Coalition for Networked
Information Institution Wide Information Strategies (IWIS)
Information Strategy Case Studies: Expanded Outline
The case study report begins with a statement of what the institution is doing with respect to information strategy and why. The introduction is a brief summary; further details will be presented in later sections of the report. The introduction should identify how far along the case has progressed: planned, developed, pilot-tested, implemented, evaluated, etc. Given theiterative nature of some strategies, different states of progress may apply to different phases of the project. The degree of progress will influence how completely the remaining sections of the case study can be presented, but every cases should attempt to complete all sections, with the understanding that all reports of progress are provisional.
B. Problem Statement
B.1 The Institution. The problem statement begins with a brief description of the institution (size, location, governance, etc.), with additional details chosen as relevant for the specific case.
B.2 The Situation. A narrative and brief analysis of the situation or the presenting problem follows. This deals specifically with the information needs and requirements of the institution, and describes the circumstances that motivated or influenced the choice of information strategy.
B.3 Strategic Significance. The problem statement concludes with a description of the strategic significance of this situation or need to the institution. This section should address the issue of Strategic Alignment: how the information strategy described in this case relates to the overall strategy of the institution.
C. Objectives: Desired Outcomes
The statement of objectives describes what the institution was/is expecting to achieve through the information strategy described in this case. This will most likely be directly linked to the circumstances from the problem statement (but in some cases the link may be indirect).
In this section the details of the information strategy and its implementation are described. It is a premise of the IWIS project that information strategies are implemented through the allocation of four essential resources: financial, human, institutional or ‘cultural’, and technological. It will be rare that an information strategy is accomplished without money, people, technology, ororganizational policy/practice. (And of the four, some would say technology is the least essential.) Even if a given resource is not used explicitly as a means of implementation, it may be affected by the strategy’s implementation.
D.1 Financial Resources. How were financial resources of the institution allocated or reallocated to implement the chosen information strategy? What financial practices were employed: service fees, new pricing methods, overhead charges or ‘taxes’, centralization or decentralization of budgets, etc.? Or, what financial effects have been felt as a result of this strategy?
D.2 Human Resources. How were human resources allocated or reallocated? Were new positions created, or existing positions redefined? Were job descriptions rewritten? Were new duties assigned to existing staff? Was there training for existing staff, a change in recruiting practices, performance evaluations, or management training? Or, how has this strategy affected humanresources?
D.3 Policies and Practices. Were policies used as a means to implement the chosen information strategy? Was the choice of information strategy constrained by existing policy…and if so, how was that dealt with? Similarly, were ‘standard practices’ used as an aid to implementing the information strategy? Or were any existing practices obstacles and how were they overcome? (Standard practices can be as strict policies, but are oftenmore cultural than judicial, as in: “That’s how we’ve always done it here.”) Or, what have been the effects of this strategy on institutional policy and practice?
D.4 Technology Resources. Was technology used as a means to implement the chosen information strategy? Were new technologies chosen specifically for the information strategy, or were existing technologies applied or adapted? What technologies were most relevant or useful to this case?
D.5 Mix and Balance of Resources. Technology is only one of the many resources that an institution can bring to bear on its implementation of an information strategy. Of interest to readers of this case will be the mix and balance of resources that were used. What choices were made among the use of people, technology, money and institutional arrangements (policies and practices) in implementing the information strategy? Were there specifictrade-offs, where one resource was substituted for another, or where limits in one resource area increased the cost in another? Were some resources essential while others could be substituted for? Finally, what general observations might you offer about the allocation of resources to an information strategy project?
In this section the outcomes of the information strategy are described. Some participants in the IWIS initiative have taken their work through to implementation and evaluation, others are in the planning stages, and still others are somewhere between. Most projects begin to show results even in their earliest stages, and these can be reported here as provisional outcomes, to be updated later in a revised case study report.
E.1 Benefits/Successes. At whatever its stage, what is the single greatest accomplishment of the project? How and in what way has the project achieved the expectations set for it? Have the intended outcomes (C, above) been realized, or has progress been made? Have the underlying issues (B, above) been improved upon?
E.2 Failures. At whatever its stage, what is the single greatest failure or disappointment of the project? Were outcomes (C) not met, or do underlying issues (B) remain?
[In general, how were success and failure defined and by whom?]
E.3 Unintended Consequences. What is the single greatest surprise thus far in the project? What outcomes were unexpected, and were these pleasant or unpleasant surprises?
F. Lessons Learned
In this section the institution sums up what it has learned thus far in their information strategy efforts. Lessons may be specific to an institution, may be relevant to others engaged in similar projects, or may be broadly applicable to many types of information strategy initiatives.
F.1 Advice to Others. What has been learned thus far in the project that would be of value to others? What advice would you give to others who are working on information strategies?
F.2 Advice to Self…Plans for Change. What are the lessons learned for the institution itself? What would you do differently, given the chance? What changes would you make, if possible? Or what changes do you plan to make, based on lessons learned?
G. Other Comments
Institutions may want to make other narrative or evaluative comments about their information strategy project.