Your information technology (IT) systems should effortlessly support your overall business goals and objectives. This alignment, however, is not always easy to achieve. Many businesses find that their IT systems are either too expensive to maintain, too cumbersome to use efficiently, or simply do not provide added business value.
What does it mean to align IT with business strategy?
Business-IT alignment simply describes a state where a business is able to use IT to achieve its objectives. In this state, IT is a valuable asset rather than a utility or an expense. The system functions across the business with optimal efficiency and is more likely to achieve a positive return on your IT investment.
Benefits of aligning IT with business strategy
Achieving business-IT alignment can help improve your business's performance. It can also:
- boost efficiencies and profitability
- improve collaboration
- enhance customer experience
- improve supply chains
- achieve greater return on technology investments
- reduce the risks associated with business and technical change
How to align IT with business objectives?
To align your IT strategies with corporate goals, you must:
- know your business objectives and strategy
- know your current IT capabilities and gaps
- consider both priorities and investment within your IT strategy
If you are not sure where to start, focus on a few areas that may provide the greatest benefit. For example, you may want to:
- look for areas of underperformance
- engage with customers and suppliers to identify pain points
- benchmark to see how your business compares to others
- identify the key processes that matter most to your business (eg customer service, manufacturing systems, etc)
The next step is to decide what type of IT could make these systems work better. For example:
- Could a customer relationship management system help you identify new opportunities?
- Could enterprise resource planning help you control stock, cut waste, manage automated ordering and accounting?
- Could your e-commerce website link to your back-office systems?
- Could IT integration (eg of design and production systems) improve your manufacturing efficiency?
After you determine how IT can fit with your business priorities, you should develop an IT strategy. This is a long-term plan that defines how and why the business will use IT to achieve its business objectives.