It’s that time of the year again. Office Christmas party’s and holiday happy hours are in full effect. Most people are scrambling to get last-minute gifts and prepping for time off. Soon the offices will be empty and most of us will be enjoying time over the Holidays with family.
At this point, most organizations should have a good idea what their IT roadmaps look like for 2018. Businesses usually rank projects based on need and return on investment. This process usually takes place in Q4 as teams prep to get funding for their roadmaps.
Non-IT management of the business typically handle the prioritization process. The idea is, let the business folks decide on what to do, then let the IT folks decide on how to do it. There’s a lot of logic to this train of thought, and for some companies this works well, but I would tell companies to take caution when using this approach.
The idea that the business should focus on the IT roadmap, without IT involved, is prone for trouble. Yes, the business should be accountable for prioritizing work that provides the most value, but IT should be in the discussion.
When prioritizing an IT roadmap, there are other factors to consider other than financial benefits. Looking only through the short-term lens of return on investment, you lose sight of the following questions:
- Which projects are best aligned to the long-term IT strategy for the company?
- How will the projects affect the IT teams? Are the team’s setup to be successful?
- How will employees feel about the work? Will those who are doing the work find it engaging, or are you setting yourself up for a mass exodus?
- How will quality be affected? Are you planning to take on too much work, which could jeopardize quality?
- If your company is using or moving towards Agile delivery (which it should), how will that affect your roadmap?
Above are a few questions to consider, but you can see why IT leadership should be in the discussion when it comes to prioritizing work for the year.
Aside from IT being involved in the prioritization process, the business should also have a voice in technical solutions. Yes IT is ultimately accountable, but this doesn’t mean the business shouldn’t be in the discussion. When solving technical problems, it’s usually those who work in operations that have the best understanding of the issues. Their’ insights are invaluable.
The need for agile organizations demands that business and IT leadership come together. We can’t afford to have areas of our organizations working in silos. As we begin a new year, isn’t it time we find creative ways for our “business” and “IT” resources and leadership to come together?
About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the president and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an IT Project and Program Manager as well as an Agile Scrum Master. You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMacIsaac or subscribe to Mike’s blog.