Building bridges between Business and IT

How do you connect these islands?

I have a new job as a software delivery engineer! In my previous job as a consultant, I used to work at the customer. Now, I have made the crossing to Lanza, Gordian’s spare parts solution. As an avid swimmer, this swim from Business to IT cost me little effort. But in practice, this distance is often too big to swim. Recent research by The Standish Group (Chaos Report 2020) shows that only 35% of IT projects are successfully completed on time and within budget with the promised functionalities. Business and IT really need each other to keep up with the times. Technological developments are continuous and evolve rapidly. Before you know, you will be overtaken by a competitor. In this blog I will describe what it takes to build a solid bridge between the islands Business and IT.

Work together on one common goal

Firstly, it is important that Business and IT work towards one common goal. From my own experience, I know that Business and IT are not always aligned on this point. For example, Business would like to see results quickly in order to be able to deliver to customers and they do not really care about how it is created. On the other side, IT wants to deliver a reliable, solid and easy-to-maintain product. I am not saying that IT does not want to deliver products quickly, but the above sub-goals can clash and lead to IT projects not being delivered successfully.

Talk to each other, not about each other

It is important to communicate well with each other to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Ensure that representatives of Business and IT are in regular contact with each other on each project to align goals and expectations. In addition, I have experienced the advantages when someone from the business has knowledge of IT to a certain extent and vice versa. On a recent assignment, I was able to support IT in programming a piece of code. On the other hand, IT participated in a brainstorm session on how we could best visualise the wishes of the business. The result was an on time delivery of the product to the business and we exceeded their expectations.

Apply the Modern Agile methodology

Applying the Modern Agile working method contributes to the building of the bridge between Business and IT. Modern Agile is defined by four guiding principles: make people awesome, make safety a prerequisite, experiment & learn rapidly and deliver value continuously. My colleague Cyriel van ‘t End has already written a blog about Modern Agile. Make sure that the teams are represented by Business and IT and that they work together, interact regularly and understand each other.

In case this does not happen, you risk that the delivered product does not meet the business’ wishes. The tree swing cartoon displays this phenomenon in a humorous way.

Figuur 1: Guide to Good Programming Practice,
Editors: B.L. Meek and P.M. Heath (1979)

The tree swing cartoon displays this phenomenon in a humorous way. This cartoon shows how different departments implement or describe a tire swing attached to a tree, and how different it is from what the business actually intended. By working together as one team, you remove unnecessary links and reduce the probability of misinterpreting the wishes of the business. In addition, split the work into small and manageable parts to quickly create value. If time is available, adjustments can be made when necessary.

Visit each other and build a solid bridge together. You quickly notice that the phenomenon of ‘island thinking’ will disappear. As a result, you are able to continuously deliver value for the business. All with the aim of increasing the number of successful IT projects. For me, experience in business and IT has yielded something beautiful; a nice new job where I am going to put plenty of effort in!

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Brian Gelderblom
Software Delivery Engineer
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