Oscar Avila, Virginie Goepp and François Kiefer
INSA de Strasbourg, 24, Boulevard de la Victoire, 67084 – Strasbourg Cedex, France
Keywords: Manufacturing information system, information system alignment; alignment framework.
Abstract: Today companies need flexible and adaptable Information Systems (IS) to support their business strategies
and organisational processes, as well as to facilitate their adaptation to changes in environment. In
particular, in the manufacturing sector companies need flexible IS to make the integration of infrastructures
easier, to support production management and to be able to respond to the evolution of support
technologies. To deal with these specific requirements the alignment between the manufacturing IS with the
organisation's strategy and its outside environment is necessary. However, most of the research in the IS
alignment field is related to the alignment of IS with the organisation's strategy, neglecting the alignment
with the external environment. Thus, in order to support complete alignment of manufacturing IS we
propose in this paper an extension to the Strategic Alignment Model (SAM) of Henderson and Venkatraman
(1999). The extended SAM allows the definition of possible alignment perspectives that accentuate
elements to be aligned and the alignment sequence. This set of perspectives and the extended SAM are a
first step towards tackling the alignments with the strategy and with the environment.
Today companies need flexible and adaptable
Information Systems (IS) to support their business
strategies and organisational processes, as well as to
facilitate their adaptation to changes in environment.
Corresponding dynamic adaptations of the IS are
studied in the field of IS alignment. Contributions to
IS alignment focus mainly on the so-called -internal-
strategic alignment. Particularly, the Strategic
Alignment Model (SAM) (Henderson and
Venkatraman, 1999) is interesting because it
provides guidelines structuring the domains to be
aligned as well as possible alignment processes by
proposing alignment sequences in the form of four
alignment perspectives.
However, the importance of achieving coherence
between the organisation’s strategy and its
environment has also been acknowledged
(Andrews, 1987). Therefore, in (Camponovo et al.,
2004) it is suggested studing the IS alignment not
only from the strategic alignment point of view, also
by considering two additional levels that enable a
global and complete alignment of the IS. First,
alignment with the environment takes into
consideration the external environment and assumes
that the information system has to integrate features
for assessing this environment. Finally, alignment
with uncertain evolutions over time emphasizes the
necessity to design information systems able to
evolve according to future changes.
In particular, in the manufacturing IS sector these
two additional levels of alignment are crucial and
have to be operationalised. Therefore, it is proposed,
in this paper to extend the Strategic Alignment
Model (SAM) of Henderson and Venkatraman by
adding the manufacturing domain. Section 2 gives a
brief overview of the SAM with its underlying
concepts. Section 3 presents the extended SAM,
derived from the original SAM model by analogy of
concepts. Section 4 discusses the possible alignment
modes between the extended SAM domains. Section
5 concludes with work perspectives.
Avila O., Goepp V. and Kiefer F. (2008).
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - ISAS, pages 231-234
DOI: 10.5220/0001691102310234
2.1 SAM Concepts
The Strategic Alignment Model (Henderson and
Venkatraman, 1999) is structured in terms of three
classes of concepts:
Domains: Business and Information
Technologies (IT);
Perspectives or levels (that split domains):
external (strategy) and internal (structure) ,
Components (that characterize and compose
each level): scope, competencies and governance in
the external level; infrastructure, skills and processes
in the internal level.
IS strategic alignment is conceptualised in the SAM
in terms of two building blocks (Henderson and
Venkatraman, 1999):
Strategic fit (the interrelationships between
external and internal levels of a domain) and
Functional integration (integration between
“Business” and ”IT” domains).
This functional integration is detailed into: (1)
Strategic integration related to the external level;
and (2) Operational integration related to the
internal level.
2.2 Towards an Extended SAM
Managing manufacturing IS complete alignment, in
particular with the environment, requires to cope
with various stakeholders by assessing numerous
expectations, and integrating numerous uses while
managing the strong links existing between the
information technologies to be implemented and the
manufacturing infrastructure. Indeed, as shown in
(Goepp and Kiefer, 2006) the actors involved are
various from the workshop manager to the operators,
and the manufacturing IS has to play an integrating
role between the manufacturing infrastructures.
Therefore, it is proposed in this paper to extend the
SAM by adding the manufacturing domain, which
aims at integrating the dimensions linked to the
manufacturing infrastructure and actors (cf. figure
1). The structure of the manufacturing domain is
derived from the original SAM through analogy of
concepts. The next section details this work.
The definition of the manufacturing domain is based
on the work of (Hayes and Wheelwright, 1984; Hill,
1995) detailing the decision categories involved in
the definition of a specific manufacturing strategy. It
is proposed to map these categories into the
manufacturing components structuring the external
and internal levels. By analogy with the original
SAM components, some categories of decisions can
be easily mapped in the external or internal level.
For example, human resources and organisation
decisions address issues such as: incentives and
compensation, investment in human capital These
match therefore with the internal component termed
manufacturing skills.
Nevertheless, mapping some other categories can
be quite complex because they involve aspects
belonging both to the external level and the internal
level. In this case, we choose to match these
categories to the external level in order not to miss a
potential impact on the other domains.
Figure 1: Extended SAM with manufacturing domain.
