Establishing a Strategic Information System Planning has become more important in any organizations nowadays including educational institutions as it allows organizations to more effectively deploy information systems. . Its vision is to improve the management process, synthesized with a clear vision of foreseeable directions and trends of information systems. This will also direct to making better decision making in determining the IS needs of the organization and the same time aligning the technology initiatives with institutional priorities. Thus the IS strategic planning is to help the organization to gain competitive advantage and ensure that any efforts and investment are cost effective and will be benefited the whole organization.
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The role of Information systems (IS) in organizational practices has become important and indispensable. An IS within an organization should be established on the basis of clearly defined potential benefits (Galliers & Sutherland, 1991). In order to obtain these, an organization should have a strong and well-developed Strategic Information System Planning (SISP). SISP is defined as "the process of deciding the objectives for organizational computing and identifying potential computer applications which the organization should implement" (Lederer and Sethi, 1988). One of the objectives is to improve performance, which can be achieved by aligning information system strategy to the organization's strategy (King, 2009). Other objectives are to improve communication, to forecasts Information Technology (IT) resources and to develop the information architecture (Lederer & Sethi, 1996).
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For educational institutions that have heavily invested in IT for teaching and learning, research, and administration, SISP is a major concern. Suhaimee, Abu Bakar and Alias (2005) found that effective SISP is important in the implementation of knowledge management in Malaysian educational institutions. Though the importance of SISP clear, findings from several studies imply that a holistic IT strategic plan is needed in educational institutions. Yaakub, Mat Saat and Raja Mohd Ali (2005) found that only 15% of private Malaysian research institutions have applied SISP.
This section will be discussed on Strategic Planning that has been researched, reviewed, published by accredited scholars and researchers and what has been established and implemented in Malaysia and other part of the world besides a comparative study on what Information Strategic Planning has been implemented in other higher learning institution.
Strategy is the process by which organization and people in organizations achieve significant human purpose together in a resource constrained, competitive reality (Ference and Thurman, 2009).
Strategic Plan is defined as the specific of actions, steps and sequences that follow from the prior steps in the strategic process (Ference and Thurman, 2009). That is, a strategic plan is a roadmap to lead an organization from where it is now to where it would like to be in five or ten years. To develop a comprehensive plan for an organization which would include both long-range and strategic elements, the methods and mechanisms that include the plan must be simple, written, clear, based on the real current situation, have enough time allowed to give it a time to settle and should not be rushed as the plan will cause problems (Mc Namara C, 2003)
Strategic Planning is something meant not only for big businesses, but it is equally applicable to small businesses. Strategic planning focuses largely on managing interaction with environmental forces, which include competitors, government, suppliers, customers, various interest groups and other factors that affect your business and its prospects. (bizmove.com). Strategic Planning is the process by which we use results of our analysis to identify high probability approaches for transforming our aspirations into achievement (Ference T.P, Thurman P.W 2009).
Strategic Planning in Higher Learning Institution
While in higher education institutions had to confront with numerous changes in their external and internal environment, and respond to emerging challenges, such as decreasing financial support, rapid technological advances, changing demographics, and outdated academic programs (Rowley, D.J., Lujan, H.D., & Dolence, M.G.. 1997). As a result, many universities engaged in strategic planning as means to "make beneficial, strategic changes â€¦ to adapt to the rapidly shifting environment". Overall, strategic planning at universities has been only moderately successful, as only few were able to achieve significantly successful results and transformed themselves dramatically. Others have been able to make important changes in parts of their operations (Lerner A L., 1999). But many institutions have stumbled, dissolved into controversy, or lost their nerve" (Rowley, D.J., Lujan, H.D., & Dolence, M.G.. 1997)
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Although several authors have been endeavored to explain successes and failures of strategic planning in higher education, scholars differ in their opinions. As a result, there no consensus or clarity on major determinants of strategic planning's success in universities (Lerner A L., 1999)
The Needs for Strategic Planning for Higher Learning Institution
Organizations are pushed to communicate and uncover the deep problems rather than focusing on the insignificant surface problems. Strategic planning requires everyone within the organization to look toward and commit to common beneficial goals. Universities are driven to engage in a strategic planning process by variety of forces. These include: increasing demand for higher education concurrent with a decline in government funding, changing student demographics, and a need to compete with the emerging models of higher education while keeping the essence of a traditional comprehensive university. A strategic planning process can help prepare a university to face these emerging challenges (Lerner A L., 1999). Institutes of higher education are constantly facing change. Decreasing funding and rapid technological growth are two areas that higher education institutions have to face. Rowley, Lujan and Dolence (1997) feel that bit is beneficial for institutions of higher education use strategic planning to survive change. Glassman, Rossy & Winfield, (n.d.) stated that institutions of higher education that do not rethink their roles, responsibilities and structures can expect a very difficult time in the next decade. " Institutions will be compelled to become more introspective and analytical, to undertake to set priorities and develop strategies, overcome institutional inertia and make long overdue choices - for example, to identify areas of growing student interest and create new programs to replace those for which demand may have fallen off (Kotler P, Murphy P.E 1981, p.23)."
