The Strategic Importance of Aligning Top Level Management with IT Leadership Objectives
January 8, 2018

The Strategic Importance of Aligning Top Level Management with IT Leadership Objectives

A recent report by CEO Today Magazine indicates that companies wishing to make the most cost-effective technology decisions would do well to better align the relationship and communication between their top level management and IT leadership.

The Divide

Modern businesses increasingly rely on technologies occupying mission-critical positions such as data-management or general productivity software applications. Given the often-hefty price tags, top level management wants to be and needs to be involved in evaluating and choosing a company’s technology tools. But, given the increasing complexity of these technologies, top level management may find themselves confronted by the need to commit significant budget to tools they don’t understand.

Out of necessity, then, great autonomy is granted to IT leadership to make technology decisions. This can create tension with top management who has the responsibility to keep the company financially viable, but who may lack the technology knowledge to be able to evaluate IT leadership’s decisions.

In such a scenario, top level management may default to evaluating IT leadership’s decisions primarily on the basis of cost. This can be a limiting context in which to make such critical choices.

Conveying the Value of IT

Building and maintaining the company’s technology infrastructure will always cost significant money. IT leadership can foster a better understanding and more buy-in from top level management if they help shift the conversation from “what will it cost?” to “what will we gain?”

“What will we gain?” roots management’s evaluation of technology decisions not in the expense to the company, but in the value delivered to the company.

To change how management perceives technology expense, the IT department must evolve how they talk about what they are doing. They must reposition how they tell their own story. Consider these simple descriptions of an IT department’s routine tasks:

  • Purchases and configures Microsoft SQL Server
  • Purchases and installs Microsoft Office 365
  • Purchases and sets up Microsoft SharePoint
  • Tracks and maintains software assets

Each of these statements may be true, but each also misses the point IT leadership should be communicating, which is how these efforts eventually equate to improved productivity, new revenue being generated, and greater profitability.

What if IT leadership explained their department’s work this way?

  • Streamlines customer data management for the sales team, enabling accurate lead analysis and a measurably higher close rate in the sales process by obtaining and configuring SQL server
  • Fosters real-time information sharing and communication from a multi-device platform, yielding higher employee productivity and satisfaction by deploying/configuring Office 365 across the organization while moving this IT expense from a Capex model to Opex via monthly subscription, paying only for software used (consumption-based)
  • Facilitates innovation, customer problem solving, and product development, delivering increased repeat business by establishing collaboration environments via SharePoint
  • Reduces labor hours, increases licensing visibility, and reduces risk of costly malware incidents by subscribing to an online software asset management service

These statements highlight for top management how the IT department’s actions deliver value to the company in the form of increased revenue, reduced costs, and greater efficiency, all elements of business success. Rather than focusing on the technology alone, these statements expand the focus to include the business impact of that technology.

Top Management and IT Together at the Strategy Table

IT leadership can do its part to align with management by revealing the beneficial impacts of their technology choices. Management can foster closer alignment with IT leadership by including IT leadership in conversations about overall business objectives, short- and long-term goals, looming challenges and promising opportunities. In short, when IT leadership is informed about the company’s strategic objectives, their choices about the technology needed to achieve those aims will be more accurate.

Bringing top level management and IT leadership together at the strategy table elevates technology initiatives from operational to strategic. Such a move gives IT leadership and top management the opportunity to agree on key performance indicators that will matter to both and to form a shared strategic context for technology decision-making helping the company obtain a competitive advantage.

Accordo Brings Value to Organizations

Accordo helps simplify software asset management (SAM) for small and medium businesses by illuminating where in their IT environment they have an opportunity to optimize, modernize and improve the security of their infrastructure. Accordo does this by first evaluating the organization’s software holdings, and then providing the organization with customized information on their aging infrastructure, opportunities for on-premise-to-cloud conversion, and cybersecurity risks, along with solution recommendations. This consultative approach enables organizations to make decisions that result in software efficiency gains that improve operational agility and productivity, and align IT and business decision maker goals.