How can IT shake off the negativity? Get feedback from the business

Swap the closed-off mentality for HR-style performance assessment

Changing the user experience from negative to positive requires firm and determined action. The IT department can start this process on its own, for example, by adopting structured systems management and thinking of IT in terms of service delivery. But ultimately it needs to engage with the broader business to succeed. However, one of the key areas to concentrate on is one that is sorely lacking in many companies.

HR departments and managers routinely practise performance management, and in particular setting objectives and looking at the results achieved. The findings of our survey show that in many cases, IT is effectively operating as a black box that is not well understood by the business, and which does not itself understand the business.

The IT department is operating either blind or partially sighted with respect to the needs of the business, and many companies are throwing money at IT with no realistic way of measuring the value they receive in return.

IT departments aligned

Research from Freeform Dynamics
(Image credit: Freeform Dynamics)

Performance assessment and review
It is also evident that performance assessment and review is a key enabler of business alignment, and developing this relationship between the business and IT should be a priority. This process will involve engaging with senior management and department heads as part of the day-to-day planning and operations, as well as involving IT early in major company strategies and decisions.

Enabling a framework for the objective assessment of the delivery of IT services is vital. Developing a range of key performance indicators (KPIs) will be important. Monitoring and reporting on the KPIs will act as a positive feedback loop on how IT is delivering against the expectations of the business.

Provided IT is able to modify its approach based on performance against these KPIs, through investment, training or otherwise, then IT will be well on its way to increasing its importance to the business as well as having a pool of much happier end users.

Andrew Buss is service director at research firm Freeform Dynamics.