It is almost always the case that there are insufficient resources for an organization to take advantage of all of its opportunities to use IS to obtain business benefits. Such resources can be in the form of personnel in an internal IS Department or cash to hire outside consultants or both. Because of this, it is important that organizations be sure they are using their resources on IS projects that have the greatest value to the organization. A time-tested way of doing this is to have a process for setting IS development priorities that are consistent with and aligned with organizational priorities. In the literature, this is typically called “strategic alignment”. There are three general approaches that organizations take to setting priorities for information systems projects. (Some practitioners say “there is no such thing as an IS project; there are only business projects”. Such a perspective emphasizes the importance of obtaining business benefits from an investment in IS). The three general approaches to setting priorities (also known as developing a strategic plan for the IS function) are:
- Have the IS department set priorities
- Have a cross-functional steering committee set priorities
- Conduct a systems planning project
Each of these approaches is discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs.