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  1. Exploring the Impact of Aligning Business and is Strategy Types on Performance in Small Firms
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  3. Exploring design-fits for the strategic alignment of information systems with business objectives.
  4. Aligning Information Technology, Organization, and Strategy : Ferdinand Mahr :

Not surprisingly, the required interaction among professionals from across organizational boundaries was difficult and produced its share of surprises. As a result, the tests had to be reconfigured MSG. Nevertheless, end-to-end testing was the most direct way to address the basic issue; namely, could technology-dependent critical missions be carried out after the change of century? As the century change approached, considerable confidence was gained through the activities of this coordinating entity and the shift of focus to end-to-end testing. Nevertheless, as the deadline approached, there always seemed to be more to do.

Overall end-to-end test efforts within three of the four functional areas were reported to be largely on schedule and expected to be completed by October ; however, at the time GAO briefed the Communications functional area on the results of GAO's review, it could not provide complete progress information; and while information was subsequently provided by Communications, it showed that the functional area had not yet developed plans to test 31 mission-critical systems.

GAO Testing and certification were two of a number of software life-cycle management activities that became increasingly centralized during Y2K. Coding, testing, distribution, and support functions were moved from the program offices into a so-called software factory, which included the Communications Environment Test Laboratory CETL.

A risk of centralized testing and certification is that it may not adequately account for the impact of diverse operating environments—a risk exacerbated by the fact that system components do not operate in isolation. To address this risk, CETL began testing in a laboratory network environment instead of testing the software solely for functionality. For this testing, software is run against other programs, across routers, and through firewalls. Some ICT managers see the increased focus on centralized testing and certification that came out of Y2K as positive, and they want to build on it.

While some ICT managers are attracted to the idea of certification of worthiness for systems and acceptable operating conditions, others are less sure about this trend toward higher-level, centralized certification. They worry that an expansion of the Y2K certification philosophy means that the level of authority making decisions will be higher than pre-Y2K, when the different levels within the configuration control boards addressed different problems. For example:. The only good part of negotiating with the MAJCOM for a certificate to operate is [that it is]… subject to a very high level of scrutiny, testing, and verification.

The problem is…bureaucracy and paperwork. FTP is required for remote administration, and that probably results in…having to get waivers to a certificate to operate. And the certificate of net worthiness, certificate to operate, and so on just exacerbates that problem further. So they…got their own network…separate from the base. To send e-mail from them to us, we go outside the base…and come right back on, even though it is just across the street. From my perspective, the big problem comes when either operational need or some external force drives you—maybe the aircraft industry or FAA wants things done differently.

Does a change require all sites to agree? Like many other issues raised by Y2K, the topic of certification and testing likewise calls for ongoing organizational mechanisms that support cross-boundary communication and coordination. Certification and testing issues are also tied to issues of acceptable ICT risk and appropriate response, which are discussed in Chapter 5. Software fixes and system certification would mean little if the approved software and configurations were not actually implemented. Under this increased scrutiny, numerous difficulties were revealed in the mechanisms for tracking and controlling software versions and system configurations.

While these difficulties were particularly visible during Y2K, they are an issue for ongoing ICT management. So we need to do a lot more work in terms of assuring that configuration is managed right down to the end site. Some of the resources allowed us to get better and build capacity.

As with certification and testing, the increased focus during Y2K on version control and configuration management contributed to an increased effort to centralize these activities. One approach was to work toward a single, electronically based distribution mechanism: for instance, access to the latest software versions from a web page passive or electronically distributed active.

So if you want the latest version, you go to the [web] page. We are responsible for version control. We used to send out a live person to do this; now we are trying to push it all out electronically. The effort to centrally track and electronically manage software and system configuration is complicated by an extremely diverse and hectic environment of system change. Some of the factors that contributed to this diverse change environment included the many types of changes that were occurring for example, Y2K fixes, security patches, new software releases, user-requested changes , the high rate of change, the variety of ways in which these changes occurred, the variety of units involved, and the variety of roles these units played.

