Ok, so everyone’s been trying to fix IT departments almost since the first computers were put to work on business problems. So how come nobody has gotten it right yet? I believe that one reason that we keep missing the mark is because we really have no idea what a really good IT department looks like. We think that we know, but we really don’t.
So let’s figure this one out — I mean, how hard could it be? I will be the first to confess that I’ve spent way too much of my career viewing the IT department as something separate from the rest of the business. This comes from my belief that I knew more about how IT worked than anyone on the “business” side of the house. Give me some requirements and then go away. I’ll create the best solution and will deliver it to you later on and you can thank me when you get it. I’m not sure if this ever worked, but I sure seem to think that it did a long time ago.
No matter, it sure does not work today. Instead, I believe that the role of IT has been transformed to SERVE the rest of the business. In order for this to happen, the managers in the IT department are going to have to learn to do the following four things:
- Connect their employees’ actions to the mission of the firm (sorry, I had to use the “M” word because it really is a good description). This will turn intentions into real actions.
- Link IT and business teams and business processes together in order to truly meet the changing needs of customers.
- Don’t leave your business strategy on the shelf. Instead, constantly shape it with real-time information that you are constantly receiving from your customers.
- Create an internal culture in which all of these elements all work together — seamlessly.
Arrgh, that list looks so foreign to the way most IT firms are doing things right now that you might be tempted to say that it’s impossible. Don’t you dare: you are going to have to do all four of these tasks and much more in order to make sure that your firm can survive in the 21st Century.