Critical Analysis of Business and IT (BIT) Alignment


This paper is a vital evaluation of two tutorial papers from peer-reviewed journals, every investigating the Enterprise and IT (BIT) alignment subject that has been a prime concern for IT practitioners for twenty years (Cahn, 2000). The papers have been chosen as they undertake contrasting analysis methods – qualitative and quantitative. The target of this evaluation is to spotlight the constructive/damaging factors in each papers by way of the analysis’s intention, aims, design, and technique and to suggest an alternate analysis technique for every paper.

The investigation concludes that each papers had constructive and damaging factors, no matter their philosophical positions and design methods. Selecting between qualitative and quantitative strategies or mixing them depends upon the research’s questions; each methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses. The principle subject for any analysis is the credibility of its findings, whatever the researcher’s philosophical place.

Introduction and Evaluation Construction

This paper is a vital evaluation of two tutorial papers from peer-reviewed journals, every investigating the Enterprise and IT (BIT) alignment subject that has been a prime concern for IT practitioners for twenty years. (Cahn, 2000) For a few years, plenty of researchers have emphasised the significance of BIT slot in organisations to attain aggressive benefit (Luftman et al., 2005). Reich & Benbasat (1996) outline alignment because the diploma of IT technique essential to help a enterprise’s mission, aims and plans.

Many research have been carried out to know and assess the connection between enterprise and IT in organisations, most of which have adopted a quantitative methodology to validate empirically the connection between IT funding and organisational efficiency and to supply credible proof of the constructive influence of aligning IT technique to enterprise technique. Subsequently, it was troublesome to discover a good qualitative analysis paper on this space (Cahn, 2000). The primary paper (paper 1), entitled ‘Understanding the business-IT relationship’ (Coughlan et al., 2005), follows a qualitative methodology and the second paper (paper 2), entitled ‘Components affecting IT and Enterprise alignment: a comparative research in SMEs and huge organisations’ (Gutierrez et al., 2009), follows a quantitative methodology.

It is very important observe that this work shouldn't be a comparability of the 2 papers; subsequently, the papers are analysed individually to attain a clearer image. This paper is organised within the following approach. Part three covers paper 1, highlighting its constructive/damaging factors by way of the analysis’s intention, aims, design, and technique. As well as, an alternate analysis technique is proposed. Part four covers paper 2 in the same approach. The conclusions and implications of adopting completely different analysis methods are mentioned in part 5.

Paper 1


This paper offers an perception into the Enterprise and IT (BIT) relationship (alignment) in organisations taking “a communication-based view on the idea of BIT alignment” (Coughlan et al., 2005:303). In different phrases, it offers contextual perception into the BIT relationship, with explicit reference to the organisational communication course of. The authors famous that organisations have to develop and maintain a robust BIT relationship to profit from the value-added improvement in at present’s demanding financial system. BIT alignment is a posh course of that entails creating many crossover hyperlinks between completely different components of the organisation and requires a robust BIT relationship. Nevertheless, this relationship has suffered a divide that stems from the failure to justify excessive IT expenditure in comparison with enterprise profit. In accordance with Coughlan et al. (2005), communication issues are the principle contributor to the BIT relationship divide; subsequently, a social-oriented method was proposed to know the movement of data in organisations. That is an interpretive analysis paper adopting a case research technique with which to gather and analyse qualitative information by way of semi-structured interviews, so as to obtain an in-depth understanding of the communication course of within the BIT relationship context. The dearth of the literature’s consideration to communication points within the BIT relationship context was the driving force for this inductive method (Saunders et al., 2007).

Analysis Function

The analysis intention is to supply perception into the Enterprise and IT (BIT) relationship in organisations by way of the next aims:

  • “Figuring out the areas and points that have an effect on communications in organisations” (Coughlan et al., 2005:307).
  • “Categorising communication points in organisations” (Coughlan et al., 2005:306).
  • “Mapping the connections between organisational points to the way in which through which they relate to IT” (Coughlan et al., 2005:306).
  • Investigating “how completely different sides of the communication course of work together in actual life” (Coughlan et al., 2005:307).

