Aligning IT & Business – What’s in a Name?

Have you recently gone through the “transformation”? Over the last decade there have been a large number of companies that are transforming to operate more efficiently and improve overall customer service levels. This transformation typically involves the integration and globalization of the company’s current ERP platforms. As a result of these changes the company’ brand image is increasingly influenced by the end user’s newfound exposure to the ERP enabled business processes and the real time performance of the IT infrastructure.

One of the residual impacts of these transformations is the closer alignment of the traditional IT departments with the business. Frequently this causes the lines of responsibility to blur. Often companies restructure in order to bring IT under the direct control of the line of business versus being considered simply a back-office necessity. This restructuring is a great time to consider rebranding the department to be more reflective of the responsibilities and accountabilities within the organization.

Rebranding a department is equal parts science, reality, and hype. If you look back over the course of the last 50 years we have seen a progression of names from Data Processing, Management Information Systems, and Information Systems, to Information Technology. All of these names emphasize the competency of managing information and the technology that supports it. As these transformations occur, we see a greater emphasis on business processes: standardization and the never ending drive to adopt best practices. With this focus on business processes, some IT departments are rebranding themselves to be more reflective of their new mission. We are now seeing names like Business Technology, Process Automation, and Business Process Advancement (my favorite). These names send the message that the focus is changing along with the transformation. Business process performance is now the main priority.

Internal to the Business Process Advancement (BPA) Departments you see the creation of two types of ERP teams: ERP Competency Centers and ERP Centers of Excellence. The fundamental difference in these ERP teams is that Competency Centers tend to focus on doing things right and promoting the standardization and globalization of processes. Centers of Excellence focus more on advancing the business processes and proactively advocating new techniques or technologies that will provide the company with a competitive advantage. There is usually a progression from Competency Center to Center of Excellence as the overall global standardization of process is the big pay-off in the early stages of a transformation.

Rebranding your IT Department as a Business Process Advancement unit is not done by simply changing the name. To be effective in rebranding companies need to:

  • Build a brand planning team. This needs to be a project / initiative.
  • Review internal processes and procedures to conform to the culture you want to create.
  • Build a communications plan that is rolled out with passion.
  • Continuously measure that you are building the relationships and advancing the business processes as desired.

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