IT governance is one of those terms that is bandied about but never clearly defined. What exactly does it mean — and who is actually involved in it?
At its essence, IT governance strives to ensure the strategic needs of the business are being met through IT department projects and technology investments. It ensures there is a clear connection between these IT endeavours and business aims and outlines precisely how they will be accomplished and measured and who the IT department project managers and owners are.
The IT department is not solely responsible for IT governance at an organisation. In Datacom’s experience, a governance body involving the IT department and business leaders enables better fulfilment of strategic IT that links technology projects with business outcomes. These IT governance tips will help get your IT department started on this path.
Don’t make IT governance a party or a burden
How many committees, departments and executives are you accountable to every month? Simply rounding up hoards of people in the business and the IT department, slapping on a “committee” label and then filling up your Outlook calendar with meeting requests for the next 12 months is likely to do more to limit IT governance than facilitate it.
The first order of business is to be selective in who you choose to participate in developing an IT governance strategy. Really, IT governance should be an arm of the executive board. Keep it small and simple and ensure only the key IT department and business leaders are involved in strategic decisions such as whether the business case for mobility outweighs the risks. That way, you’ll have involved only the individuals who truly care about strategic IT and business alignment. Then, only meet when necessary to discuss the performance of recently completed projects and the expected business outcomes of new ones. Micro-managing an IT governance board will only make it another “to-do” on someone’s list, resulting in apathy towards the initiative.
Separate IT governance and IT management
Technology research firm Forrester recently investigated the future of IT governance in a series of blog posts. One of the key tenets they came up with for effective IT governance, especially as more and more organisations incorporate mobility, cloud and social into their operations, is a separate approach to IT governance and IT management. This breaks out the strategic IT level from IT department operational processes, lessening the chance the IT department will have to say “no” to requests for new technology solutions. IT governance will be more concerned with performance and value instead of the tasks needed to execute on a project or investment. It will, however, be tasked with asking the right questions and requesting relevant information to ensure strategic IT business goals are being met and risk is being mitigated.
What are your tips for facilitating solid IT governance in your IT department and the rest of the business?