Rationale for conducting this research

The significance of the analysis subject was effectively justified by addressing the next factors:

  • Communication issues throughout the BIT relationship context are a significant concern for each researchers and practitioners (Coughlan et al., 2005).
  • Communication issues are a principal contributor to the BIT relationship divide (Coughlan et al., 2005).
  • Poor BIT communications are regular within the monetary sector; subsequently, the banking business has created a brand new organisational function – the Relationship Supervisor (RM) – to cope with relationship communication issues (Coughlan et al., 2005).
  • Regardless of the significance of communication throughout the BIT relationship and implications for the RM’s function, there was little consideration given within the literature (Coughlan et al., 2005).
  • Earlier social research (structuration concept and actor community concept) have supplied theoretical analyses of the complexity between an organisation and its IT infrastructure, subsequently a extra sensible method required to empower practitioners with options.

Analysis design

A four-dimensional communication framework (PICTURE), primarily based on Shannon & Weaver’s (1994) basic mannequin of communications, was used to information the research. PICTURE was initially devised to enhance IT system design: “The acronym PICTURE represents actual life communication elements and their software: (1) Participation and choice; (2) Interplay; (three) Communications actions; (four) Methods Used for Relationship Institution”. (Coughlan et al., 2005:306). The framework was used to information the identification of essential areas within the complicated communication course of. A clearly articulated conceptual framework is a vital instrument for guiding semi- structured interview themes, and offers a structured method to deciphering the findings (Smyth, 2004).

The research was carried out on a significant excessive road UK financial institution, known as ‘FinCo’ for causes of confidentiality. Moreover, the research was carried out at one cut-off date, specializing in two key areas of the organisation – retail banking and IT. The retail banking division was chosen particularly as a result of it's the largest buyer of the IT division, and analysis means that retail banking has deep organisational divisions (Coughlan et al., 2005).

FinCo is an informative case for the next causes:

  1. It has a speedy and intensive uptake of IT.
  2. IT is carefully built-in into the organisation to help its info administration processes.
  3. FinCo beginning a relation administration programme to facilitate BIT communications.
  4. FinCo has separated BID actions, making a divide.

Yin (2003 34-14) outlined a case research as “an empirical inquiry which investigates a phenomenon inside its dynamic actual life context to permit researchers to know complicated points, particularly when the boundaries between phenomenon and context usually are not clearly evident”.

A case research technique with underlying interpretive philosophical assumptions was an applicable alternative for this research, because the intention of this work is “to supply perception into the Enterprise and IT (BIT) relationship in organisations” (Coughlan et al., 2005:303), adopting a “behavioural and social-oriented view, with communication difficulties that includes as a significant determinant” (Coughlan et al., 2005:304).

The authors addressed the framework limitation by noting that the framework was used on this research to establish areas that have an effect on the communication course of – and never as a measurement instrument. Recognising and noting the analysis limitations is at all times good apply, because it offers future researchers a place to begin to proceed the research on this space.

Analysis Methodology and Information Assortment

In accordance with Coughlan et al. (2005), the communication course of is dynamic and complicated, involving people with completely different views. A qualitative information assortment technique was adopted to supply deep understanding of the method’s state, as regards to FinCo’s retail and IT relationship. This technique is suitable as a result of it focuses on uncovering contributors’ perceptions and experiences, that are troublesome to uncover with a quantitative technique (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2002).

Coughlan et al. (2005) used semi-structured interviews to gather information, which have been carried out with top-level managers from each retail banking and IT to seize their perceptions of each organisational areas. Every interview session lasted an hour primarily based on a set of ready questions and additional inquiries to broaden on the related query. The questions have been designed to probe for experiences, ideas and opinions referring to BIT relationship perceptions. There was no clarification as to why the semi-structured interview methodology was chosen over unstructured interview or focus group methodologies, that are higher suited as unstructured interviews are sometimes utilized in case research to uncover info with out limiting the sphere of inquiry (Punch, 2005).

Though Coughlan et al. (2005) famous that the interviews coated the spectrum of top-level managers, there was no point out of the sampling technique used to justify the chosen variety of interviews. My assumption is that the judgemental sampling technique was used, since it's a highly regarded alternative in qualitative analysis and entails the selection of contributors who're in the very best place to supply the required info (Saunders et al., 2007).

