Why doesn't the IT team deliver?

By Cleo van Engelen

Many people think that as an IT consultant, I'm primarily focused on technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my daily practice, I often come across IT and Information Management challenges that aren't solely about technology. In cases like these, I differentiate between cause and effect. For example, the IT department doesn't deliver the right products or services. This is an effect. Perhaps the cause is that the right products or services weren't properly described or requested. Only by asking the right question do you get the right answer (and subsequently a fitting solution). In this blog, I'll delve into the role of "the business" in IT and Information Management challenges.

IT, Information Management, Demand and Supply, Information Strategy,IT and Business

The field of Information Management plays a central role in bridging the gap between business challenges (primary processes) and their realization through IT. Information Management aims to align business developments and IT advancements. Through proper implementation, technology and data solutions can optimally contribute to an organization's tasks. A mature information management process requires the consolidation of knowledge about IT, information provisioning, and primary processes. You must be able to translate an organization's functional needs into requests to a supporting department (such as IT). This way, you bring together demand (what do you need) and supply (what can be delivered).

In many organizations, I notice that the level at which demand and supply converge isn't the same. You need a natural counterpart at the right level, in terms of expertise and decision-making authority. Only through effective alignment of demand and supply can you achieve what you want or provide what is desired. If the business doesn't adequately address the demand side and doesn't operate at the appropriate level, information provisioning can become (too much) supply-driven.

I also often observe that centralizing IT and Information Management departments creates a disconnect from the business. The "IT folks" are situated in a different department, where all the IT-related knowledge is pooled. If you consider a centralized IT department as a contractor, the business must be a proficient client. This client should understand what the contractor can do for them. Centralizing or consolidating the IT department must not result in a lack of knowledge about IT and Information Management within the business.

My advice is to invest more in structuring information management for effective alignment of demand and supply. This involves looking not only at what IT can do for you, but also at what the business needs to do to obtain the right information products and services. Some tips for this process include:

  • Assign a role within the business that is explicitly responsible for managing demand and aggregating demand from that business. This role should be the connector between demand and supply, possessing knowledge of primary processes, IT, and information provisioning.
  • Translate the business strategy (where does the organization want to go) into an information strategy (what impact does that business strategy have on information provisioning) and an information plan (how do I execute my strategy).
  • Attempt to minimize the gap between "IT folks" and "business folks." The larger the gap, the higher the likelihood of mismatched information provisioning.

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