Both local and central units saw difficulties in this diversity. Y2K is a symptom of configuration management. There are too many hands in the pot. Updates happen different ways: at log on, posted at a website, some are done by a team of guys who go out to each base. Nobody and everybody owns it. Change management at the local level could border on the chaotic. Central units could be equally frustrated, which often led to tensions between central guidance and local execution. Since change management is an ongoing issue, the situation was further complicated by related problems that extended beyond Y2K.

In another case, the Cargo Movement Operation System CMOS was a problem for SSG because multiple versions were not being completely installed and the program office was releasing patches off their own web page, which was not known to the version control staff. As we have seen in many other areas, often the tensions between central guidance and local implementation can be traced to differences in perspective that need to be continuously balanced.

From a central perspective, the key issue during Y2K was assuring that local installations were using the approved, Y2K-compliant release or configuration. However, local users were far more focused on completing their many functional and strategic projects, not on whether they had the approved version or configuration. End users wanted change to be as quick and smooth as possible.

They wanted to continue to use their software and systems in the manner to which they had become accustomed. In short, ICT was there to facilitate their tasks, not to replace them as the central focus. An approach to managing change control that potentially benefits both local and central units is to reduce the hectic and unpredictable pace of change.

One way to accomplish this is to hold changes for a set release date, that is, to block release. During Y2K there was the additional pressure of assuring that the great pace of change did not inadvertently undo already completed Y2K fixes or introduce new Y2K-related problems. Therefore, central Y2K managers went a step beyond block release and instituted a freeze during the latter half of and into This meant that once systems were declared Y2K compliant, additional changes before the century rollover required considerable justification and additional layers of approval.

This increased level of oversight considerably slowed the pace of change. The high level of review that accompanied the freeze frustrated many software managers.

We probably would have made 2 new version releases by now. These managers viewed the high degree of change as being responsive to user and system needs. Some predicted that putting off these changes would result in future difficulties. The impact of a slowdown in software releases is a backlog of changes. So that creates greater integration issues. That impacts life-cycle management. In terms of the configuration and certification freeze that was in effect from November through March 15, that bothered all the program offices—that put them off schedule. We were worried that on March 16 all of these programs were going to be dumped on the field and we were going to have a huge support tail.

Perhaps slowing the pace of change means that new versions and patches are more thoroughly tested. Or perhaps all this change is not so clearly beneficial to users. Perhaps the drive to stay current with technology through constant change is driven more by the ICT industry and central ICT managers than by obvious benefits to local operations and users. Change management activities also have a clear impact on such issues as security, critical infrastructure protection, and information assurance which are discussed in further detail in Chapter 4.

It is difficult to manage, protect, or fix a system when its components and configuration are not clear. At the outset of Y2K, as organizations decided they were facing a widespread, generic threat, their first impulse was to inventory what was in place, who was responsible for it, and whether there was a problem that needed to be addressed. Seemingly basic information, such as the state of the installed equipment base and how it is used, was not readily available nor being constantly maintained.

Unfortunately, in a large, complex, and diverse organization, it is extremely costly and time-consuming to meet comprehensive ICT informational needs—so much so that these activities are often limited to local databases for local purposes. Maintaining the big picture is an extremely difficult task complicated by rapid change for example, constant upgrades from the highly dynamic ICT industry, often exacerbated by an organizational focus on staying abreast of the latest technology and distributed ownership.

The big hang up is that data go out of date very quickly. The data are already starting to get out of date. AMC HQ. Y2K provided the incentive to tackle a huge ICT information inventory, and considerable ICT information with potential long-term value was generated. From many different perspectives, the huge Y2K informational effort was seen as capturing critical information that met several ongoing ICT management needs. Many people thought this effort should be maintained beyond Y2K. The pressures of the Y2K threat, however, coupled with ongoing operational demands, left little time or energy for leveraging this effort into an ongoing means of addressing comprehensive ICT informational needs.

In addition to basic time pressures, the Y2K informational effort remained focused on short-term benefits because of numerous other difficulties and barriers that further complicated such a large job. One issue was clearly establishing the usefulness of the collected information and incorporating that usefulness into ongoing activities.

Thus, to ensure that the data are maintained accurately, the organization must provide an incentive to the owners of the data. Other complications were related to the lack of organizational homes, operational structures, and ongoing funding in support of a comprehensive ICT information effort. Over time, without a structure in place, much of the information becomes out of date or is lost AMC HQ. Some people see critical infrastructure protection and information assurance activities as the natural homes for these informational efforts see further discussion in Chapter 4.