The authors didn't talk about reliability, which is a standard criticism of qualitative researches. Nevertheless, qualitative researches argue that reliability shouldn't be a problem in qualitative methodology as a result of analysis replication shouldn't be possible because of the complexity of the analysis subject and context. However, credibility might have been promoted by any of the next: audio recording of the interviews to scale back interviewer bias throughout information evaluation (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2002); offering the interviewees with a listing of interview themes to permit them to assemble supporting organisational paperwork that could possibly be used as secondary information (Triangulation); utilizing a respondent validation approach by submitting analysis findings to the interviewees to substantiate that the findings characterize the social actuality (Bryman & Bell, 2007).

Various Analysis Technique

The analysis downside ought to at all times drive the analysis technique (Cryer, 2006). As mentioned earlier, the intention of the research is to supply perception into the Enterprise and IT (BIT) relationship in organisations figuring out related areas and the problems (variables) that have an effect on communications in organisations. A pure quantitative technique shouldn't be an possibility for this research, as this may solely be used when the research’s variables are recognized clearly. In different phrases, researchers usually have a really clear thought on what's being measured earlier than they begin measuring it. However, a blended methodology can be utilized to enhance confidence in findings and to beat qualitative technique limitations. Blended technique research try to convey collectively strategies from contrasting analysis methods. The authors might have began with a qualitative analysis technique, e.g. in-depth interviews with BIT managers from completely different organisational ranges adopted by a thematic content material evaluation of the transcribed interview materials to assist perceive and establish communication points within the organisation. As soon as they establish the communication areas and points as regards to the BIT relationship on this organisation, they'll check the credibility of the findings by conducting a questionnaire survey of different BIT managers in different organisations. A web based questionnaire with close-ended questions is finest right here for ease of administration. Qualitative and quantitative strategies might be complementary when utilized in sequence (Bryman & Bell, 2007).


The analysis aims and questions weren't explicitly or clearly exhibited on this paper. In a effectively structured analysis paper, a analysis goal ought to be clearly outlined and expressed throughout the analysis function part, and it is vitally essential to obviously outline the analysis questions to assist type analysis aims (Saunders et al., 2007).

A complete literature assessment was carried out to justify the significance of the analysis subject. A case research technique with unstructured interviews would have been extra appropriate for an interpretive method, however the analysis technique part was very brief, which affected transferability; qualitative researchers are inspired to supply an in depth description of their methodology and findings to present others the choice of adapting these findings to their atmosphere. For instance, a transparent mapping between PICTURE elements and the semi-structured interview questions would add extra credibility to the research (Bryman & Bell, 2007).

Paper 2


The principle intention of this research is to “establish the organisational dimension influence on the way in which they understand Enterprise and IT strategic alignment and the connection between the alignment components and their planning integration technique” (Gutierrez et al., 2009).

Gutierrez et al. 2009 famous that IT alignment stays one of many prime points for top-level IT managers, and for the previous twenty years many research on Enterprise and IT alignment have been carried out, beginning with alignment definition, how one can obtain it, components affecting it, and its worth to organisations. Most of those research supplied a theoretical understanding of this course of, and some of them supplied sensible options to measure alignment; nonetheless, these fashions couldn't be generalised as they have been case-specific.

In accordance with Gutierrez et al. (2009), varied alignment components have been recognized, e.g. prior IS success, the communication degree between enterprise executives, domain-shared data and planning integration. Most of those research have been primarily based on giant organisations.

The analysis method is positivistic, searching for to establish and measure the significance of the enterprise and IT alignment components (variables) as regards to organisational dimension. It utilises an applicable quantitative methodology, i.e. conducting a survey of a pattern of top-level administration respondents to gather information by way of a web-based questionnaire (Saunders et al., 2007).

Analysis Function

A constructive side of the research is that the aims have been clearly depicted as under:

  1. “To establish whether or not small, medium and huge enterprises have completely different perceptions as to which of the components described by Luftman (2000) within the strategic alignment mannequin (SAM) are extra related to realize alignment” (Gutierrez et al., 2009:198).
  2. “To establish whether or not there are any correlations between the components and the planning integration technique adopted within the organisations” (Gutierrez et al., 2009:198).

