“Alignment or Integration” & “Compliant or Compatible” - These Are NOT Just Semantic Arguments!

This morning on the TwitterBlogosphere (sorry - I agree we need a shorter, sweeter word here. It will come, I'm sure, but for now I'm stuck with TwitterBlogosphere!) there were a number of discussions which really caught my attention. They highlighted for me how a particular choice of words can indicate a poor understanding of the context - ITIL/ITSM, or even just an immature thinking process. I offer (for your delight!) some optimum terminology that I would respectfully suggest we all get into the habit of using in ITSM. First - "Business/IT Alignment". That's not what it's about. It's "Business/IT Integration"! If IT is "aligned" with the business that means it's separate and is trying to line up. IT is not a separate entity from the business, it's PART of the business. So IT better get itself properly integrated into the business, not aligned. IT needs to be aware of business objectives and then make sure that IT services enable and support those business objectives. Stop saying "Business/IT alignment"! Secondly - Such-and-such is "compliant" to ITIL. No it can't be! I don't care what it is (usually we talk about tools in this context) but you cannot be compliant to some good ideas and recommendations - which is all ITIL is really. But you can be "compatible" to ITIL. (For a more complete explanation of "compliance" vs. "compatible" see the PinkVERIFY page at our main website.) And for those of you like to churn out the "oh, it's just semantics!" argument and simply refuse to believe that these two words are not synonyms of each other, I'll give you my favourite analogy. When you're looking for a life partner are you looking for someone who'll be compliant, or someone compatible? See - there's a BIG difference!

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Dear David:

What I have found in literature about definitions on alignment and integration in the context of the business are highly ambiguous, so it´s hard to define precisely if you have to align first to get integration (in fact several IT shops acts like a separate entity despite they are part of the organization) or if the alignment has nothing to do with the integration. The conclusion that I have arrived is that Alignment is very similar to integration, fusion, linked, harmonized…. What do you think about this???

Mauricio Corona | August 28, 2009 at 11:49am

As I wrote in our Executive Advisory blog synchronization is not alignment.(http://eapblog.burtongroup.com/executive_advisory_progra/2009/03/transformation-businessit-alignment-is-not-synchronization-.html

The need for alignment flows from the idea that you have two diverging paths that need to be converged. Synchronization is the creation of a common path.

Synchronization means an end to the business and IT divide by working together and looking for integrated movement and forward momentum. When synchronization exists, there is a clear connection between business outcomes, architecture, projects, infrastructure and the services IT provides. The language used by the business is the language of IT. Technology is not the center of our universe. Instead, our focus is on driving business value.

Mike Rollings
Research Director, Enterprise Architecture
Burton Group

Mike Rollings | August 28, 2009 at 4:57pm

Integration or Synchronization

The key point that Mike makes is the fallacy in believing that internal IT is somehow separate and distinct from the business is supplies services to.

The facilities group, HR and and physical plant also provide services but it would not occur to them to consider themselves as anything else but a partner in the business context.

As with anything it comes down to your point of view based on the context from which you view the subject.

This is the basis of the recent blog post I wrote called “A Cultural Roadmap for ITSM”

http://tiny.cc/7G0jB

Troy

Troy DuMoulin | August 31, 2009 at 9:47am

Thanks for the link to the article comparing compliance and compatible. It did help my understanding a bit more.

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