Five Ways ERM Helps with Business-IT Alignment

The lack of alignment (or better yet, convergence) between IT and “the business” is partially due to communication issues. But more fundamentally,  in many organizations, it’s caused by the role IT plays.

Too often, IT is treated as an order taker. Employees ask for things,  and IT provides them (or,  in the case of shadow IT, employees go around IT and obtain those things on their own without waiting for IT).

IT should be more than an order takerAs order takers, IT teams don’t see their role as (and aren’t treated as if that role is) strategic. Without effective communication and collaboration, IT likely won’t offer all the services that business users need, or take ownership of end-to-end service delivery processes.

The result, at least at times, is service failures. These are blamed on IT,  but are actually business problems.

For example, an employee in accounting needs more disk space on the server. A call goes in to the help desk, but…nothing happens.

IT failure? Maybe. But maybe the request was never approved. Or not budgeted. Or not communicated to the right group.

Fulfillment failures or delays at simple tasks reinforce the notion that IT isn’t strategic. So the dysfunction continues, and alignment is impossible.

Changing the situation requires actions at multiple levels, involving processes, people, communication, and organization culture. Implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) model for service requests won’t fix the alignment problem entirely on its own, but can play a key role,  in several ways:

Service Definition

Implementing ERM requires that services be defined and fulfillment processes be mapped—from the perspective off the end business user. Merely defining and presenting services makes clear what IT provides, and assures processes are in place to deliver those services.

First-time Fulfillment

As services are defined, ERM workflow management tools are used to automate processes (such as approvals and chargebacks) wherever possible. Automation accelerates service delivery while reducing manual steps and costs, and improving reliability. ERM also provides end-to-end process visibility, so problems can be quickly identified and corrected,  and processes continually improved.

Employee Feedback

Context-specific surveys can be used to measure service quality and improve any lagging areas. In addition, ERM portals often make it easy for users to request that a new service be added. IT  groups can then be more responsive not just to individual service requests, but to adding services that are in demand, fostering improved communication and collaboration.

Service Innovation

With less time spent manually managing and fulfilling requests, IT professionals have more time for higher value-added activities like designing and rolling out services such as BYOD device registration and cloud computing resource provisioning that help prevent rogue purchasing and data security risks.

Service Expansion

ERM by definition is about giving employees a single, intuitive portal for requesting any type of enterprise service. IT isn’t the only group that provides services, of course: PTO requests are handled by HR, physical repairs are taken care of by facilities, etc.. ERM provides a single platform for all shared services departments to present their services and design fulfillment processes. ERM also assures that tasks aren’t dropped in requests for complex, cross-departmental processes like onboarding a new employee.

Aligning IT with the business will require change on both sides. But  the benefits are significant and lasting. ERM has a key role to play in aligning service delivery with expectations, and can provide quick wins on the longer path to alignment or convergence.

Download the white paper Enterprise Request Management: An Overview to learn more about the ERM approach and its  benefits.



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