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One of the most common challenges that IT organizations have faced and continue to face is that of managing centralized spending models (i.e., budgets for technology-related projects) while not owning the corresponding business strategies (e.g., what Finance is trying to do).

There’s been a push in all of the organizations that I’ve been a part of to corral the budget in an effort to optimize spend and cross-functional alignment.  Internal IT teams such as the PMO (Project Management Office – or variant), Enterprise Architecture or Business-IT evolve and shift as a way of focusing various business projects for success, but one key piece is missing – strategy.  For “business-facing” projects, the strategy and outcomes are set, managed and fundamentally owned by people not managing the budget.  And while that may be possible to manage through, it makes for interesting discussions and lots of potential confusion.

Example:  a business department (e.g., Finance) is looking to enable, automate, optimize some aspect of its processes all while IT may not be able to “fund” the transformation based on budget constraints.  Is it possible to work through?  Of course.  But that doesn’t lessen the challenge and rather should direct the conversation in a different direction.

IT Business Relationship Managers (those finding and managing project demand) need to be directly tied to the strategic direction of the business partners and then somehow manage the internal constraints of the IT budget.  While CIOs like having the budget, there is a tension that is created by this split and many come to refer to this as Shadow IT.  When in reality, what is meant is the manifestation of some group’s outcomes and approaches not being fully met or realized by the IT team’s investment capabilities.

Owning the strategy and the budget is ideal, but not possible for many corporate IT teams.  So tools and systems that help forward this conversation are critical for mutual success.