Business + IT Insights

Breaking Through The Business Technology Mentality Of “Us” And “Them”

Posted by Dave Lazor on Tue, Aug 26, 2014


480922793Business technology is the backbone of most North American companies today, small and large. In 45% of these companies, CIOs or information technology directors report to CFOs or finance directors, a fact that emphasizes the importance of effective communication and a true understanding of departmental needs to manage the relationship between information technology and finance.

In these types of companies, there’s no room for an “us”-and-“them” mentality. Regardless of organization size, top business executives – CEOs, CFOs, finance directors CIOs, IT managers – need to view and measure success the same way.

Collaboration Is Key

Here are some common complaints that business executives make about business technology solutions:

  • Excessive investment in IT systems
  • Little demonstration of ROI
  • Missed deadlines

While such complaints have some validity, these assumptions stem from a lack of understanding when it comes to technology, IT services and the responsibility of top business executives.

In order to set clear expectations and prevent misunderstandings, collaboration is key. So, what’s the framework for a streamlined approach to sharing business goals and maximizing the relationship between business technology improvements and budget concerns?

To effectively manage information technology, there must be communication, leadership and assessment.

Communication

  • Business executives are concerned with finances. They draw conclusions based on numbers.
  • IT managers and administrators are concerned with capabilities. They see technology as a tool and use it to make everyday functions more efficient.
  • To better align personal and departmental goals, departmental executives should work together to create a technology strategy that improves and enhances business capabilities while maintaining a reasonable IT budget.
  • It is essential to establish a common language for assessing and communicating how IT creates perceived value to the rest of the company.
  • Business executives should set realistic cost expectations, and IT managers should prioritize projects based on budget and ROI goals.

Leadership

  • By developing a project management model that creates joint ownership, business executives are better positioned to evaluate business needs and budget constraints.
  • Through sharing of the IT model, resource allocation, strategy, creation and implementation become the focus for both teams – business executives and IT.
  • As business executives in small and large organizations develop a model of collaboration, both groups have a better understanding of each other’s pains. Strong leadership comes from understanding pains and the value of the solutions that help relieve those pains.
  • An inefficient system requires reevaluation. As business executives develop a joint leadership mindset, each party begins to make decisions based on that which delivers the most value to the company.

Assessment

  • As a company grows, its technology needs change. Project prioritization and budget allocation stem from assessing the overall needs of the company against the needs of each department.
  • Business executives and IT managers should strive to develop an understanding of what is needed to keep IT systems supporting an evolving company. A proper assessment involves understanding what it’s going to take to implement new technology or upgrades, how much it’s going to cost and the perceived value in relation to that cost.
  • A joint assessment shifts the conversation to focus on how an information technology strategy improves business processes, as opposed to simply concentrating on the features and benefits of a new upgrade or system.

Ensuring Collaboration Effectiveness

As business executives enter into a collaborative effort with a renewed sense of purpose, there are a few questions to consider when beginning a new project and determining budget:

  • Does the IT project have a clear ROI that is documented, measurable and actively managed?
  • Does the IT project improve the delivery of specific company processes?
  • Does the IT project help with both long-term company objectives and long-term IT objectives?
  • Does the new IT initiative create a sustaining competitive advantage?

By abandoning the “us”-and-“them” mentality and adopting a “we” approach, business executives are able to streamline IT management with a focus on overall value and continued business success.

Learn more about managing and maximizing your IT budget, and using innovative business technology solutions customized for your company growth.

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Tags: business technology, it management, IT Strategy

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