Traditional IT governance typically focuses on a command-and-control, documentation-based approach. Teams are expected to adopt and then follow corporate standards and guidelines, to produce (reasonably) consistent artefacts, and to have those artefacts reviewed and accepted through a “quality gate” process.
What Is Governance – To A Business?
IT governance typically addresses areas such as:
- The effective and timely investment in IT to sustain and extend the organization over the long term
- The evolution and support of roles and responsibilities to streamline how people work together
- Definition of decision rights and decision making processes to streamline interactions between people
- The evolution and support of common procedures and guidelines to ensure appropriate commonality of activities and artefacts
- The evolution and support common roadmaps to guide the efforts of IT teams
- The monitoring of activities to provide insight into their effectiveness
- Formation of a governing body that is responsible for guiding governance activities
- Definition of exceptions and escalation processes to streamline critical interactions
- Creation of a knowledge sharing strategy to grow individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole
- The support and monitoring of risk mitigation strategies to promote appropriate and holistic adoption of IT solutions
- Adoption of a reward and compensation structure to support the attraction and retention of excellent staff
- Status reporting to share information throughout the organization
Traditional governance strategies often prove to be both troublesome and ineffective in practice due to the focus on artefact generation and review.
Lean – What Is the Big Deal?
The Lean approach has been developed to identify and eliminate waste in processes to improve efficiency and promote effectiveness. The book “Lean Thinking” (Womack & Jones 1996) explains the Lean philosophy using 5 key elements.
- Identify Value as seen by the customer
- Map the Value Stream
- Create Flow from source to customer
- Initiate Pull
- Pursue Perfection with continuous improvement
“Lean” thinking in service or IT is based on simplicity and achievability of goals. The above concepts boil down to four basic principles of “add nothing but value, empower front line people, add value rapidly and eliminate organisation barriers”.
The above five Lean IT principles, when adopted as part of the Lean IT Governance approach, lay a foundation for streamlined governance processes and facilitate the prevention of unnecessary activity.
Governance in the Lean way
A key challenge is how to maintain good governance, with appropriate oversight and risk coverage, to ensure that investments are well-directed and protected, but without impeding responsiveness or delaying customer value. Thus, IT needs to stream-line and structure its operations in order to create a “Governance” model that is “Lean” in nature.
Lean IT Governance, is a lightweight approach to IT governance that is based on motivating and enabling IT professionals to do what is best for your organization. Lean IT Governance strives to find lightweight, collaborative strategies to address governance areas. It does this by focusing on risk mitigation, not on artifact generation, by leading people not by commanding them, and by enabling people by making the “right things to do” the “easy things to do”.