An IT strategy that drives and enables business objectives is a critical component of any organization, but it alone will not result in alignment. You must have the right IT leaders working with people in the business to make the strategy become a reality.
After an analysis of how best to meet the needs of the business, we integrated our regional IT groups into one global organization and created business engagement teams. These teams, embedded in the business units, consist of people able to engage the business in both process and strategy, while explaining IT’s capabilities and aligning with our IT Roadmap. They also share global IT best practices with the business and highlight where these can be effectively leveraged. The teams provide a greater awareness of our business partners’ needs, and with that understanding comes the ability to focus IT spending on programs that better serve Whirlpool products and customers.
My underlying theme when talking about alignment to anyone in the company is the opportunity to gain greater value from current or planned IT investments. We can t do that alone; the bulk of that value comes from improved business processes. So I have the dual goals of selling the business on the idea of letting IT lead process reviews and instilling a business-focused attitude in my team. Neither can be achieved overnight.
The first requires a true partnership. If business units see us as an adversary in any way, they won’t let us influence or change their processes. My own relationships at the executive level are critical to this, but trust must exist down the line through constant reinforcement of being a business-focused IT organization. In my weekly managers meetings, we do a review of the business first - financials, market trends, priorities and concerns - and then talk about technology-specific issues. This cascades into every IT group, and as CIO, I am a vocal evangelist through town halls and newsletters.