10 Top Tips For Building Effective Business and IT Relationships


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Brenda Cowie
Posted by Brenda Cowie on May 23, 2016

Enterprise Architecture

We’re all about collaboration at BiZZdesign. In fact, our digital business design software platform, BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio, encourages continuous collaboration by allowing several people to work in one platform. However, effective collaboration requires you to build relationships with colleagues across the entire organization. The effort you make to get to know other groups’ concerns will help further down the line when addressing any project issues that may arise.

Cultural and political support are the greatest enablers to business change success, thus a greater knowledge and understanding of each other’s worlds and personalities can be very effective when making business and strategy decisions.

The benefits of good interdepartmental relationships are undeniable, however, it’s not always easy to build relationships with colleagues that you may not get to see all that often.

Here are our 10 top tips for building effective Business and IT relationships:

  1. Identify key stakeholders 
    Identify the key stakeholders both on the IT and on the Business side who will be affected by your decisions/influence. By speaking with them in the early stages you can avoid a lot of back pedaling and reselling them on your rationale for decisions in later stages of projects.

  2. Make a point to get to know those stakeholders outside of regular meetings
    Go for coffee/lunch with stakeholders. The more a person can relate to you as a fellow human being, the more likely they are to go out of their way to come to a resolution when you are dealing with conflicting priorities.

  3. Create Business Transformation and/or EA Ambassadors in your organization
    Identify someone (other than yourself!) on the IT and/or business side who is an EA enthusiast & who your intended audience relates to and respects (for whatever reason) and use them as a messenger. Sometimes, due to the culture of an organization, the EA or IT side are not perceived as having the same influence as someone from the business side. Find those people in the business and leverage them to help you sell the program/message.

  4. Communicate business value early in the process and often
    Make sure that your message is actually understood, not just heard. Business change and EA initiatives can seem like overwhelming tasks, especially to those who are outside of architecture and IT. You don’t want people to be disinterested because they don’t understand the value you are creating.

  5. Ensure the EA message is relevant to the intended audience
    Don’t confuse the business with too much technical info; tell them what they need to know and how what you are doing will impact them. Always communicate in business value terms.

  6. Encourage debate when making decisions/changes
    Many decisions are only internalized by both parties when they are picked apart and examined through debate and rationalization.

  7. Make sure you are speaking the same language
    If your chosen framework is (e.g.) TOGAF, we encourage all parties concerned to have some level of TOGAF training. Often the architecture group goes for certification, and the PMO will have a “lite” version of the training. When everyone is on the same page it is easier to get your message understood. What's more, during training sessions, different groups in an organization often reveal concerns and pain points to each other, often for the first time.

  8. Use your “Soft Skills”
    Match your vocabulary and communication style to theirs. If they are short and to the point, be the same.

  9. Empathize with your audience
    Remember when communicating your decisions to various stakeholders to consider his/her motivations, and incentives. What is their “skin in the game”? A little empathy will get you a long way.

  10. Always use the “Partner” approach
    Ask your colleague: “how can we work together to help you”? Your decisions will then be welcomed as consultative advice, rather than seen as “no other choice” directives.

As you can see, building effective Business and IT relationships really does have plenty of advantages. Following these 10 tips will make it a lot easier to get effective results.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let us know below!
Delivering Business Outcome with TOGAF and ArchiMate

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