IT Governance is one of those phrases where you look it up and get a hundred different definitions, and end up none the wiser. Here's a nice, simple definition - it's about making good decisions. Yes, it's that simple, and efficiencies will flow from good IT Governance.
So how do you make good decisions? Well IT always works for the business. It's effectively an engine room, but the business is at the steering wheel, and the engine should probably go in the same direction or you might have some issues! An IT strategic plan that is in harmony with the business plan can greatly help with this.
Once you've done your planning and have your initiatives mapped out, you can start leveraging the power of an IT Governance framework. By pulling together key members of the business and IT, you can communicate your objectives, and report against their progress. You can set priorities for initiatives, which can take the pressure of IT staff who are often pulled in multiple directions. You can discuss risks, new opportunities, general business, whatever is relevant so that IT and the business can effectively work together, and communicate what is happening.
A golden rule for an IT Governance forum however is that largely it should operate at the strategic level, and not get bogged down with operational detail. Assuming your strategy has been well set, your operational issues should be slowly removed over time. Therefore if you continue to have operational issues, look at your strategy again, because it's not appropriately addressing the needs of the business.
If your company experiences a significant number of IT issues that never seem to get resolved, it would be well worth considering the implementation of an IT Governance forum. While typically it is more useful for medium to large enterprise and public sector, it is also easily scalable, and can be applied to any sized IT operation. A forum such as this is also very useful for outsourced IT operations, where you set an agenda and a frequency for meetings. You will then be able to ensure that your business needs are appropriately communicated to the managed services provider, and you can also regularly review their performance.
By Michael Ouwerkerk