Move the Line: Why the IT Zone of Influence Must Expand

The role of the IT team has evolved. 

IT teams are still expected to manage day-to-day operations and security. But businesses also leverage their IT teams to achieve broader goals. Businesses look to IT to help contain costs, inform strategy, and deliver innovative solutions to solve problems across the organization. 

According to Brian Greenberg, CIO at Fortium Partners: “As businesses increasingly rely on technology to drive growth and innovation, the responsibilities of IT leaders have evolved to encompass strategic planning and alignment with business objectives.” 

In other words, IT is no longer only working behind the scenes to keep systems running. They now also play a critical role in defining business goals and driving revenue growth. 

How are IT teams doing this? By expanding their zone of influence. 

What is the IT zone of influence? 

The IT zone of influence refers to the areas of the business where IT has visibility and control over all processes and workflows. That includes areas like finance, HR, customer operations, marketing, and others. 

The dividing line between what falls within the IT zone of influence and what lies beyond. 

In most companies, limited IT resources and bandwidth means that IT stays focused on the processes closest to the business core. Everything else — support processes and long tail processes — are primarily managed by the business teams that own them. But this situation leads to a number of problems that inhibit business growth. 

For example, when teams like HR and finance need their processes optimized or automated, they often must wait for IT resources to be available. In the meantime, their requests languish in the backlog. Frustrated, these teams resort to ad hoc workarounds that, in the long run, create more problems than they solve. 

Learn more about the different types of business processes

What happens outside the zone of influence?

Somewhere between 60-80% of department-led processes and workflows currently fall outside the typical IT zone of influence and often lack accountability, structure, and standardization. They may also be overdependent on complicated legacy systems or tribal knowledge, leaving IT teams with little or no visibility into how these processes are being managed or how they are performing. 

As a result, these departments may struggle with broken work handoffs, errors, delays, and data silos stemming from uncontrolled stack sprawl. They may also lack the agility they need to respond quickly to changes in business strategy, markets, or competitor activity. 

The new zone of influence

In a recent poll, CIOs named “automating business and/or IT processes” as the number one step they are taking to drive business results. Why? Because CIOs understand that the untapped efficiency and productivity gains within these processes hold the keys to company growth, cost optimization, and digital transformation.

In order to optimize and automate these processes, IT teams need to exert control and gain visibility into how they are being managed. In effect, they are “moving the line” that determines what falls within their zone of influence. By doing so, IT teams are able to: 

  • Improve their ability to mitigate risk.
  • Enhance utilization of the tech stack.
  • Create more positive customer experiences.
  • Make a positive impact on cost optimization and revenue.
  • Reduce time to deliver projects that support business goals.

The challenge for IT

New expectations create new challenges for IT teams. IT teams already have their hands full managing day-to-day operations and security, so finding the time and resources to expand their zone of influence can be challenging. The situation is compounded by factors such as: 

  • Stack sprawl.
  • Neverending backlogs.
  • Complex legacy systems.
  • Quickly changing business demands.
  • Unstandardized or unstructured workflows. 

Combined with IT talent shortages, burnout, and turnover, FTE costs are bound to skyrocket and IT’s reputation within the organization tarnishes as teams struggle to keep pace with all of the requirements and requests that come their way. 

According to Pipefy CTO Daniele Gemignani, a tell-tale sign that IT is struggling to keep pace with business needs is rising tension between IT and other areas of the company. “In this scenario, IT teams experience burnout and reduced productivity. It stifles innovation, as the IT team becomes too overwhelmed with immediate challenges to explore new ideas or improvements.” 

But IT teams are resourceful and inventive. Not only are they adapting to accommodate the new expectations placed upon them, they’re using tools and building partnerships that help them excel at supporting strategy and driving revenue. 

How IT teams are moving the line

One strategy many IT teams are using to expand their zone of influence involves building more collaborative, mutually-beneficial relationships with other departments. This involves giving business teams more autonomy, while ensuring that IT retains full visibility and control. 

Typically, businesses accomplish this through the use of business process automation (BPA) tools. By adopting a low-code/no-code BPA platform and a customized suite of workflow management tools, companies can bring more processes under IT supervision without stretching their teams too thin or adding to already complex tech stacks. 

BPA benefits for business and IT teams

What business teams getWhat IT teams get
– More autonomy
– Faster results
– More structured workflows
– Less dependence on spreadsheets and email
– Minimized preventable errors
– Better communication flow
– Visibility and control
– Reduced stress on the backlog
– More collaboration with business teams
– Less stack sprawl
– More time to strengthen and build strategic partnerships 

Why business process automation?

Gartner predicts that the market for BPA software will grow by almost 40% by 2027, increasing from $2.6B to $3.6B — and it’s not by chance. IT leaders recognize that BPA software can help them expand their reach and influence and improve processes across the org. 

Pipefy recently surveyed enterprise business and IT leaders on their motives for adopting process automation. Most cited its capacity to increase efficiency, improve productivity, and reduce errors. Almost half (49%) said that the appeal of process automation was in its ability to conserve IT resources.

We also asked about the anticipated benefits of adopting process automation. The most frequent responses indicate that process automation has an important role to play in business strategy and execution, as well as cost optimization efforts.

Moving the line: good for the business, great for IT

Business teams want solutions quickly. C-suite executives want to see revenue growth and cost containment. IT leaders want the visibility and control to create new efficiency gains, eliminate data silos, and drive productivity among their FTEs. 

By increasing IT’s zone of influence, IT teams can deliver what each stakeholder needs to support the business. To do just that, IT teams are turning to process automation tools. 

Gartner predicts massive growth in the BPA tools market. If their predictions hold true, it will mean that the IT teams who are most successful at balancing day-to-day operations with new expectations are those that see the value of giving business teams more autonomy. 

In doing so, they give themselves more time for the strategy and innovation efforts that drive revenue growth.

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