What's IT Governance and What Companies Need to Know About It? by Sonali Datta

Introduction

Technology and innovation are the lifeblood of any organization, big or small, global or local and hence the importance of an IT team within a company cannot be underestimated at any cost. This is the team that regulates communication, information flow, and technology usage within the entire organization amongst all stakeholders. In fact, modern organizations depend heavily on their IT teams, without which they become dysfunctional. Having said that, it is important to ensure that companies have an invincible IT governance framework and structure in place that would provide the IT team with a direction that is strategic to the overall business objectives of the organization. A well-structured IT governance implies that IT investments are reasonably realized with legitimate returns and it also builds the groundwork for robust enterprise information security.

What is IT governance?

IT governance can be defined as a set of processes and policies that drive a company and its employees to effectively and judiciously leverage IT to achieve the overall business goals. Through a well-structured IT governance framework, companies are able to imbibe processes that oversee the entire circle of IT operations, management and production – including elements like implementation of IT policies, information security, measurable business benefits, IT compliance, business regulations, IT investments and performance, IT usage by employees, integration of tools, software and platforms, IT risks and security concerns.

The IT governance process is fixed considering the following principles:

  • Risks or key concerns: Company should ensure that the IT measures and controls work in adjustment and in balance in terms of the levels of risks.
  • Business aptness: The organizational needs and core business objectives determine the extent and level of IT governance style and framework.
  • User behavior: Elements like user behavior, skillset, and corporate culture should be considered before finalizing the IT governance policies.
  • Deployment stage: The IT governance structure and policies are ideally deployed and implemented on an incremental basis as it can’t be done at one go.
  • Process automation: Appropriate technologies play a role in empowering and automating the entire IT governance strategy, making it unobtrusive and authoritative.

So, what are the three core functionalities of IT governance?

In simple words, IT governance is the fabric that necessarily defines how the IT departmental structure will operate in a manner that will support the business in the best ways while mitigating risks and adhering to compliance and standards. It is important to ensure that the IT resources are fully leveraged to achieve desired corporate goals. What are the three key action areas of IT governance?

  1. A powerful and vigilant IT governance helps companies avoid some major technology mishaps or security hassles where critical IT glitches and failures can result in major communication lapses leading to loss of business.
  2. An invincible IT governance framework ensures adequate support and self-sufficient IT systems and infrastructure that can protect the company from multiple cybersecurity hazards and business risks by being proactive in protecting company data and processes.
  3. A strategic IT governance with well-laid standards ensures that the company’s regulations regarding confidentiality, data retention, security compliance, user accountability, financial aspect, and disaster recovery are in sync with the IT processes and systems.

Decision makers should keep the IT governance best practices in mind

Once an IT governance framework is finalized, it will be the responsibility of the higher management and decision-makers to ensure that the set of defined IT standards are strategically aligned with the overall business goals and objectives of the company. The company decision-makers are expected to follow some guidelines when it comes to IT governance.

Take initiatives: They should take up leadership initiatives to drive the entire process of IT governance from initiation to completion to make sure that the governance framework is realistic, practical, prescriptive and flexible for the organization. It is crucial to inform and educate employees about the importance of IT governance and compliance at all levels.

Assess risks: Before understanding the scope and limitations of a comprehensive ITGF (IT Governance Framework) along with a robust IT security strategy, the leaders should deeply assess the major security risks and concerns that the company can be exposed to in the future and the necessary steps that should be taken to facilitate fast resolution.

Choose a framework: The four major IT governance frameworks that a company can choose from are ISO 9001:2015 (International Service Management Standard for IT service management), ITIL (The Information Technology Infrastructure Library), COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technologies) and FAIR (Factor Analysis of Information Risk). Ideally, companies are expected to first set their IT governance objectives before selecting the governance framework that will work best for the business structure.

Implement policies: Company management heads and directors need to take measures to implement the IT governance policies across the enterprise  architecture, to which the departmental heads and every employee will have to adhere. It is imperative for the top management leaders to be active, willing and informed about how to execute these policies and practices along with a stepwise strategy.

Supervise IT usage: Leaders are expected to provide strategic supervision and analysis of the gravity of information security and its alignment with organizational structure. It is a must for them to endorse and implement a comprehensive information security program and involve employees to assess its adequacy and effectiveness by allowing them to leverage it at work.

Create a team to drive ITGF: It is a mandate for the enterprise leaders to create a team of experts who can drive, monitor and analyze the IT governance operations to ensure that enterprise information security is not jeopardized at any situation. There should be a representative from all departments to share their views, insights, and intelligence to review IT policies, standards, and processes on a regular basis.

Conduct audits: Setting the company-wide IT governance and information security policies should be followed by conducting periodic reviews and audits to revamp the program and to ensure that everybody in the company is adhering to the IT regulations. The team in charge should monitor if the framework is working smoothly within set IT standards and it is also imperative to predict and depict any IT rule violation from beforehand and take necessary actions against the same.

Conclusion

Today’s organizations are far more informed and intelligent to understand the growing role of a powerful IT governance in gaining protection against multiple security risks. A strong IT compliance and regulations system is a must for a company to meet all regulatory and legal obligations mentioned in the GDPR. Most importantly, stakeholders and customers are more at ease to do business with companies with time-tested IT governance framework, which works as a shield against all sorts of cyber-attacks.


About the Author:

Sonali brings over 10 years of practical experience in analyzing, exploring and writing for information technology, enterprise software, business strategy, technological innovations, enterprise mobility, digital technologies, and business sustainability. With an extensive background of working with global IT and software companies, she maintains a customer-centric, value-driven and problem-solving approach in her write-ups. Sonali is currently working for Scalefusion.


 References:

July 15, 2019

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