Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why Successful IT Absolutely Needs Project Governance

The good Governance Practices are not for Controlling, but for Enabling. 

Project Governance, or more broadly IT governance’s magic lies in guiding an organization from beginning to maturity. Lay out the formula, implement it, and corporate leaders say: “that does make sense.” Good governance takes into consideration of the organization's ability to absorb more change or invest more in technology, as well as IT ability to execute the changes requested. IT cannot or should not take on additional projects for reasons outside of how overwhelmed IT is. One big stumbling block is being able to measure time spent on current projects and then estimate resources for future projects.

Executives are tasked with three things - looking out for the top line, the bottom line, and risk. Governance works much better when CIOs are empowered in a strategic role and have a seat at the big table. When the IT organization is only being percept as a maintenance center, things do not work very well and IT is usually very operational and reactive. The good governance practices are not just for controlling, but for enabling business running at optimal speed.

One thing about governance is that you need to be agile - and the traditional budget process doesn't necessarily work with an "experiment often, fail quickly" approach. Project governance, or more broadly IT governance needs also to follow the KISS –Keep it Simple principle. Delivery of IT Services is complex and requires in-depth technical expertise. As the more complex you make a process, the more likely it will not be followed, and technical professionals will develop their own procedures that are simple but may not be consistent. However, if the process is straight forward and does not overburden the delivery with complex and convoluted process, technical people will "go along" and the whole delivery becomes more streamlined and reliable.
The formula to begin Project Governance is to have:
1). A mechanism to develop the list of current and proposed projects
2). Criteria against which to judge the list (ROI, regulatory, etc.)
3). Understanding the future work hours (by role) that will be involved in both proposed and committed projects
4). Capability to compare project demand (in hours) against resource supply (in hours) and be able to do this for a variety of scenarios.

Governance is not about maximization but about optimization. Optimization could be a term applied to good governance. Governance is a neutral term which is useful in having the ability to discuss bad governance with terms such as waste, corruption, inefficiency etc. Governance is the structure and processes of authority, responsibility and accountability in a business or organization.


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