In 2016, we carried out a survey of UK based IT Business Partnering professionals (or Business Relationship Management professionals) to assess the state of IT business partnering. The results show a snapshot of the companies in which IT business partner professionals work, and go some way to a better understanding of how IT business partnering is being used to develop organisations effectively or otherwise.
The survey measures the degree to which IT Business Partnering is embedded in the culture and practice of an organisation, using different yet complementary factors, one of which is Business Maturity.
Business Maturity measures many aspects including:
- the ability to engage with the Information Technology function on its future needs;
- the level of sophistication in how it articulates its requirements;
- how strategically focused it is;
- the organisations ability to adopt technology; and
- its ability to realise value from its investments
It is good practice to not only have the input of your organisation’s IT professionals right from the start of a new project but also to foster a culture of having an open mind to the type of solutions that could fulfil the business need and driving your business forward. In reality this, for one reason or another, does not always happen.
When asked at what stage of the project decision-making process IT departments are usually engaged, there was a good reason to be cheerful – only 5 out of the 63 organisations reported that they are not usually engaged until the final project delivery stage. The majority of organisations (39) reported that they were engaged early enough to shape some of the project objectives, with others (19) reporting that they were generally involved from the very beginning. This is heartening, though some work needs to be done to move more organisations into a culture of earlier IT department collaboration and involvement in the project lifecycle.
From looking at the chart above, our 63 respondents shows a degree of communication and involvement from both IT and business stakeholders in delivering change. This chart shows to what level they are expressed and the scale of change. Here the business stakeholder prescribes what it thinks it needs to the IT department:
- detail requirements such as bug fixes and small change requests
- projects to improve performance
- help requiring fulfilling business goals.
We can see that generally organisations have a mindset of thinking about change in terms of projects, however a culture of alignment to business goals and thinking openly and collaboratively on how they can be fulfilled is an area that needs further improvement. From this, different, more innovative and transformational projects can spring to life.
Becoming more collaborative around business goals
The benefits of involving the IT department every step of the project lifecycle are:
- understanding the optimal solution to a business challenge;
- finding alternatives to a business challenge that may not require the use of technology (process efficiency, for example);
- appreciating the full scale impact of a technology change to the business; and
- insight into how technology can either improve the efficiency of business or indeed dramatically change the way business works.
There are many reasons why these benefits may not be realised:
- lack of flexibility and capacity;
- poor operational performance and project delivery;
- trust and credibility; and
- insight and business awareness.
However business stakeholders have their role to play:
- underfunding the technology and services required;
- presenting conflicting requirements that may not be strategically aligned;
- lack of governance and planning (leaving it to the last moment and then escalating); and
- giving IT accountability to deliver complex organisational change and deliver the benefit.
Outlining some of the factors above demonstrate the need for improved IT delivery capability, effective IT business partnering between IT and business, and a change in Business Expectations.
You can download the findings from the IT Business Partner survey 2016 at UK IT Business Partner Survey