Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to Rebuild Trust between IT and Business

Organizational success comes when IT and business act from 'IT vs. business' to "IT is Business" - A true partnership.

IT plays an unprecedented role in modern organizations today, information is the lifeblood of business; and digital technology is often the innovation disruptor. However, there is still a lack of trust relationship between business-IT, within IT or between IT and vendors. Is it because most of the businesses still perceive their IT organizations as a cost center or help desk, rarely invite IT to the big table to co-create strategy? Is it because IT speaks the technology jargons the business doesn’t understand, or IT plays as a gatekeeper, not an enabler for taking advantage of the latest digital technology trend. Is it also because nowadays technology vendors walk around IT to directly sell their SaaS solutions to the business functions? What are some effective ways to build/rebuild trust in the IT organization? What are the considerations for the non-IT organizations to gain the trust from IT? What are the considerations for a service provider to gain the trust of IT organizations?

Businesses should empower their IT leaders to co-create strategy: The Non-IT executive needs to understand how to build a close relationship with the CIO and vice versa. Together as a team, they can achieve a synergy that cannot be achieved as individuals. The skills can be learned, but it all comes down to relationships and what is best for the organization. Since, in most organizations, business and technology are forever interwoven, so should the CIO and the non-IT Executive team. In a perfect world, CIOs and IT would be asked to the table in strategy planning. Not the case right now in most places, it isn't a peer relationship right now until that perception is turned around.

IT has to re-invent itself from a back office function to an innovation engine: Change is the nature of information and technology, unfortunately, IT is perceived as less innovative in most of the enterprises. Often they still implement software and methods long obsolete, with a lower success rate of project delivery; Also, IT overly focuses on “T” - technology and hardware side of work, not put enough attention on “I” - information side of the story. Fundamentally, IT is all about delivering the right information to the right people at the right time to make the right decisions. IT needs to involve the users by giving them active roles on the project, make them feel important, train them on the new product, appreciate and reward them then, your project is off to a successful start. IT employees need to have a better understanding of business, treating IT projects not only as technical challenges but also as business initiatives to keep the customer involved and satisfied. The relationship between the vendors and IT is echoed often, it's not always just the IT and vendors that are working towards a solution. The business is usually involved if it is a business application. Thus, it's not just the customer-supplier engagement model that impacts, but a business-IT engagement model.

Business and IT have to work more collaboratively for improving the project success rate: Every IT project is the business project. The advocacy work continues through the life cycle of the project and then they will stay on board - they can visualize the benefit. You have to advocate the benefit to the firm or it's "just another project." It's hard enough to advocate back office improvement, especially when competing with product development resources, so you absolutely have to have executives and managers understand and buy-in. The change management team would work with the training department and unit managers to identify required training for each team, based on the functionalities of the new application. While delivering according to expectations, but no excuse is essential to building or rebuilding trust. First, make sure you understand the realities and the perceptions of the problem. Get to the bottom of the trust issue in your company. Then tackle it head-on. Listen then act. Don't start by assuming you know the problem. Business is moving too fast to have infighting and distrust as challenges. Ensure the C-level group is aligned and includes a C-level IT leader that focuses on the company goals and is compensated for delivering on those goals. Make sure the C-level IT representative is an outstanding communicator, first and foremost a person that can inspire, motivate and lead as the rest of the C-level group does.

Organizational success comes when IT and business act from 'IT vs. business' to a true partnership. The business needs to have empathy and complexity mindset to understand IT better, and IT value to the business trumps the latest technology. Learn to listen to the business partner's pain points and develop an approach with the business unit. Only through working seamlessly, business as a whole can achieve a high-performing result.


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