Business and IT - A Marriage Made in Heaven?


resulting application matches the business requirement as closely as possible. Daily "scrum" meetings allow project workers to discuss their progress, actions for the day and any possible challenges - but are kept very short so that meetings don't impede progress.
An example of how Agile methods can increase collaboration between business and IT can be seen in Valtech's recent work with one of the worlds leading travel companies on a new booking system. The company relied on IT to manage bookings, but technology was still considered a back office function and not a strategic business asset. The current systems were unable to meet growing demand and while IT was attempting to respond to this problem from a purely technical standpoint, the business was demanding, cajoling, and threatening over lost revenue and poor customer satisfaction. The upgrade project was bogged down in detailed technical complexities, while the peak seasonal booking period was fast approaching, representing a very real threat of significant further loss of revenue due to the inadequacies of the current system.
The desperate CIO, faced with what he believed to be an impossible task, brought in Valtech to assist. The advisory team immediately engaged on two tracks: within IT, a full audit of the status of the project; within the business, engagement at multiple levels to gain a full understanding of the current business priorities for the booking system.
Having gained a good understanding of both sides of the problem and identified key top-level issues, priorities, and personalities within the organization, the team presented the stark reality to all in a joint session to create a new baseline of understanding in the organization. From this low point, it was possible to refocus all efforts on achieving best results rather than internecine struggle. The team formed bridges between appropriate points in the IT and business organization, creating collaborative teams with aligned objectives. These teams variously had responsibilities in governance, issue resolution and development prioritization, but always included a combination of business and IT staff with joint objectives.
This introspection and refocusing exercise led to a highly prioritized set of development tasks that could meet the immediate needs of customers, prior to the period of peak booking system demand, and without the performance issues of the previous system. With the crisis defused, and both working practices and relationships transformed, work continued on other features of the system, with the foundation now in place for a much improved future.
By using Agile principles to engage the business, right up to managing director and marketing director, the emphasis was moved from a purely technical one to looking at the overall problem, aligning business and technical staff in resolving the problems. The careful deployment of Agile methods restored the confidence in IT of the business stakeholders, and challenged it to engage and collaborate in a very different way.
A Match Made in Heaven
The relationship between business and IT is a complex one whose parameters will continue to develop and evolve over time. By taking into account this evolution and changing business requirements, Agile methods can play a big part in bridging the gap in communications and helping to stabilize the once rocky relationship between IT and the rest of the business. Facilitating and opening the lines of communication will lead to an effective partnership and lay the foundations for a match made in heaven, rather than hell.
Remember The Golden Rule of What Made the Relationship Work
Software and practices have no purpose without the ability to see and objectively resolve business driven need, be it regulatory compliance or competitive advantage. Without this

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