IT alignment is not the solution you’re looking for

IT alignment

Much has been said about the importance of IT alignment with the modern business. But what, if anything, does this achieve?

It has been a long time since the simple help desk became the service desk and began to offer IT services to both internal and external customers. IT is increasingly focused on how it can place itself within the modern organisation, often referred to as IT alignment. This is all down to the need for IT to manage the needs of a more complex environment, from general support, to infrastructure management and day-to-day service for IT customers.

As a result, many a column inch has been written about the need to align IT with the business and with the departments and functions that it now supports and maintains services for. The problem is, though, that alignment is not a solution in itself. By its definition, alignment means to run in parallel to or alongside something. This suggests that IT can get close to the departments that it services but cannot fully integrate with the business.

Transforming the business through IT

Likewise, terms such as “digital transformation” offer a way for IT to define its role in the business as the driving force behind the use of technology to improve business process and achieve real business outcomes. In truth, IT has always done this and will continue to do so as it is the strategic role of IT to enable business change.

The main problem is that opportunities for technology and process alignment can easily be missed or simply not considered as an option as they rely on a representative of IT or the department it is servicing to recognise an opportunity and to build a case for making it happen. Simple obstacles such as budget control and the day-to-day workload compound the issue.

BRM offers strategic integration

Integration is the key. By integrating rather than aligning with the business, departments can utilise technology, ideas and unified processes more easily. This is where Business Relationship Management (BRM) is born – enabling business strategy to be effectively deployed across the organisation. BRM also helps IT to define its’ role as the driving force for change within the organisation and gives it a clear mandate to deliver this. Integration of IT not only brings about substantial change, but it naturally leads to the consolidation of technology and process, resulting in budget savings in time and infrastructure.

By implementing a proper and independent approach to BRM, organisations can ensure that neither the intention of the leadership strategy nor the day-to-day workload of IT will get in the way of delivering the best outcome. BRM, when deployed and managed properly, should remove obstacles, break down process barriers between departments and recognise and enable opportunities for change.

And it doesn’t end with traditional IT infrastructure and applications such as ITSM. BRM has the capacity to recognise opportunities across the entire range of business solutions – including other areas that IT supplies to the business, either directly or indirectly. This may be CRM, ERP or another system that could potentially be better integrated with business strategy and benefit a greater number of employees in other areas.

Organisations should be aiming for much more than IT alignment. Closer integration of IT with the business is all about demonstrating the value that IT provides and also maximising the benefits that you get from the systems you use and the way in which your workers use them.