IT steering committees were cited as the most mature IT management practice addressed in a recent survey by Computer Economics. As our Ann All reports in her post, of the 80 percent of organizations that said they have steering committees in the tumultuous world of IT management-only 60 percent of the shops said they believe they are making full use of them.
Ann goes on to say that there are concerns that IT steering committees may, by their nature, be a little slow in responding to quick market changes and may be hindered by unwillingness by the CFO to actually fund such an initiative.
These concerns speak to the highly aggressive vision of an IT steering committee as the caucus that finally builds elusive "alignment" between the business and tech. That's the "full use" that many enterprises are not quite seeing. But as a baseline, an IT steering committee can be a great device for establishing polices and standards that everybody in the business agrees to. Strategy and vision can come later.
Our partners at Toolkit Cafe have developed an IT Steering Committee Charter Template that your business can use to set the basic framework for a committee to focus on internal polices and governance. The template is available free to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.
The two-page Word template states explicitly that the purpose of the charter is to:
... establish the existence of the IT Steering Committee and document the standards by which the IT Steering Committee shall establish policies, standards, and procedures to be enforced throughout the organization.
That's a pretty broad-sweeping statement, but it quickly establishes that line-of-business managers are not at liberty to tell employees that those thumbs drives they love are A-OK, despite what IT says. Sad to say, that's a big step in a lot of organizations.
Other key tenants of the charter template include:
As the IT steering committee grows, its authorities and responsibilities can grow to include project review and strategic planning. But having a policy body with real teeth is the first step toward that level of maturity.