Why We Killed "The Business"- Part 2
If you read my recent post, Why We Killed “The Business” – Part 1, you know about my personal struggle with the name calling that occurs on many IT teams. Not among each other. They’re calling you (leadership or employees outside of the IT team) "The Business". It’s not very nice, but in some cases, it’s justified. When bad relationships exist between IT and the rest of the organization, regular misunderstandings and fingerpointing can occur, frequently dividing the two sides.
When I first took on strategic operational oversight of technology at Assurance, I’m sure there were a few head scratches. At the time, I was leading many of Assurance’s major projects, but couldn’t have told you what SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, NIST, SSRS, or a million other acronyms meant. But that’s okay! Here’s what I knew and what has proven successful for us. I knew our entire company was dependent on technology and why our IT team needed our company, and I figured out how to put the phrase "The Business" to bed for good at Assurance through a partnership between IT and the rest of the organization.
Here are some of the key things I found successful for us:
- We aligned. Assurance’s long-term strategic vision contains 13 key areas, seven of which rely heavily on technology platforms. Without a close alignment of technology and the rest of our organization, we’d have an extremely hard time achieving our goals. The long-term strategic vision of a company should be complemented by the IT roadmap. Always.
- We educated. Our IT team understands how our business makes or loses money. This helps them understand the impact of downtime or slow internal service. It’s not just the major objectives and long-term strategy that are important. We celebrate the small wins that lead to “easy IT” for our entire company, allowing our employees to do their job without technology interruptions.
- We chose appropriate project owners. No one from our IT team is the sponsor of a business-related project, but there’s always someone from IT at the table. Technology is a tool that can help us achieve our goals, but it’s not the solution. To drive a major project, ensure major stakeholders are the sponsors.
- We have high-level leaders in IT. Our IT team has a voice inside of senior leadership. In fact, I’m proud to say there are two of us at Assurance on the senior team, ensuring high-level strategy is understood, and technology-related needs are recognized and addressed.
- We focused on service. We dedicate a lot of time and energy into delivering a high level of internal client service. Our internal service platform for IT models our external client service platform.
- We shared WHY. We communicate the ‘why’ behind everything happening across the organization to IT, and communicate the ‘why’ behind everything happening with IT to the company.
- We communicated...a lot. We communicate when something goes wrong, and make sure to also share when things go as-planned. And best of all, we communicate and celebrate the successes of technology goals that make Assurance stronger.
- We hired an awesome team. To ensure our company needs were being met, we hired the right people to our IT team with strong business acumen and the passion to improve our company, not just technology functions.
All of these moves have helped shaped us for success. Oh, and don’t worry. I studied up on my acronyms and one of the very first strategic hires I made was a strong Vice President of IT (I’m no dummy!). This is all feeling like a beautiful, long-term partnership.
- Why We Killed “The Business” – Part 1
- Perfection. It’s Overrated.
- A Shelf Is No Place for a Strategic Plan
- Educating Employees on Cyber Security
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