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Business and IT alignment: the importance of being focused on the same goals – Part 2

Missed part 1?

In the second part of his blog ‘Business and IT alignment: the importance of being focused on the same goals’ Gary Hardy from ITWinners answers a few more of our questions on the increased focus on Business Relationship Management and the growth of the BRM community in Africa.

What are your key goals from a regional perspective in South Africa – what unique challenges are there?

Here in South Africa and in Africa generally our initial challenge is to raise awareness of what is really a hidden gem. There are several thousand people who have the title BRM here but no-one had heard of the BRM Institute until now. There are just as many people who have a role, including CIOs, who in reality fulfil a BRM-like function.

HR leaders and HR teams are also key targets for BRM both as a technique that they could use and also to drive technology skills development in their enterprises.

There are few ATOs offering BRM training and very few ATOs offering IT best practice training who deal with executives and the business side.

“BRM implies a shift towards business value from training and we need to be more mature in how we provide skills development in our region if real value is to be created.”

My immediate goals are therefore to drive awareness at senior executive levels in IT and HR as well as with individuals who would benefit from the BRM competencies.

What is the importance of Personal Intelligence in maintaining a ‘functional relationship’ at work?

Personal communication is a key competence in the BRM BOK. This includes the topic of emotional intelligence, and provides the “art” of good practice to supplement the “science” part – the method.  It is perhaps the most important aspect of all.

In my experience the biggest causes of technology failures can be traced back to poor communications and misunderstanding between technical people and their business colleagues. This lack of trust creates barriers and bad decisions.

“Personal Intelligence recognises that the way we act is just as important as what we know.”

BRM drives a way of interacting that regards business as a partner, to communicate in a way that they can understand, to share common goals and to commit with “skin in the game” – driving a win-win attitude. It makes functional relationships effective because we act smart, not simply following procedures or inadvertently protecting our role or playing a power game.

What should the key areas of focus be in this time of constant, complex change?

Strategic planning is key, including all the aspects of planning, so that business goals include technology, people, process, architecture and the financial aspects. Good financial planning includes proper business cases that describe what we expect as benefits and how we are going to keep our investment on track from a value delivery point of view.

In a complex changing world, transitioning is also a key area, recognising that technology enabled changes includes business change, information and data changes and the enablement of new working practices for our people.

Last year we published the “Top 10 IT Mistakes Report” together with APMG. The mistakes affecting leaders, which happen to be the top four, are:

  1. Not appointing the right stakeholders to IT steering committees
  2. Not appointing a business owner / sponsor to be accountable for IT enabled business changes
  3. Assuming IT is only for the IT service provider
  4. Failing to use a business case to monitor desired outcomes and benefits

Finally, why do you believe Business and IT alignment is so important?

Business and IT alignment has been a top challenge for years because it is recognised that if we are not focused on the same goals IT will not meet expectations, projects will fail, and operational disasters will occur. However, alignment implies separation of two entities and in fact this tendency to be apart is what mostly causes misalignment!

Years ago it made some sense for IT to be isolated, in the days of the computer room and batch processing before we had networks, mobile devices and integrated systems. Now it makes no sense at all. IT is pervasive and used by everyone, communicating from everywhere.

Successful enterprises recognise that IT should be included as a natural part of everything we do from strategy to operations, and therefore we need to join all the dots and have end-to-end ways of working. This includes external service providers just as much as internal service teams.

This is what we mean by converging business and IT and similarly converging business and HR, business and Finance etc – even teams within IT such as development and operations.

“Collaborating and working together is the only way to go!”

Visit http://itwinners.com to find out more about IT Winners.

For more information about becoming BRM certified visit: http://www.apmg-international.com/brmi

 

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