Though the analysis aims have been clearly outlined on this paper, the analysis questions weren't explicitly or clearly exhibited. Clear analysis questions go away the reader in little doubt as to precisely what the research seeks to attain (Saunders et al., 2007).

Analysis design

Gutierrez et al. (2009) analysed many scholarly alignment evaluation fashions systematically, which have been categorised to establish sensible fashions that used information evaluation to attain components affecting alignment. The analyses helped to establish 4 units of authors – Reich & Benbasat 2000, Hussin et al. (2002), Chan et al. (2006) and Sledgianowski et al. (2006) – whose fashions are applicable for the context of the research (see Appendix1). The latter’s work was primarily based on Luftman’s Strategic Alignment Mannequin (SAM).

The authors demonstrated vital literature assessment was carried out to justify the selection of Luftman’s SAM and to incorporate organisational dimension and planning integration components, as they weren't explored in sufficient element. Justifying the above measures is a constructive side of the paper (Saunders et al., 2007, p.54).

Gutierrez et al. (2009) selected SAM as an evaluation mannequin for this analysis for the next causes:

  1. It may be used to evaluate any degree of alignment in an organisation.
  2. It has been validated by way of Sledgianowski et al. (2006)’s intensive research.
  3. It coated a lot of the alignment components used within the different three fashions (see Appendix A).

The research adopted a comparative cross-sectional design to gather quantitative information from numerous instances (managers) at a single level of time; the information have been associated to predefined variables (components and attributes) (Bryman & Bell, 2007).

Analysis Methodology and Information Assortment

An preliminary questionnaire with twenty-one questions was examined by twenty-two professionals to evaluate the contributors’ understanding of it. The suggestions resulted in altering the questionnaire to incorporate solely twelve related inquiries to map to SAM components: “communication, competency/worth measurement, governance, partnership, scope and abilities” (Gutierrez et al., 2009:203). As well as, the evaluation of the pilot check information confirmed the significance of planning integration and its three levels – unbiased, sequential and simultaneous. Pilot testing is essential to a self-administered questionnaire so as to guarantee there are not any issues with the questions. Moreover, it allows the researcher to evaluate the questions’ validity and the reliability of the collected information. A further brief questionnaire might have been used to acquire structured suggestions (Saunders et al., 2007).

Gutierrez et al. (2009) defined that conducting a web-based survey with a standardised set of questions was applicable for this research, as there isn't a room for particular person interpretation and it offers quick access to numerous contributors in numerous geographical places. This can be a constructive level by way of justifying the selection of the analysis technique, however there was no specific clarification as to the connection between this technique and the implicit positivistic analysis method. This can be a basic criticism of quantatative papers.

Whereas Gutierrez et al. (2009) mentioned the explanations for selecting executives, managers and prime managers as focused contributors, it was not clear as to whether or not they have been enterprise or IT managers. This distinction ought to have been made very clear, because the questionnaire was designed to measure each IT and enterprise individuals’s perceptions of the alignment components’ significance, e.g. within the communication issue part of the questionnaire, contributors have been requested to charge two attributes. The primary query rated the understanding of enterprise methods by the IT division (this ought to be answered by IT individuals to precisely characterize the fact), whereas the second query rated the understanding of IT capabilities by the enterprise division (this ought to be answered by enterprise individuals) (Gutierrez et al., 2009:205). This can be a two-way measurement and requires contributors from each side – that is a particularly damaging level that might have an effect on the findings’ reliability and validity and will have been averted by both describing the focused contributors in additional depth, i.e. justifying this alternative by way of their suitability to supply consultant solutions, or by redesigning the questionnaire in order that some questions could possibly be answered by completely different respondent classes.

Neither the constraints nor the sampling course of are mentioned. It is very important observe a sampling course of that features the next sequential actions: defining the inhabitants, selecting a sampling body, deciding on a sampling technique, figuring out pattern dimension, specifying an operational plan, and eventually executing the plan. Following this course of will assist in reaching a consultant pattern and consequently assist the researcher to be assured concerning the research’s findings. One other constructive consequence of this course of is the flexibility to calculate the response charge, which is a decisive consider evaluating the reliability of survey outcomes, i.e. findings are seen as extra correct if the response charge is excessive. The response charge was talked about very briefly: “organisations all over the world have been requested to take part within the survey by phone to attain a greater response charge” (Gutierrez et al., 2009:206). As well as, the information assortment part talked about whole variety of 161 responses have been collected and solely full questionnaires have been used for information evaluation.

