There is, or can be, an enormous gulf between IT teams and business users. We know that this gulf should not exist — after all, the main function of IT teams is to allow business users to generate the maximum value from usable tools, drawing on their business knowledge. However, we also know that it not only exists, but it can cause huge problems in organisations, ranging from the rise of ‘shadow IT’ to more general conflict and lack of support.
As an external specialist, I often find that I have a role in helping to mediate these differences between IT and business users. Architects can mediate conflicts between builder and client, because they ‘speak the language’, but are seen as neutral. Similarly, as external specialists, we can often mediate between IT and business, and suitable software solutions can be the key to resolving conflicts.
Four main areas of conflict
There are perhaps four main complaints made by business users about IT, and each one represents a separate opportunity for external specialists to mediate and add value (see table). If we can help steer IT and business users through the maze of language, and ‘translate’ the ideas by offering a solution, this will create a win–win for business and us.
When a conflict becomes an opportunity
It is something of a cliché to describe problems as potential opportunities. However, in this case, it is clear that these four difficult areas all represent opportunities for external specialists to add value, as well as for businesses. Those who can develop effective partnerships, and support business and IT teams to work together, will very definitely benefit.