Two weeks ago, we polled Heller Search\u2019s network of IT leaders to learn how satisfied they are with their team\u2019s knowledge of the business and what they are doing to improve it.\nIn answer to our first question \u2014\u00a0\u201cHow knowledgeable is your IT team about how their work drives business value?\u201d\u00a0\u2014\u00a066 percent said their business-facing teams connect their work to business value, but the rest of the IT organization does not. Only 10 percent responded with \u201cNot at all: IT does not connect their work with business value,\u201d and a healthy 24 percent reported that everyone in IT has a clear understanding of how their tasks relate to business goals.\n Heller Search Associates\n\nFigure 1. How knowledgeable is your IT team about their how their work drives business value?\n\n\nResponses to the question \u201cHow are you improving business knowledge, or fostering a business outcomes culture?\u201d revealed that CIOs are using a combination of approaches. Cross-functional project teams, where members from IT, marketing, product development, and other business functions work together toward a business goal, are most popular (68 percent), followed by a business relationship management (BRM) function (52 percent). Forty-nine percent of respondents are adding business metrics to traditional IT performance goals, and 14 percent are using rotational programs that allow IT people to work in other parts of the business for an extended time and vice versa.\n Heller Search Associates\n\nFigure 2: How are you improving business knowledge, or fostering a business outcomes culture?\n\n\n9 approaches to connect IT work to business value\nRespondents also wrote in with a number of additional approaches they are using to connect IT work to business value \u2014 above and beyond those we asked about in the survey. Here are a few:\n\n"We develop real business cases for all IT investments; every project has an ROI."\n"We host quarterly earnings release pizza parties to encourage learning and engagement in our company's business."\n"We ask of every project: How does this project or technology initiative add value? How does it increase revenue or reduce costs? If the team can\u2019t answer the questions, they have to revise the proposal."\n"Most of our IT organization is involved in an outcomes-based business transformation. There is no better opportunity to develop IT business knowledge than participation in a business transformation."\n"We use a Four Disciplines of Execution model for goal setting that aligns IT with the company\u2019s most critical goals. We use tactical touch points to connect IT work with business value and reward programs to recognize IT contribution to achieve business outcomes."\n"Monthly financial discussions are a part of every IT staff meeting. Since our employees are incented on EBITDA, we discuss how IT projects and services are directly impacting EBITDA drivers."\n"We offer internal training courses on business-related topics where all staff, including IT, participates."\n"IT has direct revenue responsibilities through SaaS with paying customers."\n"We have a job shadowing program where IT works directly with our business partners to understand what they do and how they are actually using the tools we develop."\n\nCIOs share ideas for connecting IT to business value\nAs long as we are sharing ideas for connecting IT work to business value, here are a few more that I\u2019ve picked up over the past 12 months from my CIO friends:\n\nExport your IT people to report permanently into the business functions they support, a practice that Mark Sims, CIO of Scotts Miracle-Gro, has put into place.\nStop focusing on project deadlines, and start focusing on \u201ctime to value,\u201d says Steve Ambrose, CIO of DTE Energy.\nDevelop your own \u201cfinance 101\u201d curriculum for the IT staff, following the lead of Deborah Strong, CFO of IT and operations at Travelers.\nDon\u2019t stop at applications; add business-focused skills at deeper layers in the stack, something Anil Cheriyan has done as CIO of SunTrust Banks.\nGive IT the same performance goals as other business functions, says Atticus Tyson, CIO of Intuit.\nFollow the lead of Earl Newsome, CIO of Praxair, and devote an entire IT tower to driving adoption.\nBring people from the business into IT, and have your consultants train them on IT processes. Bake that training right into your vendor contracts, says Guy Brassard, CIO of Southwire.\n\nGiven how hard all of you CIOs are working at tearing down the walls between IT and the rest of the business, I am optimistic that next year\u2019s survey results will be even more positive. Drop me a line if you would like to share your own approach with your peers.