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Issue of December 2004 
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Governing IT

"IT governance is about how you structure the system of management in the organization and the various constructs you use to make sure that IT is utilized as effectively as possible," explained Bob Hayward, VP - Research Fellow, Gartner Asia-Pacific and Japan.

IT governance is sometimes mistaken with e-governance and thus must be understood clearly. It’s how any organization small or large, commercial or public sector, puts in place a system to design or assign decision rights and the accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT.

"Its an entire system of organization issues, constructs, committees, councils, various forums, and how often the participants involved meet to discuss and arrive at decisions about what to do with technology," he added.

Discovery

Having established the correct scope of IT governance Hayward talked about the research that Gartner has carried out along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology on IT governance last year.

During teh study, Gartner discovered that of all the things that Gartner looks at regarding how people use IT, there is nothing more important in terms of outcome, positive benefits, and advantages, than the system of IT governance.

"It doesn't matter which vendor you use, how much you spend on technology, and the type of advanced and sophisticated technology you use. At the end of the day what matter most is how you manage IT within your enterprise," he said. This statement was based on the result of the joint research and analysis activities.

Not much thought

In Hayward's experience many customers that he talks to, do not have a well-thought out IT governance system. They have a CIO and various people in charge of technology, operations, development, and infrastructure. But don't really have active involvement of business executives in IT decisions.

"The enterprises don't really have a formal structure where they can answer questions like, how do you make decisions regarding investment, what sort of metrics do you use, how are those decision made, who has inputs to those decisions, and who actually at the end of the day is responsible? Some of the answers that we get are very vague and ambiguous," he said.

"I recommend that you must a very crisp, clear, and well-defined system of IT governance that everybody in the organization understands, so that the above questions can be answered very easily and quickly," Hayward added.

Getting there

Hayward recognized that the journey that needs to be taken by an organization to achieve good IT governance would not be easy.

He believed that it would take time for many companies to transition and put a clear and effective system of IT governance in place.

"You also have to recognize that there is no single form of IT governance that works for all organizations in this room," said Hayward. "This room has various companies, some are fast growing, and some are slow, some highly technology-dependant companies, and others less dependant on technology. You have different cultures, different types of management, and different types of CEOs. All these factors have to considered in order to reach a stage in your organization where IT governance is effective,” explained Hayward.

 
     
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