A Strategic Plan to Increase IT in an Educational Organization

Introduction

Information Technology has significant impacts on organizations especially in helping daily operations and meeting targets. The main contributions of information technology to organizations are increased efficiency, effectiveness, and competitiveness. Information technology, for instance, would benefit education organizations in terms of improved communication channels, systematic dissemination of academic materials, effective management of assets, and management of education system changes. This dissertation draws a planning framework for information technology within an educational organization.

Educational Organizational Review

The organization’s vision is to have excellence in all sectors within the educational institution. In addition to the organization’s needs of training the faculty members, increasing funding, and technology; the organization desires to have smart boards in every classroom, environmental analysis to increase positive behavior of faculty members, and to have all faculty trained on current technology programs.

Information technology can assist in achieving excellence in educational institutions. With the advent of information technology, organizational structure and working environment have never been the same (Rogerson & Fidler 1994). Informational technology affects internal factors such as information retrieval, communication channels, and organizational structure as a whole (Bawden & Blakeman 1990). The educational organization has to accommodate the educational possibilities of high-speed computing, instant access to electronic databases, the potential of electronic publishing, and developing communication channels with an international network of scholars (Breivik, 1998).

The framework for Strategic planning

The information technology framework for the educational organization has five phase’s namely strategic direction, analysis, strategy, implementation, and evaluation. The first phase of the information technology strategic planning process is setting strategic direction; that is evaluating and deciding which technology type (sensing, analyzing, display, communication) the organization should utilize. The strategic direction is reflected in the organization’s objectives, goals, and mission statements.

A mission is a clear and concise statement to represent the current or expected direction (Barry 1998, Luther 1995). The goal, on the other hand, is a concise and specific statement to represent the organization’s current organizations operation. The objective is a specific action statement representing the approach to achieve the organization’s goals (Klouwenberg et al. 1995). It describes what the organization wishes to accomplish (Harrison 1995) and describes responsibility, monitoring methods, and evaluation techniques that will be used (Kaufman 1992). The result of this phase is a documentation of the organization’s direction, stated in the form of mission, goal, and objective statements.

The second phase of analyzing involves identifying and monitoring factors in the environment, both external and internal, which affect the overall operation of the organization. The main objective of this phase is to identify the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) factors of the organization. General factors analyzed include economics, finance, globalization issues, organization (management, policy, resources), market, customers, competitors, politics, regulations, and technology (Aziz et al. 2000, Proctor 1997, Thompson 1996). Specific factors for education organizations include hardware and software, network infrastructure, information systems.

The third phase is strategy formulation. Strategy is a specific action plan to achieve an organization’s targets – mission, goals, and objectives. It entails resource allocation and time frame to attain objectives. The strategy should be formulated, evaluated, and selected. Strategy formulation is the activity of developing a specific action plan to achieve the organization’s objective. Strategy evaluation is the activity of prioritizing generated strategies. This is done to identify viable strategies in order to not waste valuable resources by implementing weak strategies. The result of this phase is a list of action plans to achieve the organization’s objectives, goals, and mission.

The fourth phase, strategy implementation involves the operation of the selected strategy. Resources such as financial, human resources, and technology should be allocated according to priority. The result of this phase is a report on resource allocation to strategies.

The fifth and final phase is evaluation and control. Evaluation is the process of monitoring strategy implementation to ensure it conforms to a predetermined set of standards. Evaluation is important to ascertain the implementation process runs smoothly (Beecroft, 1999) and to monitor the effectiveness of selected strategies (Canary 1992). Control, on the other hand, is the corrective measure taken to ensure performance is in line with standards and goals are met within the expected time (Fenn, 1997). The result of this phase is the progress report of strategy implementation.

The information technology planning process does not end at the final phase. Information flows back to previous phases as input for decision-making activities. Information technology is an ongoing process since the educational organization has to address changes in the environment every day while trying to achieve its target. Once the target is met, the organization might want to venture into another field of technology, thus spinning the wheel again.

Results from activities in every phase form the information technology strategic planning manual which is a descriptive document of the organization’s operation. It plainly defines the strategic direction of educational organization, influential factors in the environment, a list of specific action plans to achieve the objectives, goals, and mission, resource allocation and duration of strategies, evaluation, and control report of strategy implementation.

Conclusions

The organization should react to internal and external changes while maintaining the integrity of the institution’s vision. This requirement also implies a respect for the values and experiences of all the stakeholders including administrators, professors, students, and other interested people.

References

Aziz Deraman, A. Razak Hamdan, Abdullah Mohd Zin, A. Rashid A.Rahim, Mohd Zamri Murah, Amna Abdurrahman, Wong Hon Wai & Yusnita Roslan. (1997): IT Strategic Planning in the Public Sector. IRPA

Aziz Deraman, A. Razak Hamdan, Abdullah Mohd Zin, Kasmiran Jumari, A. Rashid A. Rahim & Mohd Zamri Murah. (2000): IT Strategic Planning: Standards and Guidelines for the Public Sector. Monograph. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Barry, B.W. 1998. A Beginner’s Guide to Strategic Planning. The Futurist. 33-36.

Bawden, D. and Blakeman, K. IT (1990): Strategies for Information Management. London: Butterworths.

Beecroft, G.D. (1999): The Role Of Quality In Strategic Management. Management Decision. 499-503.

Breivik, P. S. (1998): Student Learning in the Information Age. Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press.

Canary, H.W. (1992): Linking Strategic Plans with Budgets. Government Finance Review. 21-24.

Fenn, D. 1997. No More Business As Usual. Inc. 114-115.

Rogerson, S. & Fidler, C. (1994): Strategic Information Systems Planning: Its Adoption and Use. Information Management &Computer Security. 12-17.

William, C. J. (1999): Strategic Planning for America’s Schools, American Association of School Administrators

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