It Takes Two to Tango; How Business and IT Should Work Together
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw
While all departments and functions within an organization should be supporting the overall business in achieving its goals and objectives, a solid argument can be made for IT as one of the most critical functions to supporting the enterprise.
The ability of IT (and all the enabling functions for that matter) to effectively support the business hinges on many factors; one of them is anchored in communication. Probably doesn’t surprise anyone to hear it’s not always easy for IT and “the Business” to communicate effectively. This often is due to a lack of understanding regarding each other’s worlds. However, for those who are able to bridge that ‘gap’, the results can be excellent.
At the core of these communication challenges is the fact that IT and Business tend to speak somewhat different languages. IT and Business are different cultures…and ‘growing up’ in one or the other provides different experiences that can influence perspectives. However, even though you may have a certain perspective…all is not lost. There are some simple things one can do to personally contribute to a higher level of IT/Business collaboration:
If you have a role within IT….
- Learn about where the business is headed. Research to understand the overall vision and strategy, including the core short and long-term initiatives (1, 5, 10 year).
- Be aware of the challenges facing the business. Listen to what’s keeping your business leaders and colleagues up at night. Use the knowledge to investigate ways technology can help resolve those challenges.
- Reach out and educate your business counterparts on the latest technology solutions (e.g. which software applications are best to meet the business’ needs). Use your knowledge of the business’ vision to identify technology solutions that can enable success.
If you role within the Business…
- Engage with your IT colleagues when seeking resolution to business issues. Partner with your IT counterparts to design reliable solutions, and get involved in testing them. Your feedback and validation that the solution truly resolves the issue are vital to the process.
- Establish and maintain a team of true business solution experts who know the details as to how the process and supporting systems are designed…as well as how they will be used on a daily basis. Super User Network programs are an excellent format for this, and a good place to begin.
- Be clear and complete on all business needs and requirements. Focus on explaining what the solution needs to do, not how it should be done.
Regardless of your which role you have …
- ‘Seek to understand’ how things operate your counterpart’s world. Effective collaboration spawns innovative solutions!
- Support and champion the need for governance. Pursue the establishment of programs that respect discipline and consistency, so as to maintain the integrity of the business solution. Educate yourself on the regulatory and compliance requirements (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley) that apply to business, as well as IT.
By no means is this a comprehensive list, but it will get you started as you look to strengthen the IT and Business relationship within your enterprise. All the best as you embark on your pursuit for higher communication, collaboration, and ultimate success!!
Brett Tibbs is the Operations Director for Information Services with Blossom Growth Partners and a published expert in IT strategy and execution. To learn more about Brett and Blossom Growth Partners, visit us at http://www.blossomgrowth.com