Business Acumen for IT professionals
Updated: Mar 17
Rise in role complexity
While technical proficiency is critical and changing, IT professionals are expected to deliver significantly more than technical expertise. With Agile projects and processes, some roles are expected to manage technical as well as customer processes. We see many changes in the roles of IT professionals. Some critical changes in the IT roles are:
1.Increased complexity of roles at every level
2.Expected decision making at each role is on the rise.
3.More customer interactions than in the past
4.Only project management and coding knowledge is not sufficient
5.Becoming a lead coach quicker than one expected
Business Acumen required by IT professionals is very different from other professional areas of work. Changes in the IT landscape are swifter and can be disruptive.
Such changes put a very different nature of pressure on the IT professionals. Moreover, the customers needs and demands too are increasing as their own knowledge increases with high exposure to digital technologies and social media.
Stiff internal demands
In addition to increase in role complexity, external changes are many and even changes within the organizations are fast. We often see that in many organizations:
1.Productivity demanded is much higher
2.Project scope are wider and delivery time is lesser
3.All roles are expected to contribute to multiple projects
4.Specialization is high and each professional is expected to expand his/her scope of work.
When demands from the organization as well as customers are high and changing, professionals are looking for better ways to resolve these issues.
More and more companies are realizing that their employees require a sound understanding of business fundamentals and that they require a right frame to analyze various business challenges. Traditional methods of training and coaching are not providing the results as desired. Most people complete these training and coaching as a formality and a process step imposed on them.
Improving Quality of Contribution
IT organizations have worked a lot to change these through employee engagement, process improvement and re-structuring. While these are important, IT professionals can improve their quality of contribution if they can improve their business acumen that helps:
1.Understand the needs and requirements of the customers, preferably even before the start of the project.
2.Prepare themselves before getting into a project, not just technically but also commercially
3.Learn to manage projects through people along with project management templates, reports, charts and dashboards.
4.Understand the impact of their decisions in terms or gain or loss to the organization
It is not surprising that when employees focus on technical skills they have less time for other important areas of business. In many different surveys conducted by multiple agents, since two decades, the most repeated survey findings are:
1.Most of the employees of an organization do not understand their organizations business fully;
2.Most employees are unclear about the strategy of their organization.
3.Most of the employees are disconnected with their organization and intend to leave in the next 1-2 years.
Yet, one can see organizations where employee engagement is high and business is growing at a clip. In our discussions and interactions with many organizations, we have found that organizations that are able to grow, have a high employee engagement and customer engagement are those where the employees:
1.Explain their business to anyone and are confident about their company’s performance
2.Value the organization brand and are proud to announce their association with the organization
3.Deeply involved with the customers at every stage of the journey and are allowed to make decisions in their processes.
4.Organization structure is not a bureaucracy to be crossed but a team that can be depended on.
Above all, they are able to make smart decisions that help resolve the business issues in their favour.