How to reduce the differences between IT and business teams

23 November 2021 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read
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As leaders run the magnifying glass over every facet of their operations searching for ways to improve efficiencies, many are realising one thing that needs to be achieved is elimination of the gap between their business and its IT department. Chris Ellis, Director Pre-Sales at Nintex, shares how this can be done.

For far too long, IT has tended to be strategically isolated from the business core for a number of historical reasons. One is a lack of understanding of business issues and the value that IT can deliver. Others include a fear of the unknown among line managers, and traditionally-minded CIOs who have been accustomed to focusing primarily on their IT infrastructure.

In reality, it’s been a no-win situation. The very job description states emphatically that IT is not part of the business, but instead is an external party that has to somehow try to align with it.

How to reduce the differences between IT and business teams

Speed has become essential

In today’s fast-paced business environment, having such a gap can be very limiting as it can reduce a business’s ability to take advantage of new opportunities or respond to sudden changes in market demand.

This is particularly obvious when it comes to the growing demand for process automation. It’s a trend that is helping businesses not only accelerate their operations but also reduce costs, improve customer experiences, and lay the foundation for new data-driven revenue streams.

However, none of these benefits can be realised if turf battles are raging between the business looking to optimise its processes and the IT department responsible for deploying the required tools.

This is a serious strategic problem for many businesses because unless line managers and IT managers collaborate on process automation, it will be harder for the overall company to meet its goals. The technology isn’t the problem – it’s the lack of communication that’s proving to be the stumbling block.

The dos and don’ts

As with any project where business and IT need to work closely together, there is both a wrong way and a right way to go about doing it.

The wrong way involves the IT department coming across as know-it-all experts who don’t need input or feedback from line managers. At the same time, line management teams treat their IT colleagues like one-dimensional application-delivery robots who don’t understand business objectives.

As a result, the IT team becomes controlling, overriding all input from line managers and insisting it’s all about implementation rather than outcomes. The line management team then responds by deciding to bring in external consultants who may have domain expertise but no idea about how to engage with corporate IT regarding testing, security, connectivity, and standards.

IT then rushes to get the software implemented as quickly as possible, regardless of whether it’s tailored to deliver required outcomes. Line managers then override reasonable and important input from IT about which vendors are best qualified in terms of support, integration, and security.

A better approach involves the IT team saying from the outset that they want to fully understand the business’s goals, objectives, and strategy. Line managers indicate they view IT as an important partner and are keen to work closely with them to get the project completed.

The work is then completed with both groups giving input and making suggestions about how it can best be done. The result is a project delivered on time, on budget, and one that meets the business’s specific requirements.

Collaboration is key

Armed with a collaborative mindset and with a full understanding of business objectives, IT leaders can now evaluate tools built to give all stakeholders across line management and IT a full view of the processes that will be affected.

This high-level visibility then leads to better documentation of current processes, as well as areas ripe for standardisation and automation. This helps both line managers and IT teams determine which processes should be kept and optimised, which need to be tweaked with automation, which should be reconfigured significantly before automating, and which need to be shut down entirely because they are outdated or unnecessary.

The end result is automated processes that meet the real-world needs of the business. The IT team is happy because it’s successfully completed an important rollout while line managers are satisfied because their requirements have been fulfilled.

By bridging the traditional gap between IT and the business, organisations will find themselves making considerable strides as they fostering a culture of continuous improvement that results in tangible efficiencies.

Other articles from Chris Ellis on Consultancy.org:
- Three steps to an optimised customer experience
- Five barriers blocking continuous business process improvement
- Enhance business processes with a workflow automation platform