Business & IT alignment in Norway

Published on Friday 19 October 2012 by in News with 1 comment

Key lessons learned about realizing Business and IT alignment 

At the ‘ITIL day’ organized by the itSMF in Norway Paul Wilkinson presented the latest ABC of ICT worst practices in Business and IT alignment and co-facilitated a business simulation game Grab@Pizza together with Helge Rognlien from Steria. The results of the ABC global surveys showed why Business & IT alignment has been a top concern for more than 10 years and showed why we are still struggling.

The table below shows the presented results of the global ABC survey. The ‘Business’ and ‘IT columns’ show the worst practices cards chosen relating to Business and IT. The column ‘Bridging the GAP’ shows what needs to be done, and shows some answers from the audience to the question ‘how can ITIL help’?

It was interesting to note that most people recognized the issues, most were doing ITIL, but almost NONE were doing the named ITIL processes that help reduce the Business and IT alignment GAP.


Business IT Bridging the GAP
Everything has the highest priority according to the business Too little understanding of business impact and priority Business priority & Investment mechanisms and demand supply processes
ITIL? Service Portfolio Management, Demand management, Service Catalogue Management, Priority mechanisms in Change, problem, incidents


Business IT Bridging the GAP
Demand and Give. I demand and you give in! IT too internally focused Changing perceptions and values. Creating trust and understandingITIL? SPM, SCM, Business Relationship manager. Involve customers in designing all customer facing processes.


Business IT Bridging the GAP
Business understanding of IT IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case Translating technology opportunities into business opportunities.ITIL? Capacity management stresses the need to propose emerging technologies


Business IT Bridging the GAP
Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing Maybe we should have tested that change first Ensuring business involvement in operationalizing solutions.ITIL? Release Policy and planning? Change testing and evaluation


Business IT Bridging the GAP
IT strategy contribution into Business strategy We don’t measure our contribution to strategy realization Lack of a shared view on strategy alignment and realization.ITIL? Release Policy and planning? Change testing and evaluation


Business IT Bridging the GAP
Neither partner makes an effort to understand the other Not my responsibility A marriage guidance counselor. Somebody who understands and can communicate to both sides. ITIL? Business relationship manager, service Level manager. The SERVICE MANAGER OF THE FUTURE.

Business & IT Aligment in practice!

In the afternoon workshop sessions 12 delegates took part in the Business and IT alignment simulation Grab@Pizza. In this simulation delegates play both the Business & IT management roles in a pizza company called Grab@Pizza. The first (fictitious) 6 months of the year were disastrous. The CEO, played by the facilitator wants a complete turn-round.

A 6 month strategy has been designed to exploit IT to generate new revenue streams, reduce operational costs and open up new marketing and sales channels through emerging technologies.

The team had to design their processes, roles, responsibilities to make the company successful. IT had to demonstrate control of existing service offerings AND align with changing business requirements. The business managers had to realize 5 strategic opportunities for the CEO.

What happened in the first game round? Although the team had all seen the morning presentation what happened was:

  • IT went into an internal focus and made investment decisions on resources and designed processes without involving the business
  • The business didn’t communicate its strategy and expectations
  • IT had no understanding of the strategy, the business priorities nor of priority and impact of the applications, servers, systems in relation to the business. Outages occurred, money was wasted, revenue was down, costs were high.
  • Few in IT knew the strategy.
  • IT did not have a strategy for supporting and enabling the business
  • No reports were agreed between Business and IT in relation to measuring and demonstrating strategy realization.
  • Operational process resource allocation, prioritization and decision making had no relation to the business strategy

Just like reality! The business assumed IT knew the strategy, IT assumed the business was too busy or not interested. IT assumed the business didn’t want to know about resourcing issues, it is IT’s job to resolve those! The team then reflected together with Paul and Helge on how to use instruments such as a Service portfolio – pipeline planning. Implementing a strategic change board to help prioritize a change calendar balancing on the one side the business changes to realize Value and Outcomes and on the other side changes that IT needed to make to reduce Costs and Risks.

The Service level manager was given new tasks, not just managing the SLA but ensuring an understanding of the business strategy and plans and how IT could contribute, The SLM also had to align with all IT process owners to ensure the processes could realize the expectations and to signal potential business risks.

The business managers took a more active role in communicating the strategy, the planning. The Business and IT managers formalized the investment and prioritization mechanisms and the business and IT agreed reports to help make decisions and to manage strategy realization.

At the end of the day the CEO was happy. The IT changes for the strategy were prioritized, major IT investments and changes had been made to position for emerging technologies and risks in the infrastructure, capacity, problems had been removed. Both the business and IT had developed a better relationship, understanding, communication, trust and credibility.

What is so hard about Business and IT alignment?

See the list of Success factors and key improvement actions delates discovered during world-wide Business & IT alignment simulation workshops.

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