By Zac Amos, guest author
Aligning your IT solutions with your business strategy has become increasingly important. If everyone is working towards the same goals and helping each other reach them, your business will run more efficiently. Implementing a business-IT alignment strategy correctly will lead to reduced costs, improved productivity and an increased return on investments (ROI).
Although implementing a strategy like this might take time and effort, the benefits it will produce for your business are well worth the effort. Learn more about what business-IT alignment is, why it’s important and ways you can start implementing it in your own company.
What Is Business-IT Strategy Alignment?
The strategy’s main objective is to make IT operations a priority so your business leaders work together with your IT team — whether you outsource your cybersecurity or use an in-house team — to reach your goals. Informational technology has always been important to a business, but in the past, IT often operated separately from the rest of the company. The goal of IT was to provide computer hardware, software and perform maintenance for workers in order to help them better complete their daily tasks.
In recent years this outlook has changed. If this combined strategy is implemented correctly, you’ll see better communication between departments, a clear focus to reach company goals together and technology that prioritizes company operations. Essentially, the business-IT alignment strategy is to not have IT as an afterthought, but to make more thought-out decisions together that help the business reach its goals.
Benefits of Incorporating Business-IT Alignment
The reason many companies have shifted to this strategy is that it improves the productivity of teams — which ultimately leads to lower costs and increased profits. Here are a few benefits that companies could experience when utilizing this IT strategy:
- More effective utilization of time and resources
- Overall improved customer experience
- Reduced IT costs
- Faster time to market
- Improved cooperation between departments
- Allows for better and more impactful decision making
- Technology that makes business operations a priority
5 Tips to Help You Implement the Business-IT Alignment Strategy
Check out these steps you can take to create a smooth partnership between your business and IT objectives.
- Outline Business Goals
Clearly outline what your business goals are moving forward and how to best achieve them. This includes a cybersecurity plan; 42% of small businesses have no response plan in the event of a cyber attack, meaning that if one does occur, these businesses would flounder. If company goals are not clearly defined and employees don’t know what they’re working towards, it can cause unnecessary strain on company resources. Ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done in order to reach business objectives, including your IT team.
- Make Sure Objectives Are Manageable If the goal is too large and employees are unsure where to start, you’ll struggle with confusion and inefficient use of time. Break business objectives into smaller parts that are easier to manage and keep track of to ensure IT teams and business leaders are working towards the same objective.
- KPIs That Work Together Creating and measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allows business leaders and IT teams to identify areas that are doing well or require more work. This up-to-date info will allow for better decision-making. You should also look for KPIs that both IT and business share — this can help IT and business leaders to collaborate more efficiently towards the same endpoint.
- Have Good Business Relationships That Build Trust Putting focus on building great partnerships between the IT department or managed IT providers and business leaders should be a key objective. This will help establish trust between everyone involved and help with collaboration. IT leaders and business leaders must have conversations to outline what obstacles they’re currently facing and what should be done to resolve them.
- Maintain Alignment In a business, various issues can arise and cause departments to shift their focus to something else. Make sure to monitor the IT strategy so it still aligns with the company goals that have been set in place, no matter what arises. If the business decides to expand or change the products or services it offers, the IT team must also reevaluate its strategy to remain in sync with the company objectives.
Challenges of Implementing Business-IT Alignment
Change is often challenging. In a business environment, people are used to doing things a certain way. Make sure that your IT team and business leaders take changes into consideration when they make decisions.
If both IT and business leaders determine that new technology or strategies are required, make sure that the company and its workers can comfortably adjust to the change. While implementation demands time and effort, the benefits often far outweigh the negatives.
Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers cybersecurity news and insights. He is also a regular contributor at DZone, ReadWrite, and HackerNoon. For more of his work, follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.