If you want to scale your business, all departments must contribute to the same end objectives. In the case of your Information Technology (IT) department, having the right governance documents in place can help ensure you meet your business goals. 🤩
An IT department is one of the most expensive departments of any company, funding data centers, software, devices, and other services. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending is expected to hit $4.6 trillion in 2023, a 5.5% increase from 2022. That said, running a well-oiled IT department is essential to company profits.
To ensure all IT activities support your overall business objectives, you need an IT governance framework. Below, we explain what an IT governance framework is, the benefits of an IT governance program, and the role it plays in corporate governance.
- What is IT Governance?
- Roles and Responsibilities of IT Governance
- The Significance of an IT Governance Process in Modern Businesses
- Advantages of Applying IT Governance
- How to Implement an IT Governance Plan
What is IT Governance?
IT governance is an essential part of any business, ensuring your IT strategy aligns with your business goals. Like other areas of corporate governance, it helps upper management make quick decisions and run the company effectively.
IT governance ensures your IT department understands how its decisions impact the company vision. In addition, IT government helps ensure your company stays compliant with business regulations, keeps IT department leads on the same page, and ensures any IT decisions help elevate the value of your business.
What is an IT governance framework?
An IT governance framework is a blueprint to help IT professionals make decisions. Put simply, it maps out how each decision or investment in technology will boost company value, reduce risk, and align with your business initiatives. 🔍
In layman’s terms, an IT governance framework prevents colleagues from “reinventing the wheel” within your IT department. Like many common business documents—SOPs (standard operating procedures), training manuals, and company bylaws—it streamlines repeated work and decision-making processes.
An IT governance framework provides a formal structure for department leaders to create processes, evaluate performance, and plan disaster recovery. Over time, creating this framework will cut down on meetings, emails, and department inefficiencies.
IT governance vs. corporate governance
IT governance is a type of corporate governance.
Corporate governance is a system of rules, processes, and guidelines to help streamline how a corporation is run. It’s a roadmap to define roles for stakeholders and employees, streamline strategic planning, and ensure all departments stay legally compliant.
Corporate governance is used by every team within your company. Therefore, an IT department will draw upon the already-established guidelines within corporate governance to establish its IT governance framework.
Roles and Responsibilities of IT Governance
Having an IT governance framework in place is critical to the success of IT projects and the organization as a whole. Part of that framework is to outline roles and responsibilities for each member of your department.
There are typically four levels of IT governance roles, including:
- Strategic: The highest level of IT governance aligns the department’s strategy with the overall business strategy. This level typically encompasses board members and the CIO
- Executive: The second-highest tier sets the budget and allocates IT resources for each project. This level typically includes upper management (including vice presidents and department leads) that report directly to the CIO
- Program governance: This level manages risk management, IT investments, project management, and cyber security for specific IT projects. This tier is typically carried out by managers and project leads
- Operations: The lowest level of IT governance optimizes the day-to-day operations of the entire department. This level is made up of more junior colleagues within the department
The Significance of an IT Governance Process in Modern Businesses
The main purpose of IT governance is to ensure all IT investments generate value for the company.
Therefore, ineffective IT governance can have lasting, negative effects on modern businesses. Failing to put the proper rules, processes, and strategic objectives in place can weaken department communications or strain the company’s budget.
In addition, poor IT governance practices can lead to the following:
- Mishandling of sensitive data: If sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it could lead to identity theft or fraud for your employees or clients. Not only will this be a technological nightmare for your staff, but it could also lead to legal ramifications
- Data breaches and cybersecurity attacks: In the United States, data breaches are at an all-time high. According to a report by Apple, the first nine months of 2023 saw a staggering 20% increase in data breaches compared to all of 2022. As companies continue to collect personal data from clients and employees, there’s an increasing chance for that data to be exploited by cybercriminals
- Poor allocation of IT budget and resources: In terms of technology, we are living in exponential times—where the latest technology becomes obsolete at an increasingly rapid rate. IT governance ensures companies dedicate the appropriate amount of time, money, and resources to researching the best business tools
- Misunderstanding of IT risks: Data breaches, cyber attacks, and failed IT systems happen because employees don’t know what they’re up against. Risk management is an essential part of IT governance, as it forecasts potential threats to the company
- Not taking change management into account: Corporate governance exists so that companies can run smoothly—no matter who is in charge at any given time. Unfortunately, many corporations rely heavily on long-tenured leaders, failing to document rules, processes, and workflows. Implementing effective IT governance entails planning for major changes in personnel, such as hiring a new CIO
Advantages of Applying IT Governance
The right IT governance framework helps boost the strategic alignment of your company, keep your IT initiatives on budget, and mitigate or prevent security breaches. While the advances of IT governance are endless, here are a few benefits you should know:
- It aligns your IT initiatives with business objectives: This ensures all IT projects contribute to the organization’s goals and ensures appropriate use of funds for the department
