Build IT governance slowly

Building piece-by-piece allows you to demonstrate the value of IT governance to the organization.

by Bob Kress, Accenture - IT governance is critical to the success of any company's IT organization. How the IT governance framework is built and sustained is crucial. By focusing on the speed with which you build your governance strategy and establishing its benefits to your company, you will ensure IT governance is effective and efficient. Because IT governance has lasting benefits for your business it should be built with a steady hand that keeps the focus on business needs.

[ See also: Deciding who to include in IT governance ]

Though the initial governance plan may be far-reaching and complex, the IT governance model need not be perfect from the start. In fact, it is better to build piece-by-piece to demonstrate the value of IT governance to the organization. For example, start by implementing a structure, such as an IT steering committee to help align projects with business priorities. Require that there is a business sponsor for each project to establish baseline benefits. Once the structure is well established, add another layer of governance whereby the benefits achieved from IT initiatives are audited. At Accenture we randomly audit IT initiatives three years after deployment, which helps make the business cases far more rigorous.

When senior leadership sees the benefits of the first pieces of a governance strategy, they will be more likely to support continued development. IT governance is not simply another project; it is a process that evolves in tune with business needs and technological advances. Keeping IT governance aligned with the business keeps it relevant. Integrating your build process with planning and budgeting can also help you stay on track.

The benefits of building slowly while ensuring executive buy-in are significant. Because the process is supported by senior leadership, the IT governance program can focus on immediate and future needs, while offering customization where necessary. For example, many technology needs are the same across the company – indeed, across many companies – and with the proper level of focus, those building the IT governance framework can deliver the basic needs very quickly, while providing flexibility to satisfy additional needs of various areas of the company. Building slowly also allows the stakeholders and builders to periodically review whether the governance strategy is going in the right direction.

By properly focusing efforts during the building process, the IT organization can more easily set the IT standards for the company while listening to the business needs and ensuring that everyone has a role in the process. In turn, the company will benefit from a strong IT governance structure in which everyone who needs to participate, does.

-- By Bob Kress, executive director of Business Operations at Accenture

More on IT governance from Bob Kress is available in the book, IT Governance to Drive High Performance: Lessons from Accenture, available here.

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