What is Governance? IT governance is simply specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT.

Effective IT governance must address three key questions:

  • What decisions must be made to ensure effective managment and use of IT?
  • Who should make these decisions?
  • How will these decisions be made and monitored?
  • How will you measure success? Will stakeholders agree?
To assist in the refinement of your governance framework, the following are typical symptoms of ineffective governance:
  • Senior management senses low value from IT investments
  • IT is often a barrier to implementing new strategies
  • The mechanisms to make IT decisions are slow and contradictory
  • Senior management cannot explain IT governance
  • IT projects often run late and over budget
  • No trust between various stakeholders
  • Senior management see outsourcing as a quick fix to IT problems
  • Governance changes frequently or doesnt exist at all

Sound familiar?

Typically, companies implement their governance arrangements through a set of governance mechanisms – structures, processes and communications. Well designed, well understood and transparent mechanisms promote desirable IT behaviors. The mechanisms for implementing IT governance are the following:

  • Decision making structure – Organizational units and roles responsible for making IT decisions, such as committees, executive teams and business/IT relationship managers.
  • Alignment processes – Formal processes for ensuring that daily behaviors are consistent with IT policies and provide input back to decisions. These include IT investment proposal and evaluation processes, architectural exception processes, service level agreements, chargeback and metrics.
  • Communication approaches – Announcements, advocates, channels and educational efforts that disseminate IT governance principles and polices and outcomes or IT decision making process.

There are a few key IT governance concepts (decisions) that are related and require linking for effective governance. They are as follows:

  • IT principals – clarifying the business role of IT
  • IT architecture – defining integration and standardization requirements
  • IT infrastructure – determining shared and enabling services
  • Business application needs – specifying the business need for purchasing or internally developed IT applications
  • IT investment and prioritization – choosing which initiatives to fund and how much to spend

Each of the five aforementioned decisions are interrelated and requires the individual attention but this attention must not be given in isolation of each other. To assist you in developing a decision process for each, the following are questions to be asked:

IT principles

  • What is the operating model?
  • What is the role of IT in education?
  • What are IT-desirable behaviors?
  • How will IT be funded?

IT architecture

  • What are the core business processes of your organization? How are they related?
  • What information drives these core processes? How must data be integrated?
  • What technical capabilities should be standardized organization wide to support IT efficiencies and facilitate process standardization and integration?
  • What activities must be standardized organization wide top support data integration?
  • What technology choices will guide organizations approach to IT initiatives?

IT infrastructure

  • What infrastructure services are most critical to achieving the organization strategic objectives?
  • For each capability cluster, what infrastructure services should be implemented organization wide and what are the
  • service level requirements of these services?
  • How should infrastructure services be priced?
  • What is the plan for keeping underlying technologies up to date?
  • What infrastructure services should be outsourced?

Business application needs

  • What are the education and business process opportunities for new applications?
  • How are experiments designed to assess whether they are successful?
  • How can organization needs be addressed within the architectural standards? When does a business need justify an exception to a standard?
  • Who will own the outcomes of each project and institute organizational changes to ensure value?

IT investment and prioritization

  • What process changes or enhancements are strategically most important to the enterprise?
  • What are the distributions in the current and proposed IT portfolios? Are these portfolios consistent with the enterprises strategic objectives?
  • What is the relative importance of organization wide versus school/business unit level investments? Do actual
  • investment practices reflect their relative importance?

Typically, companies implement their governance arrangements through a set of governance mechanisms – structures, processes and communications. Well designed, well understood and transparent mechanisms promote desirable IT behaviors. The mechanisms for implementing IT governance are the following:

  • Decision making structure – Organizational units and roles responsible for making IT decisions, such as committees, executive teams and business/IT relationship managers.
  • Alignment processes – Formal processes for ensuring that daily behaviors are consistent with IT policies and provide input back to decisions. These include IT investment proposal and evaluation processes, architectural exception processes, service level agreements, chargeback and metrics.
  • Communication approaches – Announcements, advocates, channels and educational efforts that disseminate IT governance principles and polices and outcomes or IT decision making process.

Companies with effective IT governance clearly articulate and then harmonize the six components of the Governance Framework. Strategy and Organization define the desirable behaviors motivating governance. Companies design IT governance arrangements for each of their six key assets including IT to both enable and influence strategy. Governance arrangements assign decision rights for the key decisions guiding each asset individually and collectively.  The effectiveness of a company’s strategy and its combined governance arrangements are reflected in its ability to achieve stated goals.

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