100 IT-Business Alignment Questions You Need to Ask

Product Development

74. How much do you spend on product development relative to other companies in your market?

75. What is the product development team measured on?

76. How does the product development team decide what to build?

77. How does the product development team deliver to schedule commitments?

78. How does the product development team get input/feedback from customers?

79. How does the product development team measure and track quality?

Supply Chain & Manufacturing

80. How does your product get built?

81. Is cost of with building your product either competitive advantage or dis-advantage?

82. How are costs measured and tracked?

83. How is quality measured and tracked?

84. Who are all of the vendors and partners involved?

85. Which are the largest partners/suppliers?

86. Which partners or suppliers have you as their biggest customer? Smallest?

87. On what basis are vendors and component parts selected?

88. On what basis are suppliers chosen?

89. What is the method of communicating with partners?

Distribution Channels

90. How does your product actually get to the end users/consumers?

91. How long does it take between customer order, customer payment, and receipt of goods?

92. Is your distribution process a competitive advantage in your business or not?

93. What are your distribution mechanisms and technologies?

94. What is the speed and cost of each?

95. Which do the customers prefer?

Technology (i.e., The things people outside IT should know about IT.)

96. What are the key technologies that your business depends upon?

97. What aspects of your technology create the most risk in your business?

98. How do the IT costs relate to the business objectives?

99. How can/does technology provide a competitive advantage to your business?

100. How can/does technology provide a cost advantage in your business?

Some actions to take based this list:

  • Make sure everyone on your team knows how the company makes money. This is important if you want your IT organization to help you contribute to the business in a meaningful way.

  • Give a section of this list to a high performer as a development exercise. Have them go get the answers and then educate your team. Invite a person from another area of the company into your staff meeting, and use these questions to start a discussion and learn how their group works.

  • Personally meet people in other functions and use this list to start a discussion to learn what they care about.

Okay, so, I hear you: why does this matter? Well, by learning more broadly about the business you will:

  • Get better ideas for how to add value to the business. See connections you would otherwise miss. Always be working on things that are most important to the business.

  • Be able to speak in the language of the business. Talk about what you do in a way that really matters to others. Be more relevant. Negotiate better.

  • Rally your team around a bigger purpose. Motivate them, show them how what they do fits into the overall strategy. –Have more impact, and build career capital.

  • Connect and communicate better with the business so that you improve both your results and your status.

Today Patty is the CEO of Azzarello Group, a unique services organization that helps companies develop and motivate their top performers, execute their strategies, and grow their business, through talent management programs, leadership workshops, online products & public speaking.