A simple guide to IT governance

A simple guide to IT governance
June 27, 2022  |  BY

Today’s CIOs have a lot on their plates. Not only are they expected to contribute to the enterprise’s overall business strategy, they also have to concern themselves with IT governance.

IT governance can be abstract term — so much so that even the most astute technology leaders can scratch their heads when trying to define it. Distilled to its essence, IT governance allows enterprises to manage their IT risks while ensuring that their technology fosters business goals as intended.

Proper IT governance is a balancing act, and it’s not always easy to remain on even footing. Yet there are certain guidelines to follow that can greatly improve your odds of success.

Pay attention to shifts in priorities across the business landscape. As CIOs know all too well, companies must always adapt their business practices to new technologies and customer demands. That’s why, from the beginning, your governance plan should be constructed with a focus on adaptability. This strategy essentially guarantees that technology investments will always align with the latest business objectives.

A strategy of adaptability inherently includes reducing risk, but CIOs often launch projects without considering the ramifications of failure. This mindset results in IT governance being a nice-to-have program rather than a strategic necessity, which in itself increases risk. Instead of walking that dangerous path, we suggest that CIOs identify risks at the early stages of the project and consider them relative to every choice made throughout the process.

Yet even when IT leaders have already developed a thorough governance plan, some don’t possess the required operational visibility to measure how, or if, specific policies are being adopted. In many cases, leaders in other departments simply can’t grasp IT governance policies. Accordingly, CIOs should get the entire C-Suite involved so they understand the context and rationale for every aspect of the governance plan.

IT leaders would also be wise to partner with legal, compliance, information risk management, and other governance teams in the organization. Doing so keeps all of the key players up to speed on the latest education and features, ensuring proper alignment across all departments involved in governance.

No matter who the CIO brings to the IT governance table, there’s always the question of how to measure the effectiveness of the plan. While many use past methods to measure future progress, a more accurate method is to focus on leading indicators that reflect the investments and spends of tomorrow. A leading indicator can include revenue growth, revenue per client, and client retention rate.

Data also needs to inform governance decisions. While that may seem like stating the obvious to a CIO, you’d be surprised at how many enterprises ignore their data and the value it supplies. IT leaders need to remind themselves of the investments they’ve made in data and analytics; if they’ve improved operational efficiency, increased growth, and improved customer experience, they can surely drive a successful governance plan.

Despite having a smart IT governance strategy, everything’s in danger due to threats from company employees. No one wants to believe that workers may have bad intentions, but the truth is that people on the inside do cause damage.

Part of the blame goes to the remote work revolution, while another part is due to the dramatic rise in employee turnover. Those who are currently – or have been – on the inside can collaborate with external cyberthieves to cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention the corresponding hit to a company’s reputation.

To combat potential attacks, CIOs must take a holistic approach to IT governance that prioritizes data security, network security best practices, and cyber-education for all users. Also maintain awareness of, and visibility into, structured and unstructured data, which allows you to create a successful content governance program. The thinking being, you can only govern data when you can see the data.

IT governance includes many moving parts. But when you get all of those parts aligned in the right direction, you ultimately create more business value and dramatically lower risk. Which means yet another win for the IT department.