Consider the results of a question from Diamond’s most recent Digital IQ survey asking for indications of project success. Aside from the provision of a high quality computing platform, consistent project delivery has got to be one of the primary ways to measure IT’s value to the business. In this year’s survey, fewer than 50% said that projects were delivered on-time and only 16% said they delivered all of the features and capabilities initially planned. What is wrong here? Some would say that this is a governance problem – how could IT leaders constantly allow projects to continue to burn time and money without intervention?
I would argue that IT governance does not work if it is treated as separate set of overlays on top of the core day-to-day processes. In my experience, many of the performance improvements IT governance is intended to fix cannot be fixed by governance alone.
What is likely at fault in the project delivery case, is not a lack of IT governance, but rather poorly understood, poorly trained, poorly documented and poorly enforced set of work processes. In the case of IT project delivery, an organization’s use of its chosen software development lifecycle processes, or SDLC, while often talked about, is usually at the root of the problem. Symtopms of this problem that I often hear:
- “We use the vendor’s/outsourcer’s methodology” (you need one too to drive the action)
- “We have a standard set of templates” (that’s not enough)
- “We use (fill in the name of a project workplanning tool)” (a tool cannot replace a well-defined and followed process)
Enterprise architecture (EA) is another area where governance is often applied. In the case of EA, lack of a solid core process is also often to blame in poor architecture adherence and adoption. Again, organizations must spend the time to enhance its project planning and SDLC processes with the proper EA tasks instead of simply adding an EA governance mechanism on top of a set of immature or broken core processes.
So, before launching a new IT governance design effort, make sure to inspect your core work processes first. They are often at the root of the problem. IT governance does work, but only when designed along with the processes it is supposed to help.
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