A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Archive for March 2012

What is IT Governance?

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As CIOs, we all think we know IT Governance.  Understandable – without this expertise, many may question our right to be a CIO.  Let us revisit IT Governance:  Is it managing resources and budgets?  Is it managing user requests?  How do we treat user requests separately from business requests such as acquisitions or mergers?  Is Governance a part of a bigger framework (GRC:  Governance, Risk, Compliance)?  Or is it too big a conundrum for us to even define IT Governance. IT Governance to Weill and Ross is to focus on “Specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT”.   IT Governance Institute expands this definition to include foundational mechanisms: “… the leadership and organizational structures and processes that ensure that the organization’s IT sustains and extends the organization’s strategies and objectives.”

To help understand this complex term, we need to step back and understand how we define terms.  I recall taking a class in my Doctorate program in the famous Claremont Graduate School where we had to define science.  Is science the rational process of arriving at truth?  Is science the pursuit of new things or news ways to understand old things?  Etc.  One definition floated by a professor was science is what scientists do.  If we adopt this definition, then IT Governance is what CIOs do.  As a student of management, I fail to accept this definition.  Yet, in reality, IT Governance is highly dependent on the CIO’s approach.

In UGovernIT, the firm I run to establish tool-based Governance, we define IT Governance to be “allocating IT budget to the right IT activity and at the right time”.  This may not be a complete definition, but the key point is that in defining IT Governance, we have narrowed the term to identify IT Governance as managing IT resources effectively.  The moment we use the term effective, the dreaded overused term – alignment comes into picture.  Clearly, a subject for a future blog.

Written by Subbu Murthy

March 4, 2012 at 11:04 am

Posted in IT Governance