Governance, one of those words that when you say it as a CIO to a front line business manager, you hear “enable” and they hear “molasses”. Why is that? Why are we in IT thinking and saying one thing, and the business is hearing something else? It all comes down to results. The front line businesses and their management are concerned primarily with service delivery. We in IT are seen sometimes as getting in the way, and not making a way. Time for that to change……. Are you ready ?
Many IT organizations and individuals have been developing and implementing, upgrading and enhancing their structured approach to managing projects, and portfolios. There has been a huge focus on this in the private and public sector over the past 15-20 years. In many organizations this structured approach to delivery has dramatically increased the ability to deliver more solutions and systems. To many this is commonly known as Project Management, PMI, IT PMO. Project management is not only found in the IT sector, the disciplines are applied to the building and construction sector, aerospace and defense, oil and gas, the list is endless.
Project management is one aspect of IT Governance, an important aspect, the one that usually gets most of the attention. Projects consume resources (people and money), they are implemented to meet one or more business needs and there is usually some element of time, meaning a deadline that drives a project. What about the rest of the operation. Is it only the projects that are big, the ones with large capital budgets that get completed. What about all of the other business needs, the ones that can be solved by creating a spreadsheet, linking a couple of databases, what about that side of the business. Many IT organizations ignore the so called “Cottage IT” groups in their company, hoping that they would just fade off into the distance, or get swallowed up by some large central IT restructuring project.
Not every IT project comes with a 100 page charter a 50 person project team and a $1million budget.
LETS GET REAL, these business needs are not going away, and each new day, young IT savvy resources are entering the workforce. You know these are the people who have ONLY KNOWN COMPUTERS. I should
know I have two of them living with me and they are very bright. This next generation, as I call them Generation C (connected) is not only highly connected they are very savvy and create an application in a matter of minutes. The IT industry has come up with a name for this approach to solution development, it is called “Situational Application”.
“Situational applications are a way for people with domain expertise to create applications in a very short time — the whole idea is in less than five minutes.” IBM web futurist David Boloker
So how do we embrace this new world, a world that is already within our organizations. There is no possible way to stop the overwhelming resources who are making new applications on a daily basis, and frankly why would we stop people who are making things happen, automating manual processes, streamlining analysis. As IT leaders and CIO’s we do have a responsibility to ensure that the information within an organization is available to the right people at the right time to execute the business functions, make decisions and plan for the future. Information must be collected at source, managing through the business process and stored and archived when and as required to service the business. It is time to embrace this new world. To extend our governance beyond project management and into the operation of the business in order to enable. We need to provide guidance to the business, they need to be able to create solutions within their backyard that they can use to run their business, and then when they come out of their backyard, they need to understand what protocols need to be in place to function in the broader context.
Lets take a quick look at the University of Guelph Chief Information Officer and Chief Librarian Michael Ridley. Mr. Ridley has recently published on his website a position paper regarding an IT Governance model for the University of Guelph. I am intrigued by references within the paper, which speak to the roles and responsibilities of both the central IT function and those practicing IT in the various groups within the University.
“The Integrated Plan for the Office of the CIO, the iCampus, recognizes both the need for local autonomy and innovation, and the need for standards and the cost effective
provision of common infrastructure.” Michael Ridley
This is exactly what I am talking about, the ability to maintain innovation and solutions development within the front line and overlay that with central standards to ensure that everyone within an organization is practicing IT the same way. This is about making things happen. Mr. Ridley draws elements of his governance model from an amazing resource at MIT, the Centre for Information Systems Research. This centre has incredible resources on IT Governance, Enterprise Architecture and much more.
So it is time to embrace the knowledge and power of those IT savvy resources within our organizations. To provide them with an environment where innovation and solutions are developed locally ensuring alignment with centrally controlled corporate IT standards. It is time to extend governance beyond the glass house and into the field, to ignite our organizations on to achieving phenomenal outcomes.
Time to ENABLE !