JD Edwards

How IT Staff Can Build a Partnership with Business

Five ways to build trust

By Monica Mehta

Spring 2019

Over the past few years, the role of the IT department has changed drastically—and perhaps no one understands that better than Mike McLaughlin, who started in Recology’s IT department 30 years ago. McLaughlin, now director of IT at Recology, shares his advice on how today’s IT leaders can develop a trusted partnership with the business to meet company goals.

1. Develop relationships with business. When McLaughlin started in the early 1990s, IT staff traditionally stayed in the computer room or the data center and interacted with business requests through tickets and emails. That approach no longer works. “You need to be close to your business units, understand them, and know what they’re doing,” says McLaughlin. “You need to be in a position where they think automatically, ‘I need to talk to IT,’ so that they don’t just start shopping and go out and find something—you need to build that relationship so that you are part of the discussion.”

2. Collaborate on solutions. Without working together, IT staff risks creating systems that business users don’t want to use or that don’t meet the business’s needs. “We spend hours and hours with our business counterparts, extracting everything they have to give us, and then building and finding solutions collaboratively,” says McLaughlin.

3. Maintain consistency. Provide consistent interaction for your customers, no matter what the process, so that they receive the same type of performance and deliverables with each contact. “They are not looking for a new experience each time they interact with you,” says McLaughlin.

4. Upgrade. It’s very important to remain current, both to keep up with competitors that are gaining new digital capabilities and to lower long-term costs and business interruptions. “Companies may think they’re saving a bit of money now by not upgrading, but they will end up spending more in the long run,” says McLaughlin.

5. Deliver faster. IT staff must keep up with the pace of business needs and, when possible, proactively provide solutions to problems that arise. Says McLaughlin, “You must always find a way to deliver your product or services faster than expected!”

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Photography by Bob Adler/Getty Images