IT professionals are bred to adapt to the constant evolution of technology, such as new applications/programs, new coding languages, new devices, new software solutions, etc. With this accelerated cycle of innovation, IT experts can potentially have tunnel vision around technological improvements and overlook the business objectives, constraints and concerns of their specific organization. On the flip side, business professionals might, without regular interaction with their IT organization, treat IT as a “help desk” only organization, leveraging them to help in break/fix specific situations and not in strategic business focused discussion. While effective business and IT management can protect against this, the situation typically leads to IT and business groups being misaligned, causing inefficiencies, and even friction, within the organization. As QED National has learned throughout its 30 years of serving both public and private sector organizations across an array of IT consulting disciplines, one of the best ways to align IT and business groups is to prioritize customer experience and operational efficiency.
IT and Business Improvements Stifled
IT organizations have long-held challenges with outdated legacy or “home-grown” systems and underfunded budgets supporting important initiatives such as digital transformation and cyber security operations. In the public sector, this rings especially true as government organizations are often slower in comparison to private industry when it comes to modernizing IT infrastructure and adopting new effective technologies. Furthermore, as management push their organizations for needed enhancements, they are frequently met with deterrence from a budgetary and/or prioritization standpoint, preventing their ability to actualize significant IT improvements that would best support “the business” areas of the organization.
On the opposite side of the coin, when IT initiatives are undertaken but not properly planned via engaging the business, this often leads to disruption of business operations or unintended gaps/delays in business processes supporting a specific program or the overall organization. There are few incidences more frustrating than allocating time, money, and personnel for improvements that instead make everyone’s life more complicated and difficult, ultimately trickling down to inefficiencies and poor customer experience.
What’s preventing business and IT from achieving more consistent alignment? Business and IT organizations must understand each other’s function, goals and objectives. Businesses must recognize their IT partners’ ability to improve their organization and support their ongoing needs. IT organizations must actively engage business partners and fully understand business requirements before choosing technologies or embarking on development projects. Management on both sides need to understand the capabilities, needs, and budgets of their overall organization, and effectively push their team members to learn the same. When both organizations are on the same page it becomes easier to understand how business and IT intersect, in overall support of the business, and nurtures a symbiotic relationship.
Customer Experience First
According to CIO Magazine, a common mistake IT professionals make is thinking of internal users as customers. It’s appropriate to acknowledge the internal users as the personnel who may utilize the IT developed and/or implemented by the IT group, but it’s important to also never lose sight of the end customer and how IT improvements/functions will ultimately impact their experience with the organization. The bottom line is business and IT organizations share an overarching purpose of serving the organization’s customers – their positive experience should always be prioritized, especially when considering technological changes that will dramatically impact the service they receive, or their ability to have their needs met by your products/service offerings.
Remembering the shared goal of serving customers and enhancing operational efficiencies is the glue that aligns IT and business groups, helping them find common ground to work closer together. In working together, identifying approaches that benefit both sides empower everyone to succeed and provides solid foundation to best address customer needs. It’s important to concede that even with this in mind there will still be challenges, but focusing on common objectives to keep customers first and ensure operations are efficient as possible are steps in the right direction.