The strategy ensures that we are doing the right things and doing them the right way. It’s the CIO’s vision, goals, and objectives for developing IT solutions that meet business requirements.
The operations is providing for core IT functions like voice and data communications, information, applications, infrastructure, security, and so forth,
The governance is how we make decisions about IT. Through good governance we enhance visibility of IT requirements and projects, enable better communication and vetting, share risks, and prioritize, authorize, and control IT investments.
Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 2, has a good article titled “Bringing IT Governance from Theory to Action.” (by Davin Gellego and Jon Borg-Breen)
The problem is complexity:
“Even as technology has simplified and become almost invisible to most audiences, the complexity of maintaining technology is reaching a breaking point for information technology organizations…little time is invested between the lines of business and IT to communicate corporate goals and how technology can support these goals. The mandate is simply ‘do more with less.’”
The solution is governance:
Lines of business and IT can no longer work in their respective vacuums. This new interconnectedness means that what affects one now affects all. If problems are no longer confined to one functional area, solutions can’t be either. IT governance defines accountability and decision making and simplifies the challenges of consolidation, outsourcing, and increased visibility—ensuring IT expenditures deliver real business value.”
The traditional organizational paradigm was silos. Everyone works for their particular unit, division, line of business and so on. Each is functionally and organizationally independent. Each develops their own strategy, products and services, customer base, and so on. Each has their own profit and loss statement. Working with other divisions, conducting joint product development, sharing information or ideas, cross-selling, and other collaborative efforts are discouraged, shunned, minimized, and looked at with suspicion. It’s every line of business or man for themselves. A unit that is not “producing” gets disciplined, downsized, reorganized, spun off, or otherwise eliminated. A division head that isn’t meeting their targets is toast! (Interestingly enough, people traditionally work in a “division”—that very word connotes separation, distinctiveness, and divisiveness.)
The enlightened paradigm is cross-functional. Everyone works for the enterprise. Each unit of the enterprise is part of a functional whole. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Collaboration, integrated product teams, working groups, information sharing, cross selling, corporate brand, interoperability, standards, component re-use, and other unifying activities are encouraged, taught, mandated, recognized, and rewarded. Performance measures take into account not only how your division is doing, but how it is contributing to overall mission of the organization. The goals of each individual and unit are aligned to the enterprise.
In the enlightened enterprise, The CIO is not running “the IT division,” but rather is providing IT services and solutions to the enterprise. In this paradigm, the CIO requires a structured and mature governance process, so that all stakeholders have a voice at the table and can influence the decision process and ensure more successful project delivery. IT governance provides for a consistent, collaborative decision process. Governance bring business and IT subject matter experts together to communicate, make visible, align, share risks, vet, prioritize, and issue decisions.
“The most successful enterprises engage in both business and IT in investment decisions. IT governance strengthens and clarifies the connection between corporate goals and IT initiatives. And with both business and IT aware of the strategic benefits of a given initiative, the initiative has a far greater chance of company-wide adoption and success.”
In the enlightened enterprise, “no line of business or IT department is an island. What affects one, affects all.” And in this environment, it is The Total CIO who can reach out across the enterprise bringing a unifying IT strategy, a sound, reliable, secure, and cost-effective operations platform, and a governance process to communicate, make visible, share risks, and make better decisions through the participation of all the pertinent IT stakeholders.