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Lessons in Strategic Partnering with the Business – Part Two

Lessons in Strategic Partnering with the Business – Part Two

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.

In 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 2 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 article, you’ll find a link to read Part 1.

Here’s another key insight from the panel:

“How do we get IT to understand the business and speak the business language?”

Andrea provided a number of great steps, starting first with making sure to hire, into the analyst/relationship manager role, people who already understand the business as much as they do the bits and bytes.  Second, talk in terms of the business and the change that the solution would bring into the business community.  The biggest compliment the business can make is to “choose” our department for help.  This is the biggest compliment, as Andrea points out the business has the option of picking up the phone and outsourcing the same capability that they can get from you internally.  Andrea suggests your team members should have the right profile, the right language and the right attitude.

Michael added to Andrea’s thoughts and indicated that choosing the right people is the most important thing you can do.  He added that once you have the right people, and they’ve proven themselves in one area, you should move them into another department or even into operations.  Michael indicated that this will make them much more valuable to the company as they work with different departments.  The highest compliment is when the department they’ve been working with doesn’t want them to change and actually try to hire them for the business side.

Jignesh pointed out the relationship needs to be working in multiple different levels.  At the CXO level as well as department level and even at the lowest level.   He indicates that people should be putting their business hat on first.  They should be asking “What is the business problem I am trying to solve?”  Or what is the business that I have and what Key Performance Indicator do I need to drive?  We are business leaders first before we are functional experts.

Joe indicated that it really all comes to “Adding Value.”  It is really important that the business sees you and your department as adding value and getting something done.  Joe indicated that management doesn’t always respond well to someone from IT saying, “I want to try this.” He explained this happened to him as he was maturing in his career and he made a choice to move into a different role to get more exposure overall to the business.

Is your department adding value? Does the business perceive the value you are adding? The panel made it clear that the choosing the right team and enforcing a successful mindset as a business leader first, then a functional technology leader second is a key to business alignment and a perception of true added value.

Want to see the first 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.

Updated: May 9, 2016 — 4:07 pm

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