3. Align

Tool #18. List of future acts or events

By Roland van Dijk

Introduction

This e-paper regards tool, or way, 18 from the paper "Dynamic and emerging Information Systems Strategy formulation and implementation” by Salmela & Spil called “List of future acts or events”. The tool is one of the outcomes of the second planning task “Alignment of business objectives and information objectives” from the Four Cycle by Salmela & Spil [SALM02]. Salmela & Spil define this tool as follows:

Indicates for the coming three years how markets and clients can change, what opportunities for data retrieval there will be, which technical progression is suspected, which organizational changes are planned and possible, which new methods are in theory available. What is the budget prognosis for the coming years and which new activities can we develop and which activity we should drop. [SALM02]

Placement
The second cycle has the main goal to create a basis for new ideas to evolve. This is done by encouraging creative and innovative thinking with sufficient integration of existing IS plans and business goals. [SALM02] Since IS application areas are constantly evolving, analyzing them requires a degree of creative thinking and a dynamic use of all tools available at the disposal of the IS manager. [WARP05]

Tool 18 builds on the results from previous executed tools and research and produces a list stating future events or acts involving the business. Such a list can then be further analyzed and classified to make decisions to proceed. The goal of tool 18 is therefore to summarize and analyze upcoming changes and possible acts, but without making any decision regarding them. [SALM02]


How to use?
A list of future events involves looking in the near future which implies research to conduct and a lot of information and ideas to obtain. The possibilities here are endless. A lot of information should already be available from previous executed tools and therefore documented and ready to be listed where other information still needs to be obtained. Some information can be researched (analyzable), but others (ideas or perceptions) only yet exist in the brains of the workforce or clients and need to be extracted using brainstorm sessions, mind-mappings, surveys and interviews.

The following table lists all elements a list of future events or acts should contain and how to obtain the corresponding data and supplies the reader with hyperlinks to external websites or e-papers for additional reading. Also, you can use the MS Word template located here (Appendix A) as a start to list the outcomes.



Category

Results

How to gather

Market changes

Upcoming events affecting the market like new products, competitors, market satisfaction, politics, e.g.

Market mapping
Basic market research methods
Macro (PEST), meso and micro analysis. Read more here.

Client changes

How will the demands and or needs change? How will their spending look like?

Surveys, focus groups, interviews with clients, evaluating previous research results, requirements and documentation

Opportunities for data retrieval

What can be done to gain efficiency in our information flow? How can we use any of our strengths to create opportunities for data retrieval? What is done in the past to achieve this?

Results from SWOT analysis and existing IS plans/results

Technical progression

List recent developments and developments we expect in the next three years by ourselves, vendors or other sources.

New technologies supplied by vendors or inside R/D.
New technologies from literature and/or external researches. See also: technology management and TRIZ


Planned organizational changes

List all upcoming organizations changes for the coming 3 years.

Existing IS plans

Possible organizational changes

Given the current organization, what can possibly be changed? Results should be new and out-of-the-box.

Brainstorms, mind-mapping, results from SWOT/CSF analysis.

Budget prognosis

How much should we spend on reorganization?

Annual financial report, existing IS plans/results

New activities which can be developed

Results could be anything; opportunities, technologies, products, services, e.g.

Brainstorm, results from previous analysis and sessions.

Which activities to drop

Reviewing previous analysis should give a list of irrelevant or not sustainable activities which should be dropped.

Brainstorm, results from previous analysis and sessions.


Timeline
After completing the table and thus obtaining a list of future acts or events, the collected data should be put in a perspective. Therefore every collected future act or event should be put on a timeline indicating when the act or event is expected or when the act or event occurred in the past. You can use this (Appendix B) Visio template as a start for your timeline.


Appendix A

A MS Word template to use as a start for your list of future acts or events.




Appendix B
The timeline Visio template.



References

[SALM02] Salmela, H & Spil, T A M(2002) " Dynamic and emerging Information Systems Strategy formulation and implementation ", International journal of Information Management , 22, 6, pp 441-460

[WARP05] Ward, J., Peppard, J., Strategic Planning for Information Systems, Third Edition, Wiley, 2005