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By: Tushar Dadarwala on January 6th, 2022

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Align Your IT And Business Strategy: Why It Matters, How To Do It

Managed Services

In recent years, alignment has become a business buzzword of sorts. It’s appeared everywhere from Forbes to Harvard Business Review, with some even calling it a “holy grail” to which organizations should aspire.

If you are like me, you may have heard the term “alignment” used to mean different things. It can get confusing. As a technical alignment manager (TAM) at a managed services provider, I focus my energy on aligning IT with business strategy and goals. 

In this article, I’ll explain how aligning IT and business strategy drives success, how to do it, and how my role as a TAM makes a difference. I’ll share examples from my years as a TAM and how I’ve seen my role facilitate business success. 

What Does IT & Business Alignment Mean? 

When business leaders think about their IT infrastructure, they know it is an important part of their success. When it’s not operating optimally, business suffers, users get frustrated and customers have a bad experience. 

Alignment between these two critical entities ensures that your business is ready for what’s next. 

In the same way that aligning your tires on your car ensures a proper road contact, smooth ride, and maximum tire life, aligning your business strategy and your IT infrastructure prevents unexpected events and provides your business with a smooth ride well into the future.

When the IT folks know your business goals, the timing, and how you will define success, they can ensure that you have the IT infrastructure you need to get you there.

Why Is IT & Business Alignment Important? 

All successful business leaders are constantly performing cost/benefit analysis. 

In my years working as a TAM, I’ve seen businesses that are paying too much for more IT performance than they need. I’ve seen others that are limping along with an outdated system thinking it’s saving them money when the reality is that investing in new technology could provide efficiencies in both time and money.

When it comes to aligning IT and business strategy, you don’t want to pay for more than you need, but you also want to be prepared for what’s coming down the road. Synchronization with the folks who understand your IT infrastructure will ensure that your business has what it needs in place before you need it.

Alignment ensures smooth transitions to new technologies, up-to-date cybersecurity solutions, and optimal customer/user interface. 

A few situations I’ve encountered where alignment has made for smoother transitions:  

  • Growth Opportunities 

If you are poised to capitalize on growth opportunities, but your IT isn’t, your customers and users will have a less than satisfactory experience, which could lead to a loss in sales. In organizations where business leaders and IT have a solid, trusting relationship built on regular communication, the ability to capitalize on growth opportunities can be seamless. 

  • Workforce Expansion

Hiring new employees means your business is thriving and you need more staff to keep up with the demand for your products and services. Bear in mind that there is more going on behind the scenes in IT than simply providing a device.

When your IT partners are anticipating this growth, they will be able to plan for the hardware you need, know what security measures to put in place, and understand the access permissions the employee needs. 

They also can make sure that your IT infrastructure has the capacity for more throughput before things get bogged down or grind to a stop. 

When your IT group is in the loop, the hardware will be in place and ready to go when new employees arrive, avoiding lost time spent waiting for IT to get things set up after the employee is already on-site.

  • Remote Sites

Whether you have employees working from home or have multiple sites that need to access shared files of information and communicate, your IT infrastructure matters. Security, availability, and speed matter. 

If your five-year plan calls for significant growth in the number of sites either through business demand or an acquisition, involving IT early in the process can make a difference in streamlining the technology planning and acquisition. 

Working with IT means you’ll know what you need, how much it will cost and what the timeline looks like from the IT perspective before you make a costly IT mistake or assumption. 

In short, when your IT and business strategy are aligned, many of the road bumps that people associate with normal everyday work are eliminated. In fact, the bumps never even have a chance to form because the relationship makes it possible to anticipate and plan for obstacles before they even happen. Fewer surprises for everyone.

How Can You Achieve IT & Business Alignment?

So, now you know what IT and business alignment is about and why it’s important. Wondering how you can achieve it?

  • In-House Resources

If you have the luxury of a strong IT staff with a broad understanding of the industry and your business goals, alignment may be achieved through proactive, ongoing, and honest communication with your business development/strategy people. 

If this relationship is broken due to a perception that either part is not living up to expectations, this can be difficult to overcome. The bottom line is that there needs to be a relationship of mutual trust and respect between people in these two organizations. 

Ongoing discussion about tasks, projects, timelines, and budgets needs to be facilitated by members of the leadership team. 

  • External Support 

Many organizations rely on their internal staff for the day-to-day IT operations and partner with an MSP or other external IT organization for more strategic, overarching advice and planning. 

One of the benefits of working with an MSP is that they have a staff of experts in a variety of technology areas ranging from infrastructure to cybersecurity, regulatory requirements to device management, and system engineering to proactive support. 

MSPs also provide experts who work on your behalf including a vCIO and a service delivery manager, as well as a TAM. A TAM is a non-sales-driven technology expert who is responsible for the overall effectiveness of your IT infrastructure. 

Want To Know More About Achieving IT and Business Strategy Alignment?

We’ve talked about what it means to align IT and business strategy and why it’s important. We’ve explored a few situations in which this alignment has helped businesses achieve their goals more efficiently. We’ve highlighted some of the ways you can achieve this alignment. 

We know an MSP isn't right for everyone, but if you think working with an MSP might benefit your organization and have questions about how much it might cost, read this article:  How Much Does Managed IT Cost? What’s Usually Included?

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