Sharing the Load

Sharing the Load

Peter Weill, the director of MIT's Center for Information Systems Research, says there are six key IT decisions that CIOs and the business must collaborate on. Ignore them at your peril . . .

Asses Your IT Governance Performance

Asses Your IT Governance Performance

DECISION 6: Who should you blame if an IT initiative fails?

"We should have someone to blame and therefore we should have some accountability," Weill says. "But it seems to me that's already too late in the decisions process. Organisations that do this well focus on what I call governance. To me IT governance is about decision rights and accountability. Who has the rights to make which IT decisions, and how do we hold them accountable?"

There is a fairly widespread perception that IT governance frameworks do nothing but add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the process. This could not be further from the truth, Weill says. "It should be empowering, not bureaucracy," he says. IT governance decisions are needed, "because senior executives have limited bandwidth and so they shouldn't be the hub of every IT decision. There's a synonym to the word 'hub', and that's 'bottleneck'."

Weill also says organisations can easily adapt the financial governance models they likely already have in place for IT decisions. "The CFO of your organisation doesn't sign everything or improve every investment," he says.

"There's a financial governance model that says, 'Here's how we spend money, here's the budget, here's the audit, and so on'. Those tools are used by organisations that are really good at IT governance as well."

According to Weill, simplicity is key for any governance model. "Companies that do it well have a few mechanisms. They endlessly simplify and remove the obstacles and drive towards IT governance on one page."

An effective IT governance model pays off, Weill says. "We see companies who are in the top third of our measure of IT governance are 20 percent more profitable."

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