Decision Making

What do we mean by the term “IT Governance”?

Governance is the method by which IT decisions are made at the University and determines who is held accountable for those decisions (see Clark, 2005).

Key IT decision domains

The University faces decisions to be made in six domains to ensure that IT will operate to support the University’s mission. (see Ross & Weill, 2004)

  1. IT Principles
  2. Enterprise Architecture
  3. IT Architecture
  4. IT Infrastructure
  5. Business Application Needs
  6. IT Investment and Prioritization


Governance Decision Areas

Key Questions

IT Principles

  • What is the enterprise's operating model?
  • What is the role of IT in the business?
  • What are IT-desirable behaviors?
  • How will it be funded?

Enterprise Architecture

  • What are the core business processes of the enterprise? How are they related?
  • What information drives these core processes? How must the data be integrated?
  • What technical capabilities should be standardized enterprise-wide to support IT efficiencies and facilitate process standardization and integration?
  • What activities must be standardized enterprise-wide to support data-integration?

IT Architecture

  • What technical principles guide the choice of and development of solutions?
  • What standards guide the purchase of and design of technical solutions?
  • How is architecture injected into service management, product management, and project portfolio processes?
  • What technology choices will guide the enterprise's approach to IT initiatives?

IT Infrastructure

  • What infrastructure services are most critical to achieving the enterprise's strategic objectives?
  • For each capability cluster, what infrastructure services should be implemented enterprise-wide and what are the service-level requirements of the services?
  • How should infrastructure services be priced?
  • What is the plan for keeping underlying technologies up to date?
  • What infrastructure services should be outsourced?

Business Application Needs

  • What are the market and business process opportunities for new business applications?
  • How are experiments designed to assess whether the experiment is successful?
  • How can business needs be addressed within architectural standards? When does a business need justify an exception to the standard?
  • Who will own the outcomes of each project and institute organizational changes to ensure the value?

IT Investment and Prioritization

  • What process changes or enhancements are strategically most important to the enterprise?
  • What are the resource distributions in the current and proposed IT portfolios?
  • Are the portfolios consistent with the enterprise's strategic objectives?
  • What is the relative importance of enterprise-wide versus business unit investments? Do actual investment practices reflect their relative importance?

©2003 MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), Used with permission.


What IT decisions should not be made by IT?

Six key questions that the university’s senior leadership should NOT delegate to IT leaders (see Ross & Weill, 2002) include:

Strategy-related questions

  1. How much should we spend on IT?
  2. Which business processes should receive IT dollars?
  3. Which IT capabilities need to be organization-wide?

Execution-related questions

  1. How good do our IT services really need to be?
  2. Which security and privacy risks will we accept?
  3. Whom do we blame if an IT initiative fails?