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How Business-IT Alignment Helps Organizations Win During Disruption

Business IT AlignmentEnterprises win in the face of disruption through business-IT alignment, anticipation, and the ability to emerge stronger than before. Optimizing for stability is unrealistic. Not only are there grave threats during moments of crisis, but there can be missed opportunities for growth if you don't anticipate them. According to a recent report from Gartner, 90% of enterprises have experienced a turn/disruption. Everyone goes through it. So have no fear. Changing conditions are ripe for visionaries to clear a path for innovation. If you face it right.

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What Does Business Disruption Look Like?

The most common business turns include: acquisitions, cost pressures, shifts in consumer demand, recession, trade wars, digital disruption. In these turns, costs of labor or materials can spike, new competitors can enter the market, and sales could plummet. With more companies being digital first, this is no longer a differentiator. As a result, these companies are vulnerable to finding business relevance as well. 

How to Stay Healthy During Disruptive Turns

Gartner found that fit organizations exhibit specific capabilities during business disruption. It suggests that the IT organizations need to tackle these three categories to help push the organization through uncertainty:

  • Alignment
  • Anticipation
  • Adaptability
    Gartner Business IT Results

How Can I Improve IT/Business Alignment?

Alignment comes down to vocabulary. To understand alignment, try this. Ask everyone in your department to draw a chair. Take a look at the drawings and you will most likely agree that everyone drew a chair. However, add up all the variations of ones that look like office chairs, lounge chairs, gaming chairs. Were there chairs with arms, or without? What about the rollers of the chairs? Size? We can all draw a chair, and look at other people's chairs and agree they're chairs. But if you do not define a common vocabulary (what we mean when we say chair) and what that vocabulary means, everyone else in the room is imagining a different chair. This is having alignment. To move the company forward, not only does IT need to be aligned with the business, but also with itself.

The languages we speak within the IT department can include:

  • Process language
  • Coding language
  • Service Management language

When you ask your team, "Did we hit our KPIs", you need to expect that everyone knows exactly what you are talking about. It's not enough to say the right things,  but everyone in the room needs to understand what that means.

How do you attain alignment?

The first step to attaining alignment is to choose a methodology that is going to fit your organizations culture & style. Have strategic alignment sessions to determine what is right. For example, many IT departments adopt ITIL as a service management language. The code that your automation runs in may be in a particular language. And the business may be bought into certain Project Management or Lean Six Sigma methodologies. There are many different areas that the organization can choose to align, but figuring out the best fit for your company is the first step.

The next step is fairly simple, but often forgotten, commit. You need to commit to the methodology and language, and train everybody on it. If there is any body that doesn't know what the "chair" is supposed to look like or isn't sure what "hitting our KPIs" means, then alignment is off. Everybody needs to speak the same language. Yes, everybody.

Anticipating Business Uncertainty

There are 2 types of organizations when it comes to organizational development:

  1. Proactive
  2. Reactive

Most organizations are reactive. Lou Markstrom with even goes so far as to say that IT is the organization and with anticipation, "IT can go from 'supplying the business', to 'we are the business', to 'leading the business'.

However, without anticipation, you need to learn how to fix problems as they happen. While you are learning how to fix it, that issue is still causing the problem. The delays in fixing the problem are compounded by the time it takes to learn the fix. That's like fixing a broken train, while it's moving. Even worse, sometimes you may need to hire an outside consultant to fix the issue, which is a hard cost, because you didn't anticipate it.

The top performers, in terms of anticipation, have trained for the problems that may occur. They are not reacting, they are ready for it.


The Gartner study posits that "adaptability is the IT organization's chief responsibility". When anticipation fails, adaptability recovers. Even the most proactive organizations that predict up to 80% of the things that could go wrong, are still going to face 20% of the things and be required to adapt. Let me repeat that, even if you among the top percentage of proactive organizations with phenomenal planning, something will still go unexpected. By anticipating you mitigate the need to adapt, but adaptability is inevitable.

Look at the example of a successful construction company with orders planned proactively for rebar, fencing, concrete, glass, and more. However, if every time a laborer needs to run to the local hardware store for a hammer or nail, they could be wasting millions of dollars on incidental purchases such as this. What many construction companies have are equipment or supply partners with resources available. These partners not only provide value at a cost per unit, but availability and expertise.

The same thing happens when IT departments need to react to business change. You need relevant business support that can help align the organization as soon as you need it. You need a corporate training partner that can take care of your needs in the most adaptable way, on-time.

What Does On-Time Training Mean?

When you need to adapt to a problem, you need to have On-Time training options. This means that when the time comes that you do have a problem within the organization, you need a solution that is ready to go. This doesn't mean waiting to be hacked to turn around and train the company on End User safety. This means that initiatives derived from business goals can be discussed with a subject matter expert as soon as next week.

When the Imperial County Office of Education offices were discussing local needs for training internally, they found that 70-80% didn't have sufficient staffing to support technology at the school sites. The skill level of the people they did have needed to be improved. Talk about a moving train that needed fixing. New Horizons had the capacity to provide a live trainer in a room that reached 20 people across the state. Teri Sanders, Chief Operator Officer of the ICOE says about adaptability during the project: "The speed with which they were able to line up classes and open seats for individuals was also a great help to us." Hear more from Teri in the video below.

Your Business-IT Alignment Partner

Disruption is bound to happen. Upskilling is seen as ever more important of an anticipatory strategy. You need a partner that is knowledgeable and capable of not just delivering live, instructor-led courses when you need them. Look for a partner that understands professional employee development solutions, not just training courses. 

Get the comprehensive guide to launching a professional development program. In it you will find:

  • What impact professional development training could have for your organization
  • The steps to launching a professional development program
  • Tips and things to consider when choosing a professional development program

Get a comprehensive guide to launching your own professional development program. Download Our Guide >

Categories: Business Solutions

Sean McKesson

Sean McKesson

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