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Premier 100 IT Leaders: Primed for business

Tracy Mayor | Feb. 24, 2015
Here's how several Premier 100 IT Leaders are structuring their departments to proactively identify business needs and quickly deliver innovative products with stellar results.

Less formally, Bishop and her team had success identifying and solving specific business needs via cross-functional technology working groups (TWG). Informally known as "twigs," these ad hoc groups, typically of seven or eight people, must include at least one IT staffer and one business counterpart, often a subject-matter expert rather than an executive.

The most important rule for TWGs is that IT can't lead the charge — the need has to come from the business side, which is one easy way to ensure that IT is working on projects that will truly benefit the business. "User buy-in and understanding are already there," Bishop says, "and the documented recommendations produced by the TWG usually provide a clear road map for IT to follow, so we can quickly be able to provide the solution."

Sometimes a TWG is all that's needed to develop a solution — for example, making the case for a software upgrade or enabling cloud-based storage. Other times, a TWG's work becomes the basis for a more formal project, as when the school began the 18-month process of choosing and rolling out a new customer relationship management system.

It's not lost on Bishop that the success of both the TWGs and the Learning Technologies Group hinges on getting the right people in the room together, early and often — an approach she plans to embrace as she grows her new company.

"My philosophy has been to actively promote collaboration and to partner very closely with business users," Bishop says. "That way, we hear about the new ideas very early, at the inception stage."


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