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5 Mistakes IT Leaders make in IT-Business Alignment

An attempt at aligning the business and IT can fail at several different levels. In the event that your IT department is seeking better alignment, it would be well to understand the five layers of failure and how to overcome each. An article for Boardroom Metrics by Brian Whitelaw describes several ways in which IT could be its own worst enemy.

Five Sources of Alignment Failure

  • Doing something the organization does not want you to do
  • Forcing opinions on the business
  • Lack of top level support for the strategy
  • Trying to do too much at once
  • Making all the decisions within IT

If the organization does not want IT to align, if it only wants a keep-the-lights-on function, then that’s unfortunate but should nonetheless be accepted. But suppose IT alignment is supported by the business. The next possible mistake for IT to make is to simply assume it knows what the business wants, and then to run with that assumption. No business wants a delinquent or rouge IT on its hands.

The next level of blunder involves implementing a strategy that aligns with the business – but not with the aims of top level executives. It’s important to remember that, while it pays to have an eagle’s eye view on business requirements, the execs of the company are the ones who ultimately run the show.

Climbing incrementally into lesser levels of error, suppose IT and the business really do have an agreed upon alignment strategy. That’s great, only there needs to be a realistic set of expectations applied to that strategy. A mistake is for IT to get ahead of itself with potential achievements. Promise less and deliver more is a useful motto here.

Lastly, after all that other stuff is accomplished, you’ll still want to seek support and collaboration from outside of IT. Wouldn’t it be nice if IT had all the answers? (It may often seem like it does.)

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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