How CIOs Can Fix the Business-IT Alignment Problem

Apr 13, 2016
5 Min Read
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How CIOs Can Fix the Business-IT Alignment ProblemIf your CEO says your IT expenditures are costing too much, you have a bigger problem than your budget. This complaint is a big red flag that should tell you you're out of alignment with the business and you need to fix that pronto.

One of the things you don’t want to hear from your CEO is how big a chunk the IT budget takes out of the entire company budget. And subsequently, you don’t want to hear, “Is there a way to reduce those costs?”

Those type of comments signal that action is needed on your part as the CIO / CTO to educate the C-Suite on the value you provide to the company.

Having your IT department viewed as a cost center that delivers little value to the bottom line is definitely not a good thing. It’s not a problem of understanding according to the 2014 State of Software Development report by Blueprint Software Systems.

According to the report, 82% of IT leaders consider the applications their group delivers to be important, very important or critical to the competitiveness of the business.

But the problem lies in communication between IT and the C-Suite. And it’s the CIO / CTO who bears the responsibility for shifting the discussion to close that gap.

So where do you start? Here are some ideas.

  • Flip the conversation – Take a look at how the technology currently in place adds value to the company. Relate how each technology system supports and enables company strategy, achieves organizational goals, and helps the company hit defined metrics. Communicate with the CEO using this business language rather than talking in “IT speak.” Make sure every person in the IT department understands too. Sadly, the report identified that only 31% of all team members have a clear and common understanding of a project’s business objectives.
  • Become the “Go To” person – Rather than being the last person consulted when a business change is needed, help your CEO understand how your contribution at the beginning of solution identification can ensure the company achieves a good outcome. This will require time and effort on your part to build the foundation and relationships necessary that engender the necessary trust. The key will be to make sure you have others’ backs when it comes to important business issues so you’re the first they think of when a solution is needed.
  • Talk about the successes – Everyone hears about IT failures and what doesn’t get done. Make sure you communicate how the last IT project enabled the organization to achieve an important goal, how it made things easier for your customers, or how a specific business unit was able to streamline due to the change. These successes should be communicated from the top of the company to the front line so everyone understands how ITs contribution adds value to the bottom line.
  • Share the responsibility – It will be easier for people to believe you’re focused on helping the business if you take the time to let go of some of the IT responsibilities that are better suited to management at the business unit level. You can also demonstrate your commitment by embedding IT resources in the business units as needed to help them achieve their best outcomes.

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