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As with many ICT issues, however, no single, natural home covers all aspects of the situation, and funding cross-functional resources remains an issue. I have tried to look for a home for AFED. Do you guys want it? AFCA Somebody needs it. I just used it yesterday. If you want to get to the mission tasks and war fighter needs, the AFED starts to map that out. Yes, we probably need to get that. I agree… this needs to be an operational concern as opposed to a COM community concern.

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Despite the generally perceived value of ICT information, without clear organizational homes, accepted information structures, and dedicated resources, it was difficult to maintain a coherent, comprehensive data-gathering effort following Y2K. Another important challenge to Y2K, or any large informational effort, is maintaining consistency in data-reporting practices. One of the Y2K problems was inconsistent terminology across the numerous units and users.

Technology issues also affected the consistency of data-gathering practices. During Y2K, bases lacked the software other organizations used to gather data; the AFASI interface was difficult to use, which resulted in inaccurate data; the functional managers experienced problems in accessing the database; and the capacity problems in Excel were not anticipated AFCA.

Equally critical were issues of organizational politics and information control that led to inconsistencies in the execution of data-gathering plans. For instance, people from different communities developed a plan for reporting Y2K information to the Fusion Center. They used large group process techniques to create an acceptable reporting structure and vetted the plan across various other groups and organizations—some liked it and some did not. Report to us. The information received from these sources was much different from the information received from stateside sources.

The barriers to effective data gathering were not limited to the Y2K effort; they continue to complicate ICT informational activities to the present. Despite these challenges including additional information security issues discussed in Chapter 4 , this huge and complex effort is necessary to support effective high-level ICT management.

The Y2K exercise gave the Air Force a much-improved grasp of the systems it has, the purpose and functions of those systems, and the systems and organizations with which they interface. The next step is to develop processes and procedures that maintain that data and use them constructively AMC HQ. To do this, organizations need to give information issues a proper home see Section 3.

Over time, organizations need to make information gathering and maintenance part of their ongoing communication culture. Beyond technology that is well designed and appropriately used; beyond data that are current, relevant, and readily manipulated; even beyond information that is alive and useful, there is communication among people and the culture within which that communication occurs. Information is not neutral. Existing relationships with an information source, for example, can mean more than the specific message content.

Similarly, existing informal patterns of interaction can mean more than formal plans of operation. Because of its pervasive effect on how people perceive and practice communication, organizational culture impacts all aspects of ICT management, from specific tactics to overall strategies. Y2K was neither the first nor the last ICT project in which cultural issues played a central role. This is generally the case for any major, cross-organizational change in ICT such as occurs during mergers or strategic realignments.

The Air Force, too, has a long history of functional autonomy, and Y2K similarly brought out the need to break down cultural barriers, to balance differences, and to work together while maintaining the benefits of that autonomy. There has been a tug of war between the network view and the systems view. Y2K taught us that both are good. Some cultural traits are generally pervasive throughout an entire organization.

Most cultural issues, however, involve differences among organizational subcultures, for instance, those that are information or commission driven AMC versus those that are not ACC ; those focused on system capabilities and performance acquisitions versus those focused on compliance and version change issues computing operations. These subculture differences were especially visible during Y2K. Perhaps the most visible cultural differences during Y2K were those between acquisitions and computing. Even at the top level of management, the Air Force Y2K effort was split between these two perspectives.

On the one hand, the acquisitions culture fostered a more hierarchical approach to Y2K. Those with an acquisitions orientation focused on centrally administered correction and testing of large systems acquired and maintained through contractual agreements. As discussed in Section 3.

The key to this was an increased emphasis on contractually based ICT management. On the other hand,. The emphasis was more on networking and managing nodes of activity focused on local, ongoing operational and maintenance issues. During Y2K, SC provided leadership and support to the various Y2K working groups that tackled the frontline efforts at bases and facilities across the service. Different perspectives, combined with the complexities of ICT systems, led to some confusion during Y2K over ownership of systems, responsibility for assuring compliance, and guidance on how to achieve it.

