Getting the right focus for IT Governance

I’ve long been a fan of Nick Malik’s blog – and indeed it was his blog that led me to ask him if he’d be happy to be interviewed for the book.

In this post Nick nails quite a few aspects of IT governance, and explains how they fit in the context of embarking on an SOA initiative.

Nick correctly calls out the dual roles of governance: not only in directing work so that things are “done right”; but also in directing work so that we “do the right things”. The former area is the one where IT departments are most comfortable: you can focus on getting things right while retaining a very internal IT perspective. Doing the latter and focusing on doing the right things requires another set of skills and commitments that are less familiar to most.

It’s easy to look at governance as Nick outlines it (and as many others do too) and say “hmm, this looks like a pretty heavyweight overhead to me. If I’m going to have to make significant extra investment in this governance stuff, how can I make the case for it?”

The key point here is that one of the things that makes IT governance “good” is fitness for purpose. Governance doesn’t have to entail masses of documentation, full-time headcount, onerous processes and big technology investments. As Nick implies, a key feature of governance work is agreeing a strategic destination and a set of navigation charts.

In this context, your focus shouldn’t be securing headcount and defining processes: it should be on securing agreements and commitments from people to work together.

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