Business is a much to blame for misalignment

I’m fed up hearing that IT needs to align with the business. I was at a conference in London earlier about enterprise architecture, listening to a speaker from Cadbury Schweppes. What impressed me about the presentation was the extent of the business change required to embed this architecture within the IT function of the business.

This was a business change exercise not an IT change. We often talk about IT business alignment and blame IT for the disconnect. I would argue that IT can teach the business a trick or two on making major changes. Perhaps it is time for the business to apply IT project management best practices to the way the company is run.

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Computing Business editor Mark Samuels asked a related question recently:

“It's just a shame that after years of writing about the need for integration between IT and business, alignment is still at the critical - rather than the taken-for-granted - stage. Who's fault is that - the IT department or the business?”

The answer is straightforward – neither. I believe we can’t blame IT and we can’t blame the business.

Traditionally Business and IT have not had a way of talking the same language. And if they can’t speak the same language, and therefore understand each other, then alignment just isn’t going to happen. It doesn’t matter who initiates the conversation, Business or IT.

What actually matters is that the discussions and subsequent decisions take place around a common and easily understandable Business and IT (B&IT) document which enables both parties to work together in a meaningful way. I’ve written more about this in an article here.

As for using IT Project Management techniques to run other parts of the business, would we really like to see them used? There are always the perennial problems of going over budget, completion dates overrunning, teething problems with new systems and how the solutions deployed don’t actually fit with what the business actually wanted to see.

Then again, I'm sure we can think about other professions which exhibit similar traits... so maybe we IT folk shouldn't be so hard on ourselves.