For IT to become an enabler for your business processes, you will have to align the IT strategy with the business strategy. Aligning IT with the business strategies is one of the best ways to realize the fullest value that IT adds to business.
Aligning business with IT is the process of setting the IT goals to be the same as the objectives of the business. This is important since IT is supposed to support the organization and assist the staff members in their day-to-day activities. This alignment is sometimes hindered by the gap and differences in incentives, culture, objectives and mutual ignorance. Therefore, this phenomenon calls for a formulated way of bringing the staff and the IT personnel together.
Note that for the business and IT strategies to be aligned, there must be a clear view on how IT is going to assist the business, maybe in hastening the business processes in the near and distant future. Thus, you must invest in good IT, for example, by getting scalable systems, lest you buy systems that will become obsolete in a few years. You need systems that can grow with the business.
Here are a few things to consider when aligning IT with Business Strategy
The first most important thing is to understand the business. In every business, there will be IT needs and these should be the concern on the IT department. Now, these needs will be different depending on the times. For example, if a company is launching a new product, the IT need of that time will be different from the IT need of when a company has acquired another one and the IT systems have to be merged. There needs to be constant monitoring of the IT needs to ensure that the vision of the business as well as that of the IT team run concurrently.
What is the current capability of IT against the long-term vision?
In other words, the question here is; where do you stand currently? What is the current IT status of the business? Is it in line with the futuristic objectives of the business? For example, if the main business objective is to go national in 5 years, well, is the IT objective the same? The most important thing to consider here is whether the current IT systems can be upgraded to grow with the business. If they cannot, then it means that somewhere in future, they will have to be discarded and new ones installed. That would be too costly for the business, wouldn’t it?
Make your IT strategy adjustable
IT is evolving very first. You have been a witness to that yourself. From the main frames of decades ago to the smartphones of today, well, that is quite an evolution. It seems as if we are headed to the “Star Trek” era where basically everything runs on technology. Back to reality however, you have to make the IT strategy adjustable. I know… feels a bit like a repetition of the scalability issue again, but what we mean here is that your IT strategy should be malleable such that it can be shaped to conform to the needs of the business.
Know and document the IT assets, their applications and the delivery channels. After understanding the nature of the business and dealing accordingly with the menace of the culture, we are almost ready to start aligning the IT with the business strategy. But before that, we should first document different components and have knowledge of their aggregation to service offering.
Prioritize your IT strategy
As the IT director, you will have your team working to discover any loopholes, any misalignment and any IT resource that is not being used to its full potential. However, you are also smart enough to know that not everything can be fixed immediately. Thus, only the very urgent IT needs should be addressed first.
These are only a few of ways in which the alignment of business and IT strategy can be attained. There are more. However, perhaps the most important of them all is to ensure that the IT strategy can grow with the growth of the business.