However, it is neither surprising nor disturbing to discover that SSG primarily saw Y2K as an Air Force—wide acquisitions and fielding problem, while SC units primarily saw Y2K as a functional, operational support and maintenance problem. Each of these activities is highly complex and equally critical, yet each is fundamentally different.

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Even when acquisition decisions do consider maintenance, it is only one of a large set of other equally compelling issues for example, cost, platform, function, training, scheduling, past performance, existing agreements, future acquisition plans. This is very different from the ongoing activity of maintaining systems under local conditions and needs with dynamic operational demands.

In the current operational and organizational environment, acquisitions and computing could not be accomplished without the distinct cultural mechanisms that each activity has developed to support their differing relationships and practices. Nevertheless, acquisitions and operational support and maintenance are interrelated ICT management activities. Central acquisitions decisions impact the operational support effort, and the operational support situation impacts acquisition decisions.

These activities need to be integrated, and for this to occur, bridges must be built between the two cultures that support them. It is critical that there be formal organizational mechanisms for supporting communication across these cultures, as well as regular occasions for that communication to occur.

For more discussion on this, see Section 3. Other cultural differences also surfaced during Y2K. Users have their own culture, too, which is different from that of either system developers or computing support personnel. An analysis of user needs and environments is a complex activity, generally associated with the design phases of software and other information products. Although a detailed analysis of Air Force system users is not within the scope of this report, it is important to note that user backgrounds, purposes, perspectives, and environments differ from those who acquire, develop, or support the systems.

Unique relationships and practices lead to a distinct user culture, and this can contribute to tensions that make it difficult to work with other interrelated activities, such as acquisitions and support. For instance, what works for system developers in the development stages does not necessarily work for users in day-to-day operations. The real test is day-to-day operations. While users can see developers and high-level managers as out of touch with the realities of frontline system operations, developers and system maintainers can see users as untrained and.

Some Air Force managers even see conflicts between the culture of technology users and that of government itself as contributing to the tensions they experienced with users. It is vital to understand and link user culture to the other cultures that impact ICT management activity. During Y2K, for example, users were in a far better position to recognize certain data corruption issues than were developers and others working on the central Y2K effort.

Only thoughtful and alert users could catch these kinds of data corruption issues early. As with the acquisitions and computing cultures, the user culture is complex, functionally beneficial, and an inevitable part of ICT use. High-level ICT management needs to balance tensions stemming from cultural differences and to provide bridges across these various interrelated cultures so that users become part of the conversation and part of the solution.

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Like cultural differences, geographical differences in both physical and organizational location also impact ICT management. During Y2K these differences were particularly visible between stateside and overseas bases. Your main power source may not be there no matter how prepared your systems are. Another geographical factor that impacted ICT management was physical proximity to major organizational units. This impact could be both positive and negative. On the one hand, Air Force units on a base that hosts a MAJCOM headquarters, for instance, increase their likelihood of informal interaction with that unit and, therefore, access to central guidance and related communications.

We were. Finally, cultural and geographical issues impact ICT management at the highest, most strategic levels. Those who went through Y2K, especially from a leadership perspective, were profoundly impacted by this experience. The potential is there for us to do some significant things. It changed with the way we dealt with Y2K. At the top level, ICT management is about the space between functional areas.

It is about fostering cross-cultural communication and balancing the dynamic tensions that arise across organizational boundaries. It is therefore critical to recognize and address the many organizational subcultures that sustain these various functional homes. Once Y2K was perceived to be a general, widespread threat to ICT infrastructure, many organizations found it necessary to establish temporary organizational entities to spearhead their Y2K response efforts.

This temporary office not only faced a large problem with a short deadline but also came into being at a time when a variety of Y2K activities and levels of management had already existed for several years. Thus, while the AFY2KO was well positioned to provide coherent leadership to culminating activities, such as the final CINC-level assessments of mission threads, there was little time, resources, or incentive for establishing itself as the single POC responsible for providing consistent Y2K guidance across the myriad of Air Force Y2K activities. These entities were created not so much because the problem was large and important, but because existing entities did not encompass the cross-functional, cross-hierarchy, cross-organizational, and cross-system issues involved.

