Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Approach to Business-IT Alignment

There are many methods and models for establishing and maturing Business-IT alignment as well as unifying IT disciplines – at least as many as consulting companies offering business and IT products and services!

Unfortunately, theses methods and models have limitations. Some are more applicable to one industry or another. Some are more applicable at the strategic level. Most emphasize the tactical level where IT products and services can be sold.

There is an opportunity to bridge the gaps between Business and IT, between strategy and tactics, and between development and operation of IT solutions. This opportunity and its challenges can be approached along three lines of reasoning: 1) Business-IT Alignment; 2) Financial-Execution Alignment; and, 3) Governance Alignment. Think of these as ‘Three Pillars’ extending from the Business through Enterprise Architecture to IT.

Enterprise Architecture bridges the Business Operating Model to the IT Operating Model. It establishes Business-IT alignment. IT Management and its many supporting IT disciplines bridge business objectives to IT automation and controls. These establish Financial-Execution alignment. Architecture Governance bridges Corporate Governance to IT Governance. It establishes Governance alignment. (Many organization place Enterprise Architecture team within the IT department. This may contribute to viewing Architecture Governance as a subset of IT Governance. However, Enterprise Architecture is primarily a strategic business discipline at the nexus of business and technology.)

There is good reason to utilize a ‘Three Pillar’ view. Some organizations are moving their Chief Architecture Officer (CAO) or Chief Enterprise Architect (CEA) under the COO in their executive structures. This is being done to ensure alignment between the Business Operating Model and the IT Operating Model. Some organizations are moving their CIO or CTO under the CFO in their executive structures. The CIO or CTO reports on matters of IT cost, risk, and performance. Recently, many organizations added a Chief Governance Officer (CGO) role to their executive structures in response to new regulatory requirements. The CGO reports to the CEO on matters of corporate governance and regulatory compliance.

__ Joseph Starwood (www.JosephStarwood.com)

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