Running a business takes a lot of moving pieces and parts. Getting all these elements to work in tandem is what helps – or hinders – your objectives.
Whether you want to improve your operational efficiency, jumpstart productivity, or break down communication silos, focusing on your business alignment is a strategic way to get all the right pieces in place.
Business-IT Alignment: Defined
Some leaders consider business and technology objectives interchangeable, allowing one to inform the other. Those that align their information technology systems with their overall business strategy have the best chances of achieving their short- and long-term objectives.
As Indeed explains the process, “In business-IT alignment, IT departments can coordinate with business leadership teams to align their strategies. This type of alignment is valuable because an IT department can use its technological expertise to efficiently and effectively help your business meet its objectives by updating computer systems and providing prompt solutions to technical issues when they arise.”
If you’re ready to recalibrate, here are five key elements to keep in mind:
1. Never lose sight of your internal stakeholders.
Approaching your internal users as customers can help to unify your business and IT objectives. Once you have a good gauge of the needs your team faces, the more impactful the goals you set and the technologies you implement will be. “I don’t believe there’s IT and the business,” James Anderson, a vice president and analyst at Gartner, tells CIO Magazine. “The business includes IT. And your product is not IT, it’s the services enabled by IT that are used for business outcomes.”
2. Enhance and refine your communication.
Miscommunications equal misalignments – plain and simple. To ensure everyone stays on the same page, create a culture where it’s safe to share. Then, invest in becoming good communicators within the organization and replicate that model of success with your clients. For example, you may create a standardized way of sharing news and information internally as well as with the public.
3. Foster transparency between business leaders and IT teams.
Does everyone in your organization understand the goals and objectives of the other departments? If not, time for a little interdepartmental cross-training. Start by ensuring business leaders and IT teams specifically are speaking the same language. This will help IT get a better handle on complexities that everyone experiences. When the needs of each side are better understood, more effective technology solutions can be implemented with less resistance.
4. Invite input from all sides.
Achieving business-IT alignment is always more fluid when leaders consider multiple perspectives from across the organization. Take it from Tech Target: “Some CIOs still have a command-and-control approach, while some organizations still have a culture that views technology as only the realm of IT, [Darren Topham, a senior research director at Gartner] explained, adding that both mentalities need to change to achieve alignment.”
5. Create incentives that encourage collaboration.
Change can be difficult, even for the best organizations. It’s one reason why acknowledging and rewarding employees throughout the process is so important. The positive reinforcement is a great way to recognize collaboration efforts that actively dissolve barriers between IT and other internal stakeholders. Since the ultimate shared goal is unification, be sure to go “beyond buy-in” and strive for “joint accountability.”
When in doubt, remember that deep listening and candid conversations can really move the needle when coming up with solutions that facilitate your business-IT alignment.