Question: Language style: English (U.K.). Write strategic planning and implementation steps involved in any project within IT department. Mention the Total quality management steps followed. What are the problems faced? Which problem solving and decision making methods would you suggest to be utilized? Explain.
References: Any 2 Sources from the Internet, or Textbooks or journals.
An organisation’s IT Strategic planning should combine some amount of tactical planning. An IT department would require a strategic planning policy to ensure that the staff members and students can use the network on the campus as and when required. As per the university requirements, all the schools should have a functional IT system, with certain criteria and specifications. The IT planning would also help the school to share and receive technology from other schools and in this way be of immense help to the students. An IT Department should form a part and parcel of the education policy and processes of the educational institute. It should be considered as a very important educational and information tool, for the students and staff members. Let us now look at the actual strategic planning process and how it can be implemented in an educational institute.
Strategic Planning is a process of making important decisions in the organisation so that a link between the present and the future trends is formed, choosing the organization’s goals, establishing the policies needed to meet specific objectives and recognising the means of assuring that policies are implemented in an appropriate manner. In a nutshell strategic plans are the “action plans” (Majdúchová, 2003 & Strategic Initiatives, 2007).
STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS:
Considering an example of a Management institute with special reference to the project to be carried out in the IT department, the following detailing a manager in the unit will have to accomplish and organize (ICFAI).
A Manager who is responsible for strategic planning would convert the intentions or objectives of the organisation concrete and measurable strategic plans, policies and budget allocations (Majdúchová, 2003 & Strategic Initiatives, 2007).
Step one: Defining the mission of the organization
Based on the above work assignments, companies change their mission over a period of time to reflect changes in the external environment. The IT unit should address three important issues:
- What is the business supposed to do?
- Who are the customers?
- What goods or services does it offer?
An IT department targets the various problems and issues, which are normally faced in a laboratory system of an organisation. The IT department would provide services to the staff and the students and not merely provide goods alone to the audiences mentioned above (Kotler, 1999).
Step two: Drawing up organizational objectives
The strategic planning process in an IT department will broadly comprise of the following main objectives to be achieved. This would help to determine the means of accomplishing the mission: –
- Students online exams / reports / marks,
- Laptop management (Wi-Fi connection),
- Internet control,
- LAN Connections,
- PC Maintenance, AMC – annual maintenance contract,
- Software and hardware troubleshooting,
- Vendor management,
- Requisition and procurement of PCs, UPS etc,
- Intranet management,
- ERP package connectivity, and
- Server support (Kotler, 1999 & ICFAI)
Step three: Assessing and Analysing SWOT
The mangers need to analyse thoroughly the organisation’s current situation in order to develop an effective strategy to gain a competitive edge: –
- Availability of KRA’s
- Availability of E-commerce technologies and processes
- Availability of skills in management of the supply chain or the vendor
- Management of Proprietary technology, superior technological skills, IP, Patents, and the issues concerned with them (Kotler, 1999 & ICFAI)
Step four: Formulating strategy
Michael Porter has described three strategies which can help a firm / unit to gain competitive edge over others.
Overall Cost Leadership: An IT firm has to consider the capital investment and access to it, the engineering skills required, intense supervision of labour, products designed for ease in manufacture, etc in order to achieve the its objectives (Kotler, 1999).
Differentiation: The IT department may differentiate its products and services into technical and engineering support, strong capability in identifying the LAN, vendors, ERP, Wi-Fi, Internet, skills of the staff members needed, Intranet, etc (Kotler, 1999).
Focus: All the above mentioned policies should be directed towards meeting the strategic target of fulfilling the staff’s and the student’s requirements (Kotler, 1999).
Step five: Implementing strategy
According to McKinsey et al, the best-managed companies exhibit the following 7 elements, known as “McKinsey 7-S framework for business success”. These include strategy, structure, and systems (known as ‘hardware to success”); and style, skills, staff and shared values (known as “software to success”) (Kotler, 1999 & ICFAI).
In an IT department, style refers to the common ways of thinking and behaving of the staff members. Skills refer to the unique method of handling problems experienced by the organization, especially using creative solutions. Staffing is the process of hiring, training and allocating the work by the department. Shared values refer to the common guiding values shared by the staff members (ICFAI).
During the implementation, the manager should constantly monitor the technology, staff, incentives/reward system, decision-making processes, structures and functions (ICFAI).
