Business Technology Governance — An Update On Our Research

Craig Symons and I are undertaking an initiative to refurbish Forrester's research content on business technology (BT) governance. Here's an update:

Since we launched this initiative in September 2012 with the report “The Future Of Business Technology Governance," we have added two more documents to our collection. The first, “The What And How Of Decision-Making,” discusses the types of outcomes BT governance needs to deliver and the activities producing these outcomes. The second document, “The Who Of Business Technology Decision-Making,” overviews the structures, roles, and responsibilities that make the governance outcomes and activities happen.

We plan to add more research and organize it around the six building blocks illustrated in the following figure:

The assumption underlying the entire collection is that BT governance is IT governance done well — a process that builds consensus among business stakeholders on how to effectively evaluate, prioritize, direct, and track technology investments for optimal business results.

Based on the research done so far, we believe that BT governance requires strong CIOs who are able to master the art and science of building three reinforcing capabilities:

1.   A framework for organizing and managing decision-making and decision-support processes, such as strategy development, portfolio management, sourcing, program and project management, performance measurements, and communications. The framework formalizes steering structures, roles, and responsibilities, and it provides the management tools required to make the processes and the entire organization work.

2.   An information base that captures decision-support insights and makes them available to business stakeholders in plain business language, in terms of spending levels, investment priorities, sourcing alternatives, quality and compliance specifications, risk evaluations, resource assessments, and communication plans for the entire organization.

3.   A change strategy for turning BT governance into a continuous improvement process. When designing this process, CIOs need to take into account dynamic factors such as the level of diversification and distribution of the organization, the stakeholders’ readiness to accept accountability for technology-related business decisions, the level of technology expertise of the business community, the level of integration of IT in the business, and IT’s visibility and acceptance as a business partner.

During the coming month, we plan to add two new documents to the Forrester collection. The first one is about governance measurements and communications, while the second illustrates practitioners’ views and examples of how different change approaches have worked so far. While working on these documents, we are keen to hear about your experiences, be they good or not-so-good, with IT governance implementations — what works and what doesn’t. Please also let us know if you have any questions, comments, or recommendations.

Thank you!