IT alignment is important, but it's nothing without IT governance. Instituting effective IT governance means sharing ownership of IT initiatives with other CXOs — without that your program will fail.
When CIOs are asked to list the most significant challenges they face, it often looks like this:
- Inadequate funding and other resources to do the things they would like to be doing for their company.
- Even the funding that IT supposedly has is not stable enough to guarantee that expensive IT projects will survive a long development time.
- Insufficient stature — they don't have a seat at the table.
- Fighting the perception of the other CXOs that they lack the political skill to function at the full potential of an executive.
- Fighting the perception of the other CXOs that the CIO is more a technology leader than a business leader (and certainly not a strategic business leader).
- Fighting the perception of the other CXOs that even if the CIO wanted to be a business leader, she/he lacks the business skill necessary to assume a business leadership position.
- Lack of understanding on the part of the other CXOs about the strategic role that IT could play — if only they better understood and appreciated the potential contribution IT (and the CIO) could make.
If the above list looks something like the challenges you face, there's good news. All that can be overcome simply by instituting effective IT governance. Many CIOs, once they learn how to do IT alignment, are then hampered by their attempts to get the full cooperation of the other CXOs — thereby stifling or at least stunting the potential effectiveness of a good IT alignment plan. (Also read "Recipe for Good Governance".
There are several different paradigms for IT governance; four are detailed below — it's up to you to decide which of them is best for you and your company. (More models are detailed here.) Each is effective to one extent or another under the right circumstances. But what you'll have to remember as you consider each of the different approaches to IT governance is that the primary function of any effective IT governance is to share ownership of IT initiatives with other CXOs. You might be very meticulous about dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's in the way you carry out the steps of your IT governance process, but if you don't end up sharing ownership of IT initiatives with the other CXOs, your IT governance program will be ineffective. And on the other hand, you may be sloppy and imprecise about how you execute your IT governance program, but if you end up getting the other CXOs to share ownership with you for all your major IT initiatives, then your IT governance program will be very successful.
The single most important indicator of IT governance success is the extent to which the other CXOs share ownership of IT initiatives with you!
Also read, 5 Tips on IT Alignment That Can Generate Profit by Richard L Routh.
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