CIOIT Governance

3 Ways CIOs Can Achieve Consistent Efficiency with Governance

Some of the best minds in IT governance hold the opinion that governance is sorely misunderstood. As Jen Skrabak writing for The Enterprisers Project tells us, the only way that CIOs can achieve consistent and reliable governance is to straighten out the misconceptions. For starters, we could decide which sort of governance we are talking about.

A collective discussion is brewing among project managers in both local and international circles about what it means to have “good governance.” Skrabak says that most often, the word itself is applied erroneously. When IT practitioners discuss governance, they could actually be talking about one of three different things:

  • Organizational governance
  • Project management governance
  • Functional governance


They could be referring to organizational governance, which is a board-level phenomenon. The organization needs procedural oversight that includes its fiduciary, legal, and regulatory compliance responsibilities. So unless you’re on the board, or associated with it, there’s little chance of having influence at this level (though it may certainly effect everyday IT operations).

Project Management

Then there is project management governance, which includes program and portfolio management. Skrabak has a low opinion of the way PM governance is currently handled at most organizations:

Sometimes people think of this as how you actually execute your projects with project management over the project life cycle. The lack of integration and degree of project/portfolio overlap I see demonstrates that very few organizations have defined project management governance to the degree it should be.


Functional governance, by contrast, is where groups like IT reside. Some companies have a different functional governance unit for every product being developed in an independent business area. Skrabak warns here that governance, true to its name, is no more than a “bureaucratic speed bump” unless held to standard in four areas:

  1. Process
  2. Structure
  3. Functionality
  4. Decision-making authority

When one speaks of “IT governance,” it is important to remember that it exists mainly at the functional level. But the other forms of governance, organizational and project management, are also important to consider as they will ultimately impact, and create the context for, IT operations.

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