A 2020 study by Gartner predicts that half of all organizations around the world will experience greater collaboration between business and IT teams. This is a critical step in improving business culture and processes since increased digitization of many efforts and remote work styles have increasingly become the norm. Moreover, digital transformations are occurring at an unprecedented rate in organizations of practically every type.
This comes as welcome news after a long divide between business and technology objectives at many companies. These units may have different — or even competing — priorities. Or, they simply don’t understand one another’s perspectives. Perhaps there are communication problems, too.
In spite of these issues, it is absolutely essential that teams align their objectives and find common ground. Here are 6 steps to take to make it happen.
1. Educate Stakeholders
Often, departments and key personnel simply don’t agree or understand other perspectives because they don’t recognize the alternative point of view. In order to attain buy-in and successfully align business and technology objectives, you must ensure that stakeholders understand the tech objectives and vice versa.
Explain the problems that exist and what technology can do to help rectify them. Moreover, educate stakeholders on the nature of the gap between technology and business. Without the acknowledgment that there is a misalignment, you won’t be able to take strides to address and fix it. Describe how melding purposes will allow you to achieve goals more quickly, successfully, productively, and harmoniously.
2. Educate Yourself
Stakeholders aren’t the only ones who need to be educated on the alignment between technology and business objectives. As a leader, so do you. Your role may seem relevant to technology and vice versa, but when you’re overseeing business efforts, technology will inevitably be actively involved.
You are responsible for understanding the critical role technology plays in your organization. You must be closely involved in your employees’ efforts. Sit in on meetings with your developers and IT staff. Work closely with them to be better equipped to advocate on their behalf. Ultimately, you must be able to articulate how and why business and technology intersect.
3. Put Technology Professionals in Leadership Positions
Small organizations and startups often have a lean staff. Still, no matter how limited your staffing is, technology professionals must have a role in your management structure. A chief information officer (CIO), chief technology officer (CTO), or chief product officer (CPO) is usually the person to fill this spot, but that’s not a requirement. As long as you put a technologically informed and knowledgeable individual in a leadership position, you’ll be ok.
This person will play an important role in keeping you and other managers and stakeholders informed about how technology can make a difference in your organization. They should be involved in making decisions and creating strategies. And, of course, they will go a long way in bridging the gap between business and technological objectives.
4. Define Your Organizational Culture and Structure
When you’re facilitating any type of project, technology-related or otherwise, you must already have a cultural structure in place to support your efforts. This depends on several different pieces — the people at your organization, your overarching goals, your resources, and much more.
Having a clearly defined organizational structure and culture is absolutely essential when you are attempting to align your business and technology objectives. Without a goal-driven purpose in mind, key players and stakeholders will be unable to visualize how technology supports business goals — and how the reverse can be true, too.
5. Explore How Technology Can Address Problems within the Business
The fact is, many problems within your organization can be addressed with technology. Once employees, leaders, and stakeholders recognize the contributions various tools and platforms can make to their business, it will be far easier to attain buy-in and align your technological efforts with your business ones. After all, they often are one and the same.
Work closely with the IT professionals on your staff or an outsourcing firm to identify the most pressing issues your company is facing and think about how implementing new technologies could contribute to a resolution. Think outside the box, considering how larger problems can be lessened with the help of technology, making it part of your overall strategy.
6. Encourage Active Listening
A big part of business is relationships. In order to understand how these two worlds intersect, those on the “business side” and those on the “technology side” must find common ground and build strong relationships to sustain and support one another. As a leader, it’s your job to help these two voices come to understand each other and recognize that their goals align far more than they might initially believe.
Active listening, the art of not just hearing but absorbing and understanding what someone else is saying, plays an enormous role in finding this shared purpose. Encourage people at the business and technology ends to discuss their goals and really listen. When prompted, they can more easily discover how their purposes and goals can actually support one another.
There is no reason why business and technology objectives can’t align with one another. In fact, they already do — you just may not recognize it yet. Once you make it a priority to close the gap between these common needs and consider how they truly complement one another, it will be much easier to recognize how business and technology are mutually supportive.
You’ll find that your organization will run much more smoothly and cohesively and be able to solve problems collaboratively, as well as build rapport.