Bridging the big divide between IT departments and business units

Jesse Meijers

Two weeks ago, I shared our vision on how visionary IT departments are allowing business units to make software themselves. If you’ve read the post, which I would recommend, you probably have a profound meaning about business users making software. Especially business critical software. If you are like most people, you are either strongly for, or strongly against it.

Now, you probably guessed that I, being CTO of Triggre, am strongly for business users making their own software. This is not the case. Am I against it then? That would be strange, for a company that allows you to ‘make software yourself’. No, I am also not against it. I believe that it is dependent on the tool meeting the needs of both IT departments and business users sufficiently to allow people to make software themselves.

But business users and IT professionals are facing a huge divide. To understand how Triggre helps to bridge this divide, let’s dive into this important dilemma.

The problems IT departments face

I have the utmost respect for IT departments. They face a very tough job. When all the software the company uses works flawlessly, meaning the IT department is doing an excellent job, no one notices. On the other hand, if something goes wrong, all hell breaks loose. And it doesn’t even matter whether it’s the IT departments fault…

This is without a doubt a very unthankful job in that sense, while vital to the business. Therefore, it isn’t strange that IT departments worldwide have adopted a strategy to have as much in their span of control as they possibly can. That way, at least when something goes wrong, the chance it’s their fault is higher and they can learn and improve. Very understandable.

The problems business units face

On the business side of the organization, business units face problems too. Customers have become much more demanding in the past decade than before, due to globalization. There is always another supplier, as most companies simply ship worldwide. So business units struggle to provide ‘added value’. The customer experience has become key, and quite frankly, the only reason left why people would ever pay more for what is essentially the same product.

The problem with added value is that competitors easily copy it. Which means that speed and flexibility become important. The faster you can get your unique process implemented, the longer you can enjoy being the only company to have this added value.

The collision

When business units want to quickly make new processes available for customers and other stakeholders, and IT departments want to keep everything under control, they collide. This is what causes the big misunderstandings between IT departments and business units. Both have the best intentions for the organization in mind, they just differ in perspective.

In my opinion, both are correct. The IT department is correct in wanting to make sure that the software solutions that are used are robust, well maintained and predictable. This is also why CIOs tend to choose the big names; no-one has ever been fired for selecting Microsoft, SAP or Oracle.

On the other hand, business units simply need to be flexible. Business users don’t understand why everything that involves IT must always be hard and take very long. I understand this feeling very well, we all want things to go faster.

How to bridge the gap

The divide is big, but bridgeable. The key here is to understand that a flexible solution must be rigid and controlled in some places. At the core of the organization, the IT department must be able to make sure that things run smoothly. Connections between applications and processes involving core data are important to keep stable. Not only for IT, also for business units. But the processes on top of those core processes, can be flexible. It is this area where business users should be able to easily make software themselves. Using core processes and data easily, as managed by the IT department, but with the freedom, speed and flexibility to perfectly serve customers and other stakeholders. And that is exactly what Triggre was designed for.

In my next post I will give examples of features and we implemented them in Triggre, that support this new way of working between IT departments and business units.

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