Leadership - The Role of IT Governance

As noted in the prior blog, this post will explore IT Governance and its role in preparing companies of all sizes for e-Business. You are probably asking yourself: What is IT governance and what function does it perform in preparing a company for e-Business? The IT governance team is a subset of the overall leadership team. The governance team is a board or senior management responsibility, and IT governance is specifically related to IT. The team must carry the leadership strengths with it as it focuses on IT governance and aligning IT with business strategy. The IT governance team is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that IT initiatives and projects move the company incrementally closer to its goal of e-Business Readiness. The IT governance team has five core objectives:

  1. IT strategy is aligned with the business strategy. IT must deliver the functionality and services in-line with the current and planned needs of the organization so that the firm can accomplish what it aims to do.
  2. Implementing IT and new technologies facilitate the organization to do new things that were not previously possible.
  3. Based on the improved efficiencies, IT provides increased customer satisfaction, partner satisfaction and loyalty.
  4. Resources are used prudently. IT-related services and functionality are delivered at the maximum economical value, in the most efficient manner.
  5. Most IT-related risks are known and managed, and IT resources are secured.

IT and the governance team are responsible for taking the long view on technology and how technology enables the business to operate in a more efficient, competitive manner. It can become a bad habit to repeatedly address the most current network hot spot without looking at how the solution integrates with the firm's long term plans from both an interoperability perspective as well as from a business-enabling perspective. For example, how often is an off-brand appliance dropped into a network to address a near term problem, only to become the point of non-interoperability a few months out? Looking at problem solving from this perspective, the band-aid solution goes against several of the IT governance team's core objectives. IT governance requires strong communications and a partnering attitude between the business and IT leaders. There are numerous strategies that support and enable successful IT organizations.  Some of these strategies include:

  1. Making IT governance a priority.
  2. Identifying and using measurable metrics aimed at aligning IT projects and initiatives with the firm’s e-Business strategy.
  3. Commit to a unified, standard information architecture to avoid impulse technology purchases.
  4. Develop and train the IT organization to speak the language of business so they can see how their decisions impact the firm’s ability to quickly meet its e-Business vision.

Firms of all sizes routinely seek new ways to deploy complex, mission critical, and often costly IT initiatives. By using the strategies noted, the IT organization will be more readily able to quickly address technology challenges without being confused on what the right solution is for the issue at hand. IT governance is an important component in a firm's strategy to achieve its e-Business vision. We will stay on this topic this week covering other areas such as how to fund IT governance, the benefits of IT standardization, and defining key performance metrics.

This story, "Leadership - The Role of IT Governance" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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