How to Map Your IT Strategy to Business Goals

In CIO/IT by Bobby BoughtonLeave a Comment

IT Strategy

According to Gartner predictions for 2017, nearly a third of IT spending will happen in other departments; the perception is that IT is too slow and unwieldy, so operations outsources their IT needs. IT management requires a proactive, business-centric approach to work towards mutual company goals and create efficiency.

“You need to be clear on what the strategy is, be open to challenges, and ultimately help people to understand what the business is and how to achieve it.”- Kevin Connell, Southern Housing Group CIO

Historically, tech solutions have helped people accomplish specific tasks (i.e., word processing and email). Now, IT solutions are woven into the very fabric of your organization—and facilitate company goals. Without IT (pun intended), many businesses are unable to operate. However, many IT leaders end up putting out fires rather than developing technology strategies, and their team ends up working in a silo rather than across departments.

So how can you align your IT strategy with business-driven initiates? Let’s explore this idea.

Start with What Matters Most to the C-Suite

According to Techopedia, a business-driven development (BDD) approach helps increase business agility and align and prioritize IT initiatives with business imperatives. Indirectly, a BDD approach simplifies the cost justification process for IT budgets inside an organization.

To find examples of business-driven IT, look at business challenges first. Company leaders rarely lose sleep over the next SAN storage investment. Instead, they’re driven by the need to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Of course, your organization may have additional goals that are unique to your business, too.

“An IT leader must think about the business outcome of technology investments, keeping in mind that conflicts can surface in employees’ mindsets, corporate operating rhythms, team reporting structures and more. One approach I’ve developed is to speak in the language of business executives and highlight the business outcomes they want to achieve.” Atticus Tysen, CIO and Senior VP, Intuit.

Do Your Homework  

Base your IT initiatives on a business case, backed by data, so you can frame your IT plan accordingly. Before initiating a new project, determine if you’re using your current systems and resources to the fullest. This may seem obvious, but a recent survey of cloud buyers and users by Rightscale shows the disparity between perceived and actual cloud usage and costs. Respondents guessed that their wasted cloud spend was about 30%, but when measured, their actual waste was closer to 45%, on average.

cloud data

As such, the survey respondents stated that optimizing existing cloud use for cost savings is their priority for 2017. Your system usage analysis may reveal that you can switch plans and save money, or prevent you from investing in additional resources that aren’t necessary.

Your strategy may include adding new members to your team. There are a number of emerging roles within the scope of tech, some of which can bridge the gap between business and IT. Again, let’s use cloud services as an example:

“The pace at which new cloud services are being created and the complexity of mechanisms available suggest a degree in cloud economics will be needed for organizations to operate them efficiently and plan for future requirements. As such, we see a new role emerging for enterprise cloud users: the cloud financial administrator.” Research VP, William Fellows of 451 Research.

Become a Team Player

Modern IT departments are no longer just support teams. You are strategic partners who impact key business drivers, including business flexibility, risk management, time to market, and cost implications. Here are a few ways you can reflect this in your day-to-day operations:

  • Identify high-risk areas. Organizations are creating business models that are not only agile but resilient. Identify and communicate areas of risk to ensure stability against adverse conditions and improve the customer experience.
  • Embrace connectivity. Your organization is most cost-efficient when teams integrate and consolidate products and solutions across the board, which saves in software, human resources, and IT infrastructure.
  • Use a standard data exchange format. Leverage a standard data exchange format to improve communication and streamline processes.
  • Solve problems across departments. Identify opportunities to synthesize business needs and IT operations. For instance, companies that want to improve their sales-to-customer service cycle can use integrated CRM solutions to facilitate interdepartmental collaboration. Or, instead of relying on traditional networking, help your HR department find an automated resume processing system.

Learn about your industry, consumer markets, regulatory requirements, and your organization’s culture to provide holistic solutions for efficiency, productivity, and insights.

As the field of technology expands, anyone who speaks a common business-driven development language will offer value to business stakeholders. IoT, predictive analytics, machine learning, hosting solutions, and as-a-service solutions all serve business goals. Think business first to boost ROI, support innovation, and demonstrate your value within the organization.  

Additional Resources on This Topic:

Building the Case for Compliance
Defining Business-Driven IT Strategies
Business and IT Alignment – How CIOs are Aligning the Business and Technology

This post was first published on Onramp.