How Do We Align Business-IT Strategies Where Trust Is Lacking?

In business enterprises with low maturity IT organizations, IT is traditionally perceived to be a “necessary evil” and treated as a cost center because of the following key business reasons:

  • IT costs are taxed across all businesses/customers irrespective of whether a particular business/customer uses any of the ‘things’ provided by IT or not. These ”things” are normally not well understood in low maturity organizations and may not actually qualify as something that is delivering value to the customers. Therefore, they may not be services.
  • Businesses/customers really do not understand what their IT organization does for them and in most cases, may not have the visibility into what they are paying for and why.
  • Businesses/customers really do not have any control over what they want from IT and what they don’t.
  • Businesses/customers view IT as a “necessary evil” because they know that they need certain ”things” from IT and that they will not be able to function with those things. In other cases, existing IT organization/service provider is the only option available and businesses/customers do not have any choice.
  • Businesses/customers know that IT does not know what they do and what all pains they go through on a daily basis. In addition, businesses/customers know that they will have to literally go through a painful journey to have IT enable their business processes.
  • IT is perceived as disconnected from the business and as a ”spender” that does not understand itself what it costs them to create their services.
  • Business/customers know that IT makes promises and rarely delivers.
  • Lastly, if businesses/customers could, they would get rid of IT in a split second.

Well, I can actually just continue down this list. These are the real pain points of most businesses and customers that have to deal with low maturity IT organizations. The most unfortunate part of all this is that continuing disappointments on the IT side has largely led the businesses/customers believe not to actually believe IT. The result may be that, under these conditions, if you go to your business partners with revised Service Level Agreements (SLAs), they will not even sit down to look at those. The most common reaction that Business Relationship Managers or Account Managers will get is that “you don’t know our pain points.” This is not an exaggeration and is actually based on my experiences with real clients. Key question is how do you go about creating that trust again?

On the IT side, we must realize the following facts:

  • Understand what you do for your customers and how well you do it. First and most important, you need to clearly understand what you do for your customers. This will involve interviewing both business customers/end users as well as IT stakeholders. You will need to quickly establish a clear understanding of what are your customers pain-points on all that they receive from you.
  • Stop that bleeding immediately. When you understand what you do for your customers and their pain points, plan (as part of the larger BSM implementation) to address the pain points immediately and achieve quick wins.
  • Plan to achieve business-IT integration. In strategic terms, one important reality is that if IT does not align its strategy with the overall business strategy, then it will continue to be a cost center and perceived as a necessary evil. IT organizations must plan a longer-term transformation to become a value-add business partner if they are to survive the competition from outside IT service providers.

To learn more about ITIL, check out Learning Tree’s course, Putting ITIL® into Practice:  A Roadmap for Transformation.

Ahmad Shuja

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