Ensuring an organization’s IT department is aligned with the rest of its teams is critical to maximizing the value delivered by the organization’s technology.
A decade or two ago, an IT problem was just that: an IT problem. Now, a technology hiccup can impact an entire organization and all its customers or clients, whether it’s a major security breach or just a few minutes of downtime.
Unfortunately, there’s a fundamental disconnect between IT and operational and business strategy at many organizations. According to a 2019 survey from Adobe, almost half of IT decision-makers don’t collaborate with other departments on their technology vision. Whether this disconnect is due to deeply entrenched silos or a misguided belief that technology and strategy are discrete concerns, this fractured approach may be hindering your organization’s growth and the achievement of its goals.
Technology is already critical to the success of most organizations, and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly illustrated the need for seamless integration of technology and strategy — operational, business, and otherwise. Ultimately, creating an unbroken, dynamic strategic loop between business and IT stakeholders enables organizations to function at a higher level with less strain on their resources.
Key Steps to IT and Strategy Alignment
A coherent, end-to-end strategy doesn’t stem from the introduction of more tech tools or even from more communication between IT and business departments (at least not exclusively). Rather, it requires a complete rethinking of how technology and business decision-makers approach every problem their organization faces. Each set of stakeholders must be fully aware of each other’s goals and needs, never making a decision for one without considering the other.
While the roadmap to alignment varies from industry to industry and from organization to organization, nearly every organization will need to engage with some variation of the same four steps: plan, model, implement, and improve.
- Plan: Begin by increasing communication between IT and operations and business teams in order to ensure that your organization’s tech tools and services speak directly to key business objectives — technology adoption for its own sake is seldom effective. This interdepartmental collaboration should form the basis for your organization’s technological roadmap.
- Model: With a robust understanding of your larger organizational goals, the IT team can begin to design infrastructure to support your business needs. While the planning phase demands big-picture thinking and free-flowing collaboration, the modeling phase should focus on manageable action items and realistic timelines.
- Implement: Once a detailed plan is in place, your organization can begin to roll out its new technology initiatives. Consider beginning with one or two departments and troubleshooting any early issues that arise before rolling out a new system or approach to the entire organization.
- Improve: Even with a staggered rollout, your organization is bound to encounter issues it failed to anticipate. The steps outlined above should be approached as a non-linear, iterative sequence, and you should not hesitate to return to the planning, modeling, and implementation phases as new problems arise and your organization grows.
The Transformational Benefits of IT-Strategy Alignment
Aligning strategy and technology allows businesses to approach both problem-solving and innovation with greater efficiency, agility, and consistency, providing a competitive edge in today’s increasingly competitive marketplaces. By breaking down communication barriers and ensuring every team is working together toward a common goal, organizations can expect to enjoy improved performance across the board.
However, it’s essential to realize that achieving alignment isn’t a one-off challenge. Like any major organizational goal, it requires ongoing optimization and scrutiny. Organizations that lack the time or technical expertise to sufficiently invest in this process may benefit from partnering with an expert consultancy that is designed to grow with your organization for years to come.
Unlike other consultancies, SEI operates with a unique local model that matches experienced consultants with organizations based in the communities and industries with which they are most familiar. This enables our consultants to form meaningful long-term partnerships with our clients, coming to know and understand their businesses as if they were our own. Further, our solution-agnostic approach allows us to implement what’s truly needed — from DevOps or Agile to SAFe or one of the many other methodologies that encourage improved alignment between IT and business stakeholders — in any given scenario.
If you’re interested in learning more about partnering with SEI’s strategy and technology experts, get in touch today.