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IT Governance


MIT CISR research has found that firms with effective IT governance have 20% higher profits than their competitors. We define IT governance as a framework for decision rights and accountability to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT. This definition distinguishes governance from IT management. IT management is the daily decision making and implementation activities around the firm’s use of IT. Governance identifies who will make key IT decisions and how will they be held accountable. Good governance is enabling and reduces bureaucracy and dysfunctional politics by formalizing organizational learning and thus avoiding the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again. Our research has found that effective IT governance has several key elements:

  1. IT governance focuses on a small set of critical IT-related decisions: IT principles, enterprise architecture, IT infrastructure capabilities, business application needs, and IT investment and prioritization. (Slide: Five Key IT Decisions Need to be Governed).
  2. IT governance relies on a limited set of governance mechanisms (e.g. committees, project management, business cases, architecture exception processes) designed to ensure effective use of IT (e.g., State Street Corp.: Evolving IT Governance) and slide: Business IT Engagement Model.
  3. Simplify IT governance and represent it on one page: see “A Matrixed Approach to Designing IT Governance” (Sloan Management Review, Reprint #46208) and Six IT Decisions Your IT People Shouldn’t Make and slide: State Street’s IT Governance on One Page).
  4. Determine what should be shared at enterprise, sector and BU levels and govern at that level (e.g., Governance of Global Shared Solutions at Procter & Gamble).
  5. Centralize decision making for cost focus—decentralize for innovation/growth and blended governance to achieve both. Self assess your IT governance performance and compare to our research (How Effective Is Your IT Governance? and slide: Governance Lessons from Leaders).
  6. IT governance engages stakeholders at multiple organizational levels (Engagement Matters: Enhancing Alignment with Governance Mechanisms and slide: Business IT Engagement Model ).
Also, on the classic pages, the slide show has slides, but they are too small to read, and it’s not clear where you get to see the whole thing. I think we should either delete the slide show or let people know where they can actually read those slides.


Business IT Engagement ModelState Street's IT Governance on One PageGovernance Lessons from LeadersFive Key IT Decisions Need to be Governed


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Title Author Type Date
The Metamorphosis of the IT UnitPeppard, JosephResearch Briefing2019-07-18
Learning How to Test and LearnFonstad, Nils O.
Ross, Jeanne W.
Research Briefing2018-02-15
To Develop Acceptable Data Use, Build Company NormsWixom, Barbara H.
Markus, M. Lynne
Research Briefing2017-04-20
Is Your Company a Digital Leader or a Digital Laggard?Weill, Peter
Woerner, Stephanie L.
González, Francisco
Research Briefing2017-03-16
Your Newest Governance Challenge: Protecting and Exploiting Your Digital ServicesUmbach, Christian
Ross, Jeanne W.
Research Briefing2017-02-16