You\u2019ll save money when you align IT with business. And that starts with your reporting structure. Companies in which the CIO reports to the CEO show greater business alignment than those that have a different reporting structure. These companies lower their user costs by 17 percent compared with companies whose IT is not aligned with business, according to Hackett Best Practices.Who Do You Report To? Alignment begins with the right relationship.SHANNON MADE A GRAPH: numbers1.jpgBest PracticesAlign the CIO-CEO reporting structure. There is a direct correlation between closer business and IT alignment and reporting structure. When the CIO reports to the CEO, the CIO has direct interaction and knows what the CEO\u2019s objectives are. The CIO has clear direction on what the IT priorities need to be.Align IT projects with business priorities. Link IT and business priorities to reduce waste and achieve higher IT project success rates. Encourage your CEO to think long term. Companies that centralize or consolidate their IT operations had 24 percent lower operational support costs per end user. Additionally, the consistent use of IT standards lowered companies\u2019 application development costs per user by 41 percent, according to Hackett Best Practices.When IT Aligns with Business We All Save and Work Better Aligned companies save on their IT costs at a rate of 17 percent as compared with nonaligned units, and they also finish the projects they start.SHANNON MADE A GRAPH: numbers2.jpgSource: "The 2002 Book of Numbers?Information Technology," a Hackett Best Practices benchmarking study of 2,000 global companiesCheck Your IT Alignment1 The largest IT initiatives, in terms of budget and resources, can be directly linked to business goals and objectives.mTrue\n mFALSE2 Business managers drive major IT initiatives in conjunction with IT managers.mTrue\n mFALSE3 Your IT strategy and planning is directly linked to your company\u2019s strategy and planning processes. mTrue\n mFALSE4 IT is generally managed as an investment rather than an expense.mTrue\n mFALSE5 IT is an equal agenda item in the company\u2019s strategy and planning sessions.mTrue\n mFALSEIf you answered true for every question, you\u2019re aligned. For a complete alignment assessment, see the 25-question CIO Alignment Index online, codeveloped by CIO and Boston-based consultancy ICEX. Go to www.cio.com\/printlinks.