- It removes redundancies within the organization: One of the greatest advantages of corporate governance—not just IT governance—is it eliminates repetitive tasks. This can eliminate calendar meetings, shorten project timelines, and prevent purchasing duplicate solutions
- It promotes transparency and communication: Implementing IT governance processes ensures that roles and responsibilities are clearly articulated. This helps streamline communication throughout the department, as junior colleagues know exactly which manager to go to with questions or concerns on a given project
- Cyber attacks are escalated quickly: With the increasing threat of cyber security threats, IT teams need to be prepared for when (not if) an attack strikes. Briefing the entire team on the detailed protocols of what to do in the case of a security breach can help lessen the blow to the organization
- It ensures regulatory compliance: There are numerous laws and regulations related to handling secure data. The right IT governance framework ensures all IT business operations stay compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISM), the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA), the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), and other regulations
- It improves customer service: Every person knows how frustrating it can be to wait on hold with an IT department. Creating an IT governance framework ensures any tech support lines are properly staffed, your team has the proper training on how to troubleshoot issues, and team members know how to escalate particularly difficult requests. Plus, implementing workflow automations for frequently asked questions or requests can help shorten wait times or help customers fix issues on their own
- It boosts employee productivity: The right IT governance protocols empower employees to perform better at work. Your framework should include the proper employee training and onboarding processes to get IT professionals up to speed on the roles, workflows, and guidelines of the department
- Reduce technology costs: The overhead associated with your IT department is likely staggering—both in terms of employees and infrastructure. While IT professionals are often paid a healthy salary, ensuring the proper training, onboarding, and internal processes can prevent you from over-hiring. In addition, ensuring you invest in the right systems and software can decrease your IT infrastructure costs
- It takes control of social media and other communication channels: A large amount of corporate communication happens outside the company firewall—particularly within social media and instant messaging platforms. Having the proper IT functions in place ensures information and data stays secure, no matter where it’s located
- It educates the entire company on the use of IT: Contrary to popular belief, an IT governance framework isn’t just built for your IT department. Instead, the right IT governance protocols educate all departments on how to keep data security and prevent cyber security threats
How to Implement an IT Governance Plan
Want to create an IT governance framework but don’t know where to start? Below, we dive into a step-by-step guide on how to align IT initiatives with your company goals.
1. Establish short and long term goals
Gather your board and executive team to conduct strategic planning for the upcoming year. Once your company-wide goals are established, meet with your CIO and upper management to establish annual, quarterly, and monthly goals for your IT team.
2. Look at historical data
The best way to plan for the future is to look at the past.
Review past years’ security breaches and cyber threats, review projects that went over budget or didn’t complete on time, review common complaints from customers, and meet with managers to see which employees are underperforming. Improving areas that proved problematic in the past could help boost resource management, risk mitigation, and decision-making processes in the future.
3. Find a starting point
There are plenty of existing methodologies from which you can build your IT governance framework.
Note: Some certifications may be warranted to understand these models. You may need to partner with a consultant to uncover which model works best for your organization.
Some popular methodologies include:
- COBIT: The Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT) framework was developed by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). As one of the most popular enterprise IT frameworks, it provides a number of models to increase the value of information systems
- ITIL: The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is built from a list of practices for IT service management to help align IT projects with your overall business needs
- CMMI: The Capability Maturity Model Integration aims to improve business performance by decreasing software risk, improving customer service, and improving your overall product
- COSO: The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations is a performance measurement framework built to ensure your company operates ethically, transparently, and in accordance with industry and international standards
4. Leverage tools to automate repetitive tasks
To improve the lifecycle of each IT initiative, you need to automate duplicate work.
With ClickUp, repetitive tasks become a thing of the past. ClickUp helps software teams collaborate on roadmaps, automate workflows, manage IT requests, and track project progress in real-time.
Looking for more tools? ClickUp Automations offers 100+ workflows to streamline routine tasks and shorten project timelines. Plus, the ClickUp Gantt view keeps your team on the same page by offering a high-level overview of all IT priorities.
5. Run a pilot test for your governance structure
An IT governance framework is meant to be a living document. In other words, don’t use the “set it and forget it” method for your framework.
Instead, set quarterly reviews with the executive team to see how your new IT governance framework meets your end objectives. From there, you can edit your document as you see fit.
Get Your IT Governance Framework Up and Running With ClickUp
The right IT governance framework ensures department goals align with company goals, clearly establishes roles and responsibilities, and reduces repetitive work.
To help get your IT governance framework off the ground, choose ClickUp. ClickUp comes complete with IT templates, a library of automations, multiple views, and thousands of integrations. To see how you can improve company value and boost the productivity of your IT department, try ClickUp today.