No more IT projects

No more what? Have I lost my mind? No, just my tolerance for the stigma of slapping an "IT" label on projects that would be far better served by more accurate, less legacy-driven descripters. Such as? How about "customer project","compliance project", "supply chain project" or "process improvement project"?

Call it whatever fits best, as long as you avoid that dreaded tech label that continues to wall IT off from the business, making senior executives ask, "Why does this cost so much?" instead of, "What value are we getting here?"

We need to be moving briskly towards the day when business people stop viewing IT as a cost centre and a resource albatross and see it for what it truly can be: a creator of value and a driver of change.

Yet bridging the communication gap between business and IT people seems to be a never-ending tale of two steps forward and three steps back. That's what it felt like to me last week, as I was reading yet another of those maddening stories about how IT and the business still can't get their alignment act together. I swear we've written at least one of those stories every year since Noah led that first pair of aardvarks out of the data centre and onto the ark.

This latest alignment lament surfaced in a survey of 200 IT managers by Deloitte Consulting and IDG Research Services Group (a Computerworld sister company). It found that a pitiful 10 percent of them feel that their companies are "extremely successful" at aligning IT plans with corporate strategies.

Fortunately, there are some hopeful signs of change under way.

At Burlington Resources, CIO Rick Diaz considers it vital to move IT "beyond project oversight" and align it with the complex decision-making processes that drive the entire business. "IT projects are business projects, and they need to compete with each other and with the alternatives," Diaz noted. "Our governance council understands they can spend on IT or on a drilling project. What they have to ask is, 'What will be more transformational for the company?'"

And that's exactly the question you want business executives to be asking about IT spending.

Now, maybe it sounds like a minor move, this title tweak from "IT project" to "business project", but the battle to align IT and business is being fought one company, one project, one IT success story at a time. Why not get started now?

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