A top ten challenge for every CIO survey that Bruce Ballengee and Susan Paul have seen is IT’s alignment with business. Why is it such a consistent problem? For one thing, it only happens in isolated incidents and only for a period of time. Consider when IT and business interact for an update to a time management system: both are interested in the process and outcome of the project ““ both are working together to get the best result possible. However, once the project is complete, they return to a lack of alignment and generally opaque operations.
Balengee and Paul have looked into some of the key characteristics that make IT’s alignment to business work (and for more than just the life of one project). One of these key characteristics is transparency:
Be open and honest about costs, level of effort, deadlines, risks, and anything else pertinent to interactions. Years of experience with technology projects has most IT and business functions prepared for projects, rollouts, and technologies, with bumps. Share as much information as possible that may impact a business function. Collectively, you will make better informed decisions regarding how to proceed, surmount obstacles, or simply implement functionality so that it can be used most productively.
Avoid technical jargon as much as possible, and your business partner will be more prone to share information that will allow you to make good decisions on resource allocations as well, thus aligning more closely with the business needs.
Another, as one would expect, is understanding the business. This shows the business that you’re interested in what their objectives and concerns are and how you’re interested in helping create solutions to meet those objectives. On top of understanding the business, IT must also be as reliable as possible. Keeping commitments (no matter how trivial) shows dedicated interest and ability to achieve the requests of the business ““ something that can go a long way in aligning to the business.