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From “IT Governance” to “Governance of Enterprise IT”

| Published: 9/6/2011 9:16 AM | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)
Steven De Haes, Ph.D.
Steven De Haes
After the emergence of IT governance concepts, the notion received a lot of attention. However, due to the focus on IT in the naming of the concept, many IT governance implementations are still mainly an issue within IT. Yet, one would expect that the business would and should take a leading role. It is clear that business value from IT investments cannot be realized by the IT function, but will always be created by the business through its use of IT.
Acknowledging the prime accountability of the business in value creation initiated a shift in the definition of “IT governance,” focusing on the business involvement and moving toward “governance of enterprise IT (GEIT).” As defined in Wim Van Grembergen’s and my 2009 book, Enterprise Governance of IT:  Achieving Strategic Alignment and Value (Springer), GEIT is an integral part of corporate governance and addresses the definition and implementation of processes, structures and relational mechanisms in the organizations that enable both business and IT personnel to execute their responsibilities in support of business-IT alignment and the creation of business value from IT-enabled investments. GEIT clearly goes beyond the IT-related responsibilities and expands toward (IT-related) business processes needed for business value creation. ISACA frameworks such as Val IT and the upcoming COBIT 5 fully embrace these concepts.
This change in naming and focus may appear subtle and not groundbreaking, but it implies a crucial shift in the minds of business people. In practice, this mind shift will not happen by itself or by changing the name of the concepts. We do, however, believe that chief information officers (CIOs) and senior IT management are in a unique position to act as change agents in the organization and to realize the business buy-in over time. In the recent Journal article that I coauthored with Dirk Gemke, John Thorpe and Van Grembergen, we showcased how an 18-person strong CIO office continuously promotes and demonstrates the value of better GEIT principles and practices, enabling pragmatic and practical, well-defined small steps toward better governance. This, of course, requires highly skilled and experienced people who are “accepted” by the business and IT stakeholders, understand the real business issues, can clarify the IT impact, and identify potential IT-enabled innovations. In the end, though, we clearly observed in this case that, IT, through the CIO office, acted as an “invisible hand” in obtaining full engagement of all business stakeholders and, as such, managed to get the IT governance discussion outside the IT area and into the business responsibilities.
Read Steven De Haes, Dirk Gemke, John Thorpe and Wim Van Grembergen’s recent Journal article:


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