Mike MacDonagh's Blog

Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

What is Governance?

I’ve recently been writing an article on Governance in IT organisations and thought I’d publish the introduction here. The article goes on to discuss Strategic Frameworks and Processes, Governance Functions, Roles and Rights, Data Analysis and Remediation Mechanisms and will probably be made public sooner or later when I finish writing it!

“Governance” is defined as the means by which the leading authority guides and monitors the values and goals of an organization.

Because this definition uses some very broad terms such as “leading authority” and “organization” it is possible to apply the concept of governance recursively in IT organizations. There is governance in teams, projects, programmes, portfolios, departments and any other organizational unit.

Governance strategies are most effective when they are designed and explicit. In the absence of cohesive integrated governance between these various organizational layers the values and goals of an organization can become emergent due to the lack of a clear connection between the executive strategy and the work being executed at the coal face. This situation is typified by project practitioners being unaware of how their work relates and contributes to the global strategy and layers in between.

The “means” referred to in the definition above refer to practices, processes, procedures, standards, rules and criteria related to the execution of business decisions executed by real people within their tool environments.

Effective governance relies on known standards for strategic management, programme and portfolio management as well as project management and execution. This enables individuals in an organization to make the right decisions at the right time based on accurate data. Governance is often described as a mechanism for empowering individuals with the rights they should have and a clear delineation and integration of these rights from the rights exercised by other roles. Because governance strategies can involve a lot of data process management based on data analysis there is a strong case for automating parts of a governance strategy with tools.



One response to “What is Governance?

  1. Faisal July 23, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Nice introduction, I look forward to the complete article.


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