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The Need for Governance Dashboards

by William Laurent, William Laurent, Inc.Thursday, February 7, 2008

Corporate Governance is about effective end-to-end knowledge and control of the enterprise. IT Governance is a subset of Corporate Governance which provides the context and communication for understanding an enterprise’s business rules and how they are best supported by operational assets. In order to execute overall corporate strategy and ensure tactical best practices, the ability to continuously and competently assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the organization will be baked into corporate values.

It is no surprise that most executives still suffer from a daily lack of visibility into business operations, especially those surrounding Information technology and related infrastructure expenditures. Even a limited understanding of how IT can better serve the business, spotting opportunities for better alignment of IT with business strategy, remains elusive. Some IT organizations have found that less than half of their ongoing projects have a direct correlation to a vital business objective. Recent polls of CIOs and business executives continue to reveal that aligning the goals of IT and the business is still a top priority. It is now realized that the alignment of IT and business begins and ends with policy and best practices that are rooted in governance. Alignment of IT strategy and business strategy will be the byproduct of having strong IT Governance structures and processes that have matured to a level where they are considered to be part of the corporate culture. However, real life shows that little progress has been made in this area, that many organizations remain mired in a non-matured or initial phase of strategy alignment, if there is any implementation effort at all.

A solid IT Governance dashboard should start out with clearly defined and measurable goals. From a high-level, the most critical will be as follows:

  • The alignment of IT with the business in order to better assist in strategic objectives
  • The delivery of value by IT to all supported business units
  • The management and mitigation of IT and business-related risks

Specific value propositions or value missions should be thought of in terms of helping mature critical areas of the business through the dashboarding of governance. Some of the most common of these will be: 

  • Demand Management: to improve IT-Business service levels
  • Risk Management: to assess and mitigate all classifications or risk
  • Business Continuity: to assure uninterrupted business operations under any condition
  • Compliance Management: to increase support and accountability in regulatory issues
  • Portfolio Management: to drive consensus about what investments best suit the business
  • Business Intelligence: to empower with strategic, customized, and actionable knowledge

Using industry best practices in service management and standardized governance methodologies and frameworks such as ITIL, Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), and CPR, dashboards should  help clients architect solutions and best practices tailored to their unique business objectives and regulatory  environment. In Corporate Governance there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all continual expertise will be needed in integrating new or existing vendor tools and software as appropriate; striving to combine top-down planning with bottom-up execution. The execution of a well-balanced IT Governance policy should enhance business profit and value delivery while helping to greatly mitigate a multitude of IT and business risks. This strategic alignment will be made possible through best practices in methodology, measures, and knowledge.

Methodology. Cutting edge best practices and standards such as CPR, COSO, COBIT, ISO, ITIL, and more.

Measures. Balanced Scorecarding based on industry accepted standards and performance indicators for such things as process, policy, data, and service levels: What is not defined cannot be managed; what is not managed cannot be measured; what is not measured cannot be improved!

Knowledge. Complete stewardship and best practices around all “asset classes” of enterprise information—from vanilla data, to intellectual property, to business rules, to unstructured knowledge.

 Successful companies must cultivate a better understanding of how IT can enable business objectives and reduce all dimensions of risk around the enterprise: Successful companies have IT Governance integrated into their corporate core values through the use of cutting edge governance dashboards. Aligning IT and business strategy is the most fundamental factor that must be addressed in order to secure high levels of return on IT investments, assure business continuity, improve worker productivity, and reduce external and internal threats to operations, reputation, and company portfolios.

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