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IT Governance Tips: Help to Improve Executive Buy-In

IT Governance Tips: Help to Improve Executive Buy-In

Beset by funding and other resource challenges? IT governance, if done right, will improve your reputation, increase funding and help your IT systems impact strategic business operations

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:

  1. Inadequate funding and other resources to do the things they would like to be doing for their company.
  2. Even the funding that IT supposedly has is not stable enough to guarantee that expensive IT projects will survive a long development time.
  3. Insufficient stature — they don't have a seat at the table.
  4. Fighting the perception of the other CXOs that they lack the political skill to function at the full potential of an executive.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

So. . . what does "share ownership of IT initiatives" mean? It boils down to getting the other CXOs involved in making IT resource allocation decisions. Then they will no longer view you or treat you as the lone executive over all IT technology, but they will come to see themselves as your teammates in helping you to oversee at least all things strategic about IT. No, they won't get involved in the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the IT infrastructure — nor would they ever want to do that. They are quite happy to leave all those operational details (and headaches) to the "IT people." But they will learn to value their involvement in making decisions about what new IT initiatives are being pursued by the company, and they will become involved in helping to ensure the successful development, implementation and operation of strategically important IT systems.

Also read, 5 Tips on IT Alignment That Can Generate Profit by Richard L Routh.

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