Lines of Authority

When Gil Lithgow joined CitiPower as CIO a little less than four years ago he quickly discovered how little formal IT governance was in place. Sure, the business was meant to put up a business case to justify each and every item of IT expenditure, but there were no checks or tests to show the so-called business benefits of any expenditure.

As a result, Lithgow discovered something like 170 projects that had either started or were slated to start, or that people were trying to get up and running by working on various different forms of justification. The actual business benefit to be gained from many of those projects was so minimal that Lithgow, the executive management team and their direct reports easily culled the number to just 36 projects. In the end, he reports, only 16 were ever done.

The organisation is not suffering a jot for all the culling. In fact, after spending $6.5 million and plenty of energy on building and implementing a rigorous IT governance model, Lithgow says CitiPower is achieving vastly better rigour, discipline and alignment. In each of the three years of the governance program so far CitiPower has consistently achieved everything it set out to achieve in IT, within the original budgets defined. A recent review by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded that CitiPower has largely delivered on its vision and, as Lithgow says,"it's all been done because we've been quite rigid in following our governance model".

Governance, says Lithgow, is about getting the business to own all of what it does, as opposed to leaving IT with the techos - a recipe that in his opinion practically guarantees expensive outcomes.

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