Brian Andrews, Vice President of Information Technology, Stone Brewing
My greatest advice in managing IT is to closely align the department to the business goals and culture of the organization. It starts with a thorough understanding of the business and the challenges each department is facing. Furthermore, it requires establishing transparent information sharing and feedback channels that allow for continual fine tuning of the IT roadmap in support of the business plan and strategy. Lastly, sensitivity to the company culture for how to communicate, organize, and deliver is critical and should not be underestimated.
“The key to success in understanding the business is having close relationships with team members throughout the organization, starting with leadership.”
From my experience at Stone Brewing, the key to success in understanding the business is having close relationships with team members throughout the organization, starting with leadership. The relationships must be grounded in trust and shared vision, an important part of any healthy organization. At Stone, we engage in business plan alignment each year then meet regularly to discuss progress on initiatives, changes to project sequencing and scheduling, and to share feedback on how we are performing together. Our relationship is highly reciprocal. We count on the business leaders to provide project sponsorship, drive and support, while the organization counts on IT to deliver the right high-performing technology with speed and accuracy, so that we can grow, be efficient, and have the tools to get the job done.
To reinforce the alignment, every IT team member sets annual goals that support the business plan. We shadow our users to understand how they interact with our systems; gather ideas to improve, and to keep in tune with business processes. Departmental accountability metrics are in place to track performance throughout the year and there are quarterly accountability meetings for each department which include our leadership peers.
A deep understanding of the business provides us with the information and direction to set the plans, however, sensitivity and alignment to organizational culture is equally important to our ability to execute. Stone’s culture is driven by fearless leadership, innovation, a revolutionary spirit, quality, sustainability, accountability, and working closely as a team. This applies internally as well as with our partners, peers, and local communities. Every IT team member hired needs to share our vision whole heartedly and needs to be an impact player. This also holds true with our IT products and services partners, as we treat them like extended members of our team and ensure shared accountability. We are willing to take more risks on implementing innovative, cutting edge IT products to push the boundaries of what the products and our partners can deliver, yet need to balance that with ensuring quality and on-time delivery.
This summer we will open breweries in both Richmond, VA and Berlin, Germany, both giant undertakings for Stone and our IT department. The projects require implementation of new technology and business processes, while expanding the size our team, bringing on new partners, and evolving our culture as we expand to diverse locations. IT will continue to focus on business and cultural alignment in support of this exciting time for Stone and the craft beer movement.