The questionnaire design was applicable by way of together with the research’s recognized alignment components. It had two components, the primary of which contained questions with reference to the respondents’ organisational profiles and the extent of planning integration. The second half coated the components’ prioritisation. One other constructive side of the analysis design is that organisational dimension was outlined to attain consistency when referring to a small, medium or giant organisation.

Information Assortment

The info assortment part was very temporary; therefore it could be very troublesome to copy the research. Furthermore, the phrase “organisations all over the world” (Gutierrez et al., 2009:205) is a really weak description of the inhabitants. In accordance with Gutierrez et al. (2009), a complete variety of 161 responses have been collected and solely 104 full questionnaires have been used for the information evaluation. The info assortment part ought to be detailed to permit for replication, which offers some assurance of the outcomes’ validity, reliability and generalisability. As well as, Gutierrez et al. (2009) used the time period “survey” as an alternative of “questionnaire” on a couple of event all through the paper. It ought to have been famous that there's a clear distinction between a survey and questionnaire – the primary is a technique and the second is a instrument used for this technique (Saunders et al., 2007).

Various Analysis Technique

The analysis technique ought to at all times be pushed by the analysis intention. An interpretive qualitative technique shouldn't be relevant on this research, as the principle goal of this research is to measure the connection between well-defined variables. Qualitative strategies are used primarily to review human behaviour and behavior modifications, and are extra relevant if the analysis subject is new and there may be not a lot within the literature to information the researcher. As mentioned earlier, many research on Enterprise and IT alignment components have been carried out for the previous twenty years, through the technique of which the alignment components have been recognized.


This paper is effectively structured usually and the analysis aims clear. Nevertheless, the analysis questions didn't explicitly current the analysis technique. The analysis design had a number of damaging factors, e.g. a focused inhabitants and the dimensions weren't outlined clearly. Ideally, analysis papers ought to embrace a measure and measurement part to deal with the focused inhabitants, idea indicators and instrument reliability and validity. Nevertheless, not all researchers observe the really useful practices, e.g. some hardly ever present details about stability assessments and measurement validity and solely three% of analysis papers present measurement validity info (Bryman & Bell, 2007). The info assortment technique is suitable for reaching the analysis aims, as conducting a survey is a well-liked alternative amongst positivist strategies. However, a transparent justification for the selection of this information assortment technique within the gentle of the analysis design would add extra credibility to the paper. No consideration was given to error management, e.g. sampling-related and information assortment errors. The most effective a part of the paper is the summary part, which could be very structured and clear.

Extra structured interviews with Enterprise and IT executives in different comparable organisations, utilising the identical questions used within the questionnaire, would assist in overcoming the above gaps and make sure the research’s findings.


Two analysis papers that adopted contrasting analysis methodologies have been analysed critically. Each papers had constructive and damaging factors, no matter their philosophical positions and design methods. In any credible analysis paper, well-defined and clear aims are important, as they need to lead the analysis design and, consequently, the strategy. Therefore, defining the analysis downside is the primary and most essential step of the analysis course of, as it's extremely probably that an unsuitable analysis design and technique can be chosen if the analysis issues usually are not outlined clearly. Selecting between qualitative and quantitative strategies or mixing them depends upon the research’s questions; each methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, qualitative analysis offers complicated textual descriptions of individuals’s behaviour that may’t be supplied by a contrasting methodology, since quantitative analysis focuses ceaselessly on the research of meanings within the type of perspective scales.

The principle subject of any analysis is the credibility of its findings, whatever the researcher’s philosophical place. This may be achieved by utilising multi strategies (information assortment triangulation throughout the similar analysis technique) or blended strategies (qualitative adopted by quantitative and vice versa) (Saunders et al., 2007). Researchers are looking for efficient methods to include components of the contrasting methods to make sure the accuracy of their research. Because of this, blended, or mixed, methodology analysis is changing into more and more well-liked within the enterprise and administration discipline (Bryman & Bell, 2007).