Many organizations had undergoing process re-engineering in order to achieve better performance. Although this goal was reached, very few of them have aligned the IT with their operational requirements. IT investments have been increased with the years as managers are looking for ways to manage IT successfully and integrate it into the enterprise’s strategy.
The definition of alignment (Luftman 2000) is a 2-ways stream :
• How IT is aligned with the business
• How the business should (or could) be aligned with the IT
Several enablers and inhibitors help or prevent IT-business alignment. Luftman, Papp and Brier (1999) defined some of them in the following table :
As we can see from the figure above, most of the inhibitors are oppositions to the enablers. Let’s see how Enterprise SOA fits in each of them.
Enterprise SOA requires serious process engineering involving cross-departmental and often cross-company processes. Operational managers should dwell the project involving major senior executives in order to make sure the processes align with the enterprise’s global strategy, this makes enablers 1 and 2 fulfilled.
Enterprise SOA has an outside-in approach. We derive the business process into a technical implementation, the process owners which have the coupled technical/functional skills (enabler 4) lead the design and implementation of the process through its whole lifecycle, which allows the IT to have a full understanding of the business (enabler 3).
As it will be demonstrated in a later article (Shaping agility), Enterprise SOA will help the enterprise enhance its agility by the managers with a full understanding of the IT in order to leverage the information system to drive innovation and performance. The information system, through the various enterprise services that will be proposed, will constitute a stack of options which the managers shall choose to use or not (Sambamurthy 2003). In this case, IT will definitely act as a leader by laying a sound ground that shall be leveraged by the business on an on-demand point of view (Enabler 6).
The prioritization of IT projects may rely on different factors, especially when inter-dependant projects are on-going, there’s then a need to define a proper priority within the IT projects (Bardhan and Bagchi and Sougstad 2004) within the global (IT and non-IT) projects on-going within the company.
SOA projects may involve in-house development, the use of business application built-in services as well as the acquisition of enterprise services from communities and third party vendors. The second and third options allow a considerable streamlining of the developments, reduction of costs and implementation delays which reduces the overall delivery delays (Mcdowall 2003) thus time-to-market reduction (Luftman and Lewis and Oldach 1993).
Beyond this, SMEs that are proactive and show a good responsiveness towards IT will generate a better resources and business than those that are not (Dans 2001). Dans also underlines that responsiveness has lot to do with the firm’s culture and awareness towards technology and that it is mainly driven by the firm’s owner attitude toward IT.
Considering the previous enablers in terms of strategy and short delivery and costs, SOA projects should benefit from a good prioritization with the global portfolio.
Given all the preceding statements, it appears that SOA builds all the necessary adaptive pillars in order to best align IT with the business.
1. J. Luftman, R. Papp, T. Brier, Enablers and inhibitors for Business-IT alignment, Communications of the AIS, Vol. 1 Article 11, March 1999
2. J. Luftman, Assessing Business Alignment Maturity, Communications of the AIS, Vol. 4 Article 14, December 2000
3. V. Sambamurthy, A. Bharadwaj, V. Grover, Shaping agility through digital options: reconceptualizing the role of information technology in contemporary firms, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 27 n.2, p. 237-263, June 2003
4. I. Bardhan, S. Bagchi, R. Sougstad, Prioritizing a portfolio of Information Technology investment projects, Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 21 n.2, p.33-60, Fall 2004
5. E. Dans, IT responsiveness in small and medium enterprises : it pays to be on top of IT, Proceedings of the Eighth European Conference on Information systems, 2001