Aligning Business and IT Strategies
Information Technology (IT) is a critical component of all business today. A business alignment model refers to the idea that IT enables business and business drives IT initiatives. Leadership must understand how technology plays a role in their business’ effectiveness and promote mutual leadership and accountability within business units.
Simply said, IT strategy should support the goals of the business. Experience has shown when organizations align their business and IT strategies, performance is improved, more is achieved, and the customer receives a better experience. Consider these best practices:
Create an alignment plan. Create a framework for your alignment project that outlines efforts and actionable strategies. Think about how this change will be accepted and be willing to adjust based on feedback. Plan to review your progress on a quarterly basis.
Include IT in your business teams. Eliminate a disparate team approach and add IT to all business teams. Integrated teams will better be able to identify, plan and execute business transformation initiatives.
Use business relationship managers (BRM). BRM’s provide a bridge across groups by helping to tactfully translate information, understand the skillsets of all team members, and to cultivate working relationships.
Focus on the customer experience. The customer should be at the center of your alignment goals. This makes it easier for staff to move beyond traditional business and IT siloes.
Implement cross-cultural learning. Consider the old adage, “Walk a mile in my shoes”. This is a great opportunity for teams to better understand each other’s work. Cross-cultural learning will help to close the knowledge gap and result in innovation.
Aligning IT and business strategies include both benefits and drawbacks:
- Gain visibility into problem business practices
- Improve ROI and reduce IT expenses
- Increase collaboration among teams
- Make smarter business decisions
- Reduce time to plan, design and execute projects
- Increase staff skillsets and knowledge
- Careful planning and communication need to go into developing and presenting the alignment plan or you risk not achieving goals
- Alignment is not easy to achieve, it takes work and adjustments
- Be ready to deal with friction and disconnection during the process
- Be patient. Cultural changes take time
In conclusion, aligning business and IT is not an easy process. It requires buy-in and support from all levels of management and the understanding that cultural change takes time to achieve. Bringing these teams together eliminates siloed business units and promotes innovation, understanding, productivity, a better customer experience and can boost your bottom line.
Contributed by: Amy Noel