What does it mean to align IT with the business?
For most organizations, IT management issues are a strategic and organizational challenge. In addition, CIO’s continue to strive for performance gains such as IT becoming more efficient, nimble, and innovative. More agility, better cost control, and better alignment with business objectives further support every organization’s objective to achieve strategic benefits. Aligning IT with the business has become a critical priority for IT leaders.
According to the Society for Information Management (SIM) and its 2016 IT Trends Survey, aligning IT with the business has become a top-ten issue. Almost half of the respondents identified alignment as a top five IT management concern for 2016.
So we ask ourselves, what does “alignment” mean for the IT professional?
- Is it the traditional definition, of the fit between the objectives of the business and IT, and how well IT knows and supports the objectives, and its ability to satisfy the business requirements?
- Is it less about the alignment but rather more about how cohesively IT and the business team or partner together to accomplish enterprise objectives?
Our point of view on aligning IT with the business
At WGroup, we see alignment as a collective effort on the part of both business and IT. Where alignment confusion comes in is when the IT organization has difficulty in responding to business and technological changes. Furthermore, we do not see it as technology’s responsibility to become aligned, and collectively stay aligned, but rather it should be a cohesive partnering between business and IT to form cohesive teams, partner and share responsibilities on a strategic level as well as jointly share responsibilities on tactical technology execution level.
What to do
In our experience, we have supported organizations with both organizational change and “running IT with the business”. In both instances, we promoted and encouraged clients to take a top-down strategic approach. This approach includes establishing and institutionalizing five basic portfolio management techniques:
- Break down the silos. Be aware of organizational functions and staff titles, but, take down the organizational barriers between IT and the business and instead encourage the establishment of cross-functional teams, with accountability for collective objective and project goal accomplishment
- Convene a strategic group of stakeholders. Establish a forum (or forums) with representatives that include internal (business, technology) or external partners to drive ownership, accountability and oversight of technological change
- Establish the rules of the road. Be prepared to improve on enterprise collaboration, the collective ways and guiding principles in which teams come together to accomplish firm-wide and initiative objectives
- Establish role-based teams. Drive execution activities for project consistency. This includes establishing portfolios of projects, resources and combined teams with clearly demarcated accountable roles and responsibilities
- Focus on deliverable milestones. To ensure consistency of what to accomplish, and by when, clear milestones have be created, measured and actioned
What to expect
Taking this approach typically yields the following benefits:
- Significant increase in managing business expectations
- Improved engagement and cooperation from all stakeholders
- Faster time to market for technological change
- Cost effective service delivery
- Shorter decision timeframes
To learn more about Wavestone US’ services, visit https://www.wavestone.us/capabilities/.
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