Long gone are the days when IT could cordon itself off from the rest of the business and hide behind a shield of authority over the company’s technology. Smart CIOs know that communicating with business units and aligning IT objectives with business goals are the path to success.

But knowing it needs to be done, doesn’t get it done. And making sure alignment is a priority can be a daunting task. Perhaps a reorganization is in order. Or maybe just a few tweaks here and there are all that’s needed.

It’s important to note that every organization is different. What works for one may not work for another. The key is to take it one step at a time.

Assess the Current Landscape

The best first step you should take before making any kind of change is an assessment. There’s no sense making a change until you are sure it will make a difference. And an assessment will help you lay the groundwork for the future. Plus it helps you build a relationship foundation with the people who can help you make the change a success. You’ll assess the current situation both external and internal to your current IT configuration. Plan on spending about 30 minutes with each person you decide to interview.

  • Interview IT stakeholders in all departments. Find out what’s working for them and what’s getting in their way. Ask them for suggested solutions to the problems they identify.
  • Interview all IT staff. Learn the issues from their perspective. Find out what they see as the biggest stumbling blocks to ITs contributions and enabling of company goals. Make sure you ask what’s working well too and why they think that’s the case. Ask for their suggestions on how things might work better.
  • It’s also a good idea to sit down and actually watch people use the technology that helps them get their work done. You can often learn much more by watching than by asking. This will give you a frontline view of how things work and how effective the technology is for the people that use it.

As you gather your information, be careful not to make commitments about what’s going to change. Your view of the issues and how to make things work better should be based on all the information you gather, not just a few points here and there.

Once you’re done gathering information, summarize it into a short SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) format so you have a good reference document to help guide your decision making.

Your Next Steps

Whatever the outcome of your SWOT, actions you take to enable the goals and outcomes of the business are what’s important here.

Use caution in creating an entire upheaval of the company by doing a wholesale reorganization. That action will distract you from reaching the goal of ensuring your IT resources enable and align with the outcomes the company expects.

Instead, consider an operational change rather than an organizational change. Here are a few ideas.

  • Create cross functional teams to support specific business outcomes. For example, a team that supports customer service could include an IT staffer, business analyst, customer service reps, manager, and citizen developers. This team could be empowered to create solutions that help customer service achieve its goals.
  • Embed IT staff within business units. This staffer would be dedicated to that line of business, but report through the IT department. The goal here is for the business unit to have a dedicated person who can help them accomplish their goals and get things done from a technology perspective.
  • Hand off ownership of technology where it makes sense without putting the company at risk. Just because IT has always been in charge of a specific technology solution or management of certain technology assets doesn’t mean that’s the best way to continue.