Since the beginning of information technology, there has been a difference between the “business” and the IT department. It’s been some kind of purchaser and supplier relationship that is not working very well anymore. IT has become a fundamental part of the business, and sometimes actually IS most of the business, e.g. a bank or an insurance company today is mostly an IT services company. This means that the relationship between business and IT needs to change,and IT needs to become an integral part part of the business. There have been numerous approaches suggested to accomplish this, and most of them involve the management of IT (CIO) and the other executives to start collaborating more.
I suggest there is a much simpler way, which can get you started with this transformation very fast, and it is to start at the other end, with the people that is creating the customer value in the business. These are both people working in IT and in the rest of the organization, and they have been divided by the traditional separation of IT and requirements, projects, estimations, change management, etc. What if there is a way to instead get them working together towards a common goal?
Maybe you have been following my previous blog posts about Beautiful Delivery, and if not, I suggest you check out Use Beautiful Delivery to Speed Up Your Digital Transformation, which also include links to more detailed posts and some videos. What happens in an autonomous cross-functional team is that the business and IT comes together in a natural way. Not in any formal relationship, but with people from both sides just working together with a shared responsibility. Through the product owner, the business gets involved in the creation solutions that support the customer value.
The team owns the complete experience from customer needs to run and measuring outcome in production. The team share the trust from management that they are doing the best they can, and their progress is easy to follow as they deliver frequently, which also minimizes risk. So there is no need for extensive planning, requirements, or estimations, but instead the team prioritize work based on analyzed data and feedback from actual users. There is no need for projects or even maintenance (operations) as the autonomous team will go on for a long as it’s needed.
It’s actually a good idea for the autonomous team to be physically located in the department for which the product or service they are building is supporting. This allow them to better understand the value stream(s) and the needs of the business better, and it means that there no actual need for a physical IT department, as most IT resources are in the autonomous teams.