A manager called IT and said the program they created was not doing what it was supposed to. The programmer told him to tell his employees they were doing their business wrong.
The previous statement has traditionally been the unspoken one between business owners and IT staff. The two have found that they work from different perspectives. The business owner purchases software with a certain expectation regarding how it will help his business. The developer, however, developed the software to be used for a certain outcome or generic enough to be applied more broadly. Often, these two viewpoints don't mesh. As we move deeper into the digital age, this has to change if a business is to thrive.
Business owners make plans that detail the steps they want to take in order to see the business grow. Your IT team creates a roadmap to determine the path of technology within an organization. It is only one step further to open the lines of communication and align the two plans in order to achieve the same goal. This benefits both sides. By creating to the specific needs of the business, the IT team can fine tune the technology and increase the satisfaction level of the business. By sharing the business vision, the business owner allows insight into what software or technology will be necessary not only now, but into the future.
Benefits of Aligning IT and Business Needs
In addition to the ability to prepare in advance and work with the best interest of the business, preparing an IT roadmap that aligns with business goals offers several other benefits:
Having the exact technology necessary from the start allows for reduction of modification time and cost.
Knowing the final goal, which will stay the same throughout the life of the business, will enable any future projects to work toward the same goal as the current system needs.
Rather than feel disconnected, both the business and IT sides can come together, working toward one common goal.
Knowing what is needed and why makes it possible to work directly toward that goal and not get side-tracked.
Provides a Competitive Advantage
By preparing for future developments now, your business is a step ahead of the competition, who may not even be on par with current technology.
Knowing and preparing for the future allows the company to grow steadily, without having to wait for everyone to catch up on technological developments only after they become available.
This all sounds great, right?
What is necessary now is to push aside old, established methods of operation, and figure out how to align the IT roadmap with business goals. It isn't as difficult as it may first appear.
Aligning the IT Roadmap
Putting aside established ways of thinking is the first and most difficult part of the process. Once communication has been established, it only takes a few steps to work on aligning the two processes:
Determine the Business NeedsNo plan can be made until you know what goal you are seeking to meet. The first step in this whole plan is to determine the long-term goal so that you have a destination to work toward.
Determine How IT Can Meet Those NeedsOnce you know where you want to go, you can determine how IT can help get you there. It is easier at this point to determine what is and isn't possible.
Assess the Current SystemNow, take a look at what is already in place. How does it meet the long-term goals? Is it even close to meeting the needs that the long-term goal has?
Identify Gaps in the Current SystemNow it is time to actually identify where the current system falls short. Identify and name each gap and determine what these gaps need to make the system work. Are the gaps reasonably fixable or will you have to start from scratch?
Prioritize the FixesEverything can't be done at once. This will only create a situation where everyone is overwhelmed and not doing their best work. With all the gaps identified, it is a matter of deciding which fixes will make the biggest impact now. These are the places where you want to concentrate your initial effort.
Create the IT RoadmapNow that the basics are in place, creating an IT map that aligns with the business goals is easier. You know what is needed, why it is needed and how it will benefit the business. When you go into a situation with a clear picture of why you are doing it, it creates a better sense of what needs to be done. Trial and error become minimized and the chances of the outcome being exactly what is needed from the start are increased dramatically.
Once the above steps have been completed, the IT plan should allow for meeting present and future needs in the business. Once the plan has been put into action, the two final steps involve integrating the new updates and re-evaluating. Technology is changing consistently and rapidly, so the final step will be an ongoing process as long as the business model is to grow.