Measure the success of your IT-business partnerships

How CIOs are determining if new attempts to partner with the business are making a difference

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I also look at what I call project mobilization: how often ideas are followed through to complete business cases, allotment of work and resources, and so on. My IT account managers (the title of that strategic position) are the leads on this, and one of their goals is to shorten that idea-to-realization cycle and ensure that it always produces high-quality results.

One thing to be careful of is that you don't underestimate the demand that will arise for the portfolio managers' services once people throughout the organization embrace them—because now there is someone who everyone trusts to ask for help. Make sure you have a prioritization process in place at the highest level, and that you have people in those positions whom you can count on to make the right decisions on what is necessary, not just desired.

Foster understanding on both sides

Rex Althoff, CIO, Federated Investors, and President of Technology, Federated Services Company

(See profile)

Every time I've restructured a technology organization to provide greater value, the most important element has been making sure that my business peers understand what the new structure means and that they feel a sense of ownership in the change.

Usually, these efforts to add new portfolio oversight to the IT-business relationship involve significant adjustments to processes—sometimes even putting in processes where there were none before. It doesn't only mean that IT must understand the business better, but also the business must understand an element of how the IT group works. For example, when you are first creating this kind of relationship, business leaders often do not understand the prioritization process for IT, or how to separate discretionary needs from enterprise requirements. Take the time to walk them through issues such as this, and since strategic projects should involve both IT and the business anyway, make sure they are involved in the prioritization and review process.

As for continually fostering the relationship at all levels, in the past I have created day in the life sessions. In these, I invite two or three of our business unit leaders in for an hour to talk through what they actually do on a day-to-day basis, and I encourage my IT staff to ask questions about everything. My staff obviously learn a lot from this, but it is amazing how much it impresses the business leaders that we are truly interested in them, rather than being only interested in documented processes.

This article originally appeared on CIO.com.

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