Self-help without the consultants

I know, I know, you're tired of hearing about IT and business alignment. We've heard it a million times.

Not only is it the most repeated phrase in the tech industry today, but it's a no brainer, right? Or is it?

There's certainly plenty of talking, but is anyone actually doing it . . . successfully? Not according to the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) which surveyed 200 IT professionals in 14 countries.

The institute says more than 50 percent of organizations surveyed have no formal structure in place to ensure IT is aligned with business strategies.

Fewer than 25 percent directly engage board members in the IT strategy-setting process. The findings go against all the rules set down by the ITGI, which recommends business managers are educated on the risks associated with IT, that IT is squarely on the boardroom agenda.

The problem is that alignment requires active involvement from all levels of the company. So where is the resistance coming from?

Certainly not IT, according to Hydrasight research director John Brand.

He says IT is more than willing to align to business needs, but business is only willing to commit to short-term and immediate tactical decisions.

Formal structures are great for highlighting alignment issues, but they must have CEO and board support.

"There's a certain culture that organizations develop around decision making that directly impacts their level of effectiveness," Brand says.

He also says governance should be measured against key business metrics that aren't all performance-based. They should include risk, productivity, innovation, efficiency, quality, culture and strategy.

Brand says a big, missed opportunity organizations rarely use is their own history. Organizations that are prepared to analyze their past performance have a greater chance of improving their performance in future.

"Those who don't, swing from one extreme to another, constantly looking for new silver bullets," Brand says.

And the biggest mistake? Organizations that think they can outsource alignment to consultants.

Brand says this is akin to buying a self-help book and then asking someone else to read it!

Until alignment is a no brainer, and there is more doing and less talking, we will continue to hear about it . . . again, and again, and again.

What structures do you have in place? Send e-mails to sandra_rossi@idg.com.au

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