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  • Nathan Lee

Building Effective IT Governance through Engaged Leadership

People working together in a sunny conference room

IT departments and outsourced IT service providers often face the challenge of deciding which initiatives they should undertake to support the business while acting as mediators between competing interests. However, most IT projects are not about IT; they’re about the business. Therefore, it’s essential to include other department leaders and key executive decision-makers in the decision-making process for IT to functionally integrate and strategically fit across the enterprise.



To address this issue, Nathan Lee suggests the creation or revitalization of an executive IT committee. This committee should be chaired by a respected executive, such as the CFO or COO, and include representation from Finance and Human Resources, representatives from key areas of business operations, and the head of IT itself. Additional experts can be invited on a project-by-project basis. The committee should be as small as possible to avoid getting unwieldy and difficult to schedule.


To maximize the efficiency of the committee and reduce the political pressure on the committee to satisfy all requests, it’s crucial to implement criteria to decide which projects are core or non-core. Only critical projects involving security, time sensitivity, reputation/brand issues, and regulatory compliance must be considered by the committee. Projects that fall below a certain cost figure or that do not align with the strategic direction of the organization may be handled elsewhere.


It’s essential to evaluate the readiness of the organization to introduce an executive IT committee, as it can be a challenging cultural transition. The charter is crucial for clearly defining the committee's mandate, and a regular agenda for each meeting will help the committee stay on track with its mandate.


All project proposals presented to the committee should utilize a consistent business case methodology, making it easier to assess and weigh proposals and ensure that all critical information is available. Establishing an executive IT committee entails a significant change in culture and process, and strong governance controls, such as a change management policy, can provide objective tools for clarifying direction and facilitating decision-making.


Conclusion

Creating or revitalizing an executive IT committee sends a clear message about the organization's priorities, expectations, style, and governance. By bringing together a diverse group of people who understand each other's needs and work collaboratively, the IT leader can effectively facilitate projects rather than taking on the role of the project sponsor. This approach allows for greater effectiveness in leadership and ensures that the IT projects align with the business strategy.





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