3 Tips for More Effective IT & Business Collaboration  

Written By: Ankit Shah
July 25, 2018
4 min read

IT hasn’t always welcomed low- and no-code platforms with open arms. However, things are changing: organizations are not only starting to see the value of empowering those closest to the work with the tools to solve their challenges, but are also getting smarter about how they address governance and security in the process. In fact, according to Quickbase’s State of Business Apps 2017 Report, IT departments are growing more comfortable with business users taking on development — almost half of no-code builders said IT was “fully” supportive of their efforts.

At EMPOWER2018, I moderated a panel with three customers on the topic of effective IT & business collaboration: Aetna, Able Services and Avant Healthcare Professionals. Each shared how Quickbase helped them bring IT and business functions closer together, along with strategies used to ensure teams are agile without sacrificing quality, compliance or governance.

Here are three of the big themes they discussed around how to create successful relationships between IT and the business:

Focus first on setting the right policies, but then let people in the business run

Adam Ligas, Quickbase Guru at the healthcare company Aetna, said he views his role in IT as very much serving the business, and setting the overall policies that enables innovation for the company.

“I make sure the platform, and thus, the applications are compliant with all our IT security policies, password rules, encryption, etc. We leave the business folks and the citizen developers to build their apps and solve their problems. Then, we take on the secondary role of support.”

User education on security issues also plays an important role. Spence Lloyd, CFO at Avant, said that because of the rise of phishing and other cyberattacks over the last year, his organization has spent more time educating employees on these threats and how to support the company’s governance initiatives.

For Heather Bryant, IMF Platform Manager at the country’s largest family-owned building services provider, Able Services, said her organization puts a lot of effort into setting the right access policies. “We start out pretty tight, where you can just view the data from the place that you work and as the product grows and [users] say ‘we want to see this, we want to see that,’ we’ll tweak that for them.”

Welcome IT into the process

Bryant thinks being smart about how and when you collaborate is also key.

“We try to incorporate [IT] into the initial development. One, because it’s useful to get their knowledge. But two, when you bring people into your process and make them feel like they’re part of the team, they want to work with you.”

She added that, for Able Services, “collaboration isn’t so much technical; it’s more so in working with [IT] to get their buy-in to allow us to change processes or tools that are static and aren’t working anymore.”

Figure out what model of collaboration works best for you

There are three main models for successful collaboration among Quickbase customers: one where the business users lead the process, one where IT builds it and then hands over to the business, and one that’s more balanced. Any can work, but the key is for companies to use the model that best fits their needs.

For example, Avant Healthcare Services classifies their approach as business-led, even though IT is still involved and often creates the initial application. This is because the company’s philosophy is that the role of IT is to support the business. “Our environment is an entrepreneurial, high-growth environment,” said Lloyd. The IT function at Avant is really focused on enabling business growth and business priorities, and IT reports to me.”

This approach seems to be working well, with Avant heavily relying on Quickbase to run its entire business.

“We use Intacct for our back-office accounting software but virtually all operational activity is handled and managed through Quickbase. We have grown extremely rapidly over the last several years, and I would attribute our ability to scale and execute as well as we have to the fact we have virtually everything automated in Quickbase.”

Thanks to these fantastic organizations for sharing their approach and best practices!

Written By: Ankit Shah
Ankit is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Quickbase where he focuses on helping customers collaborate between their IT and Business to drive innovation & digital transformation within their organization. Ankit’s alma mater is Georgia Institute of Technology where he earned a degree in Computer Engineering.