What gets business leaders involved in the ALM governance process?

Kevin Parker

How do project managers get business leaders involved in ALM governance?

Most business leaders expect IT to be responsive and deliver the systems they ask for quickly and accurately. With the increasing importance of IT as the sole mechanism for getting business done, business leaders are now taking a keener interest in IT and many are asking us to be the innovators for their departments. With so much goodwill, now is the perfect time to bring them into the heart of what we do and have them participate in the critical decisions we have to make.

Kevin Parker, application development veteranWhen we think about what we do in IT, there are myriad decisions we make every day about the systems we design, develop and deliver, and those decisions affect business outcomes. When there is a good governance policy in place, it frames our decision-making process in such a way that we focus on what is best for the organization as a whole and for the business concerned. However, many of these choices are made without reference to the business leader or business users involved.

That has to change if an organization is going to operate at an optimal level. The business needs to invest time to provide guidance to IT so that the illusive business-IT alignment stays, well, aligned. But, it is hard to get the business to participate in what they see, sometimes, as arcane and bewildering. There is also a fear that once they do get involved they will be dragged into the nitty-gritty technical details.

Yet the business' contribution to IT decision making is critical so that we track closely with our business partners and they share in the decision-making process for our mutual benefit and sanity.

So how can we get them to be part of the team? They need to know what is at stake for them if they do not participate. They need to understand that when balancing priorities the better informed we are about their commercial imperatives and consequences the more likely we are to make choices that meet their expectations and goals. And we need to promise not to mire them in the plethora of details that we are used to addressing in any case.

We also need their wisdom and counsel because we certainly do not have all the answers about what governance policies need to be set and what pitfalls await for overgoverning or undermonitoring them. There is much we can learn from each other and much we can do together that will benefit both the business and IT. The trick is to approach business leaders with open ears and an open mind first, before you open your mouth.

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