I have experienced constant struggles between the business units and IT departments at work. A businessperson feels they have been very explicit on what they need delivered regarding an IT solution to a business challenge. The IT person feels they have captured all the relevant business requirements to deliver a great solution to help with business needs. The solution is implemented and nobody is happy. What just happened?
Unfortunately, I have been on both sides of this argument and there is no easy answer. However, I think there is one constant that can help improve the quality of any IT project. It starts and ends with relationships. People have told me that it is all about the process. “Plan the work and work the plan.” As with any plan, pressure mounts due to time constraints. People try to get through tasks to capture requirements, processes, testing approaches and etc. People talk and share when they trust you and you take an interest in what they are doing. Not only is it important to build these relationships within the project team, but also outside the project team. Usually, a project team is asking a person to give more of their time in addition to their current role. Knowing this, the project team needs to be as efficient as possible when capturing data and knowledge.
In the first article, How to Get Down with the IT Guys the author talks about how people with curiosity about the “other side” tend to make greater strides because they ask better questions. I agree with this as well. It puts a person in a place to ask why something has to be a certain way and gives people an opportunity to challenge themselves to see if something can be done differently to accomplish the ultimate goal. In the second article, Building Relationships in Project Management, the author talks about knowing who the stakeholders are and managing their needs and expectations. When running or working on a project, it is more than managing the tasks and timelines. You have to manage and lead people. These relationships are what lead to successful projects.
Where I work, the company has made a conscious effort to move business folks into the IT department to help with these relationships and to deliver improved solutions because business requirements are better captured. In my opinion, the business experience has helped, but the relationships these people have throughout the organization is what is driving the improved success. People are more comfortable with those they know and can converse with in the same “business language”.
I am curious to hear what measures your companies have taken to overcome the barriers between the business and IT departments. In your experience, are there certain communication practices that work better than others do? What are some of the processes your company uses to capture business requirements?