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Thus, for example, manufacturing technology
decisions concern choices on specific manufacturing
technologies, such as recent innovations in
computer-aided design (CAD), that could impact
new products and services (business scope) and
strengthen business distinctive competencies. Thus
such decisions may support or shape the business
strategy, this is why they may be placed at the
external level, specifically, in the manufacturing
scope component. However, manufacturing
technology decisions also concern the configuration
of equipment into lines, cells, etc. that collectively
define the technical infrastructure. In this way, a part
of these decisions may be also placed at the internal
level, specifically, in the manufacturing
infrastructure component. Based on the previous
analysis, the categories of decisions are mapped as
follows (table 1):
Table 1: Categories of manufacturing decisions mapped
on manufacturing domain component.
Manufacturing External level
Scope *Manufacturing technologies
*Product scope/introduction
Competencies *Manufacturing capacity
Governance *Vertical integration
Manufacturing Internal Level
Infrastructure *Equipment configuration
Processes *Manufacturing planning/processes
Skills *Human resources/organisation
Adding the manufacturing domain to the original
SAM is a first step to reach our target. To efficiently
support manufacturing IS alignment, it should be
completed, with alignment perspectives. These set
the paths between the different sub-domains in order
to align them. However, to be exploited and
extended to our work, the underlying mechanisms
and conceptual elements are worked out and
discussed for the manufacturing domain in the next
4.1 Alignment Principles
For building SAM alignment perspectives the two
following hypothesis are made:
Alignment perspectives involve both strategic
fit and functional integration.
Strategic alignment can only occur when three
of the four domains or set of choices are in
alignment. Indeed, change cannot happen just in one
domain without impacting on at least two of the
remaining three components in some way.
Thus, an alignment perspective can be derived by
drawing a line through three of the four domains.
This line includes first a strategic fit and later a
functional integration or vice versa. To identify the
alignment direction, the three involved domains can
be classified through as anchor domain, pivot
domain and impacted domain (Luftman et al., 1993)
(cf. figure 2).
Anchor domain
Pivot domain
Impacted domain
Functional Integration
Figure 2: Types of domains.
4.2 Alignment Mechanisms
Keeping the previous elements in mind, the four
alignment perspectives (Strategy execution,
Technology transformation, Competitive potential,
Service level) detailed in by (Henderson and
Venkatraman 1999) have been analysed. As a result
the following underlying alignment mechanism are
worked out:
Alignment mechanism A: The alignment
perspectives imply always two relationships
between the four domains: a strategic fit and a
functional integration.
Alignment mechanism B: the anchor domain
takes always place at the external level because it
is the interaction with the external environment,
it is the domain that drives change.
Alignment mechanism C: the impacted domain
always takes place at the internal level because
short term changes take place in the
4.3 Possible Alignment Perspectives
Applying the alignment principles and mechanisms
ten alignment perspectives (cf. Figure 3) are defined
for the extended SAM. These perspectives are set up
into three categories depending on the anchor
domain: (1) Business as the driver (perspectives 1 to
3); (2) IT as the driver (perspectives 4 to 7); (3)
Manufacturing as the driver (perspectives 8 to 10).
Figure 3: Alignments perspectives for the extended SAM.
In order to support the complete alignment of
manufacturing IS an extension of the Strategic
Alignment Model (SAM) has first been proposed.
The structure of the manufacturing domain was
derived from the original model by analogy of
concepts. The conceptual elements that structure
“original” alignment perspectives were pinpointed in
the form of alignment mechanisms. As a result, ten
potential perspectives impacting the IS infrastructure
have been identified. Among the perspectives
impacting the IS infrastructure these with the
business strategy as driver of change are, probably,
the most common. They explore the different paths
enabling to implement a given business strategy
through related manufacturing capabilities either
directly (perspectives 1 and 2) or indirectly
(perspective 3). The perspectives driven by the
manufacturing strategy underline the fact that the
manufacturing domain could impact and shape the
business domain. However, business and
manufacturing driven perspectives consider the IT
domain as a support. This is among other linked to
the fact that manufacturing technologies evolve
slower than IT. As a consequence the design of
manufacturing IS is usually conditioned by the
evolution of manufacturing technologies and has to
be adapted consistently. The perspectives driven by
the IT explore how IT strategy might drive change
asking therefore for new IS functionalities. They
underline the fact that IT capabilities play a central
role in order to improve organisation performance
and increase value. For example, perspective 4
involves the five domains related by perspectives 1
and 2 in combination. The main difference is that in
perspective 4 the IT strategy is the initiator of
change, shaping thus the business strategy and later
manufacturing strategy with its corresponding
infrastructure. The set of proposed perspectives and
the extended SAM are a first step towards tackling
alignments with the strategy and with the
environment. Indeed, the proposed elements
emphasize what should be aligned and in which
sequence. However, the question how to choose the
best perspective remains open. Moreover, the
alignment with uncertain evolutions can not only be
tackled with the extended SAM and its related
alignment perspectives. This kind of alignment
requires a “dynamic” view on alignment by, for
example, integrating the temporal perspective. By
doing this the problem becomes more complex
because it implies to work out “dynamic” alignment
perspectives. These deal with the interactions
between several extended SAMs from time horizons.
To do this the multi-screen tool exploited in (Goepp
et al., 2006) to perform a coarse IS alignment, could
be developed and completed.
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ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems