by Mark Chillingworth

Governance is in everything CIOs do

Jun 10, 20093 mins
Financial Services IndustryGovernmentIT Leadership

Leading CIOs responding to the CIO UK debate on IT governance described how governance is in everything they do. Neil Ward-Dutton of analyst house MWD sparked the debate off with his article: IT Governance: Is anyone eating their greens? In this he said:

IT Governance is something that we all instinctively know is a worthwhile endeavour – but few organisations have formal programmes in place. In good times, efforts like IT Governance always sound good but somehow we never get around to starting – just as it’s easy to ignore the advice to eat five portions of fruit and veg every day when you’re outwardly healthy. Maybe today’s tough business environment will change the picture?

The “G” word has become a fashionable badge for technologies and technology practices over the past couple of years. I often joke that “Governance” is often used a little like “Architecture” – just as “Architecture” is often used as a more sexy way of saying “design” (that’s so last century, isn’t it?) “Governance” is often used as a more sexy way of saying “management”. Now we’re bombarded with terms like Data Governance; Project Governance; Information Security Governance; Application Governance; SOA Governance; and more. In this environment it’s easy to get jaded and “switch off” – but the concept of IT Governance predates the current fashion for using the G-word, and what’s more there’s an established body of industry work (including ISO standards) that aims to provide prescriptive guidance for practitioners. On the LinkedIn CIO communities a wide number of commentators and CIOs said the current economic downturn is the ideal opportunity to invest in governance and to push it up the IT and business strategy agenda. CIO UK spoke to two IT leaders in British business to discuss the subject with them. Jora Gill is vp for international business systems at Standard & Poor’s, the highly influential financial ratings organisation. He runs his division from the organisation’s Canary Wharf office. Dave Williams is IT Director of, the online price checking service for insurance. He has also been an IT leader in the airline industry and the public sector. “Governance is a word that is banded about in IT,” Gill says. From his own experience Gill sees governance, important though it is, as nothing more than a set of metrics for measuring the various practices of IT. He says the maturity that IT currently exhibits means it has sets of metrics and he can present these to the senior management at Standard & Poors. “CIOs cover a lot of areas, so they have to have measurements and PMO offices to govern these and we are seeing a lot more of this.” Williams at agrees. “Governance is important. Every skill in any business requires standards, auditing and vetting.

“I think a lot of organisation have had it [governance] in the past, but didn’t call it governance.” Williams expects there to be more standards coming into the business world as a result of the global recession and because of the fall of banks like Lehman Brothers. His own organisation is governed by the Financial Services Authority. Having come from the airline industry, which is heavily regulated in many areas, Williams says he is comfortable with governance.

Response Summary

To read the original MWD article on IT governance, IT Governance: Is anyone eating their greens? click here.

Full Response

To read the responses to the original articles from the CIO LinkedIn communities, click here.