A Review Of Ssm

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SSM or Soft System Methodology is considered to be a framework that is used for investigating circumstances or conditions that are ill-structured. It is known to give general guidelines and framework for the articulation of searching for images, which are real and relevant to the action needed to be taken in a case of a problem. The earlier studies that were related to SSM were conducted in the late sixties. From research it is evident that SSM was "Towards a systems-based methodology for real-world problem solving, which concentrated on the need for methodology of practical use in real-world problems' and it reviews the context provided by the systems movement, introduces the case for action research as the research method, describes three projects in detail, refers to six others, and describes the emerging methodology" (Avison & Wood-Harper, 1991).

1981-Model of SSM

During the eighties, research was made on SSM and its model was proposed, which consisted of seven stages. The initial two states concentrates on making an entry towards the problem situation in order to detect and identify the issue and identifying its nature. Research suggests that "Enough of this has to be done to enable some first choices to be made of relevant activity systems. These are expressed as root definitions in stage three and modelled in stage four" (Avison & Wood-Harper, 1991). The next stages are known to employ the models to the structure in order to investigate the situation. The stage five is the stage of comparison. The stage six concentrates on "defining the changes which could improve the situation, the changes meeting the two criteria of `desirable in principle' and `feasible to implement'" (Avison & Wood-Harper, 1991). The seventh stage concentrates on taking an action so that the situation can improve. This stage also calls for changing the situation and to ensure that process starts again and runs in the cycle as it was doing previously.

Review of IT Governance

Introduction

In recent times, the business environment has become extremely complex and competitive because of developments made in technology, globalization, market conditions, etc. there are several issues which the business organization has to face because of fluctuating environment. These challenges include the intense competition in the global market, pricing strategies, the compliance with the rules and regulations, inefficient workforce, new opportunities for business, etc. In order to deal with these issues and challenges, it is essential that the company acknowledges the fact that it can increase its value by means of customer loyalty and satisfaction. For this purpose, it is essential that the organization modifies and enhances its business processes and operations. The top management is responsible for restructuring, sustaining, changing and organizing the firm to meet these challenges and therefore, it is essential that they adopt IT infrastructure and systems.

Frequently, these issues and problems come with risks, which have to be supervised and managed by the company. In the process of risk analysis, it is essential to identify the risks, evaluate them, come with a solution to resolve them and controlling them. Each and every firm requires a foundation from where they can execute their business operations. This foundation can be supported by Information Technology systems and infrastructure. The management of risk can add value and hence, its management is the key towards success; it can help the company to secure itself in the market. Governance is another key business process, like risk management, which helps in adding value to the enterprise. It is concentrates on the alignment of business and information technology. The next section will define the meaning of governance.

Concept of Governance

This section seeks to define the concept of governance. The unofficial or informal definition of the word govern is to pass and organize the rules or guidelines of a society, organization or country. Barden, (1997) defines that "governance as a process, which is "a series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result." This suggests that governance is defined as the "process of establishing: Chains of responsibility, authority, and communication (decision rights), measurement, policy, standards, and control mechanisms to enable people to carry out heir roles and responsibilities (Barden, 1997)." In simple terms, governance is related to the process of decision making and communication, interaction and exchange of ideas. The importance of governance arises from the fact that organizations need governance in order to make sound and rational decisions and to convey them in an effective manner. Quite frequently, organizations make poor decisions and hence, the outcomes are poor and for this purpose, they have to evaluate and review their decisions and to reach good decisions in order improve organizational performance and efficiency (Baroudi & Orlikowski, 1988).

Several individual have the perception that governance and management are same but in reality, they are completely different. As mentioned earlier, governance deals with the process of decision making and management ensures that the process of the governance is executed by the organization. In order to clearly understand the concept of IT governance, there is a need to differentiate between governance and management. As mentioned earlier, governance deals with the "the chains of responsibility,

authority, and communication to empower people, as well as to define the measurement andcontrol mechanisms to enable people to carry out their roles and responsibilities" (Boehm & Papaccio, 1990). Management is defined as "is the output from the governance process" (Barden, 1997). The process of management deals with the application of particular responsibilities, control, organization and communication in order to empower workforce.

