Lessons in Strategic Partnering with the Business – Part Three
By Alex Jarett
Highlights from a keynote panel of Senior IT Executives called, “Strategic Partnering with the Business.”
In this era of technology innovation and disruptive technology, it’s easy to overlook the dramatic changes in growth that can continue to be created using the classic strategy of strategic partnering with the business.
At one of our previous summits, our keynote panel of the same name shared key insights into strategies that will harvest both incremental and disruptive gains. Sitting on the panel were Andrea Ciccolini, CIO at Patterson Medical (formerly, Hospira), Michael Kennaugh, CIO at Reinhart Foodservice (formerly United), Joe Lynn, Senior VP Technology Client Relationships at Citibank, Jignesh Sampat, CIO at Knowles Electronics. The panel was moderated by Rick Knoechel.
This is Part 3 of a 3 part article highlighting some of the key insights from the panel.
In Part 1, we explained Strategic Partnering as a “Basic tenant” of the IT Role. At the end of this particle, you’ll find a link to read Part 1.
In Part 2, we explored ““How do we get IT to understand the business and speak the business language?”
In Part 3, we ask, “How do you best handle solutions brought to you by the business and Shadow IT?”
Shadow IT has increasingly become a bigger issue, especially with department heads that have their own budgets. What’s the best way to handle both Shadow IT as well as the business leads that bring solutions to your attention that they would like to implement?
Here are four great insights that the panel shared:
- Act as the Trusted Advisor, not the gatekeeper. Don’t be the department that always says no. Embrace the role of supporting the business. Jignesh mentioned that they never say no. “Good ideas can come from anywhere.” But he did mention that the business often misses compliance and regulatory requirements. The mindset is that the IT department is their internal, Trusted Advisor, and that mindset creates a strong relationship with the business. They can make decisions together. Joe agreed that the review for compliance is critical, especially in a banking environment.
- Take a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) approach, engage the department and help them decide on priorities. Explain the budget they have for IT and let them help you decide. At United, they created a complete Project Portfolio organization with both an IT representative and Division Executive. In this fashion, the department’s own executive is involved in the decision. Michael indicated that a major benefit of this approach was the transparency of the budget and the business making the decisions as to which project was most important. The other panelists agreed a PPM approach made sense. They did bring up different examples as to where that PPM should reside in the organization.
- If Shadow IT does emerge, see it as an opportunity to get closer to the business first. Andrea mentioned that he actually has “fun with it,” when he sees a Shadow IT meeting show up on his calendar. In what I consider to be a very mature insight, he indicated, “We can be offended by it, or we can just refuse it, but there is always a good reason behind Shadow IT. Maybe our crazy process and procedures are too difficult. Or the person we put in front of this business user doesn’t know how a sales order is processed in our core system. There may be a trivial reason. Shadow IT emerging is always an opportunity for self-reflection.”Andrea always brings an attitude of working together to get the job done, and that opens up the conversation for the business to help determine if the capability brought by the proposed Shadow IT could be brought into the core systems or if they should go ahead and embrace the new system.
- Great ideas can come from anywhere! “We don’t have all the good ideas,” said Michael. As an example, an idea came from the field that it would be helpful for employees looking to get on a flight if they could be notified, and a simple application was developed that helped tremendously for employee satisfaction.
How about you? Are you open to suggestions brought to you by the business? Do you see Shadow IT as a problem, or an opportunity? Do you embrace ideas and solutions brought to you by the business, or become a roadblock? Do you see Shadow IT as a problem, or a way of learning about solutions that should be integrated into the business? Why not become a true trusted advisor to the business and be seen as a business enabler. You may find your ability to drive innovation and growth enhanced as you become a strong ally of the business.
Want to see the first post? Go here.
Want to see the second post? Go here.
Look for more insights from this panel in the next article.
Want to listen to the entire panel? Go here to listen.
Comments? What do you think? Go here to post a comment.