I sat in a meeting the other day where a whole new project priority scheme was unveiled based around the unique idea 'Deliver what the business needs'.
The idea was greeted with thunderous silence. I'm sure most of the people in the meeting with me were thinking the same thing "As an IS department and as a SERVICE COMPONENT of the business-at-large weshould be following this model anyway?!".
Certainly there will be projects that IS needs to concentrate on that the business will not directly use and/or see no value in. Those projects are things like networking monitoring and infrastructure upgrades. The business-at-large do not benefit directly from the project but they benefit from the knock on effect of having the IS department respond to problems reported by a good monitoring system before the business feels the impact and they gain by the increased speed/benefits of a better infrastructure.
Ultimately, whatever projects an IS dept runs will need to be justified to the business, sometimes on a case-by-case basis and sometimes IS can lose out - For example, if a web monitoring system is delivered in place of an upgraded payroll system IS can be moaned at for choosing a system that hinders as the priority over a system that will help.
The solution here is to ensure that ALL projects you are running are fully visible to the business. Let them see what's going on. Let them see WHY the web monitoring system is more important than the new payroll system. SHOW THEM why infrastructure in one area needs to be upgraded to support the new payroll system.
The more IS communicates with the business and justifies actions the more the business will come to trust the IS dept as a bunch of people who know what they are doing.