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4 best practices for improving governance strategies

In modern business, it’s nearly impossible for large organizations to enjoy sustained success without taking IT investments seriously. And for these investments to be protected, robust, well-defined data governance is needed.

As the role of technology in corporate America has evolved over the last 30-plus years, the term “IT governance” has risen to prominence. In the most basic sense, IT governance is a formal framework that provides structure for organizations that ensures all IT investments and systems support core business objectives. In other words, it helps align IT strategy with business strategy.

“As changes rapidly occur, it is essential to have a well-defined IT governance framework, a state of compliance within regulatory requirements, and a preemptive approach to IT business risks,” Arbour Group explains.

For large organizations that have dozens of priorities and millions of dollars invested into various strategies at any point in time, IT governance is an absolute necessity. A failure to articulate the correct approach to IT governance could result in costly mistakes that prevent the organization from being successful.

How to Improve Your IT Governance

For business leaders that haven’t empowered their companies with IT governance – or even those who have, but know they aren’t taking full advantage – there’s ample room for improvement. Here are some suggestions:

1. Get Straight On Business Goals

You can’t develop a sound IT governance strategy if you aren’t clear on what your overarching business objectives are. Before doing anything else, sit down with all business leaders – including the CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, and CMO – to ensure everyone is heard.

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Young engineer businesswoman with tablet in network server room

Once you have a clear set of objectives, IT governance is as simple as developing a framework that aligns all of these goals – or at least accounts for each of them.

2. Use a Common Framework

While some business leaders decide that a custom approach is needed for their organization, it’s more common that companies rely on an established framework for IT governance. Some of the most commonly used ones include:

  • COBIT. Referred to as a “comprehensive framework of globally accepted practices, analytical tools, and models,” this governance framework is typically used in settings where management is intent on mitigating risk and avoiding clear threats. It has its roots in IT auditing, which makes it ideal for this purpose.
  • ITIL. Standing for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, the ITIL framework is focused on IT service management. It’s designed to ensure that all IT services support the core business processes through five sets of management best practices for service strategy, design, transition, operation, and continual service improvement.
  • FAIR. The Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) model is relatively new, but has gained a lot of traction among Fortune 500 companies. It’s highly focused on cyber security and operational risk, which allows organizations to make more informed decisions in a rapidly evolving business world.

These are three of the most common approaches, but there are a handful of other frameworks as well. Finding the right fit is critically important. You want a framework that makes sense for your core business objectives. Take the time to find the right model, or feel free to develop your own approach.

3. Clarify Relationships

Communication plays a key role in IT governance – both in strategy and execution. As you seek to establish an IT governance framework, or optimize the one you currently have, be sure to clarify the relationships in the organization. Otherwise, you’ll find that the CIO and CEO, for example, are constantly at odds with one another.

4. Enhance Communication

With the goals agreed upon, a framework decided upon, and relationships defined, it’s time to turn attention toward communication. This is where the successful IT governance programs deviate from the underperforming ones. You need concrete channels of communication, well-defined feedback loops, and a clear chain of command. Don’t limit your opportunities by skimping in this area.

IT governance is something that more businesses need to emphasize moving forward. It allows organizations to properly align IT objectives with larger business goals. In doing so, there’s a far greater sense of continuity and purpose. Don’t delay. Take the time to optimize your approach and put your organization on a path toward success.

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