Bridge Building – Aligning IT’s Relationship With the Business

By Taryn Brown, City of Dallas
2015-2016 SAPinsight Leader Board Member

When I think about bridge building and aligning IT’s relationship with business professionals, engineer, architect, sculptor and painter Santiago Calatrava (www.calatrava.com) comes to mind.  Not just because he’s one of the most famous bridge builders in the world, but because he understands that success takes collaboration, commitment, communications, clear goals and a culture of inclusion.

Full View Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Dallas' Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Mr. Calavatra designed Dallas’ newest landmark, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.  While in Dallas to promote the bridge Calatrava noted that “the fact that our bridge is linking two radically separated communities is a great thing.”

And that is what we must strive to do as IT and business professionals—bridge the gap between IT and the business. I was recently involved with a business driven project that was designed without the input of IT.  This was a typical example of the business and IT not understanding each other’s priorities and roadmap which left people feeling disconnected.  Our solution was to get both teams to communicate, understand each other’s needs, define our goals and put the project back on track.

In a recent article in CIO Insight, Rain Partners CEO Marc J. Schiller emphasized that the issue of aligning IT with the business isn’t really a clear-cut business, IT or management problem. He wrote that it’s feeling that people experience in different ways depending on organizational circumstances. He also believes that alignment is often viewed much too narrowly and attempts to force one solution to the “misalignment” issue will fall short.

Schiller says each organization has its own unique IT alignment needs­—an “IT alignment finger print” and identifies five areas of IT Alignment:

  1. Strategy-Driven Alignment – “What is getting done”
  2. Operational Alignment – “How it gets done”
  3. Calendar Alignment – “When things get done”
  4. Economic Alignment –“The cost of getting things done”
  5. Cultural Alignment – “Being sensitive to attitudes and personalities”

Perhaps using Mr. Schiller’s finger print approach to align IT and the business in an atmosphere of collaboration and communication will be like building a Calatrava bridge that links two radically separated communities. To read more about Mr. Schiller’s five areas of IT Alignment visit: http://www.cioinsight.com/it-management/expert-voices/the-challenges-of-aligning-it-and-the-business.html