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Business-IT alignment is a business strategy that prioritizes the integration of IT operations and business objectives to reduce costs, improve agility, and increase the return on investment.
Although business and IT teams have vastly different roles and purposes, they ultimately share one underlying objective: to offer a seamless and satisfying customer experience that has a positive impact on business outcomes.
Traditionally, business professionals and IT departments operated in their own functional silos, each dedicated to their own area of focus. However, there has been a philosophical shift towards improving the collaboration between teams so that an enterprise’s business needs and goals can be anticipated and considered throughout the decision-making process. DevOps techniques have demonstrated the many benefits associated with breaking those silos down, and its success has encouraged organizations to rethink the more traditional, compartmentalized approach in favor of improving communication and participation across departments.
Instituting a cultural shift within an organization can be cumbersome and slow to secure, but creating strategic alignment between information technology and business teams offers a multitude of potential benefits, including:
Improved collaboration between departments
Better end user experience
More clarity into the true cost of incidents
Better use of IT resources and time
Technology that prioritizes business processes
Better planning and roadmap collaboration to improve and develop the highest impacting areas to the business
Bringing business teams and IT professionals into better alignment can be challenging for several reasons. First and foremost, change of any kind is difficult to enact when everyone is invested in and attached to their typical workflow and business patterns. Reorganizing the way different departments interact with one another may feel like additional but unnecessary work to employees who are satisfied with the status quo. Recognizing potential areas of resistance is crucial to overcoming obstacles.
However, aligning IT efforts with business objectives improves productivity and ultimately allows teams to develop a deeper understanding of the impact KPIs of one team may have on another, or highlight shared KPIs between teams. Creating an alignment strategy and pursuing it with persistence is worth the growing pains your organization may experience along the way.
Demonstrating the business value of IT-business alignment is essential to fostering an environment that is open to organizational change.
Consider implementing the following steps to help bring IT efforts and business objectives into alignment:
Evaluate: Making an objective assessment of your current corporate culture is the first step to identifying potential areas of improvement. How do departments interact or communicate? What opportunities do they have to share ideas, troubleshoot problems, explain limitations, or brainstorm solutions? Which roles would benefit from receiving training or participating in meetings outside of their departments and how could that best be accomplished?
Communicate: Effective business-IT alignment is going to require more than an announcement that it's expected to happen. Re-examine the current chain of command to see if roles between departments could be more closely integrated in daily communications, schedule decision-making meetings for various managers or top producers, and invite employees to make suggestions on how different departments could facilitate in accomplishing the objectives of each team or project. Define key performance metrics or indicators that serve as evidence that business-IT alignment benefits not only the organization as a whole, but also the different departments working together to achieve common goals.
Identifying KPIs shared between teams is another effective method of encouraging greater alignment. Highlighting the shared benefits of improving collaboration can help inspire the commitment and effort necessary to enact lasting change.
Moderate: Assigning a business relationship manager (BRM) to act as an enabler in establishing a roadmap of communication between IT leaders and business leaders may be a necessary part of making a business transformation that includes both departments. Creating a role to research, monitor, and encourage interaction between departments adds some validity to the commitment of making ongoing collaborative efforts a reality.
Validate: Emphasize the success of your organization’s business-IT alignment efforts by sharing metrics that help quantify the effects of changes in communication and collaboration between teams. Witnessing the transformation as it takes place adds a sense of momentum to the importance of improved communication.
Bring your business leaders and IT teams together with a single source of data.
Experience Journey maps help identify bottlenecks in order to make data-driven investments that will benefit the largest number of users.
Business IQ baselines performance metrics and compares business performance before and after changes or updates to the application for an accurate understanding of how those efforts were perceived by users and to better quantify return on investment.
AppDynamics provides a wide range of metrics and integrated tools that highlight the interests and impressions of customers so that you can fine tune your application to meet the needs of your target audience.
“One of the key advantages that we have seen from Business iQ is that it provides a vehicle for both business colleagues and IT colleagues to collaborate together around a single source of truth.”
John Hill, Chief Information Officer, Carhartt