- IT leaders must establish a long-term vision to successfully align their teams
with organizational priorities.
- IT must practice effective demand management and resource planning to stay on track with its goals.
“If you’re four or five layers removed from the C suite,
understanding where your North Star is can be difficult.”
Samantha Williams knows that IT often isn’t as tightly aligned with the business as it ought to be. “In the past, we’ve seen IT groups spend most of their time and attention hiring for strong technical resources or strong IT people,” she says. “If the people who are leading your IT team don’t have a strong business understanding or even a strong appreciation of business needs, almost as if they were responsible for running the business themselves, then the decisions you make and the prices you pay for those decisions become difficult.” While such hires may work well on a per-project basis, they are unlikely to help the business achieve its goals over the long term.
For this reason, she says, “I’ve probably spent more time over the past five years looking for strong business leaders with technical capacity to lead my groups than technical people who are a little bit business aware.” IT no longer has the luxury of being an order taker, waiting to have a business request arrive already perfectly formed and articulated. “The reality is that your business colleagues don’t always know exactly what they need. And even if they do, it’s moving way too fast,” she explains. “Now, you almost need to be a business person who can understand IT. You need to lead the way, be willing to get in the trenches with the business, and find strategic solutions that advance key business outcomes in the time required.”