Maintaining a firm grasp of the basics is an essential element of being an effective leader. This is especially true in developing a technology roadmap with your partners in business operations. There are three basic questions to ask and answer:
- What do you HOPE will happen?: Leveraging technology to move the firm forward requires that your business partner have a vision of where to take the firm and how this vision impacts revenue, expenses, profits, etc. As a leader, it is essential that you understand what your business partner “hopes will happen” so you can translate this vision into meaningful information and activities for your teams. This way, your teams can apply the vision to their day to day work and become an active partner in the firm’s success. Make sure you know the answer to this question and make it a part of your thinking, speaking and writing so that you and your teams remain focused.
- What are you AFRAID will happen?: Learn what your business partners fear and what those fears may cost. Are the costs operational? Financial? Personal (reputation or career risk)? Understanding the risk to business operations will help you avoid real costs and unnecessary expenditures. Understanding personal risks will help you understand otherwise-mysterious behaviors on the part of your business partners. Overall, you must ensure that you and your teams are aligned with the business in avoiding risk. Your teams can further identify obstacles within their own ‘field of vision’ as technology specialists that may not be readily apparent to the business operations teams.
- What are you DOING about it?: Understanding how your business plans to achieve its goals and avoid risk is where you add value a solution provider and business partner. This is where the collaboration between business and technology can pay real dividends in terms of cost avoidance, customer retention and revenue generation. Active engagement between business operations and technology also provides opportunities to build a more collaborative culture within the firm. Getting your teams to understand the business they support, the goals of that business and the risks that the business seeks to avoid can transform your technology team into a business technology team. This means working to support the business’ plans but also leveraging the unique brain power of your teams to propose other opportunities to move the ball forward, all with a shared understanding of the firm’s goals and obstacles to success. One team – one goal.
Knowing where the business is going, identifying obstacles on that journey and being aligned with business operations are the keys to developing strategies and tactics to remove barriers and achieve the firm’s vision. Leaders must ensure that this knowledge drives innovation in three key operational areas for the technology teams:
- Successful execution of one-time initiatives and projects
- Implementing effective changes to day-to-day operational processes
- Developing and implementing sound policy and procedures.
Ensuring that the activities in these three operational work streams are focused on achieving the ends of the technology strategy will significantly improve your teams’ focus and increase your effectiveness as a business partner. Ask the questions – know the answers and make these answers meaningful in your teams’ day to day lives.
© 2014, Mark E. Calabrese