A Practical Approach for IT Governance

IT Governance for SMBs

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IT Governance helps align IT activities to best meet an enterprise’s business requirements. Most Governance methodologies start with alignment at the top. This is a reasonable approach for all organizations where the traditional involvement of board-level executives in IT issues was to defer all key decisions to the company’s IT professionals. IT governance helps facilitate decision making across all stakeholders. This prevents IT from independently making and later being held solely responsible for poor decisions.

From an IT Governance standpoint, Small to Mid-Sized Businesses (SMBs) differ from the larger firms in two important aspects:  One, they are more nimble and need flexibility, and second, they tend to focus on shorter-term issues.  For SMBs, the guiding principle is to deliver value to the business without injecting onerous controls that stifle productivity.   To achieve it, the IT Governance framework should provide complete transparency on IT activities and make it simple for users to make, monitor and prioritize IT requests.  In order to achieve transparency, SMBs will need to establish controls and processes to deliver quality technology solutions on time and within allocated budgets.  From a management perspective, it is critical to effectively allocate and track resources and costs.

Sudoku puzzles teach an important lesson in project management, that we almost forget: there are fixed costs associated with every project.  In Sudoku, there are different levels of complexity: from the very easy to the excruciatingly difficult ones.  While the time taken is correlated with difficulty, it is not linear.  No matter how easy the puzzle, it takes a finite amount of time to simply fill the puzzle.  This is also true for any project.  Initial project reviews, user-buy in, planning, resource allocation, project briefing, and de-briefing after the project is completed all have a “fixed cost” component to it. While it is impossible or even desirable to eliminate the fixed costs, it will be helpful to streamline the project management process to develop efficiencies.

These guidelines help in reducing the fixed costs associated with projects:

  1. Develop a simplified project management methodology (PM-Lite).
  2. Use simple workflows (automated workflows add more benefits) using a portal approach to oversee these “small projects”.
  3. If you outsource these projects, use a set of pre-screened and pre-credentialed vendors who are specifically suited for delivering small projects.  This is discussed in more detail in this blog.
  4. Set limits on the number of deliverables (such as 5 to 7).
  5. Keep the distance between each deliverable small (time and technical relationship).
  6. Set simple success criteria such as 10% within each deliverable’s costs and schedule as green, between 10% and 25% as yellow, and more than 25% variance as red.

These simple guidelines should not be construed as one shoe fits all.  For example, risk management, compatibility with enterprise architecture, adherence to standards, and other project management principles also apply, but they should not become onerous and increase the fixed costs of a project.

Written by Subbu Murthy

April 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Posted in IT Governance

Tagged with ,

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