Business-Led IT is rising in popularity among companies in every industry and market segment. The central concept of business-led IT is enabling the business to direct what technologies should be adopted to meet their specific business needs. In the past, this had been solely the realm of IT- but with the increasing availability of cloud-based technologies and outsourcing, solutions are becoming easier than ever to implement. To avoid being perceived as irrelevant, even the most resistant of IT departments are being dragged kicking and screaming into this new way of doing business.
One of the core tenets of program management is defining asset standards for technology, and business-led IT seems to run roughshod over those efforts. The seemingly uncoordinated acquisition of technology can cause you to feel completely out of control of the situation. However, adapting to this new reality does not have to be hard, or painful- the keys to success are within your grasp.
Key #1 – Acceptance: Business-Led IT is here to stay. Get in on the ground floor of this effort. Make it known that you will work with the business to select the technology that meets their needs, while allowing you to protect the company’s interests by maintaining compliance. By establishing trust early and acting as a partner and team member, you will have much more success in maintaining control of your assets and standards. Remember that under a business-led IT model, your role is more customer service oriented than in the past. This doesn’t make you powerless, but it can require a change in perspective.
Key #2 – Don’t give up on trying to standardize. One size does not fit all. If there’s a compelling reason put forth by the business to adopt technology outside established standards, add that item to the standards list. Chances are good that the software or hardware they select will meet another group’s needs as well. The result is a somewhat expanded standards list and a more productive environment for your users, instead of total chaos.
Key# 3 – Develop a Process: You will need a quick, simple method by which you can be brought into the technology selection process. If it’s complicated or takes a long time, you’ll be kept out of the loop for expediency’s sake.
Key #4 – Communicate! The business is your partner, not your enemy. Communicate with the business and get their feedback regarding how you can be an asset rather than a roadblock. The key to good customer service is empathy – work to understand their needs and then demonstrate that understanding. Building trust outside the IT organization can make or break your ITAM program.
Key #5 – Keep communicating! Communicate your own needs as well. This becomes especially critical if the need arises for you to say no, or steer them toward an existing standard over the technology they chose. You will get a much better reaction if you explain the risk, supportability concerns, or quality issues in simple terms, than if you just give a flat “no”. If they want to proceed anyway, you should offer alternatives and continue to demonstrate that you are ready to work with the business until a solution is found. Even if the result of the process is not what you would prefer, good communication ensures that everyone understands the tradeoffs and reasoning that have influenced their decisions, with documentation to support them.
Adopting Business-Led IT within your IT organization does not need to be painful. The biggest barrier to doing so is often the attitudes and acceptance within IT itself. The most critical factor in maintaining the integrity of your asset management program is your ability to adapt and be persistent in your efforts. You can advocate for your ITAM program and its goals while being a partner to the business. Understand and enable their evolving technology needs, and use your partnership to power yourself and your program to success.