IT and business alignment tactics

IT and business alignment is a challenge with which CIOs struggle daily, and it’s bound to remain that way, with recent data showing that IT managers are predicting smaller budgets for 2010.

So what do you do when business department heads demand to know why IT requests made several months before are not in place by now?

You could take a page out of CIO Chris Brady’s playbook. All IT requests from business departments at Dealer Services Corp., a Carmel, Ind.-based financer of car dealerships, are funneled to Brady, who in turn enters them in a weekly report that is shared companywide. The requests are rated by IT and business managers, with those deemed more critical to the business placed higher in the queue, she said.

This process allows department heads and users to see where their requests stand and how the requests rank in comparison with others made that week. Department heads meet with IT weekly to discuss, or argue, about why their particular requests are lower or higher than others on the list.

“IT always suffers from the perception that requests go into this giant black hole, that there isn’t a firm timeline for projects and response times aren’t good enough,” Brady said. “We faced that more so this past year than others [because of the economy], but the report shows the departments that we have 2,300 [IT] requests right now, and here’s where your five stand.”

A weekly report is also sent out, listing all requests that have been resolved and added compared with the previous week.

Of course, this comes from a CIO who encourages all employees to email her directly with suggestions on any matter, and what it comes down to is a belief in transparency. Perhaps until IT shares information — such as how many requests it gets per week or a timeline of when it thinks staff will get to a given project — the business may continue to view IT as a black hole.

Email me at [email protected] to let me know if you’re trying to make IT more transparent or other ways you are tackling IT and business alignment.

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