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What Does It Mean to Align IT with the Business?

Justifying or tying a particular IT investment or project to a specific business goal

We've been talking about “aligning IT with the business” since SOA first took legs but you rarely see concrete examples of what that really means.

It sounds much more grand and lofty than it really is. To put it in layman’s terms, or at least take it out of marketing terms, aligning IT with the business is really nothing more than justifying or tying a particular IT investment or project to a specific business goal. What that means ultimately is that you, as an IT professional, must understand what those business goals are in the first place. Once you know the goals, you can translate them to an IT goal and then down into specific operational implementations supporting or enabling that goal. If that operational implementation requires an investment, you can then justify the investment based on support for that specific business goal.

Here are a few examples of translation from business goal to operational implementation:

BUSINESS GOAL

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Protect customer data
  • Take full advantage of seasonal opportunities

IT GOAL

  • Ensure CSR (Customer Service Representative) systems are fast
  • Tighten application security policies
  • Ensure additional capacity available on-demand to improve availability during peak traffic rushes

OPERATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION

Being able to tie operational implementations back to a business goal will help foster a better relationship with business stakeholders. It’s much easier for IT to show value when it can map technology and implementation needs back to a specific need or goal expressed by the business. It doesn’t need to be a treatise (unless your organization requires that, of course) on how X feature fulfills Y need. Just remember Seth, and WILS, and KISS. Keep it simple, to the point, and make it easy to understand.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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