Using Normative Research Methodology and an Information Architecture Model to Create a More Useable Strategic Plan

James McKee

Abstract


The primary aim of the research was to create a clear and well structured format for the strategic plan to make it more useable and to provide a more effective implementation of the required business direction. An additional benefit of a clear unambiguous strategic plan is that the information system developers will have more definitive information to better align their systems with the business direction and to assist strategy implementation by incorporating business performance monitoring into the system design.The research took a dual approach; using the normative research methodology to provide the overarching research framework to probe the problem area, combined with the extraction of fundamental architectural principles from IT architecture to provide a structure for the solution development.Normative research methodology has a certain similarity of approach to systems analysis and design but with a greater research orientation. In brief it encompasses the need to examine a problem area for weaknesses and investigates the possibilities for improvement. The process involves the examination of the current situation for any problems and what has been done to resolve them and then to design a solution. The final step is to evaluate that solution against the problem area for its effectiveness in resolving the difficulties.The first phase of the research included a review of the literature to establish the current situation which was supported by a broad based survey of Australian organisations and their approach to strategic planning with a detailed usability survey of a well publicized strategic plan for one organisation. There are in-depth interviews with the senior management team of one UK organisation, and there was also a need to evaluate a formal strategic plan of an organisation, to see if the problems that had been identified were resolved or apparent in the plan.Information technology architecture was reviewed and basic principles identified to provide a structure for solution development. An information architecture reference model was developed and then compared with the analysed strategic plan to see if any obvious errors and omissions would have been detected and finally an example was created to show the possibilities for improvement.The conclusion of the research points to the possibility of using the combination of normative research methodology and the principles of architecture as techniques in a broader problem solving / solution development domain for many large scale complex problem areas.

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