Monday, March 23, 2009

IT Alignment just cant get an audience

Steve, no one cares, please stop talking about IT Alignment.  Unless it is cool like social media, sweet gadgets like the iPhone (which I hate, maybe cuz I dont have one), or innovative like (insert cool software name here), it just wont get the hype.

I think I finally figured out why. IT Alignment requires you to think about your full organization's strategy and the adapt your technology strategy to support it.  How many nonprofits really have a staff person that is able to do that, has the time, has the desire and also has the authority to act on it?  And even if you have that person, they probably have something that they consider sexier or more fun that they want to focus on. 

I mean seriously, who gets famous in the NPTech sector or anywhere for improving their technology strategy to better support the mission. NO ONE, is my guess.  They may get recognized or talked about if a portion of it was innovative, unique or green.

So knowing all of this, why do I even keep talking about it? Well, thanks for asking.  I believe that by first focusing on your technology strategy to build toward IT Alignment you are then able to be much more successful and purposeful in every way.  Not only will your technology strategy be stronger, your whole organization and mission will be impacted and enhanced.

If you think some of the technology work you are doing now is great, just imagine how much more successful it would be if the culture of your org shifted to embrace technology.  What if all areas of your organization were actively looking for opportunities to meet the mission and approached the IT department to talk about the need that should be met. Then you collaborated to explore the need to see if it fit with the mission and strategic plan.  Then spent time setting goals and metrics.  Then lastly searched for the appropriate solution.

That is vastly different than what I see as the normal way to interact with the IT Department. Usually people come with the solution in mind and look for approval from IT to buy it. The other is to manage your technology department as a cost center, look at how much is being spent compared to how much money you have, versus evaluating impact against budget.

Anyway, as you can see I am on something of rant.  I should drink more coffee before writing my blog post.

1 comment:

Judith Sol-Dyess said...

I am pretty sure more coffee is the opposite of what you need :-)

We are listening, every now and then, between one crisis and another, projects that pop up everywhere that prevent us from focusing on the big picture - but if you don't get them done that'll be the only thing people remember about the IT department...

You are right, enough of those conversations are not happening. I thin it's partly due to this: what if we did have a conversation with everyone around their tech needs in order to meet the mission? I have. What you get back is a list of software and buzzwords. Somehere whithin that is the real cause of the problem or challenge at hand. That issue isn't going to surface through a single conversation. IT is traditionally thought of as the group you go to to get XYZ purchased, installed, fixed, etc.

I think conversations beyond that intimidate non-techies, who feel they need to have the answers for you, they don't think of it as an ongoing conversation.

Your previous posts included insight into things like IT lunches, online/offline office hours, etc. I think those are great ideas (watch out we don't implement some!)

I think the success to this isn't just a conversation though, but action. We can't tell others how beneficial IT Alignment can be, but we can take a small example, group, pilot, etc, and prove it. I think THAT will spark more conversations that any we try to force.

Perhaps we've been taking the hard road for too long?