Digital Workplace is here to stay, but organizations are still seeing varying success levels with the transformation. What sets leading businesses apart? Thoughtful strategy and alignment.

In part one of this blog series, we discussed business alignment. Another critical component of the puzzle? IT alignment. While every area of the business must work together to drive digital transformation, IT is the lynchpin.

With all the added pressures, responsibilities, and challenges that have landed on the CIO's plate this year, how can organizations ensure that every team member is on the same page? In this post, we'll share three ways to secure IT alignment for digital workplace transformation.

What is IT Alignment?

Let's start with a quick definition. What, exactly, is IT alignment?

According to Gartner, IT-Business alignment is about "prioritizing the right capabilities to enable and support the business’s technology needs." It sounds simple enough on the surface, but as we all know, prioritizing work has become an uphill battle. And with everyone working remotely, across time zones, and with their own set of personal challenges this year, it's never been more difficult to keep everyone aligned towards supporting the same goals.

But despite the unique challenges that 2020 has brought, many of the struggles around business alignment are nothing new. In many ways, the problems are evergreen. So, while the backdrop may look a bit different now, the fundamentals are constant. Now is the time, once and for all, to address the processes and procedures that have held organizations back for so long.

Are you ready? While there's no one path to alignment, we've identified three steps that will help your organization forge forward on the journey to IT alignment.

3 Steps to Secure IT Alignment

If you've read the other posts in this series, then you may be sensing a theme by now. The first step to creating any form of alignment lies in education. And before you can align one team to another, you must fix any internal silos first. Finally, alignment requires clear, documented, and common goals. Here's how to approach each of these steps in the process.

Educate the Org: What IT Does--Expectation vs. Reality

You know the popular Instagram trend known as #instagramvsreality? It holds relevance in the enterprise, too. So often, IT operates in a silo because the rest of the business fails to understand its function. The same can be said of marketing, customer service, and finance, too.

The problem? When no team understands what the other does, it's nearly possible to align toward common goals. So, step one in the journey to securing IT alignment is educating the rest of the team and dispelling the many myths about what the IT department really does.

What's the best way to do this? Don't be afraid to have some fun! Ask your IT teams to brainstorm some of the common misunderstandings they face regarding their roles and then find ways to address the top misconceptions.

Action item: Give IT a voice. Invite your CSO, CTO, or CIO to speak at the next town hall meeting. If you have an internal newsletter or Intranet, make sure to share content from IT. Introduce all new employees to your IT department during onboarding and make sure they have a clear understanding from the start about your org's technology structure, priorities, responsibilities, and goals.

Align Security & IT

Now that you've educated the rest of the business, it's time to secure alignment within the team. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, Security and IT operate separately and with conflicting goals. This in-depth article from CSO explores all the reasons why this is such a struggle.

One of the top roadblocks mentioned in the article is the dissonance that occurs because of the perception that Security's priorities are roadblocks to IT's goals. To fix this, CISOs and CIOs must work together to open communication lines and cross-train their team members.

Action item: Establish a weekly one-on-one between your CISO and CIO. Set a performance goal for each leader that guides them to create an ongoing training program/job shadowing structure that exposes each team member to the others' work.

Agree on Priorities + Establish Accountability

Far too many organizations aim to be solutions-focused, which is a noble goal. Still, it helps to start by identifying top problems and then working together to formulate the best solutions. Trying to do too many things at once or too much too quickly is a recipe for failure and disappointment.

Each year, establish four to five high-level goals, with 2-3 quarterly benchmarks underneath those goals. Ensure each team, and team member is clear on who will play a role in driving those goals towards achievement and share how each employee will be held accountable for success.

Action item: Host a half-day workshop and divide team members into small groups. Have each group journey map, either the employee or customer experience, come back together to compare findings, identify top challenges, and establish a plan to address those challenges.

Bringing it All Together

Establishing alignment takes work, but it's the only way to drive sustainable change. By following these three steps, you'll be closer to achieving true digital transformation and serving your customers and employees in ways that lead to better engagement.

If you need help along the journey, 8x8 is here. We'll be bringing you more free resources to guide you on the path to digital transformation. In the meantime, check out our Essentials eBook series to get up-to-speed on what it means to operate in a work-from-anywhere model.

Have questions? Drop us a note!