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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A goal-based requirements gathering approach to detect and understand business-IT misalignments Singh, Sase N.


The alignment of business strategies with Information Technology (IT) is optimal when harmony exists between organizational and system goals. Empirical evidence reveals that effective strategic alignment leads to superior financial performance for organizations. This observation has spurred extensive research into business-IT alignment, and the issue of alignment remains a top concern for CIOs. In this thesis, we argue that the parochial view taken by past research into business-IT alignment is a probable cause for continuing system failures. Subscribing to a multi-disciplinary perspective, we present a method for detecting misalignments between business strategies and IT. Our investigation divides into three essays. In Essay 1, we develop a goal-based framework that incorporates goal concepts from multiple disciplines to investigate business-IT alignment. When applied to a case study, the framework revealed several insights to assist systems analysts in understanding the links between goals at the operational level and goals at the strategic level of an organization. One of the novelties of the framework is the explicit distinction between goals assigned to users versus goals interpreted by users. In Essay 2, we explore whether there exist salient factors that influence users when they describe goals to systems analysts. In a laboratory study, we found that motivation and experience of users and the complexity of describing tasks do influence the extent to which users describe their assigned goals to systems analysts. In this research, we also discovered that the complexity of describing goals is highest at the middle management level as opposed to the executive level. In Essay 3, we propose a systematic mapping methodology to complement the framework proposed in Essay 1. The methodology when applied to a case study highlights several insights for the effective alignment of operational level goals with strategic level goals. One of the contributions of the methodology is its capability to explain, in the context of business-IT alignment why some operational level goals do not show direct contributions to strategic level goals. Collectively, the findings of the three essays enrich our understanding of the use of goal concepts to detect business-IT misalignments.

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