IMPLEMENTING TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT
This involves selecting the right staff members and using ensuring that the services are of high quality. The process of TQM is continuous in the organisation so that quality of the organisation would improve (through having appropriate processes, products and services). Feedback regarding customer satisfaction is gained, and accordingly improvements are made. The company needs to gain an insight of how the user would be using the product. Any shortcoming should be identified and modified, as and when needed. Some of the steps in TQM include: –
- Studying the current quality situation
- Defining the quality needs
- Planning for a quality control program initiated by the managers
- Having structures, functions and strategies for implementing the quality program
- Allocating and obtaining the resources
- Monitoring and evaluation of the quality control program (Hashmi, 2000)
The IT department may face several major problems in cases of IT resource troubleshooting, logistics management, customer satisfaction, changes in the vision of the organisation, leadership problems, incompetent human resources, adoption of new technologies, managing the IP, obsolete facilities, etc (ICFAI).
One of the major problems faced by the organisation previously, was regarding the presence of viruses in various network systems. This seemed a threat to the security of the network. The organisation had to develop a policy to prevent entry and spread of such virus on its network system. This ensured that all external connections including CD’s, pen drives, removable discs, etc, were thoroughly scanned so that any virus threat would be contained. The users were also informed of the security measures that had to be followed whilst using the network. A strong firewall was installed to ensure that all data entering and existing the network was thoroughly monitored. In this way, the IT department effectively handled virus threats.
A study was conducted in the Institute’s IT Department to determine the effectiveness and the efficiency of the IT department’s network system. More than 100 individuals were interviewed, which included 80 students and 20 teachers. It was found that when a definite plan was introduced since 2004, the quality of services provided by the IT department improved drastically. About 75 % of the staff members and 65 % of the students agreed to this. The IT personnel are conducting quality checks at various levels to ensure that the services are effective and can enable the organisation to achieve its goals.
|Services Provided||Percent of Staff who felt that the services were good||Percent of Staff who felt that the services were satisfactory||Percent of Staff who felt that the services were poor||Comments|
|75||21||4||Internet services are very good with fast connectivity and lightning speeds|
|Intranet||50||35||15||Intranet exists, but not updated regularly|
|Messenger||25||13||63||Not utilised very often during instruction|
|65||26||9||Utilised very frequently and beneficial to all the faculty members and students. Each staff and student is given their own id and password|
|Library||78||12||10||Services are limited (no of databases subscribed)|
|College Database||50||24||26||Not updated for long|
|Teleconference system||56||25||19||Although, the system is effective and very useful, frequent disruptions occur|
PROBLEM SOLVING AND DECISION MAKING METHODS:
Group Decision making method may be useful in large and complex departments, as the decision adopted seem to be better.
Delphi group technique brings a panel of experts together in order to identify the problem and develop solutions for them. Responses are collected and averaged by the people coordinating the group. It is utilised more often to immediately solve acute problems faced by the unit. Such problems are time consuming and expensive to solve. Interacting groups is the most common form of group decision making, in which the members openly discuss the problem, develop ideas, argue about each of them, and choose the best alternative.
Decision Tree is a complex instrument that helps the decision-maker to consider various alternative courses needed to solve the problem and select the most appropriate alternative. The decision-maker can implement and monitor the alternative (Kotler, 1999 & ICFAI).
Overall, I do feel that from the efforts of the management of the organisation and from the IT department itself, an effective network system has been develop which is very useful for the students and the staff members. This educational tool helps in education, instruction, and research and even in providing information to the general public. Regular feedback should be taken from the users, administrators, etc, in order to determine if any modification is required for the IT System, and effectively introduced into the IT strategic plan. Over, the last four years, incorporation of an IT plan has ensured a faster network, security, greater access, and increased support. The IT department has also certain trouble shooting devices in place to handle any situation. This has helped the organisation to achieve its objectives.
Hashmi, K. (2000), Introduction and Implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM), [Online], Available: http://www.isixsigma.com/library/content/c031008a.asp, [Accessed: 2007, November 23].
ICFAI – Introduction to management, ICFAI Center for Management research.
ICFAI – Project Management, ICFAI publication of management research.
Kotler, P. (1999), “Marketing Management: the Millennium edition,” 10th ed, Prentice Hall.
Majdúchová, H. (2003), “Strategic Management For The Nonprofit Organizations”, Electronic Library of Scientific Literature, vol. 51, no. 3. http://www.sav.sk/journals/ekoncas/ekon2003_07.htm
“Strategic Initiatives – Leading Transformative Change”, [Online], Available: http://www.strategicinitiatives.com/, [Accessed: 2007, November 23].
The University of Colorado at Boulder (2002). “2002 Information Technology Strategic Planning Report.” [Online], Available: http://www.colorado.edu/ITplan/2002itsp.pdf, [Accessed: 2007, November 23].
The University of Colorado at Boulder (2002). 2002 IT Strategic Vision, [Online], Available: http://www.colorado.edu/ITplan/vision.pdf, [Accessed: 2007, November 23].
The University of Colorado at Boulder (2002). Current Situation (Trends), [Online], Available: http://www.colorado.edu/ITplan/trends.pdf, [Accessed: 2007, November