IT Governance Must Evolve or Die

Bureaucratic, static IT governance models of the past no longer work in organizations where the IT function is to enable business innovation and customer engagement. For IT governance models to be effective in today’s evolving marketplace, they must be more closely linked with business governance.

What concrete benefits and tangible value are you receiving today from your IT governance processes?

The benefits of IT governance, as articulated in the 2015 ISO/IEC 38500 standard, are:

  • To ensure conformance of obligations such as security and regulatory. I call this benefit “Keeping your company off the front page of the Wall Street Journal so you can retain your job.”
  • To drive performance and contribute positively to the organization. This includes influence of asset and resource utilization, alignment with business needs, realization of benefits, and business continuity. Or, more simply put, driving business results.

Today, business results are a direct outcome of business innovation and customer intimacy. So, the benefits and tangible value from IT governance processes should move the needle in a positive direction in the areas of innovation and customer engagement.

But should innovation and customer intimacy be governed by IT, or should they be part of business governance? And why would we separate out IT governance when, in fact, IT is an enabler of these business results?

Have your IT governance processes adjusted to the changes in your industry, business, and IT models?

Let’s look at a few trends that may be impacting your current IT governance processes. Three conditions are creating the majority of changes in IT today:


1. XaaS (Cloud)

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS have radically changed what is under the control of IT. Let’s face the facts: your infrastructure, software, and other services are literally no longer under the  roof of your IT organization. As a matter of fact, teams outside the IT organization are likely using cloud services right now. Do you still need the same governance processes around security and continuity?

2. Agile

As more IT organizations embrace agile and agile portfolio management, we see a radical change in how businesses drive innovation and customer engagement. Executives set the strategy and “themes” for focused work in the organization, and empower teams to deliver value and achieve transparent objectives. Business leaders empower product owners to understand what customers need and want. The business owners drive value and innovation with the support, leadership and creativity of IT. Senior IT and business leaders should be focusing together on nurturing a culture of transparency, customer intimacy, team empowerment and innovation.

3. Pervasiveness of Technology

Technology has permeated all industries, products, and services. From the Internet of Things, to tech businesses, to on-demand services, technology is integrating with virtually everything at a breakneck speed. Do we still need a separate governing processes for IT when IT is increasingly part of the product or service?

Where does your IT governance fit among these trends?

If your business is experiencing the perfect storm of XaaS, agile, and the pervasiveness of technology in products and services, you should move your IT governance into your corporate governance processes. Once this happens, kill your IT governance. This will result in an enterprise that is more aligned, and better focused on customer value and innovation. It will also minimize the need to synchronize different governance processes.

If you are in a highly-regulated sector and are required to follow specific forms of governance, consider integrating your IT governance into your corporate governance processes. If this is not possible, minimize areas of IT governance where appropriate by focusing only on value-added processes.

Finally, even if the perfect storm disrupting IT governance does not apply to your organization, you should still take a fresh look at your governance processes. Why? Consider your answers to the three questions below:

  • Is the enterprise getting business results from our IT governance processes? If not, what can I eliminate?
  • How can I develop more value from my governance processes? How can I drive the focus on value, innovation, and customer engagement?
  • Do I have a continuous improvement mindset regarding IT governance? If not, how do I incorporate this into the process so I can improve year in and year out?

RelatedLack of Governance is Always* the Problem

Categories: IT Management

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Andy Nemtzow

Andy is a Lean Six Sigma black belt with over 30 years of IT leadership, consulting, and project management experience, including oversight of ERP, Portfolio Management, Enterprise Architecture, Vendor Management, Business Planning, QA, and BI functions.


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