Technology projects always face unique challenges due to the fact that their success requires taking into account two viewpoints. The first being from the business point of view, identifying the business challenge and understanding how a solution will address specific needs. The second being an IT outlook and understanding the technology best fit. In some cases these will match and in other cases there will be discrepancies. The reality is that few companies will be able to avoid this disparity of views. However, if organizations can take responsibility for their portion of solution evaluation and collaborate to make the right business and technology decisions to support long term business goals, then both entities can develop a balance.
Both business and IT need to take responsibility for their respective areas. This means that business units:
- develop an understanding of their business challenges and the causes of their pains
- evaluate the requirements based on their needs
- understand the gaps between current technology use and why it doesn’t meet business needs
- make sure to look at must haves versus nice to haves
- create agreement among stakeholders who will also be using the new solution
In most cases IT supports and develops business applications meaning they require:
- an understanding of the business challenges being faced
- how these translate into features and solution capabilities and general technical requirements
- what the integration and storage requirements are and whether changes in infrastructure are required to support the new solution
- development effort and support for offerings being evaluated and the implications
- building up applications that meet business needs longer term
These aspects represent the first look at the responsibilities of each of these entities. The reality is that because they overlap, collaboration is required. How much and specific aspects will differ depending on the politics within the organization and the amount of collaboration that already exists. The best balance within organizations generally exist when both entities look at software projects as something that is the responsibility of both the business unit sponsoring the project and the IT department. This way both understand the value of each set of contributions. On the business side this includes all of the subject matter expertise, while the IT department develops the solution and supports the technology required to actualize the project.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.