Business vs IT: It’s time to hang up the gloves

Intuity Consulting
Business vs IT: It’s time to hang up the gloves

Reflecting on Dr Ken Henry’s comments about the disconnect between ICT and business at NAB, I’d agree that the dysfunction between business and ICT often gets in the way of organisational success and introduces unneeded risk.

The often challenged relationship between ICT and business is an age old problem, however it needs to be repaired in the new competitive reality. Competition is increasingly based on bringing technology enabled innovation to market or leveraging technology better than your competitors.

Having worked with many different organisations to deliver technology enabled change, the specific dysfunctions vary but there are some general themes that stay true.

Albeit a little confronting or controversial, here are some common challenges our consultants hear about business vs IT as well as some possible ways to improve teaming.

IT says “ the Business doesn’t know how to run projects”

  • Trust your initiatives to seasoned project and program managers
  • Assess capability and competencies. Understand your competency levels
  • Build capability, competency and operating maturity through targeted uplift, awareness sessions, training, coaching, and knowledge transfer
  • Follow an agreed Project Management & Governance Framework
  • Embed business people in IT projects to learn
  • Recognise that many IT projects are actually business projects and should be led as such
  • Develop clear roadmaps and plans across the business


The business says “IT is too slow and unresponsive”

  • Resource IT for operations + projects and programs
  • Backfill project and program secondments where possible or provide support mechanisms
  • Undertake service design in IT to understand and fix “slow and unresponsive” services
  • Everything can’t be a top priority. Work collaboratively with IT to prioritise what they really are.


IT says “Business doesn’t know what they want”

  • Introduce the voice of the customer as much as possible in all discussions about needs
  • IT to educate business on strengths, weaknesses, complexities and fragilities of key systems
  • Teach everyone how to describe and communicate user stories
  • Business to educate IT on what’s important today and for future success
  • Solve problems collaboratively. You’re on the same team


IT says “ the Business wants system “abc” but we already have system “xyz” ”

  • IT needs to become better at saying no and be supported by business leadership
  • Come together and make system investments based on benefits and value
  • Invest in targeted systems for particular needs outside of company norm if strategic (but still prove value)
  • Ultimately investments are being made to create value or reduce risk and can be assessed against existing options


The business says “IT is a blocker bogged down in process”

  • IT introduces process as a means of managing operations and risk. They’ve got your back
  • Recognise and educate each other on why processes are there and what the risk trade-offs are
  • Recognise that some processes don’t work and need to be fixed


These are a few of the top challenges we hear. What other business vs IT challenges do you have and how would you solve them?

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Dr Ken Henry comments: