionals sourced from the ‘business side’. With that, IT senior management is considered to be wearing IT capes whereas strategic planning process requires people adept in business.
It has also been noted that though he trend is fast changing, a number of businesses do not consider information technology as vital as they do other functions. In fact, information technology in a number of isolated cases is considered as a non-core activity and hence its role in the long term strategic planning process is overlooked (Maizlish et al. 2005). This assertion has been reinforced by the tendency of some business organizations to outsource their information technology undertakings to outsourcing firms.
Another aspect that can be cited for the exclusion of IT senior management in the strategic planning process is as a result of their not being involved in other corporate functions apart from IT. In that light, their portfolio is seen to be too limited to inform their inclusion in the strategic planning process. Due to the relatively low portfolio of other corporate functions IT managers manage their contribution when it comes to the strategic planning process is put to question as most of the strategic planning revolves around but is not in any way limited to mergers as well as acquisitions.
Shav (2003) however argues that in the last one decade, things have been looking up for IT senior management both in terms of their recognition as well as involvement in the strategic planning process.
Reasons for the inclusion of IT senior management in the strategic planning process
Increasingly, the role if the IT senior management with regard to the analysis as well as identification of the role of IT in a businesses long term growth strategy is being recognized and with this recognition comes their involvement in the strategic planning process. In the modern times, IT has come to be central for the success of a business entity both in terms of enhanced profitability as well as a way of cutting costs. it is hence a strategic weapon and its integration into the strategic planning process is timely if the business is to remain relevant in today’s business environment (Maizlish et al. 2005).
It is important to note that one of the roles of the IT senior management is to propose the relevant information technology measures that must be taken into consideration if the business enterprise is to achieve its long term goals. A proposal of this nature is vital so that adequate plans can be incorporated into the budget for purposes of implementing the proposals. This underscores one of the reasons why it may be prudent to include IT senior management in the strategic planning process.
Apart from cutting costs being one of the main priorities of IT managers, the development and innovation of IT in the recent past has brought to the fore other critical functions of the IT senior managers. This includes but is not limited to the enhancement of security as well as the IT infrastructure. Some of these functions are critical for the continued operation of the business and as such, the IT function should be taken with as much seriousness as the other functions. Given the fact that a business can be brought down by a simple compromise of its security, it makes sense today to involve IT senior management in every aspect of the strategic planning process.
Shav (2003) notes that the tendency of some businesses to overlook some functions within the organizational structure by baring them from any form of participation in the strategic planning process and instead leaving them to do the implementation part can lead to poor implementation and/or even sabotage. This is informed by the fact that majority of those left to implement the formulated programs will inevitably feel left out and hence fail to own the programs. This will in one way or the other stimulate sabotage and hence defeating the purpose of the formulated plans. In the long run the entity may never achieve such goals. IT senior management is vital in the implementation process of specific plans and with that in mind, it may be prudent to involve ham in the strategic decision making process.
Justifications for the large capital outlay
In most circumstances, large systems funding is linked to strategic information systems planning and in most cases calls for capital dollars funding. This capital outlay is however justified as the globalization trend has brought about IT platforms that are standardized. This is because as things are, strategies informing acquisitions as well as a wide range of other business processes are largely dependent on standardization for purposes of doing away with cases of wastage as well as the enhancement of economies of scale (Maizlish et al. 2005).
The trends now dictate that IT investments bring in quicker returns and hence their role in improving efficiency is paramount. To come up with stable growth over the ling term, business entities should therefore permit the capital outlay.
It is important to note that with IT set to become a competitive advantage, the role of IT senior management in the strategic planning process cannot be in any way understated. Embracing IT senior management in strategic decision making will hence be a welcome and timely idea for businesses so as to remain relevant in the marketplace.
Maizlish, B., & Handler R. (2005). IT portfolio management step-by-step: unlocking the business value of technology. John Wiley and Sons
Shav, R. (2003). Impacting business: a simple model of IT management. Managebright