How can partnering with the business ensure that IT projects deliver value and are set up for success?
If your IT projects are IT centric, you may be ignoring the business partnership opportunities that IT has to offer.
Failing to factor business into the benefits of IT-driven initiatives risks IT being perceived as a service provider rather than a key enabler and business partner. At a time when service providers are increasingly being outsourced, how can IT teams enable and partner with the business to deliver on the organisation’s goals?
Understanding the ‘business case’
The IT team needs to ensure that they have a strong business focus and contribute effectively to building the business case.
A 2008 study by Peppard, Ward and Daniel highlighted a common mistake in building the business case was only including the financial benefits and IT-focused efficiency improvements. Building Better Business Cases for IT Investments also flagged a high correlation between project failure rates and the lack of business benefits included in the business case.
The same study identified that organisations that were more successful in realising value from their IT investments understood that the business case is not only a way of obtaining funding, but serves other purposes such as:
- Ensuring commitment from business managers to achieving the intended benefits
- Identifying how the combination of IT and business changes will deliver each of the benefits identified
- Enabling informed prioritised decision making on allocating funds and resources
- Creating a basis for reviewing whether the expected business benefits are actually realised
Partnering with the business and focusing on projects that add value and are key business enablers ensure IT stays relevant and is valued by the business.
An Example: Desktop Deployment
Desktop deployment offers a good illustration of how understanding the business case and engaging with the business is critical for success.
The yardstick measurement for ensuring a project stays on course and delivers the benefits to the business should include:
- Starting the business case for desktop deployment from within the business
- Ensuring that IT has engaged all parts of the business in their strategy planning
- Understanding the needs and benefits (both soft and hard)
- Definition of how IT will measure those benefits to the business
By way of example business benefits for desktop deployment projects could include:
- Application rationalisation
- Detailed knowledge of what applications, documents and devices are critical to the business
- New features and benefits the desktop can bring to the business
- Capability uplift and functional enhancements to current ways of working
By partnering with the business, IT teams can help management understand more effectively how each of these benefits will deliver effective, sustainable change for the business. That partnership and the ability to put ‘business’ into the business case will ensure that IT is seen as a vital part of the team, not just as a service provider.
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