Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Organizational Change & Business-IT Alignment

Organizational change is never easy. It is also unavoidable. Organizations face an ever increasing rate of change. New business opportunities and threats emerge daily. Global competition impacts nearly every industry. Technology advances at a blistering pace. It even changes customer expectations about the products and services an organization provides and how it interacts with its customers.

Enterprise Architecture and Roadmaps can ease the pain of change. With these tools, an organization can navigate forward; avoiding pitfalls and delays. Even with these tools, people remain both the key resource for, as well as greatest challenge to, implementing organizational change.

Aligning groups and individuals throughout the organization builds synergy. This alignment must be architected ‘Top-Down’, and must address structure, roles, responsibilities, and objectives. The structure must reflect the scope of work to be preformed by a group as well as its interfaces with other groups. Roles and responsibilities must be defined so as to accomplish the scope of work and collaborate with other groups. The group and individual objectives must be aligned with the business and IT strategies and plans according to their function and level. This last item is perhaps the most overlooked aspect for many companies.

Aligning groups and individuals 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. When groups and individuals are aligned so as to support the Business-IT Alignment, changes to the vision become measurable results –IT solutions. IT investment becomes more focused as groups and individuals work within the Financial—Execution Alignment. Increasing synergy across the organization is apparent when groups and individuals engage in the Governance Alignment.

Metrics can be aligned using the ‘Three Pillars’ approach. Some organizations experience difficulty defining metrics that roll-up to meaningful business and IT KPIs. The ‘Three Pillars’ pose questions: 1) How well are business and IT aligned?; 2) How well are business and IT performing?; and, 3) Did we obtain the results we expected? The latter supports metrics that verify we conducted processes as we intended, and that validate what we intended is actually correct.

__ Joseph Starwood (www.JosephStarwood.com)

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