Aligning Team Goals to the Business

 Aligning team goals to business goals. Your company may or may not have articulated and written business goals. Your company may do things via chitchat, just talking about things, verbal instructions. Your company may have well-written and structured goals. I love those! So whatever your company has, one or the other or both, here is what I recommend in determining your team’s goals.

First, work with your manager to understand the broader business goals of the company. Business, not IT. This will give your team the bigger picture of where the company is going and what the company wants to accomplish. Next, work with your manager to understand how you’ll work in project aligned with the business goals. This will give you and your team a sense of value and purpose. Key elements to support inspiration and motivation. Next, identify who your customers that would benefit from the work that you do are. This will give you an understanding of your project’s stakeholder, a deeper understanding of what they really want and need. Remember, stakeholders are those people that have a vested interest in the success of your project. Usually they are recipients of the project’s outcomes, but may also be, say for example, the IT infrastructure team. Maybe it’s the financial team who will want to know the budgets or cost savings, for example. Maybe it’s the CEO.

Okay, but let’s check out an example of how you would go about doing this. Here’s an example of aligning your IT projects to the business. So first you’ve had your discussions with your manager and here are the three key business goals that he has described to you. Increase revenue, avoid costs, and improve customer service. Of post, these are just examples. Then you’d work together as a team and come up with one of those IT goals that would map into and support the business goals. The first one, say for example, enhance the ecommerce portal to support PayPal and multi-tendered payments. That’s something that’s very important that would drive an increase in revenue.

Next, avoid costs. What would be something that could be done to avoid costs? Well, it turns out in talking to your stakeholders and your manager, we need to integrate more third-party shippers into the shipping cost algorithm. This would give the company better shipping rates. And lastly, customer service. How might we improve that? Maybe we can update the call center app to support real-time customer service, the chat feature. Alright, so those could be our three IT goals. For example, now what would be the work or projects that would align to support those IT goals? Well, first I would come up with my IT projects. I’m going to call it IT project IR/1 and IR/2. Those might be two projects I would define to support the IT goal and maybe under avoiding costs, I might have three projects. I’m going to call it AC/1 through AC/3. And lastly, improve customer service. I have one project, ICS/1. So my portfolio now consists of six projects to support my IT goals and the business goals. It’s clear what our team will be working on, it’s clear on how they’re aligned, and it’s easier to share with my manager or stakeholders.

Now that I have the project identified, it’s very important to prioritize those projects. Not all projects are created equal. So I’m going to set up some categories for my priorities. I’m going to have a category for priority 1 projects, priority 2 projects, and kind of like everything that’s left over, I’m going to call that my backlog. Now I also want to know what the priorities are for the company over all, the customers and stakeholders and right now, the company leaders are saying, sales are very important–that’s run by Mr. Jones and the CEO also has some very important business priorities. Priority 2 is finance. That’s Ms. Smith. She’s the focus for priorities in that area and I’d like to identify these also with people’s names. I want this to be real and be able to go to that person and say, hey, help me with understanding your priorities, etc. And lastly, just backlog. Important things to do nonetheless, but they’re considered backlogged. So I have customer service under Ms. Hughes and I have just true end users that really need some things in our systems as well. Okay, so I take those six IT projects that I have and I’m going to align them according to the priorities. Priority 1 was IR/1 and AC/2 and again, I figured out these priorities by talking to my manager, and talking to my customers and stakeholders and through those discussions and conversations I am able to determine what projects would be the most important, priority 1. The next would be priority 2 and the next would be priority 3.

Now remember, your priorities are business driven, not IT driven. This slide and the previous slide are easy to write and very easy to share with management. At a glance, they can see how you are aligned and what you are working on. It makes it real easy for management to adjust your priorities as well. What is also so powerful about the management, adjusting your priorities, is that you’ve delegated up part of the responsibility of your priorities and now your management has to get in the game as well. This makes for a more cohesive engagement moving forward.