3 Reasons the Business Doesn’t Invite Technology to the Planning Table

Senior executives in any organization are always on the lookout for improvement opportunities and re-organizations; value chain re-engineering efforts and large-scale transformation efforts are routinely talked about and actively considered by senior management. Often these changes have enormous repercussions for the IT organization, yet it is often only after much of the path has been set forward that senior leadership within the IT organization is consulted and from there…perhaps the Enterprise Architecture organization. This is despite years of council by practitioners that EA needs “executive buy-in” and endless literature regarding how this is best practice. Why then is it that senior executives continue to engage strategic planning organizations that have no connection to the architecture, or engage in these types of high level organizational re-organizations without EA and the technology organization?
Is technology disconnected from the business?
I don’t pretend that the issues below represent a comprehensive list, but I do believe that below I have listed three of the most common reasons technology and business people are disconnected:
  1. Is that IDEF0?: One sneaking suspicion I have is because they aren’t used to EA or technology being relevant to their decision-making. I think it is pretty clear to most people even at the highest and most “businessy” levels of most organizations that IT is a critical component of meeting strategic objectives and most executives routinely approve IT budgets that comprise a fairly large swath of organizational resources, which also validates the importance of IT. Why then is it an afterthought in the planning process? I think if technology was a bit more proactive in creating views of the organization that as relevant to the business planning process as it does for the technology planning process this wouldn’t be a problem.
  2. Did you just say gigawatt?: Another thought I have is that it may be difficult to bring into the discussion. Many executives have experienced death by IT PowerPoint where a technology executive finally gets his chance to stand with the big boys and polishes up a 75 slide powerpoint deck that ties the strategy all the way down to the servers. This is generally enough to prevent a second invite and executives go back to making decisions with the other adults and then handing it off to the technology organization for action. Speak the language of business and you will get much farther.
  3. My computer already works why do I need you here: Finally, there is the idea that technology is really just an enablement function for the business and therefore strategy should be settled and it is then technology’s job to implement the strategy. I think this is less prevalent than in years past but it is still out there despite the fact that technology has begun to play an important role in almost every aspect of even the most traditional of organizations.
If any of the above sound familiar you may need to start working harder to become more relevant. Successful organizations need IT and the business to work together to be both efficient and effective. What strategies do you do to bring your technology organization in synch with the business?

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