Business and IT: Oil and water?
06 Sep 2013

When business and IT make a conscious effort to integrate, as it did in Ansuransi Central Asia’s or ACA’s case, it includes more than just overcoming language barriers. Integration between this two totally different disciplines means building a common perspective and ensuring that both share similar (if not the same) goals and objectives.

ACA is one of Indonesia’s top insurance agencies, with 36 branches, 34 representative offices around Indonesia with over 1300 staff.

ACA’s advisor to the CEO and Head of its IT division, Pardjo Yap shared, “The integration is about putting these two vital parts of your organisation on the same path to success.

“Many IT professionals view success as successfully coding, configuring, or implementing programmes without error. The business on the other hand, often views success very differently, such as how well did the system achieve the goals and objectives that were set for it? Or was the organisation properly prepared and readied to work with the system?”

The IT architect and ITABoK
Pardjo described his role which is similar to that of an IT architect, “I lead the human dynamics in IT, do the change management in IT and give direction and guidelines of IT management.

“For example, creating the vision, mission, core value and IT strategy. Also, lobbying and bridging the gap between business and IT as well as control IT spending -  analysing and making decisions on any IT-related investments.”

Human dynamics and business technology strategy are just two of five critical and foundational skills based upon the Global IT Architect or IASA’s IT Architecture Body of Knowledge (ITABoK).
Yap further shared that initiatives have to come from top management so that there is no confusion when it comes to deliverables.

“And in order to reach the same destination, ACA positions both IT and business as partners that can share the same high-level goals and objectives.” These high-level goals and objectives would represent executive requirements and framework of the project scope and expectations.

Aligning business with IT
When there is confusion in the ranks, it is top management’s prerogative to set things straight. According to Pardjo, who also works closely with ACA’s other C-level execs, some usual symptoms of business and IT misalignment include the following:

• No proper documentation and no budget for IT spending
• IT application does not align with business development or IT can’t keep up with business needs
• IT project deliverables do not match executive requirements
• IT programmes contain many silos and are not integrated at the backend
• IT projects can’t meet deadlines
• Complaints and overall dissatisfaction from users and customers and other stakeholders

Benefits of integration – an ACA success story
Pardjo leads the human dynamics portion of IT and overall, this is to ensure that ACA’s IT can support the needs of the business, as well as adapt and align with an evolving business.

“Before implementing change, we begin with reassessing, reallocating and basically, redefining roles and positions, by putting the right people with the right skills, to do the right job.

Pardjo said, “We match and place them into a team that is appropriate with their competency. We will coach them and try to help them understand the business point of view.”

ACA expects to reduce the barriers between IT and business because of the following:

* Start speaking the same language
 Communication can only exist when both parties understand the conversation. The language of the business more clearly defines what is important to the organisation. Avoid using technology or technical terms if possible. Business terminology must be incorporated into the strategy design and plans. Using business a friendly business terminology provides a common language that is more familiar to most business stakeholders. For example, blueprints, designs, and system components should be defined by the business function that they perform.

* Start using the same perception
The best way to ensure that your technology infrastructures support your business objectives is to deliberately design them to do so. The traditional separation of requirements for development and system design must be changed.

Basically, the business owns and defines the requirements, IT owns and designs the solution, and both of them do not understand each other. As long as there are two sets of documents that say two different things, your organisation will not have the same perception.

 A new approach should be implemented which combines requirements and design processes to achieve true integration between your business and your technology.

Best practice: People powered network monitoring
The top best practice that ACA can share include their network monitoring system implementation. In the past, there was a lot of network downtime, which caused a lot of customer complaints.

One of the solutions was to make IT understand how important the network system is – every time that it is down, people can’t work, communicate or do business.  Pardjo said that the business had to emphasise to IT, “There is no business without network,” so they should invest more in the network by using broadband, increasing bandwidth capacity and installing a network monitoring system.”

ACA’s system monitors the health of the network across all of their branches all over Indonesia.  But that is not all, as the IT team also proactively monitors and informs the help desk whenever there is network downtime. Then they would work with the network and security manager to identify and try to solve the issue immediately.

“By implementing this strategy, we improved customer satisfaction and successfully grew ACA’s business,” said Pardjo.

In conclusion, Pardjo shared, “I think ITABoK is a great framework and guideline for understanding IT architecture. It is a good complete set of knowledge for anyone aiming to learn about IT architecture.

“If someone is eager to achieve success in IT architecture, they should not wait for their organisation to invest in them, but do it for themselves and move forward with IASA.”
By Aaron Tan Dani
Posted Date : Tuesday, 30 July 2013 00:00

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