5 Ways to Improve IT Effectiveness

effectivenessIs the information-technology function at your company focusing on the same priorities as the business? Based on a recent survey by The Corporate Executive Board's IT Leadership Exchange, the overwhelming answer to this question is—No.

Through a survey of 150 IT departments at mid-sized companies, the IT Leadership Exchange found that 90 percent of CIOs expect that the IT department will be misaligned with business needs in an economic recovery, and more than half feel that this will threaten the business's long-term competitiveness.

When well aligned with business goals, the IT Leadership Exchange finds that an IT department can boost its effectiveness to the company by 54 percent.

The task of aligning IT and business priorities is more art than science. However, through ongoing conversations with IT executives, the IT Leadership Exchange has identified five imperatives that IT functions must follow to ensure its actions are in line with the company's needs.

1. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity of Discussions - To increase alignment, IT–Business discussions should focus on strategic, relationship-related matters including clearly outlining IT and business partner roles, business unit goals, and potential future projects.

2. Hedge Your Bets in Training Investments - Training for business-facing IT staff should focus on improving specific skill sets that most impact business engagement, namely spotting project interdependencies, translating business needs, and creating concise and focused business cases.

3. Provide Role Clarity - IT roles and escalation protocols should be clearly defined and communicated.

4. Educate Your Business Partners - Build more informed partners for IT by providing training that helps IT anticipate the unique needs and priorities of key corporate functions, and where possible, institute rotations of business partners into the IT function.

5. Emphasize Business Partner Accountability - Leading companies employ tactics such as linking project successes to business unit metrics, formally assessing business sponsors' effectiveness throughout a project, and offering "support groups"—small cross-functional classes that help middle managers understand IT strategy and can advocate for IT with their staff.

By following the tips detailed above, IT departments will be able to better align their activities and engage with business goals, boosting their effectiveness and their companies' competitiveness.

Edited. Sourced from: http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/mar2010/ca20100319_518706.htm

And original material can be found at: Corporate Executive Board —What the Best Companies Do™


Pragmatic Journey is Richard (rich) Wermske's life of recovery; a spiritual journey inspired by Buddhism, a career in technology and management with linux, digital security, bpm, and paralegal stuff; augmented with gaming, literature, philosophy, art and music; and compassionate kinship with all things living -- especially cats; and people with whom I share no common language.