Line managers are increasingly assuming responsibility for planning, building, and running information systems that affect their operations. This is forcing organizations to evaluate how they allocate IT decision-making responsibilities. This paper describes a conceptual framework and an intervention process that can help firms devise and implement an effective IT management architecture. The authors illustrate their methods with real world examples.
1. T. Gerrity and J.F. Rockart, “End-User Computing: Are You a Leader or a Laggard?” Sloan Management Review, Summer 1986, pp. 25–34;
P.G. Keen, “Computers and Managerial Choice,” Organizational Dynamics, Autumn 1985, pp. 35–49;
J.F. Rockart, “The Line Takes the Leadership — IS Management in a Wired Society,” Sloan Management Review, Summer 1988, pp. 57–64;
R.W. Zmud, A.C. Boynton, and G.C. Jacobs, “An Examination of Managerial Strategies for Increasing Information Technology,” Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Information Systems, 1987;
H. Rockness and R.W. Zmud, Information Technology Management: Evolving Managerial Roles (Morristown, New Jersey: Financial Executives Research Foundation, 1989); and
P. Dixon and J. Darwin, “Technology Issues Facing Corporate Management in the 1990s,” MIS Quarterly, September 1989, pp. 247–255.
2. J.F. Rockart and J.E. Short, “IT in the 1990s: Managing Organizational Independence,” Sloan Management Review, Winter 1989, pp. 7–18.
3. T.W. Malone and J.F. Rockart, “Computers, Networks, and the Corporation,” Scientific American, September 1991, pp. 128–136; and Rockart and Short (1989).
4. J.C. Henderson, “Plugging into Strategic Partnerships: The Critical IS Connection,” Sloan Management Review, Spring 1990, pp. 7–18.
5. In order to maintain confidentiality, this scenario and most of the others that follow are based on composites of actual consulting engagements conducted by Gerry Jacobs and Bob Blanchard of IBM within a variety of firms in the financial services, manufacturing, consumer goods, and high-technology sectors.
6. The concept of “alignment” has played a central and pivotal role in the IT literature. See:
M.S. Scott Morton, ed., The Corporation of the 1990s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991);
N. Venkatraman, “IT-Induced Business Reconfiguration,” in The Corporation of the 1990s, ed. M.S. Scott Morton (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 122–158;
K.H. MacDonald, “Business Strategy Development, Alignment, and Redesign,” in The Corporation of the 1990s, ed. M.S. Scott Morton (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 159–186; and
J.F. Rockart and J.E. Short, “The Networked Organization and the Management of Interdependence,” in The Corporation of the 1990s, ed. M.S. Scott Morton (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 189–219.
7. See W. M. Zani, “Blueprint for MIS,” Harvard Business Review, November–December 1970, pp. 95–100;
F.W. McFarlan, “Portfolio Approach to Information Systems,” Harvard Business Review, September–October 1981, pp. 142–150;
J.A. Zachman, “Business Systems Planning and Business Information Control Study: A Comparison,” IBM Systems Journal 21 (1982): 31–53;
M.E. Shank, A.C. Boynton, and R.W. Zmud, “Critical Success Factor Analysis as a Methodology for MIS Planning,” MIS Quarterly, June 1985, pp. 121–129;
N. Rackoff, C. Wiseman, and W. Ullrich, “Information Systems for Competitive Advantage: Implementation of a Planning Process,” MIS Quarterly, December 1985, pp. 285–294;
J.C. Henderson and J.G. Sifonis, “The Value of Strategic IS Planning: Understanding Consistency, Validity, and IS Markets,” MIS Quarterly, June 1988, pp. 187–200;
A. Boynton and R. Zmud, “Information Technology Planning in the 1990s: Directions for Practice and Research,” MIS Quarterly, March 1987, pp. 59–69; and
A.L. Lederer and A.L. Mendelow, “Coordinators of IS Plans with Business Plans,” Journal of Management Information Systems 6 (1989): 5–19.
8. In particular, see Shank, Boynton, and Zmud (1985);
Rackoff, Wiseman, and Ullrich (1985); and
Henderson and Sifonis (1988).
9. Rockart (1988).
10. Rockness and Zmud (1989); and
Gerrity and Rockart (1986).
11. Rockness and Zmud (1989); and
Gerrity and Rockart, 1986).
12. B. Allen, “An Unmanaged Computer Can Stop You Dead,” Harvard Business Review, November–December 1982, pp. 77–87;
J.I. Cash, W.F. McFarlan, and J.L. McKenney, Corporate Information Systems Management (Homewood, Illinois: Irwin, 1988);
A. La Belle and H.E. Nyce, “Whither the IT Organization?” Sloan Management Review, Summer 1987, pp. 75–85;
Rockart (1988); and
Zmud, Boynton, and Jacobs (19
The authors would like to thank IBM’s Advanced Business Institute for its support of the research that led to this manuscript.