Mar 13, 2009

Bridging the gap between business and IT

This post was inspired by a recent blog entry.

Many executives feel that IT has no clue about the business. Conversely, many IT professionals feel executives and management don't understand, or care about IT. Unless the systems don't perform as expected.

There is misconception on both sides, which causes frustration, delays, and eventually affects the bottom line. IT objectives and the business objectives need to be aligned in order to narrow that gap, increase productivity, satisfaction, and ultimately, the financials.

Some things to consider:
  • IT does not function in a vacuum: A clear understanding of IT's impact on the client and on the company's bottom line is key. It is management's job to clearly articulate and deliver this message to IT.
  • Clear up communication issues: it takes time and requires openness on the side of IT and management. In particular, being able to formulate dissent or incomprehension (sometimes more than once) without being castigated is key.
  • Eliminate personal agendas: Managers can build such a culture by effectively and regularly conveying the vision of the business to the employees, and showing them how they contribute to that vision.
  • Focus on client satisfaction: the systems, the network, and the processes are not the clients. Is everyone clear on who the clients are, and what it takes to satisfy them?
  • From CYA to teamwork: is the corporate culture one that encourages each person to cover his/her behind, for fear of reprisals? Or is it one which accepts that errors occur, and focuses on providing solutions that prevent such errors from repeating?
Bridging the gap has to focus on individuals as much as procedures and processes. You can put as many processes in place as you want, but if the people who are supposed to use them decide not to, you've invested your time and energy in the wrong place.

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