Original Research

A structured approach to strategic alignment between business and information technology objectives

Mari Patterson
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 51, No 1 | a365 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v51i1.365 | © 2020 Mari Patterson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 July 2018 | Published: 15 June 2020

About the author(s)

Mari Patterson, School of Accountancy, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


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Abstract

Purpose: Information Technology (IT) is developing at an accelerated rate, making it virtually impossible to separate business and IT strategies. Consequently, the IT strategy of an entity must be integrated with its overall business strategy in order for IT to add value to an entity. It is important that both senior management and IT specialists be involved in the design, implementation, running and revision of IT solutions in order for IT to assist in meeting the strategic objectives of the entity. Miscommunication between senior management and IT specialists is however a major contributing factor to IT projects failing to deliver the desired value. This concept is known as the ‘IT gap’. The IT gap arises because there is a divergence in objectives between these two parties. The differences in objectives arises from the nature of their respective work and the tools they use. Management employs business model design tools (such as the Business Model Canvas), while IT management uses governance frameworks (such as the Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies [COBIT]). In order for value to be generated, there needs to be alignment between these models and more importantly their objectives. The purpose of this study is to develop a comprehensive list of key driving forces of an entity, known as business imperatives, that can be used by senior management and IT specialists in an entity to ensure that the technology architecture of an entity is designed with the objective of supporting these business imperatives, thereby achieving alignment between the IT and business objectives of an entity.

Design/methodology/approach: In this conceptual study the Business Model Canvas was studied and its elements, representing generic business objectives, were converted into business imperatives that could be seen as essential to obtain a competitive advantage in various industries and environments. These business imperatives were mapped to the fifth edition of COBIT (COBIT 5) processes to identify those business imperatives that will be achieved by the IT department when implementing COBIT 5 and can therefore be seen as objectives for the IT department.

Findings/results: A comprehensive list of business imperatives was compiled. These business imperatives can be used to determine the design of the IT architecture of an entity, with the ultimate purpose of supporting the business objectives of the entity.

Practical implications: By using the comprehensive list of business imperatives identified in this study senior management and IT specialists can work together to ensure that the technology architecture of an entity is designed with the objective of supporting the business imperatives in order to ultimately achieve alignment between the IT and business objectives of an entity.

Originality/value: While previous studies primarily focussed on adapting business models to incorporate rapidly evolving technology, this study focussed on the manner in which technology architecture can be designed in order to support the business objectives of an entity.


Keywords

corporate governance; IT governance; strategic alignment; business objectives; IT objectives; business-IT alignment; IT gap.

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