Trends in nomansland between business and IT (NGI, Jan 2013)


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Trends in nomansland between business and IT (NGI, Jan 2013)

  1. 1. White Paper Trends in no-man’s-land between business and IT, and other exotic places In Mark Smalley’s ‘Trends in no-man’s-land between business and IT, and other exotic places’ workshop for NGI The Hague on 24 January 2013, the audience had the opportunity to share their opinions aboutthe relationship between business and IT, and how the business fulfills their responsibilities with respect to ‘business information management’. This paper summarizes 700 years of experience in IT. Mark Smalley, 1 February 2013 1
  2. 2. Is there a profitable relationship betweenbusiness and IT?Successful relationships between business and IT are few and far between.While this can be analysed in terms of processes, roles and responsibilities,knowledge, information flow, etc., there often seems to be a basic lack ofunderstanding of each other’s world.The 35 attendees were divided into 4 groups and discussed this topic,summarizing the discussion in terms of critical success factors that couldprovide guidance to the broader community. This ‘good practices’ aregrouped into three categories.Good practices for the Business and IT • Commitment Commitment from both business and IT should be crystal clear and focused on common goals for the business. Both parties should reach out to each other to really create the value that the organization needs. So no private sub-goals, no risk-avoiding behaviour and blame games - just plain going for it and creating the success... together! • Communicate and listening Two-way communication between business and IT – although the business should give IT insight into the business strategy so that IT can create a roadmap, IT doesn’t just blindly follow whatever the business comes up with but has the responsibility to suggest how IT can enable the business (“don’t ask me questions, bring me solutions”). Other points about communication mentioned were: o A ‘liaison officer’ as intermediary between IT customer and IT delivery o Continuity in communication (sometimes there’s good communication at the beginning of an initiative but then it fizzles out) • Understand and make sure that you’re understood Clear understanding of terminology (there are often differing interpretations of very basic topics) 2
  3. 3. • Small is agile Small solution-oriented teams are more effective than traditional large IT departments, particularly when agility is needed to keep up with the speed of the business • Clarity about who-does-what Clear ownership with respect to responsibility for activities/processes and deliverablesGood practices for the Business • Clear requirements Business provides clear insight into their functional requirements • Realistic deadlines Deadlines set by the business are realisticGood practices for IT • User and customer focus IT focuses on the IT users and the IT customer (note: the customer is usually business management and may have different goals than the users, e.g. IT cost reduction); IT translates technological developments into business opportunities (and business language) • Business relevance IT is aware of the business relevance of IT • Process analysis and prototyping Use of process analysis and prototyping to support communication 3
  4. 4. Is the business in charge?While the business should be in charge of (the use of) all business assets,including information (technology), it is often the case that people in ITbelieve that the business should be taking IT more seriously concerned. Thisif often expressed in terms of accountability and responsibility, decision-making, and capabilities and competences to execute the tasks generallyknown as ‘business information management’. Once again, the attendeeswere divided into groups and discussed this topic, summarizing thediscussion in terms of the following ‘good practices’.Good practices for the Business • Well-informed top management Top management has sufficient knowledge about the business, and how information and IT affect the business (IT has an important role to play, in contributing to this knowledge) • Pro-active top management Top management is pro-actively aware and intervenes to prevent things getting out of hand (instead of waiting until a calamity occurs and is brought to their attention); how important information (technology) is to top management? Maybe they just have better things to do and are prepared to suffer the consequences • Strong leadership Strong leadership; willingness to make decisions; professional and constructive behaviour (not we versus them) • Knowledgeable users In addition to their business knowledge, the users also have knowledge of the information systems that support the business • Natural tensions Recognition of the ‘natural’ tensions that exist (e.g. between information security norms and the possibilities that smartphones have to access data) • Strong vertical alignment Strategy has been translated to the ‘shop floor’ (minimal deviation of interests) 4
  5. 5. References[BiSL] Business information Services Library publications/books/299-2012- bisl-een-framework-voor-business-informatiemanagement[BIM] Business information management function whitepapers/doc_download/787-2012-08- white-paper-bim-function-v5-m-smalleyAcknowledgementsThe author is grateful to NGI The Hague for the opportunity to engagewith their members and to the members themselves for sharing theirknowledge and experience, in particular to Leo Verkaik, Jos van ‘t Veerand Kees van Loon for their contributions to this paper.AuthorMark Smalley is Ambassador-in-chief at the not-for-profit, vendor-independent ASL BiSL Foundation andis a self-employed IT Management Consultant atSmalley.IT. He is specialized in Application LifecycleManagement and IT Governance. Mark is a regularspeaker at international conferences, where he hasreached out to thousands of IT professionals.Follow & engage with Mark on Twitter @marksmalleyEmail: mark.smalley@aslbislfoundation.orgFurther details, publications & speaking engagements at Smalley.IT 5