Why does the Gap between Business and IT exist?
I’m sure you will find people who will try to convince you that there is no gaps between business and IT. But, I can give you my piece of advice, it’s been quite many years now that I am working in this context and I can tell you, there are gaps… I am even use call to call it a schism sometimes. But let’s look at why does this schism exist? If we want to treat it, don’t we have to identify the origin of the problem? Since we are Enterprise architect, it is always put forward that we are here to “align the business and IT”, so let’s look at the “what do we have to fill to align them”.
When it comes to improving enterprise performance via technology, IT and the business usually approach the same problem from two vastly different perspectives. As a consequence, on one hand, business people often lack an appreciation for the IT technical ramifications of adopting a new process. On the other hand, technology and IT teams usually find business requirements unrealistic. Of course, if both parties are unable to bridge that gap in a highly collaborative way, the consequences can be significant.
As an example, consider the scenario in which the business makes what it believes to be a simple functional request: “I just want to have this function in my application. I would make my life easier”… Then, only to hear back from IT that this request will take six months to be delivered. While it may be true that there are substantial technical implications associated with specific business requests, IT should not expect business users to understand the full impact of all the IT management details – and it isn’t necessary for them to.
How to recover the Gap between Business & IT?
Better approaches would be:
- For business, express and explain their needs, the reason why, benefits they are expecting… in two words: the Business Case (honest one, not a fake).
- For IT to focus on translating the IT management details into business language, so business can understand what IT is saying.
A trap where business is too often ended in is to ask to IT a solution that they have already decided on their own. E.g: “ ”I want to have this function in my application.” Doing that is starting it all from the wrong foot and can lead the whole project to huge consequences. My own analysis of this situation is the following: this is happening mainly due to that business doesn’t can/want to spend time to explain what their are already convinced at and that the trust between business and IT is missing from the beginning. So it requires some effort from business to express their needs and not the solution they want. But they are not the only ones who need to make some efforts…
IT has to make effort on its side as well. To start with, IT has to make sure that the thought solutions are really addressing the business real need behind. Nowadays in many companies, it is quite usal to have IT having the mission to strive for commonality in IT solutions to support different business processes to be supported by the same service or at a lower level: function. Of course, the main goal here is to reduce IT cost. So,back to my first purpose here: to analyse business’ requests and identifying already existing/future services/functions which address the same kind of need is the IT mission as well. Of course, it will take more time to do it, but it is for the sake of the entire company, isn’t it? So what few months spent in a project compare to years of savings? This has to be evaluated and time/money spent to do this evaluation must be accepted by both parties.
So, to me it is a jointly (usually called “collaborative”) work to be achieved. If both parties succeed, first to work on themselves, change their initial behavior, then to work together, I do think that they will be both on a better shape to go for a success. Once IT fully comprehends what the business is trying to accomplish, it may be able to offer an alternative approach that meets the fundamental business requirements and it would even might be done in a shorter time frame at the end.
Working together on essential business capabilities instead of implementation details, IT and business can often identify solutions that blend the two perspectives. In fact, such collaboration often enables the business to leverage what IT knows about current capabilities or best practices in other parts of the organization. It requires both points of view to ensure that the approach will enable the business to meet market demands.
Further, this type of collaboration positions IT to lead the charge in looking for solutions that are synchronized with business needs. If IT can facilitate a shift in the paradigm to a form a cooperative relationship, both sides will gain in terms of efficiency and results. Rather than responding to requests from business, IT can proactively offer solutions and alternatives. Isn’t it what we are aiming for? So called, win-win situation…