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The Sum of IT's Parts

The Sum of IT's Parts

Workforce synergy lies behind high performing IT organizations

To create a culture of synergy in the workforce, CIOs need to first put the right IT leadership team in place, one that shares the same vision for the future as they do

Increasing business expectations mean more pressure on IT organizations to deliver. More stakeholders and more complexity means more multi-disciplinary teams. Synergy — the productive interworking of IT staff with business, suppliers, partners and customers, is key to enterprise growth and increased competitiveness. And when staff work happily and productively alongside others, especially when they're from different IT disciplines, from IT and the business units or corporate functions, the end result of all this cooperation is much greater than could be achieved by individuals acting alone. This rubbing along productively is synergy.

The good news is that synergy within an IT organization can be built up over time. According to Gartner's IT HR gurus, there is a series of critical skills that need to be present in an IT organization to create the right environment for the synergy that it needs.

The first of these synergy skills is business acumen. There needs to be enough people with enough "business enablement skills" — an ability to create and implement solutions that meet business needs, to envision the future and work with multi-disciplinary teams to create it. As individuals, people with this skill display a mix of creativity, negotiation and delivery skills. And also show strengths in leadership too.

The second business acumen skill resides in the area of business process design and improvement. Business process management skills — an individual's ability to design and implement business processes and systems that create value efficiently for the business — allow IT to capture much of the potential value of IT investments. In addition to the usual process analysis skills, strong relationship skills are needed and an ability to sell when persuading business unit heads to actually implement changes to their processes that business process management have identified.

The last in the series of business acumen skills is the ability to get people to change. Change advocacy — the ability to plan and gain buy-in for new ways of doing things and new solutions that create competitive differentiation — combined with project execution.

Of course, in addition to these business acumen skills, there is still the need for the more usual IT skills. Innovation or creativeness: the ability to conceive of then improve organizational performance through the application of original thinking to existing and emerging methods, processes, products and services. Project delivery: the ability to scope projects with business value and lead cross-business and contractor teams to achieve project objectives. The willingness to agree and monitor service solutions that meet criteria of business needs, cost and risk. Finally there's service orientation and teamwork: the willingness to collaborate supportively with colleagues to achieve a common mission.

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