How To Avoid Common Pitfalls

IT should build a positive relationship with the business area first. This cannot be emphasized enough because the alliance project will face obstacles and stressful times, and a good business/IT working relationship will greatly enhance the resolution process.

The companies' business and IT areas should also spend time face-to- face and one-on-one. Not only is it important for IT to develop a good working relationship with its business area, but also with its strategic alliance peers. After the initial relationships are established, telephone calls and videoconferences are good tools to continue them. However, there must still be periodic face-to-face contact.

IT should understand the business and remain plugged in. Things change hourly during and after negotiations. Keeping up to date with the business can happen through formal status meetings or through informal talks with the project lead and sponsors.

The business area should direct and lead the negotiations. While it is the responsibility of IT is to benefit the business, there are other ways to provide necessary input to the business area.

IT should not publicly point out all the problems and pitfalls between the companies. Although IT staff members can be analytical and often correct in their assessments, they should remember to bring solutions to the effort. Options to overcome issues should be communicated to the business area.

IT should avoid having too many leaders. Instead, a point person from each company should be identified to direct the IT effort, which will help others understand their roles.

IT should also make sure both sides understand the other's definitions of key data elements. In addition, IT should stay in tune with software and hardware versions and releases for both companies during the alliance effort. Versioning control is important in eliminating rework later on. Finally, IT should prioritize work and have a steering committee to elevate any issues when necessary.

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