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Three Roles of Senior Leaders in IT Governance

If IT is not properly supporting all the initiatives that matter to the business, weak IT governance could be to blame. Do not feel bad if this sounds like your organization. IT alignment is still an area that many business executives are struggling to integrate. In an article for the Wall Street Journal‘s Deloitte Insights, it is explained why a CIO cannot achieve perfect governance without senior support.

A Little Help from My Friends

Could the secret to IT alignment really be as simple as business executives taking more of a vested interest? A lack of IT alignment is not the sole problem or fault of CIOs. It can be traced all the way through an organization to business executives outside of IT. Chris Macmanus, a director with Deloitte’s Technology Strategy & Architecture practice and a former healthcare CIO, states that there are three roles senior business leaders must play for improved IT governance:

  1. Strategic partner
  2. Sponsors of programs and transformations
  3. Long-term stewards of business systems

In order to best allocate investment money, as well as prioritize spending, CIOs need a commitment to collaborate from all of their business leaders. Working with other executives will additionally help the CIO to keep the big picture as the focal point. CFOs and COOs for instance deal in critical areas of strategy that a CIO just cannot be expected to have intimate familiarity in him or herself.

In many cases any project that involves technology will become the responsibility of the CIO, but giving every technology project to the CIO is like assigning every meal with vegetables in it to the “vegan” section of a restaurant menu–it just is not right. Yes, these projects need the help of the CIO and IT’s expertise, but the knowledge other executives have may be more pertinent to the project’s ultimate success. Case to case, it might be best to have someone else be the actual leader on these types of projects and allow for IT to merely provide support.

Business executives are too often so focused on getting the new projects up and running that they lose interest in them once they are actually in production. The CIO needs to work with executives to keep a watchful eye on these projects and protect the long-term health. McManus explains:

Senior leaders are just as accountable for maintenance decisions and the delivery of ongoing business services as they are for initial investment decisions, and they should prepare to increase their involvement in decisions about business systems, especially as the transition to cloud-based offerings intensifies. . . Of course, it’s incumbent on CIOs to clarify for business executives the long-term financial, operational, and risk implications of maintenance and investment decisions, but that’s a topic unto itself.

The bottom line is that the CIO is just one person, the same as a CFO or a CEO, and executives must be mindful that there is a limit to what one person can do without support. Senior leaders must work together to ensure the best IT governance results. You can read the original article here: http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2015/06/22/the-role-of-senior-leaders-in-it-governance/

About Danielle Koehler

Profile photo of Danielle Koehler
Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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