During Y2K, temporary organizational entities were used to gain perspective on interdependencies across units and subsystems, as well as to foster. Were such temporary entities filling a need for integration and communication that existed only during the Y2K situation? Based on everything discussed previously in this chapter, the answer is no. Organizations already have permanent homes for functional parts of their ICT system of systems; they also need permanent homes for the space between those parts.

Complex systems such as ICT are more than the sum of their parts. Partial perspectives are often sufficient for day-to-day operational activities, but as has been shown in this chapter, high-level, strategic ICT management needs to integrate and balance the ongoing, dynamic tensions between the various parts and perspectives. This holistic perspective represents a different kind of knowing than knowledge of the parts. Both are essential to the understanding of a complex system. Such a perspective is a province of another mode of knowledge, and cannot be achieved in the same way that individual parts are explored.

Many ICT managers who went through the Y2K experience came to recognize the necessity of permanent organizational entities focused on enterprise-wide, holistic aspects of ICT systems. They saw that the toughest problems occurred not so much within areas under their responsibility but, rather, within areas that cut across those responsibilities. There are a number of areas that are very soft and it would be wonderful if they got a greater emphasis. The programs have their problems, but largely those are being worked. Yet, as difficult as it had been to focus on enterprise-wide ICT management during a crisis situation, managers knew it would be even more difficult to maintain this focus under normal conditions, especially since funding and other mechanisms for institutionalizing change had not been put into place.

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ICT has become a less visible issue, resulting in a return to business as usual with normal namely, pre-Y2K funding. Therefore, mandates to solve information assurance and security problems will not be fulfilled MITRE. Because Y2K was not expected to have a long-term effect or enterprise-wide impact on the Air Force, professional financial managers were not brought into the. As Y2K ended with seemingly little long-term impact, ICT managers worried that the critical cross-boundary focus was rapidly being lost.

We may have management and policy, but strength from an enterprise standpoint is lost. Even a cursory look at the ongoing state of ICT management leads to the conclusion that organizations should not need a crisis to stimulate cross-enterprise ICT coordination and communication. There are staggering organizational losses every year that can largely be traced to incomplete and ineffective ICT management. Overall, ICT projects have an extremely poor completion and success record.

A great many of these projects will fail. Software development projects are in chaos, and we can no longer imitate the three monkeys—hear no failures, see no failures, speak no failures. The Standish Group research shows a staggering Further results indicate The cost of these failures and overruns are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The lost opportunity costs are not measurable, but could easily be in the trillions of dollars.

Standish Group Since these ongoing estimated losses are comparable to expenditures during Y2K, the need for a central home of ICT management appears not to be limited to times of crisis. However, it did recognize the importance and complexity of these evolving issues and that permanent homes were needed for managing them. These direct descendants of Y2K crisis management teams are more highly disciplined and closely managed than past IT teams. What does an entity devoted to this activity do?

Thus, many CIO offices centered their information and knowledge management activities on standardizing and keeping up with new information and communication technology. This focus was not only aligned with existing ICT units but also was economically beneficial to the many technology companies with products in this area. As Y2K demonstrated, enterprise-wide ICT management is not primarily about functionally organized technology. If the CIO owns anything, it is the space between these nodes of responsibility, the conversation and interactions that link the functional parts into a strategic whole.

Now they're doing teams across company lines. Team building was a critical issue during the Air Force Y2K response effort. These working groups took cross-functional interaction to a lower level than most workers had ever experienced. However, team building and coordination are difficult tasks, especially when teams operate out of the normal channels. Many saw these lower-level working groups to be impaired by a lack of leadership and traditional rank. Others gave a far more positive appraisal of the Y2K working groups, though even these people acknowledged the critical role of high-ranking leadership and authority behind the groups.

For example, before Y2K it could take up to three weeks for information to be routed up through the wing chain of command. And we did that weekly at the stand ups. For others, cross-functional teams could be advantageous if they had a defined function. Whatever the success of the Air Force Y2K working groups, cross-functional team building is a complex activity, one where organizational CIOs charged with enterprise-wide ICT management need to play the central leadership role. This, alone, impacts the desired skill set for the CIO position.

