Understanding the Governance Side of IT-Business Alignment

Involve business management actively both as sponsor and partner with technology and tie the decision to approve or deny directly to items of strategic importance to the enterprise’s business―measure proposals on the basis of business drivers.

To do this, you will need professionals who understand both business and technology. Designing such an organization, finding these people, and letting them prosper requires an active partnership with human capital professionals. Make sure everyone knows to communicate frequently, openly, and in business terms―technology that works as an enabler must be on the radar, not under it.

Another step is to put into place a Program Management Office that will have authority over the process of bringing investment proposals forward.

Remember the importance of architecture! An Architecture Review Board needs to review the architectural compliance of proposals, and to advise the BTC on their fit. An Office of Architecture and Standards needs to establish standards, to draft architectural roadmaps, and to ensure that the gulf between architecture and business is closed.

You’ll also have to focus on compliance, and manage risk. These areas should be understood and managed for the enterprise’s benefit by a formal compliance and risk management function. These professionals also need to participate in governance bodies and advise decision-makers with consistency.

Pitfalls and Challenges

None of these things will happen overnight. There are pitfalls and challenges attached to all of them:

  • There will be scope expectations, and more than one critic will say, “Why are we doing all this? Where’s the return?”

  • Realize that some budget owners are going to resist increased scrutiny over investment proposals: “It’s my budget, and I am going to spend it as I see fit!”

  • There is a very real possibility that the first communications will be greeted with, “Who cares?”

  • For many, the inclusion of compliance and risk issues into their world is going to be a complicating matter, and they simply are not going to want to go beyond a certain point.

  • And, particularly in times of economic stress, making decisions on the future design of the organization will cause a chill among employees. These decisions must be handled deftly. The important thing to remember is that there will be a future and that effective planning will make it just that much more profitable.

An enterprise setting out to improve the way it manages business technology must realize that changing its governance and the organization will require time and attention. Changes here are immediately visible, and the results can be quickly realized. Perhaps more than any other area it will require business and technology to work together. It will require true business sponsorship and partnership with technology because it provides the forum for business and technology leadership to make decisions together that drive the enterprise’s direction.

So, what is required? Set goals and work with determination toward reaching them; anticipate and address potential pitfalls in each activity; establish a plan to increase maturity and work according to this guidebook for improvement; and, put into place durable operating models, policies, processes and procedures that will ensure that the changes made in the enterprise during its process of maturation become a way of life.

Faisal Hoque is an internationally known entrepreneur and author, and the founder and CEO of BTM Corporation. His previous books include Sustained Innovation and Winning The 3-Legged Race. BTM innovates business models and enhances financial performance by converging business and technology with its products and intellectual property.