IT Governance (Not) on Board

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Many CIOs assume -- and let's face it, sometimes rightly so -- that it is their fault if IT is not viewed as a business enabler. However the author of "IT Governance: A Manager's Guide" points the finger of blame at a company's board of directors.


"IT governance is the board's job," says Alan Calder in a recent silicon.com article. The problem, he says, is that many boards are comprised of old fogeys who have assistants print out their e-mails for them. "They are just simply from the wrong generation."


A recent Deloitte survey spotlights several problems in how boards view IT. While 67 percent of board members said that "IT strategy is important and should be discussed at the board level," only 11 percent of them said IT is discussed at every meeting. Of a dozen "strategic issues or areas" included in the Deloitte study, IT scored the lowest in board involvement, with only 14 percent of boards saying they are "completely and actively involved" in IT strategy.


Similar results were found by researcher Steve Andriole. Just 19 percent of respondents to his recent survey said that boards were "routinely" informed of IT activities at their companies. Thirty-seven percent said boards were informed of major IT projects, while 29 percent of companies informed board members only about special projects.


In an interview with IT Business Edge, Andriole says technology gets short shrift from boards for three reasons: The history of IT has not stressed board involvement. Many companies have a tactical, rather than a strategic, view of IT. And (echoing Calder), there is a general lack of technology expertise on boards.


It's high time boards take a more active role, Andriole says. "Our dependency on IT has never been greater. " You can read the entire interview with Andriole here.


Is there anything else, besides getting some young and tech-savvy blood on the board, that companies can do to improve their IT governance? Calder suggests the next best thing is appointing a committee of non-IT executives to monitor large IT projects.