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Aligning IT With The Business

Aligning IT With The Business

It's been on the top 10 list for so long it deserves Hall of Fame status (kind of like Cher). I mean, let's just fly the white flag, retire the concept and know it'll be there forever. Why? Because how in the world can you align two things THAT KEEP CHANGING?

IT-business alignment reminds me a lot of when my husband and I start hanging pictures together. Here's the cast: he's IT and I'm the business (hey, it's my editorial I get to be the "final approver"). I (the business) spend heaps of time arranging and rearranging (flow charts anyone?) how I want the pictures to go up on the wall. He (IT) waits patiently, for a while at least, then goes off to the TAB, cricket or the hardware store to do whatever men do at hardware stores. (My guess is gaze longingly at chain saws.) Since the IT department can't do any of those things during normal working hours, they probably do things like take out extra health insurance and check out the mandatories for stress leave while they wait.

Finally, I (the business) kind of make up my mind and we agree to work together on making my vision happen (smacks suspiciously of a board of directors meeting, doesn't it?). Sounds good, right? Except I'm not exactly sure what my vision is; I (the business) just know it's perfect.

Now the fun begins. "Put this picture here," I say. He does and he (IT) has one win on the board. "Put that picture there." But once that's done, I (the business) step back. "Hmmm, I'm not sure that's working. Take that down and let's try another one." (Oh, oh. The business has changed its mind.) We've got one more hole in the wall than we need, but things will work out. At least he (IT) is optimistic. Me (the business), I'm not so sure. Shouldn't he have anticipated this, even though I didn't tell him. And, I still remember the failed sound system project.

We persevere and try another picture. Granted it's taken a bit longer than expected, but we're making progress. Two more pictures go up. We're cooking.

Unfortunately for my husband, I change my mind again. What I originally saw as a wall of pictures, should in fact be two discrete groupings (think business units and politics here). I also know this will be more perfect than my previous perfect vision. Granted we have three extra holes in the wall, and his optimism is waning rapidly, but we've got a commitment here to making it happen.

But the unanticipated rears its ugly head: thus far we've been hanging pictures on a solid plaster wall, now it's changed to plasterboard at some point. We've got to get new tools. (Get it? It's a technology change.) For brevity's sake, let's just repeat paragraph six here. All of it. Like the business, I never let him forget the failed sound system project.

I change my mind again.

Time for a status check. The wall looks like Swiss cheese. We've spent a bomb. He's frustrated. I'm frustrated. We decide to bring someone else (ah ha - the outsourcer!) in to save time and money. Well, actually I (the business) do because this isn't my fault (and I still remember the sound system).

So what do I get? Well, the holes are plugged (although I can still see the rough edges), my pictures are hung (although not exactly where I want them) and none of them are aligned.

If this was a fairy tale, it would have a happy ending. But it's not.

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