Shanghai Bell Corporation IT system
The IT Vision
The IT vision formulation at Shanghai Bell Corporation was adequately done. The reason for this supposition lies in the circumstances under which the decision to pursue it arose. A vision needs to be based on a felt desire to identify what may be considered to be the challenges faced by the company. This was well done by management, which went on to break them down into specific items for implementation. A good vision formulation process would in this case indicate the immediate challenges that are faced and the possibilities for advancement that are available. However, a major weakness of the case is that it does not, at least according to the information provided, identify the opportunities that exist in future.
The SISP’s Degree of success
The SISP was to a great extent well carried out. This is because it was done systematically. Variation in methodology of data collection and sensitization on the findings was also well done. The goodwill that was obtained from top management was a major strength of the plan. Consultation was further carried out at all levels. This is important as it helps ensure that the strategy developed is truly representative of the needs of the company. It also creates identification with the plan and therefore a feeling of ownership by all members. The use of consultants was also positive as it ensured less time cost on the company. Senior management got valuable information that will be important in implementing change in the company over several years.
Understanding the business versus developing the IT vision
It would have been advisable to try and understand the existent business before developing the IT vision. This is because a vision is essentially about identifying where the organization should be in future. Pointing out where you desire to be involves first understanding where you are at the moment, otherwise there might be repetitions relating to the desired state. The vision in Strategic Information System Planning essentially props up the basic goals and these need to be identified by first assessing where one is at the moment. The attainment of competitive advantage and adaptability to challenges is understood by stating what one believes the successful future company has. A vision, in providing guidance on where to head is based on identifying the gap between current and future characteristics of the company. The motivation to attain the desired position lies in minimizing or eliminating the gap. The process therefore needs to begin from the present which will then yield the vision.
Six weeks would not be adequate time to understand current business. This is because if being studied by observation, there are changes that occur from time to time that may not be noted.
Weaknesses in the SISP
One of the identifiable areas of weakness is lack of provision for sustainability of the implementation. Any such strategy needs to give a framework for its evaluation. A future reformulation would provide measures whether qualitative or quantitative for every measure taken and how to score them. Yet another is the limitation posed by the scope of application. The company is extremely large both in terms of operations and manpower. This makes the time allocated to the respective plan areas seem inadequate. The way to deal with this in future would include carrying out mini plans which will be harmonized so as to come up with a general one. The lack of cooperation from some departments also appears to be a major weakness. Participation in the process of SISP formulation is important as it gives it legitimacy. To avoid a reoccurrence, an even more bottom-up approach would need to be adopted.
Yuan Long, F., Fui-hoon N. & Zhanbei Z. (2003). ‘Enterprise-Wide Strategic Information Systems Planning for Shanghai Bell Corporation.’ Annals of Cases on Information Technology Vol 5 p. 431-446