In a recent article at Information Management, Maria Villar and Theresa Kushner offer 4 Steps to Create an Effective IT and Business Partnership, a very useful list of ways to ensure “strong partnership between IT and business”. To the authors this partnership “is the most important, and often overlooked, component to successfully managing critical business data. Undertaking business intelligence, data quality or an enterprise data management [program] without full cooperation and collaboration between IT and the business is a formula for frustration.” The authors suggest these four steps: “know your partner, develop a relationship, define roles and responsibilities, and establish open, regular communication channels.” I recommend reading this article because IT folks (like me) seem tempted to neglect the habits that enable building a solid relationship with business people.
That said, it seems to me that there’s something missing. Consider one BI manager I know who has fractious relations with his business customers. I won’t go into detail, but trust me, relations have been rocky, and reviews from key business players poor. What this person does extremely well is to build rock-solid, reliable systems, deliver on time, meet business needs, and ensure that the solution meets regulatory and audit concerns. This BI group is essentially unchanged after many years, enduring even the recent recession in a devastated industry segment, and outlasting many of its critics.
To me, building a good relationships is important, but execution is the sine qua non of IT/business alignment. Think about it. Say you hire a really nice contractor to fix a leaky roof. However personable he is, you won’t hire him to replace your windows if the roof still leaks after you’ve paid the bill.
My view: if you want to do it right adopt Villar’s and Kushner’s excellent suggestions but the fundamentals remain the same:
- Either (a) present a robust business case that all accept, or (b) pay attention to what you’ve been asked to do
- Deliver what was requested/promised in 1
- When things change go to 1