Last week CIO UK and partners MWD asked if CIOs and management teams were really investing time and energy into IT Governance. Neil Ward-Dutton, Research Director at MWD wrote:

IT Governance is something that we all instinctively know is a worthwhile endeavour - but few organisations have formal programmes in place. In good times, efforts like IT Governance always sound good but somehow we never get around to starting. Maybe today's tough business environment will change the picture?

So is the current difficult economy pushing governance further up the priority list of IT leaders? From the responses we have had so far, it would seem so, please read on.

Now is the time:

While focus on governance is good at all times, the current period brings some enablers - (i) business demands on IT are low except for cost cutting, and (ii) experts' (consultancy) services are available at a lower cost.
Head - Technology Management at major Indian bank

Use the crisis:
Never let a good crisis go to waste!
I agree with the assertion that the current business environment can support the case for governance. In these times, the most successful companies will focus and penetrate markets to gain share while others sit back and wait, or get stuck in a cost cutting downward spiral. IT governance should be leveraged as an organisational capability (maturity is interesting but not necessarily paramount) to make a difference. Whoever is leading the IT governance in an organisation without it will need to build the case around cost savings as well as focus and market share gain.

Joe Rafter, AVP, Change Management, Yellowbook

More than compliance:

I couldn't agree more. All too often govenance becomes synonymous with compliance in terms of being a burden rather than being an enabler. I would encourage IT leaders to look at the COBIT framework (or revisit it) http://www.isaca.org/cobit/ built around the five pillars of

  • Strategic Alignment
  • Resource Management
  • Risk Management
  • Perfomance Management and
  • Value delivery.

You should find that you are already doing so much of what is in there on a day to day basis, but it is valuable to clarify why you are doing this and put it into a strategic perspective - even if you don't launch it as a formal programme. Better still for today's tough business climate the guidelines can be downloaded for free!

Nic Evans, IT Director and Consultant in International Financial Services

Why is IT any different?:

Why is IT governance signled out? How many organizations formalise purchasing governance, Marketing governance, Engineering governance, Accounts Payable governance, etc.? Why does technology have to be governed so distinctly differant from any of the other many business functions necessary to run an organization? Isn't information technology's time to become part of or integrated with the business past due?

"The company will begin to realize benefits quickly - by not clogging up the IT request pipeline with projects that don't fit the company's goals." - Baxley

Do we need Product Production governance to not clog up a manufacturing line with products that don't fit the company's goals? Maybe our IT consumers just don't know what they want and to be responsive to our customers' needs, we clog up the pipeline with projects/products that don't improve business conditions which will then illicit the desire for governance and cost cutting - the cycle continues, its ground hog day!

Paul Pauesick, Director of Information Technology, Kansas City Board of Public Utilities


Better alignment:

As the Head of IT Governance for India's 3rd largest multi-business conglomerate in Telecom, media, entertainment, infrastructure, EPC, healthcare, power and internet, I can vouch for CIO UK's comments. The need for driving better business alignment, tight project-selection processes, effective value delivery for base services and capability development for strategic areas have been reinforced over the past 3 quarters. The need for architecture control, infra and data centre consolidation, vendor standardization & review are other key tasks that are on the "urgent" plate.

Sudhendu Bali, Group Head - IT Governance, Reliance Anil D Ambani Group

Barbers:

I believe Warren Buffet said something like, "Never ask a barber if you need a haircut."

Paul Pauesick, Director of Information Technology, Kansas City Board of Public Utilities


No how to do:

IT governance can be very good, the only snag with CoBIT is that it states WHAT needs to be done (at a very high level), not HOW to do it (at a detailed level). To get past this obstacle, another 6 methodologies and considerable expertise are required ... and most target companies don't have that. Unfortunately, many consultants sell their clients heavy straight-jackets of governance and charge them a lot for it. These governance process implementations rarely last because they are not properly tailored to the target organisation.

Governance (by CoBIT) can be highly beneficial when it is a lean implementation, custom-fitted to the target organisation and where the motivation for governance has been communicated clearly to the workforce at all levels.

Ron Kalian, Head of Development, Satellite Information Services

CIOs should know what they are doing:

Yes Ron - CobIT is a framework for IT Governance - not a cookbook or "how to" methodology. But at the IT Director/ CIO level we are at, we should know what we are doing!

You may need other methodologies for project work -prince2/MSP/Agile- and operational management - such as ITIL- but the framework is not specific to any one of these.

A framework isnt a straight jacket and it will need adapting to the organisations. Most importantly CobIT says what should typically be done and WHY it should be done. All too often processes will have evolved around specific systems and even around individual personalities and the framework gives a generalised best practice to simplify and rationalise this.

If you are paying consultants to implement a freely-available framework for improving your own processes then what are you getting paid for?

Nic Evans, IT Director and Consultant in International Financial Services

Response Summary

To read the original MWD article on IT governance, IT Governance: Is anyone eating their greens? click here.

Full Response

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