Keeping IT in Sync With Line-of-Business Users: 10 Best Practices

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-09-20 Print this article Print

Business computing is becoming a do-it-yourself domain. As this trend evolves, IT departments are losing an increasing amount of power in areas in which they once had complete control. Field sales people are tracking their own work in personal accounts and internal social networks. Meanwhile, business people get news updates and alerts on Twitter, Google and LinkedIn, while employees at all levels are saving business documents in Box, Dropbox, Asigra, SugarSync and similar cloud storage services. These are just a few examples of how cloud computing, big data and mobility are influencing the way business gets things done. Why? Because they allow businesses to work faster, more intelligently and from remote locations. Enterprise IT departments are certainly positioned to have a say in all this, but they must be more proactive to maintain a leadership role. One of the ways IT departments can ensure they continue to have a hand in providing services to business operations is to think about their role a little differently. They must focus on the business outcomes. In this slide show, eWEEK and CEO Mark Cattini of Autotask present some realistic insights on what today's IT departments should be doing to achieve this focus.

  • Keeping IT in Sync With Line-of-Business Users: 10 Best Practices

    By Chris Preimesberger
    0-Keeping IT in Sync With Line-of-Business Users: 10 Best Practices
  • Understand Desired Business Outcomes and Strategic Goals

    Before any technology is implemented, IT departments need to understand the business issues stakeholders faceā€”and the outcomes they want to achieve. Involve line-of-business (LOB) leaders in discussions and decisions; technology is too important not to involve them. By 2016, according to IDC, 80 percent of IT investment decisions will involve LOB executives, who will make more than half the decisions.
    1-Understand Desired Business Outcomes and Strategic Goals
  • Determine the Best IT to Deliver Those Business Goals

    Technology is less expensive, more powerful and easier to deploy than ever, but it needs to produce results. It's not about implementing a new CRM system; it's about shortening the sales cycle. It's not about deploying social monitoring tools; it's about understanding your customers better. It's not about upgrading your infrastructure; it's about increasing scale and improving employee efficiency.
    2-Determine the Best IT to Deliver Those Business Goals
  • Define Key Metrics for Measuring Success

    Ensure the team is in agreement as to what success looks like. This includes identifying internal objectives (such as profitability, cost control and employee utilization) and external outcomes (such as SLA performance, costs savings and allocation, and ROI).
    3-Define Key Metrics for Measuring Success
  • Reduce 'Noise' in Your Operations, Automate Repetitive Processes

    Focus your attention on what really matters: those activities that impact business decisions and outcomes. Eliminate redundant processes and automate repetitive workflows to give you more flexibility to ensure the right people are working on the right projects at the right time.
    4-Reduce 'Noise' in Your Operations, Automate Repetitive Processes
  • Eliminate Data Silos

    Keep all data and metrics in a centralized location. This helps IT departments better track activity and measure against the desired outcomes. Consider using an integrated business management solution to manage your operations.
    5-Eliminate Data Silos
  • Outsource Operations That Don't Add Unique Value

    If a technology or process is not contributing to the end goal, don't devote time or resources to it. Focus on what you can do to drive results.
    6-Outsource Operations That Don't Add Unique Value
  • Track Metrics That Define Success and/or Failure

    Both the internal outcomes (on time and on budget) and those external to the IT department (shorter sales cycles, better cost control, faster onboarding, faster product innovation) define success. The IT department needs to develop a culture of accountability for the resources it uses, the technologies it implements and the results it helps achieve.
    7-Track Metrics That Define Success and/or Failure
  • Report, Report, Report

    Share your findings on the outcomes and the effectiveness of technology deployments. Leverage the data you have access to, to demonstrate the value of the tools and the solutions you deploy.
    8-Report, Report, Report
  • Use the Visibility You've Gained

    Do this by using a unified system and paying attention to the outcomes to better understand your key operational and performance metrics and trends. Visibility allows IT departments to have a stronger voice within the company.
    9-Use the Visibility You've Gained
  • Create a Continuous Cycle of Improvement

    Once put into place, this will improve outcomes-based performance, increase efficiency and reduce costs. What organization wouldn't want any of those outcomes? Identify the best methods to increase efficiency, maximize effectiveness, optimize costs and create a set of standard measurements to benchmark performance. Routinely test those standards and question if they are the best ways to help your business achieve its goals.
    10-Create a Continuous Cycle of Improvement
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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