IS Policy and Strategy, Meeting 1-5

It’s been five weeks since I have started with my classes in Master’s. I’ve been bombarded with a lot of new topics which I find very interesting. I have to admit that I’m very new with management courses (which is the majority composition of the degree) coming from a technical course such as Computer Science. However, I really think that it is very helpful and important to evolve learning the correct way of managing IT. I know I have a long way to go with this but I’m enjoying it especially with the case study discussions with Mr. Fiel Javier, the professor.

Meeting 1: June 6, 2015

We were around 16-17 in class, mostly working in the industry. When Sir Fiel arrived, our sleepiness (the class is scheduled after lunch in a cold room) suddenly disappeared because of his authoritative and loud voice. He is quite intimidating and scary at first. We did some introduction and he proceeded with the distribution of the syllabus.

One thing I learned during that day was not relying only in the “best practices.” Sir Fiel emphasized that best practices must be thought of as the minimum standard. Organizations must strive better than the best practices. If you can make the process much better than what the best practice requires, then it should be done.

I think Sir Fiel made a good point. Best practices is not excellence. It is just the minimum baseline. Organizations must strive to be above the best practice.

At the end of the class, Sir Fiel reminded us to read the readings and cases he will be sending via e-mail.

Meeting 2: June 13, 2015

We discussed the meaning of business during the start if the class. Sir Fiel asked what the meaning of business is. However, none of us was able to give a complete definition of the term business. One key take away I learned is that even non-profit organizations need to have a profit to survive. Then I learned the “correct” definition of business: Business is a gainful activity to service the society where profit is a necessity and loss is a possibility.

We were also asked to differentiate Information Technology (IT) and Information System (IS). I learned that IT is just a subset of IS.

Sir Fiel reminded us to read the readings before analyzing the case studies. He pointed out to identify the problem correctly because it already solves 50% of the task.

Before the end of the class, Sir Fiel mentioned about the usefulness of technology. He said that “Technology may be advanced but not necessarily society is ready for it.”

Meeting 3: June 20, 2015

After a long group meeting on June 18, we were able to come up with our Case Study solution for Electric Power PLC. Unfortunately, our answers were wrong after we have shared it in class. We were asked in class the difference between a strategy and policy.

Nobody got the perfect definition. We were then told that strategy is the objective to achieve the goal. It is the over-arching plan of an organization. The policy on the other hand, tells how to do the strategy. Therefore, policy supports the strategy. Sir Fiel stressed that strategy is about positioning, likening it to the Spartans in 300. They knew they were going to die, but positioned themselves strategically to be able to fight their opponents well.

One good example given was: Why do we need to ask permission 3 days in advance when filing a Vacation Leave? If you will ask the HR, they will say that it’s the policy and we must follow it. But looking at the Strategic Level (long-term), the company might have a strategy, “Produce X amount within Y days.” That’s why the policy regarding filing of VL was implemented in the operational level.

On analyzing the case study, we were reminded to follow the SMART objective – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Meeting 4: June 27, 2015

We finished the second case study, Vicro Communications, having declining revenues and not flexible ERP software. It’s funny because we were able to come up with the objective and the problem but lacking substantial information in the case analysis.

Sir Fiel taught us to use the tools in the readings to clearly understand the case and give a proper analysis. For example, we used the System Strategizing model to determine whether the company is Prospective, Proactive, Reactive or Isolated. Some other assessment tools were used.

One important lesson I learned in the Vicro case is Business Process Reengineering. I learned that a radical redesign can cause abrupt destruction of the business.

In the latter part of the class, we were asked for the definition of architecture. Nobody can give a straight answer to the question. There was laughing moment when Sir Fiel said that we’ve been using terms we don’t know how to define. But in the end, architecture was simply defined as an organization of interrelated parts.

We briefly discussed the Enterprise IT Architecture such as Zachman and TOGAF.

Meeting 5: July 4, 2015

I thought that the meeting will be a light moment because we were tasked to do an individual exercise. It took us 3 hours to finish assessing our company based on the tools given such as: IS Strategy Development Phase, IS Strategy Approach, Value of Information to Firm, IS Growth Model (Nolan’s Stages of Growth Model), SISP Approach, Strategic Alignment Model Assessment, IT Architecture Stage Assessment, IT Organizational Model Assessment and IT Value-Creating Processes Assessment.

It was a very tiresome session indeed!

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