How to Close the IT/Business Communication Gap

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All too often, it seems as if IT and the business just aren't speaking the same language. Business types have a tough time conveying their requirements to IT in language they understand. And IT often doesn't explain the value it brings to the organization in plain enough English -- enough about "uptime" already.


So it's good to see some CIOs tackling the problem head-on. One exec interviewed for a recent ITBusiness.ca piece says he makes an effort to put everything in terms that the business can appreciate. So rather than dwelling on the technological capabilities of XML, for instance, he emphasizes the benefits that result from using it, such as improved integration with clients and partners.


Some analysts suggest that IT needs to position itself as a business service supplier rather than a technology supplier. After dividing IT activities into service portfolios based on infrastructure, users, projects and management, express all IT costs in service-to-business terms, suggests the Cutter Consortium. Assess performance, budget IT and charge business units for services in those terms, as well.


The bad news? There is no "silver bullet" for strengthening IT/business relations. Improving communication and strengthening the partnership between the two camps is just one part of the process.


Other ideas worth trying? Get business managers involved in technology governance and have a dedicated business sponsor for major IT projects.