Almost every organization, whether it’s a multinational company or a small business, relies on information technology, but for many SMB’s it remains subordinate to business planning and not a driver in shaping business strategy. The result is an IT technology environment that struggles to support the business’ key operations, goals and objectives.
Our experience has been that both Business Leaders and IT Managers recognize this disconnect and understand the value of alignment. However, how do evolving businesses narrow the gap between the board room and the server room? Here are a few formative guidelines we use to help organizations (startups, small and large enterprise) align IT with the business.
3 keys to aligning IT with business
1) Begin by creating a collective understanding of your business.
Often business leaders see IT as an implementation tool, while IT management have a technology centric focus rather than a business oriented view. If you are experiencing this business – IT gap you will need to begin with a collaborative business focused assessment of the organizations IT assets and services. Collaborating on this effort is the easiest way to gain the mutual respect and understanding of each other’s worlds. It will help you better communicate and emphasize the value of the work that each team brings to the organization. It provides a holistic clarity of what the business does.
2) Develop a Service Catalog and assess your IT resources.
Through the process of collectively understanding the business and the IT services that support the business processes a service catalog is developed. This identifies and documents the relationships and touch points between the business and its IT assets, applications and delivery channels. It also shows the interdependencies between people, processes and information. Most importantly, it identifies the IT value chains that help drive and deliver products and/or services to the market.
By defining your IT resources along the business services they provide, you will be able assess any alignment gaps or redundancies in your IT services that are intended to support your business. Most importantly you will be able to assess whether your IT assets and services are efficiently helping you achieve your most important business priorities, now and in the future. You’ll also find out how to measure the value your IT infrastructure provides, whether the technology you’re using is cost effective and where you may need to invest.
3) Develop Your IT Alignment Road Map.
Having identified the gaps in the assessment phase, you can then begin to create a comprehensive roadmap that aligns your IT and technology with your business goals.
It is this end product of the collaborative assessment process and documentation of your IT services that is your guide towards a robust, adaptable, technology framework that supports your business. Its benefits are significant and long-lasting. You’ll be able to reduce costs, standardize processes, enhance productivity, improve workflow and communication, and sustain repeatable service levels.
It’s also a tool for improving risk control mechanisms, facilitating organic and acquisition-driven growth and gaining an advantage over your competitors by exploiting new technologies.In the process you’ll find you get a clearer understanding of your business, an opportunity to assess how your corporate culture, external pressures in the marketplace and disparate internal requirements will influence your long-term thinking. There’s plenty of work involved, but the benefits for the future of your business are hard to overstate.