Reasons For IT-Business Misalignment (Part 1)

A recent comment on this blog got me thinking. The essence of E.A. Anon’s argument was that the misalignment between business and IT is caused by the business changing quicker than IT. But is this really the case?

The word “agility” is getting a lot of press lately, thanks largely to the hype surrounding SOA. IT must be more agile and respond quicker to changing business needs. Or so the story goes.

But does the business really change quicker than IT? I’m not convinced. Let’s consider strategic and tactical changes separately.

Major strategic changes take time. Think about due diligence and legal issues, developing the business case, securing finance, market research, developing new business processes, possibly re-branding the company and launching advertising campaigns, re-organising the supply chain, developing new products and services, staff training and recruitment. And the list goes on. All of this isn’t going to happen over night. All things being equal, I don’t believe there’s an IT Department out there that couldn’t deliver a functioning solution to support the new business in the time it takes the business itself to organise itself.

Tactical changes on the other hand are implemented by the business far quicker – because the size of the change is smaller. Tactical changes are evolutionary (e.g. mail order company creating an online shop). However, if the change requires little change in the business, then it probably requires little change in IT. Of course it takes longer for IT to build an online shop than it takes for the business to say “we want an online shop”, but with the available technology you could probably deliver a solution in next to no time.

If this sounds naïve then I assure you – the cause of the misalignment between business and IT is not caused by different pace of change. IT can change as quickly as the business. So why doesn’t it?

Over the next few posts I will cover what I think are the main reasons for business-IT misalignment. And what to do about it.


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