erwin Expert Blog

Mind the Gap: Aligning Business and IT

Aligning business and IT is a serious goal for modern organizations. The rapid pace of technological innovation requires the introduction of new tools and processes to cope.

The importance of business and IT alignment is widely understood and  reflected in the concept’s prevalence in IT-maturity and best-practice conversations. What’s less understood is the substance:  what does “aligning business and IT” really mean and how do organizations make it a reality.

Aligning Business and IT: Collaboration

All together now … strength in unity

To understand and solve any problem, we need to uncover the source.

Broadly speaking, experience tells us that the lack of business and IT alignment is a cultural issue on both sides of the equation. IT teams that classify and treat projects as “IT projects” instead of “business projects” demonstrate the IT cultural bias, as does  referring to a project as an “IT project,” which isolates it from the wider business from the start, making it easy for IT to lose sight of the desired business outcome.

In the end, there is no such thing as just an IT project as all projects should aim to improve the business as a whole.

But cultural issues aren’t easy to overcome. They require a shift in employee mindset, which in turn requires strong leadership. This means IT leadership educating IT teams about  the business strategy behind every project and continuously reinforcing it until that approach becomes second nature.

Today’s IT leader must be a business leader first and a technical specialist second.  Organizations with this type of IT leadership will be in a better position, with business and IT alignment already prioritized, automatic and systemic.

The three best practices for aligning business and IT

1. Understand business strategy and objectives

A business strategy is the vision an enterprise is trying to realize, while objectives are the steps it takes to achieve it. Every department needs to understand  the organization’s strategy and objectives and what will be required  to accomplish them. Then every department and every employee is working toward the same goals.

For IT, business strategy and objectives always should factor into how projects are prioritized and planned.

2. Know your capabilities and map them to enterprise needs to identify gaps

First, you need to understand your current IT environment and the capabilities you have so you can  map them to enterprise requirements. Enterprise architecture enables this understanding with an assessment of the “current state,” including assets at the organization’s disposal and the connections between them. Then you can map the current-state enterprise architecture to business goals, identifying the gaps between the current state and the desired “future state.”

IT’s goal then becomes helping the organization achieve the future state so its goals can be achieved.

3. Use a structured approach to prioritize investments 

An easily understood, repeatable process supported by the appropriate technology provides a rigorous and systematic approach to IT strategy development and delivery. While employing a hodgepodge of tools that work poorly with one another – or not at all – will grind progress to a halt.

A comprehensive data management suite with collaborative features circumvents this issue, so organizations suffer less false starts when attempting to introduce change.

Collaboration ensures mission-critical information is discussed within a business context so IT plans can be implemented with greater understanding and less push-back.

Automatic Cohesion

The ultimate state – current and future – is one in which IT and the enterprise aren’t just aligned; they’ve become one and the same.

The business drives IT, and IT enables or powers the enterprise. In modern enterprises meeting and exceeding customer expectations, IT folks not only “get” the business, they “are” the business.

Sandhill’s Jog Raj will explore aligning business and IT further in a FREE WEBINAR on November 13. Register now.

Mind the Gap: Aligning Business and IT Webinar

erwin Expert Blog

Six Reasons Business Glossary Management Is Crucial to Data Governance

A business glossary is crucial to any data governance strategy, yet it is often overlooked.

Consider this – no one likes unpleasant surprises, especially in business. So when it comes to objectively understanding what’s happening from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom line of finance, everyone wants – and needs – to trust the data they have.

That’s why you can’t underestimate the importance of a business glossary. Sometimes the business folks say IT or marketing speaks a different language. Or in the case of mergers and acquisitions, different companies call the same thing something else.

A business glossary solves this complexity by creating a common business vocabulary. Regardless of the industry you’re in or the type of data initiative you’re undertaking, the ability for an organization to have a unified, common language is a key component of data governance, ensuring you can trust your data.

Are we speaking the same language?

How can two reports show different results for the same region? A quick analysis of invoices will likely reveal that some of the data fed into the report wasn’t based on a clear understanding of business terms.

Business Glossary Management is Crucial to Data Governance

In such embarrassing scenarios, a business glossary and its ongoing management has obvious significance. And with the complexity of today’s business environment, organizations need the right solution to make sense out of their data and govern it properly.

Here are six reasons a business glossary is vital to data governance:

  1. Bridging the gap between Business & IT

A sound data governance initiative bridges the gap between the business and IT. By understanding the underlying metadata associated with business terms and the associated data lineage, a business glossary helps bridge this gap to deliver greater value to the organization.

  1. Integrated search

The biggest appeal of business glossary management is that it helps establish relationships between business terms to drive data governance across the entire organization. A good business glossary should provide an integrated search feature that can find context-specific results, such as business terms, definitions, technical metadata, KPIs and process areas.

  1. The ability to capture business terms and all associated artifacts

What good is a business term if it can’t be associated with other business terms and KPIs? Capturing relationships between business terms as well as between technical and business entities is essential in today’s regulatory and compliance-conscious environment. A business glossary defines the relationship between the business terms and their underlying metadata for faster analysis and enhanced decision-making.

  1. Integrated project management and workflow

When the business and cross-functional teams operate in silos, users start defining business terms according to their own preferences rather than following standard policies and best practices. To be effective, a business glossary should enable a collaborative workflow management and approval process so stakeholders have visibility with established data governance roles and responsibilities. With this ability, business glossary users can provide input during the entire data definition process prior to publication.

  1. The ability to publish business terms

Successful businesses not only capture business terms and their definitions, they also publish them so that the business-at-large can access it. Business glossary users, who are typically members of the data governance team, should be assigned roles for creating, editing, approving and publishing business glossary content. A workflow feature will show which users are assigned which roles, including those with publishing permissions.

After initial publication, business glossary content can be revised and republished on an ongoing basis, based on the needs of your enterprise.

  1. End-to-end traceability

Capturing business terms and establishing relationships are key to glossary management. However, it is far from a complete solution without traceability. A good business glossary can help generate enterprise-level traceability in the form of mind maps or tabular reports to the business community once relationships have been established.

Business Glossary, the Heart of Data Governance

With a business glossary at the heart of your regulatory compliance and data governance initiatives, you can help break down organizational and technical silos for data visibility, context, control and collaboration across domains. It ensures that you can trust your data.

Plus, you can unify the people, processes and systems that manage and protect data through consistent exchange, understanding and processing to increase quality and trust.

By building a glossary of business terms in taxonomies with synonyms, acronyms and relationships, and publishing approved standards and prioritizing them, you can map data in all its forms to the central catalog of data elements.

That answers the vital question of “where is our data?” Then you can understand who and what is using your data to ensure adherence to usage standards and rules.

Value of Data Intelligence IDC Report