Alignment within the Corporate IT Unit: An Analysis of Software Testing and Development

Strategic alignment between an organization's business strategy/capabilities and those of its information technology (IT) unit is an extensively researched subject that addresses the issue of fit between business and technology strategies. A key gap in the literature is lack of recognition that underlying this macro level of alignment are other, more granular levels of alignment involving the interdependent subunits within the corporate IT unit. Given the critical interdependencies between development and testing subunits in software engineering, this paper focuses on an alignment model for ensuring that these two functions work together effectively. A development-testing alignment (DTA) model is described, and a case study investigating its value and application is presented. This DTA is decomposed into distinct components for the purposes of theoretical clarity and pragmatic application. The case study analysis uses the model to understand and interpret development-testing alignment in a Fortune 500 company. We found that the development and testing functions were significantly misaligned, and our model identified close to twenty specific aspects that needed to be considered to enhance alignment. These included changes in specificity of scope, governance, resource availability, competencies, and processes. Our analysis shows that the DTA model can be usefully applied for the purpose of understanding tactical alignment between subunits within a corporate IT unit. It also demonstrates that there is value in considering alignment as a dynamic, context-driven, social phenomenon as well as a useful interpretative lens for exploring organizational interactions and interdependencies.