21 June 2014

itSMF Ireland's Initiatives for Business IT Collaboration

On August the 19th 2014, itSMF Ireland hosted a workshop that was conducted by Howard Kendall (Service Desk Institute) and Mark Smalley (ASL BiSL Foundation & APMG-International). In the workshop, forty itSMF Ireland members – divided up into seven discussion groups – explored how collaboration between the business and IT could be improved. The results are listed below and can be summarized as:

  • IT needs a better understanding of the business needs and context
  • IT should abandon ‘technical’ SLA’s and explain in more meaningful ways what they’re doing for the business, involving the business in designing the reporting
  • IT should regard itself not as a separate silo but as an integral part of the business
  • The business and IT should talk to each other more often, creating more mutual understanding of pains, priorities, possibilities and limitations
  • The business should stop bullying IT and start trusting them to be their IT partner
  • The business should communicate in terms of problems, no solutions
  • The business should allocate more time to IT, e.g. explaining situation to IT, and training users

Asked which bottlenecks could impede these improvements, several participants suggested "pressure to deliver" as the main reason, while one participant said “we don’t value thinking”.

Involving the business more in all things IT is a high change priority, and somebody suggested thinking about what you’d do if you had the luxury to start from scratch (instead of just patching things up).

A final comment was that unless you have everybody at the table and have their buy-in, you won’t achieve much (we’ve been working with separated silos for too long).

Details per group:

Group 1
• IT collaborates with the business (getting insight into needs, wants, wishes, desires)
• IT benchmarks whether they are delivering what the business wants
• IT increases engagement with the business
• IT bins the SLA
• IT makes IT easy (inspired by Amazon etc)
• IT stands up and shows (doesn’t hide; shows users what IT does; sells IT; shows what IT can do)
• IT promotes IT as a business enabler

Group 2
• IT understands the business
• IT uses better reporting to give feedback, explaining what they do
• IT regards itself as part of the business

Group 3
• IT embeds ITSM in all business projects and vice versa
• IT uses business-oriented dashboards with design input from the business
• IT designates an IT service owner and the business designates a business service owner
• “Division of business and IT is irrelevant”
• IT communicates, communicates, communicates

Group 4
• Business creates business awareness
• Business and IT ensure strategic alignment
• The business invites the CIO to sit at the top table (but not as a minister without portfolio)
• Business makes IT aware of business pain
• IT makes business aware of IT pain
• Business makes IT aware of users’ needs
• Business shares knowledge with users, enabling users to fix own issues
• Business and IT communicate better especially about changes

Group 5
• Business stops bullying IT
• Business and IT collaborate more
• Business and IT agree what is important
• Business asks IT to help them understand what they want
• Business allocates more time to IT (e.g. explaining to IT, training users)

Group 6
• Business gives IT problems, not solutions
• Business trusts IT to be the IT experts
• Business shares strategy/plans/goals early
• Business revisits project scope regularly

Group 7
• Business listens
• Business communicates
• Business keeps it simple

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