IT Management Blog: my thoughts about putting the "i" in IT

The pillars of the effective IT enabled organisation

I just want to come back on the subject of the divide between IT and the business. In order for an organisation to use IT effectively, I belief the organisation should address the following key items to be of mutual responsibility. There is much more to effective IT management, but these are the key issues to work effectively together.

Integrated leadership
IT should be integrated within the organisation and that starts at the top. It is on the one hand setting the example but on the other hand to make sure that business and IT issues are addressed through an holistic approach.

Integrated project management
IT projects are always part of a business project. If you address IT projects in isolation, you run the risk that the associated business aspects of the project are not addressed timely and correctly, that the business changes differently than expected by the IT team or that it does not change at all. Or that simply business and IT staff feel frustrated because they feel that they work too much in isolation. Having a business project manager without associated IT project management runs the risk that the IT team feels that they are not appropriately managed. The same story applies the other way around. An integrated approach is according to me the best option.

Business process redesign / requirements and system design
I discussed this in more detail in my post “Why business requirements don’t work” but in essence the introduction of a new system and the change of the business usually come hand in hand. Again, the holistic approach is essential to obtain the envisaged benefits and to avoid that you build a system based upon old and ineffective business procedures. You don’t want to build for the past but for the future.

Skills to use IT / support the business
Using IT is not easy. Unless we talk about a few modern commercially available tools that are mass produced such as iPhones or iPods, the majority is custom build based upon constant changing business needs and the ongoing advancement of technology itself. We need to accept that IT is not perfect and that the business need to learn to deal with that. IT on the other hand has the responsibility to hold the business by the hand and guide them through the stormy waters of the world of technology. We need to provide sturdy vessels and make sure that systems are at least stable and that we deliver as we have promised. The integrated leadership will set then the right course based upon informed business strategies and technology capabilities.

Speak the language of IT / speak the language of the business
Underpinning the holistic approach to IT governance, we must make sure we communicate well with each other. IT is too important for the success of the organisation that it is too simple to say that IT should speak the language of the business. Yes, they should, but you will simply be much more successful if you are able to speak the language of IT.