What else must the CIO do? Where the issue resides within a functional responsibility, the role of the CIO is greatly minimized or nonexistent. But the CIO needs to be extremely sensitive to the interdependencies of the overall system. When an error is made, it is likely to be the incorrect assumption that a cross-functional issue is bounded within a particular functional responsibility. The CIO owns the space between the parts—the space that makes it a cross-enterprise, strategic issue.

In this case, his or her primary role is to identify the relevant organizational perspectives, to determine the best available representatives of those units and perspectives, and then to link, guide, and empower those people and units to manage the issue. The CIO is the fulcrum in this balancing act—team building, facilitating cross-boundary communication and activity, assuring that ICT activities are aligned with organizational goals and strategies, and institutionalizing desired change.

Sometimes, however, the CIO must go beyond the fulcrum role to one of greater authority and stronger leadership. Specifically, during times of critical activity like Y2K or security threats, the CIO may be required to assure speed and flexibility in the face of traditional methods for doing things. This was a successful aspect of the AFY2KO effort but may be less clearly achieved in noncrisis cross-service initiatives. These systems are increasingly the primary medium for the cross-boundary conversation and activity the CIO must establish and guide.

During Y2K much of the sharing of information among the Air Force, the services, the federal government, and other governments took place over the World Wide Web, which was not business as usual. Given the ability of modern ICT to empower individual users and groups of users, some wonder whether decentralization is an inevitable feature of ICT activity.

They wonder whether we must focus on the strengths of local flexibility to achieve our goals, even under crisis conditions. For instance, IT support during the Gulf War was essentially a kludge; that is, a flexible and decentralized system composed of very different parts was organized into a working system that successfully served a critical yet temporary need. Even though there is considerable validity and strength to this perspective, it must be coupled with the strengths of enlightened central leadership.

Managing ICT systems means managing risk. In battling the risks of Y2K, there were lessons for the current struggle with risks associated with information assurance, critical infrastructure protection, and security. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

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Looking for other ways to read this? No thanks. Page 56 Share Cite. These lessons are discussed under the following general headings: 3. Page 57 Share Cite. Page 58 Share Cite. Page 59 Share Cite. Local 1 DMS is an initiative led by the Department of Defense to establish secure e-mail throughout the department. Page 60 Share Cite. Page 61 Share Cite. Page 62 Share Cite.

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Exploring design-fits for the strategic alignment of information systems with business objectives.

Was there sufficient training and local support? Page 66 Share Cite. A large, diverse, ICT-dependent organization such as the Air Force can find these kinds of questions extremely difficult to answer, as is illustrated in the following interview: Interviewer: Who sets IT policy? Interviewer: It sounds like the answer can be complicated.

AFCA: The answer is very complicated. Page 67 Share Cite. Figure The Continuum of Information Control. Page 68 Share Cite. It would kill us if you told us we had to do that. That was my question—are we going to do it? We were not going to re-certify, I know that. The code-scanning requirement is still there by Air Force policy. What do you mean by code scanning? Just what you did before when you gave it to SSG.

Page 69 Share Cite. Page 70 Share Cite. Page 71 Share Cite. Page 72 Share Cite. Page 73 Share Cite. Page 74 Share Cite. Page 75 Share Cite. Page 76 Share Cite. For example: The only good part of negotiating with the MAJCOM for a certificate to operate is [that it is]… subject to a very high level of scrutiny, testing, and verification. Page 77 Share Cite. SSG We are responsible for version control. Page 78 Share Cite. Page 79 Share Cite. Page 80 Share Cite.

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Aligning Information Technology, Organization, and Strategy : Ferdinand Mahr :

Access provided by: anon Sign Out. Examining the effect of strategic alignment on business performance: Knowledge management, information technology, and human resource management strategies Abstract: Recently, evidences indicate that knowledge management KM strategy and human resource management HRM strategy are interdependent and must be integrated with information technology IT as a whole to improve the business performance.

Empirical data for hypotheses testing are collected from top-ranked companies in Taiwan; yielding valid samples. Performance implications of strategic alignment are examined using matching approaches. The generated findings show that the reductionistic perspective of fit as matching demonstrates a significant impact on business performance. Article :.