Monday, June 6, 2016

About governance

IT can be organized differently, depending on the business. At one end, IT might be the business (think Google). In these organizations, IT is tightly coupled with the business, it is inseparable. Or IT might be autonomous, distributed throughout the organization, where every business unit has independent control over technology. At the other end of the spectrum, IT might be federated, either loosely or tightly, to account for different decision-making. Federated means that a core IT unit coordinates with business units, which may have limited control over specific technology. Or IT can be completely centralized, a service unit that the business treats like any other provider or vendor (I worked at a company owned by a law firm, which treated IT in this way).

No matter how IT is organized, you must always consider how IT is governed. How do you ensure that IT is meeting the needs of the business?

Putting aside the obvious case of "IT is the business," IT requires a method of governance. This governance can be formal or informal depending on the relative maturity of the business and of IT. But at some point, IT needs help to "vet" IT decisions to best serve the needs of the business.

How do you organize your IT governance? Governance can take on many forms, but the general process is that someone listens to business needs, and a governance group prioritizes requests and creates projects to execute them. A simple diagram might look like this:

intake coordinator
work groups

Of course, this is a simple process flow. Other IT governance models might need to account for different inputs, such as executive levels, customers, faculty, business units, and other governance bodies. And the model might have several output paths to assign work, such as different IT units or vendors and partners.

business units
other governance
IT unitsvendorspartners

Your governance model depends on what role IT plays in your organization. Is IT the driving force of the business, or is IT a business partner, or is IT merely a "vendor" for technology services? The governance model also depends on the other groups in your organization. Are you decentralized, or highly structured? What is the maturity level of the business and of the IT unit? These factors will help inform your governance model.

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