IT Governance: The Gears That Power IT Performance
We are in the midst of an exciting and challenging time for IT, as organizations across every industry look to leverage and introduce new technology to gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. As the expectations of IT organizations continue to increase and the urgency for scale and speed increases, IT Governance is again a key topic among IT leaders.
In a world of constraints and often unreasonable expectations, a scalable governance model is critical to enabling a high-performing IT organization. Good IT Governance provides the mechanism for IT leaders to decide which processes, methods, and decision rights best fit the needs of the organization, and more importantly allows them to meet the needs of their clients. A complete governance framework enables consistency and confidence in making and enforcing decisions associated with setting the organization’s priorities, funding levels, staffing, etc.
Governance is one of the four core elements of a comprehensive IT Operating Model. Coupled with the organizational model, operational techniques, practices, and performance management, governance determines how the IT organization operates as a business and gets work done. Governance also serves as a mechanism to align with the overall strategy and priorities of the organization and should not be a “one time” event but should provide an interactive framework to engage with business partners.
When defined and operationalized correctly, IT Governance serves as the “braking system” that actually allows IT to make decisions and work with speed, knowing that when necessary the brakes can be applied. An effective IT Governance model should provide "guard rails" that allow for flexibility and also allow people to make rapid decisions. If the processes, decisions, and deliverables are within defined governance limits (aka the "guard rails"), the team can operate with flexibility.
Unfortunately, when applied improperly IT Governance can become bureaucratic; a barrier, and a process-intensive obstacle. Defining the best-fit governance model also includes determining what processes should be managed centrally vs. distributed by those closest to the work, and which components should be highly standardized vs. flexible and limits-based.
So, while IT Governance is key to all organizations regardless of industry, size, and complexity, determining how you frame governance is critical and “one size” does not fit all organizations' needs. The following factors need close examination when designing your IT Governance model:
The IT organization’s maturity, operational capabilities, and strength of talent.
The existing corporate governance framework that IT’s Governance must support and complement.
The internal (corporate, functional, employees) and external (customers, partners) expectations of the IT organization.
Taking these factors into account along with the organization’s culture, implementing a flexible, engaged IT Governance model is a key enabler to a value-driven IT organization.