The Approach of IT Governance

Governance deals with leadership. IT governance is considered to be a methodology, which concentrates on delivering the necessary business ability by means of an IT strategy. It deals with the alignment of aims and objectives of the business organization and the proper use of IT resources in an effective manner in order to achieve desired business outcomes (Van Grembergen, 2002). It deals with the distribution of authority to several layers in the structure of the organization and at the same times, ensures that authority is used in a proper and cautious manner. Why organizations are moving towards IT governance? In order to understand this question, it is necessary to understand the business environment at global level. Markets and business atmosphere has become extremely competitive and IT governance is the result of "social, political, and market-driven events that have resulted in an increased awareness of corporate and personal risk by executives" (Boehm & Papaccio, 1990). Events such as the crunch of US Stock Market in the year 1987, September eleventh attacks, Enron Scandals, Mumbai attacks, etc are some of the events, which led to the development and implementation of IT governance. In each of these cases, a connection existed between the accountability and responsibility of the organization, the value of the market, the market forces and the following scandal. In such events, there was a call for IT governance in order to adopt and implement better controls and to increase accountability.

Definition of IT Governance

IT governance has been defined as "the responsibility of the Board of Directors and executive management" (Avison & Wood-Harper, 1991). It is also defined as "an integral part of enterprise governance and consists of the leadership". Barden (1997) assert that IT governance is "Specification of the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT". According to Korac-Kakabadse & Kakabadse (2001), IT governance is "the leadership and organizational structures and processes that ensure that the organization's IT sustains and extends the organization's strategies and objectives." According to Shleifer & Vishny (1997) IT governance is "The system by which the current and future use of IT is directed and controlled. It involves evaluating and directing the plans for the use of IT to support the organization and monitoring this use to achieve plans. It includes the strategy and policies for using IT within an organization."

IT Governance and its Mechanisms

IT governance can easily be implemented by using several processes, structures and mechanisms. In order to design it for a firm, it is essential to identify wide ranging internal and external factors that may create conflicts. The selection of correct and appropriate mechanisms is considered to be a complicated and difficult job and it should be noted that IT governance mechanisms vary from one company to another. This indicates that different organizations need different mechanisms, which fit in accordance to their need. (Lutchen, 2004). In order to place the structure of IT governance, it is important that the mechanisms, structures and the processes are compatible and deep in relationship. Lutchen (2004) suggests that "Clear and unambiguous definitions of the roles and responsibilities of the involved parties are crucial and prerequisites for an effective IT governance framework. It is the role of the board and executive management to communicate these roles and responsibilities and to make sure that they are clearly understood throughout the whole organization". The roles and responsibilities are important from both business and IT perspective and play an important role in governance of IT.

Effective IT governance calls for proper functioning of IT and its proper management. At the same time, IT decision making party must be present in the business organization. From research, it is evident that "several models were developed and implemented, such as centralized, decentralized and federal IT organizations. A dominant model in many contemporary enterprises is the federal structure that is often a hybrid design of centralized infrastructure control and decentralized application control" (Van Grembergen, 2002). Research suggests that this model concentrates on achieving efficiency and standardization in order to ensure that the structure is effective and flexible for developing the applications. It is important the IT governance becomes the part of the governance of the organization and from this perspective, the main issue is that the board of directors have the responsibility to govern and run the company. Research suggests that "Boards may carry out their governance duties through committees and by considering the criticality of IT through an IT strategy committee" (Van Grembergen, 2002). The IT strategy committee must comprise of both board and non-board members so that they can assist in IT governance and look after the issues related to IT in the organization. The aim of this committee is to ensure that "IT is a regular item on the board's agenda and that it is addressed in a structured manner" (Van Grembergen, 2004). Another important aspect in accordance to this subject is the integration of IT with business. Research suggests that "strategic alignment model (SAM) should be used to conceptualize and direct the area of strategic management of IT. The model is based on two building blocks: strategic fit and functional integration" (Barden, 1997). Strategic fit is that block which asserts that the IT strategy must be expressed in context to the external environment and the internal environment. Functional integration is had two aspects: Strategic and Operation. The strategic integration calls for the creation of connection between the business and IT strategy and it considers the external factors, which play an important role in influencing the business ( Korac-Kakabadse & Kakabadse, 2001). Operation integration is known to cover the internal factors and concentrates on creating a link between the infrastructure and processes of the organization and IT. Research suggests that "although the SAM model clearly recognizes the need for continual alignment, it does not provide a practical framework to implement this" (Dhillon, Tejay & Hong, 2007). In recent times, several models have been developed in order to practically align business and IT. These mechanisms include "business systems planning, critical success factors, the competitive forces model and the value chain of M.E. Porter, and business process reengineering" (Dhillon, Tejay & Hong, 2007). Another approach is the balance scorecard, which was introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. From this approach, it has been suggested that "the evaluation of a firm should not be restricted to a traditional evaluation but should be supplemented with measures concerning customer satisfaction, internal processes and the ability to innovate" (Shleifer & Vishny, 1997).

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