4 Oct 2012

CIT’s Problem 3: The Business Supremacy

In the early years of IT, the IT department had the authority over the implementation of IT solutions. The IT department has lost this position. Today, the business community plays a prominent role in software development projects. They occupy a dominant position in the relationship with the IT department. We can observe here a complete shift from one extreme to the other in the balance of power.
The following arguments support this:
  1. The business generates revenues. The IT department is only (considered as) a cost centre. The role and responsibility of the business is more important than the role and responsibility of the IT community.
  2. The sponsor of (IT)/(business) projects is often a business manager. He who pays the piper calls the tune.
  3. The IT department is the supplier and the business community is the client. The supplier must deliver what the client asks. The client is king.
  4. The role of IT is to serve the business. Consequently, this implies that IT people should serve the business people.
  5. The business owns the software applications. And they own the business requirements.
  6. Business community knows its needs. No one else knows better the needs of the business community better than the business community itself.
  7. If the business community can demand what it needs and wants, it is more likely to get it.
  8. Software applications should suit the business activities and should fit into the business environment. They implement business knowledge and function accordingly. The business community has this expertise. Business experts guide these projects with their business expertise.
  9. The IT community has disappointed the business community. It didn’t deliver up to its expectations. If the IT community can’t do it, then the business community has to take over some responsibilities.
  10. Since the IT projects contain business logic and serves business purposes, they are business projects. These projects simply have an IT aspect. It is logical that business people leads these business projects.
These statements deserve to be considered more thoughtfully before relying on them. Are the implicit assumptions right? Is the logic rock solid? Are all relevant factors have been taken into account?
The essence is that appropriate information solutions should be conceived, built and implemented. To guide these initiatives insight and skills are needed. Paying, owning or being the client or being important doesn’t replace expertise needed to achieve expected results.
These arguments do not have enough weight to justify an authoritarian position of the business community in the business-IT relationship and in projects. To be successful it is vital that every party has the right position, the right responsibility and the right skills.
Axel Vanhooren.
Freelance IT Consultant

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