As to ensure success of the strategic planning effort, universities need to adjust the "business strategy model" to higher education (Lerner A L. 1999). As discussed below, university-based strategic planning differs from the business model in several specific ways. By recognizing these differences and changing the traditional model accordingly, universities can increase understanding of, and participation in the strategy process throughout its constituencies (Rowley, D. J., Lujan, H.D., & Dolence, M.G., 1997)
In the "business world" strategic planning model timeframe is 2 to 3 years; at universities, it usually takes 5 or more years.
The business model is generally top down, although it is still necessary to get the support and involvement of people in the company. Because of the importance of shared governance in university management, faculty's involvement is key, and building consensus right from the beginning becomes essential for university-based strategic planning. University can't be "directed" (i.e., command authority) in the same way as employees in a company, because "centralized power" at universities is not very strong.
Universities' guiding principle - long-term investment in educating people - is different from business' bottom line approach. Differences in the value system require a different approach to strategic planning at universities.
Universities do not have a clearly defined customer; students, employers and the community may all be considered "customers". As a result, defining goals and measuring effectiveness consistently with the university's mission is problematic.
Change is especially difficult to accept at the universities, because by nature universities are about preservation.
Limitations and Potential Problems in implementing Information Strategic Planning in Higher Learning Education
Universities may encounter a multitude of problems as they go forward with their strategic planning process. This section discusses several of these difficulties and offers ways to minimize or avoid them (Lerner A L., 1999)
Strategic planning is an involved, intricate and complex process that takes an organization into the uncharted territory. It does not provide a ready to use prescription for success; instead, it takes the organization through a journey and helps develop a framework and context within which the answers will emerge. Literature and research has documented extensively the possible problems that may arise during the process. Being aware of these issues and prepared to address them is essential to success: organization's strategic planning effort may fail if these potential pitfalls are ignored. To increase universities' awareness, this section reviews some of these limitations.
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One of the major challenges of strategic planning is ensuring commitment at the top, because in some ways, strategic planning reduces executive decision-making power. It encourages involvement throughout the organization, and "empowers" people to make decisions within the framework defined by the strategic planning process. As a result, this shifts some of the decision making from the executive office to the participants.
Commitment of the people throughout the university "grows out of a sense of ownership of the project" (Mintzberg, 1994, p. 172). Such commitment is essential to success. Strategic planning implies organization-wide participation, which can only be achieved if people believe that their involvement counts, and that they will benefit from the process.
Inflexibility of plans and planning
Strategic planning might inhibit changes, and discourage the organization from considering disruptive alternatives (Mintzberg, 1994, p.178). Planning might inhibit creativity, and "does not easily handle truly creatibe ideas" (Mintzberg, 1994, p.180). A conflict lies with desire to "retain the stability that planning brings to an organtion â€¦ while enabling it to respond quickly to external changes in the environment" (Mintzberg, 1994, p. 184).
Strategic planning, if misused, might become a tool for gaining control over decisions, strategies, present, future, actions, management, employees, markets and customers (Mintzberg, 1994, p. 201-202), rather than a comprehensive and integrated instrument for bringing the organization to its desired future.
Strategic planning may be used as a tool to "impress" "influential outsiders" or to comply with requirements for strategic planning imposed from outside, such as accreditation requirements.
Strategic planning dismisses intuition and favors readily available, interpretable "hard" data (Mintzberg, 1994, p. 191), and assumes that all goals are "reconcilable in a single statement of objectives" (Mintzberg, 1994, p. 193).
Strategic planning might increase "political activity among participants" (i.e. faculty and administration, or individual participants), by increasing conflict within the organization, reinforcing a notion of centralized hierarchy, and challenging formal channels of authority.
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Figure 1. Class Diagram for Caching Simulator using FIFO, LRU and LRU with related content
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