Five Effective Ways to ensure IT-business Alignment
How can enterprises align with IT leaders?
The information technology (IT) and business worlds in an ideal universe would be perfectly aligned with IT solutions providing business leaders along with its strategic plans and resources necessary to gain the maximum performance, efficiency, and profits.
However, you may have noticed, seeking perfection could be an elusive quest. Practically, IT leaders are frequently left wondering whether the plans they’ve made and the technologies they’ve selected are actually fulfilling enterprise expectations. Meanwhile, business leaders often fret that information technology isn’t entirely tuned in to original enterprise needs and challenges.
There are fortunately proven methods, which enable IT leaders to obtain a clear understanding of the IT-business relationship. The below five suggestions bring how to build a productive partnership that will satisfy stakeholders’ requirements while meeting IT’s time and budget limitations.
- Build Close Business Relationships
IT leaders should conduct meetings either physically or on Zoom and discuss important aspects with their organization’s business leaders. Nidal Haddad, principal for ecosystems and alliances at business advisory firm Deloitte Consulting, advises, “A key component to good dialogue is to speak in plain English, even when trying to explain complex technical issues.”
Creating close alignment between information technology and business requires committing to earnest, insightful discussions. Assume a conversation about artificial intelligence, for instance. The business leader wants to embrace AI but isn’t aware that AI is primarily cloud-based technology, or it works best when large amounts of data fuel it.
Haddad states, “By explaining the concepts behind AI with more clarity, the business leader can be introduced to the creating blocks for AI, and the IT leader can make an acceptable strategy.”
A close interpersonal relationship is powerful as it “gets checks information technology initiatives against business growth plans,” states the CIO of application building platform developer QuickBase, Deb Gildersleeve.
IT folks shouldn’t be afraid to connect with their colleagues, if in marketing, accounting, or any other department, to understand better their pain points and to brainstorm solutions together, she added.
- Ask Right Questions
When you’re meeting with your business colleagues, you might not know IT technologies, strategies, and operations as these topics are strange, foreign territory for most business leaders.
Rob Collie, founder and CEO of P3, explains, “It requires them to role-play your job, and they’re not skilled at that because it was never their job.”
He believes that it’s more useful and productive to ask business leaders about their jobs. It includes their view of market trends and business challenges. He states, “It is then our job on the IT to evaluate where technology solutions could be brought online to service those requirements. It’s the essence of the IT mission statement.”
- Build Trust
Trust, transparency, mutual respect, and shared goals are the key to successful relationships. It is also the same for professional connections. Failing to align IT and business interests slowly erode hard-earned trust. “It leads skepticism in technology strategies, promotes a culture of blame, reduces patience and plunges planning into unproductive levels of detail resulting in a false sense of precision,” observes Andrew Palmer, CIO for the U.S. Region at Liberty Mutual Insurance.
When business leaders are confident about their IT organization, everything happens faster. Decision-making is smoother, risk-taking is expanded, and teams invest more time in executing than planning.
Communication is another key to build trust for business collaboration. For that, IT leaders should invite business leaders to discuss daily business processes’ challenges and goals. They should also discuss how IT can accelerate speed, efficiency, and innovation. This interpersonal communication culture and encouraging feedback can let IT and the business know-how to keep improving collaboration.
- Become a Motivator
Most business leaders expect information technology to be the engine that drives enterprise success. Independent tech industry executive consultant and coach Aviv Ben-Yosef says, “Only aiming to meet defined business requires IT selling. The best IT teams in the world bring forth their innovation to solve business necessities.”
Some business leaders may not yet aware of emerged technologies. So, it’s the responsibility of an IT leader to introduce business colleagues to disruptive and transformational technologies with the potential to change the whole business landscape and lesser innovations that can lead to total market and performance enhancements as well, says Ben-Yosef.
- Conduct Assessments
Like any other business initiative, IT-business alignment should be considered as an open-ended project. “Set-up processes to ensure redundancy and oversight to determine if the relationship is working or requires improvement,” suggests Gildersleeve.
Assessing alignment has to be a constant conversation within IT management. Haddad notes that the IT team will evolve from being reactive to being proactive with consistent, frequent alignment and frequent alignment checks.
A proactive IT team works to solve and address issues before they occur rather than waiting for an obstacle to force damage control and recovery, he adds.