Business alignment is more than a parallel path
Business alignment with IT is more than a parallel path. In fact, it’s a two-way street.
I recently had a discussion with my business partner about IT alignment. I explained that it’s the number one complaint with technology departments. He responded, “That’s silly, two cars going down parallel roads are in alignment, but don’t have anything to do with one another.”
Full disclosure: He’s British and has a different perspective on things.
I see misalignment all the time. It’s part of a very common conundrum in business. Tech teams are creating giant databases on complicated systems from multiple business units. This is is the baseline for misalignment. Tech teams integrate applications from across a business in an effort to find data that provides the silver bullet. It gets messy because it is messy. And everyone is looking for the secret sauce — and the silver bullet.
Most businesses seek to move the needle on a handful of strategic initiatives that, ultimately, have financial impact. The disconnect occurs when a development team thinks it knows everything (arrogance), but the business disagrees (ego). It can prove to be a powder keg. And, thus, the misalignment. What’s the solution? It starts with vision. It starts with knowing what you stand for — as a company and as an adopter of technology and integration. Aligning these things will help bring a company together in a shared vision.
It is critical for a company to communicate the important things to people working on projects — and middle managers need to make sure that the people working on “projects” understand the key components of the vision. Some systems call these rock, themes or initiatives. Call it what you will, the key is to make that connection between the strategic initiative and a technologist’s daily work. It isn’t easy. I’ve seen companies put developers on the frontline with customers, experiencing, in first person, the customers’ perspective. It helps when developers can make the connection about the end result of their work.
Often, when high-level vision-driven people get involved, it gets confusing because they don’t necessarily understand how things work at a developmental level. It’s easy to say “I want maintenance free software,” or “I want self-healing software,” but if you don’t understand how the software works, how its architected or deployed, this notion creates chaos and confusion. Demanding something that isn’t possible or is possible but unaffordable, is sure to demoralize people in the trenches and add to the misalignment conundrum. Managers and directors do not need to be coders, but they do need to spend enough time understanding the realities of implemented technologies to be able to communicate a realistic vision to their team.
At Premios, we champion successful alignment. It’s our thing. It’s our mission. In fact, we train our teams in tools that help them convey the vision for a successful mission. This means communicating, documenting and tracking key milestones that lead to a successful mission. It also includes things like back briefing and development of a cadence of communications for a successful project.
Successful IT is more than a parallel path, it’s a two-way street.