Information technology is prevalent in nearly every industry and
organization across the globe. It’s a diverse and challenging
discipline with a lot of moving parts and critical scenarios. On
top of it all, information technology is constantly evolving. IT
governance ensures that IT
are prepared for what’s next, without losing
focus on what matters.

What is IT Governance?

At its base level, IT governance is one or multiple processes
that enable the IT staff to better manage risk and operate at its
most efficient to the benefit of the organization on the whole. IT
governance is a process that fits firmly under the umbrella of
, which is its own collection of processes that are
designed to keep the entire corporation effective and

A flexible methodology, it can be slightly modified to suit the
industry it is being used for. If you ask the business world, IT
governance is all about managing performance for efficiency. But if
you were to ask academia? You might get a definition that reads
more about creating an accountability framework to create desired
output from the IT department.

But if you break it down further, IT governance is an
amalgamation of a lot of things. Having evolved from many other
methods, IT governance has taken pieces of its methodology

  • “The Principles of Scientific Management” — a method of
    corporate organization focused on scientific output during the
    industrial era.
  • Total
    Quality Management
    ” — a method focused on creating a work
    environment where employees strive to constantly improve.
  • “Quality Management System” — a method that acts as a
    collection of organizational processes focused on increasing
    customer satisfaction.

Desired Outcomes

The main three desired outcomes from implementing IT governance
in any given organization is typically to:

  1. Ensure business value is generated by information and
  2. Oversee the performance of IT managers
  3. Assess risks associated with the IT department and mitigate as

Key Terms in IT Governance

For those just getting a basic understanding of everything IT
governance entails, it can be confusing with all the industry
jargon out there. Here are some of those complicated IT terms

  • IT Management: Not to be confused with IT
    governance, IT
    is about how IT resources are leveraged from a
    planning, organizing and directing perspective. This is different
    from IT governance in that IT governance is all about uncovering
    what an organization can really achieve when it uses its IT
    resources effectively.
  • IT Compliance: Compliance in the IT world can
    mean creating an adequate defense process which manages both the
    management of the compliance process as well as the integrity of
    the compliance system. Therefore, IT compliance revolves around
    taking control of protecting personal or private information,
    including how it’s kept, stored or shared.
  • IT Controls: These are specific tasks
    performed by IT staff to ensure that business objectives are kept
  • Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC):
    Invented by the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG), this term
    refers to a certain grouping of capabilities that combine
    governance, risk management and performance to achieve reliable
    business objectives and address uncertainty.
  • Good Governance: This is a method of measuring
    how public organizations efficacy for maximum public good, mostly
    from a political perspective. The concept of good governance is
    also a key component of managing risk and ensuring compliance from
    an IT perspective.
  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise Information
    Technology (CGEIT):
    This is a certification that is
    vendor-neutral, designed for IT staff in large businesses and
    organizations that are responsible for IT governance.
  • Information Systems Audit and Control Association
    : ISACA is an independent, nonprofit that is
    “engaged in the development, adoption and use of globally
    accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information

What is an IT Governance Framework?

This could have ended up in our key terms, but there are so many
different types of IT governance frameworks that it merits its own

To put it simply, an IT governance framework is a roadmap that
defines the methods used by an organization to implement, manage
and report on IT
within said organization.

The most common IT governance frameworks are:

  • COBIT: This is by far the most popular
    framework out there. It gives staff a reference of 37 IT processes,
    with each process defined with process inputs and outputs,
    objectives, methods to measure performance and more.
  • AS8015-2005: A technical standard developed
    in Australia and published in 2005, this framework is a 12-page
    framework that includes six principles for effective IT
  • ISO/IEC 38500:2015: This framework aims to
    assist those at the top of the organization to better grasp their
    legal and ethical obligations when it comes to their company’s
    use of IT.
  • ITIL: Stands for Information Technology
    Infrastructure Library, this framework includes five management
    best practices from strategy to design that aims to ensure that IT
    supports core business operations.
  • COSO: From the Committee of Sponsoring
    Organizations of the Treadway Commission, this framework focuses on
    more general and less IT-focused processes, with an emphasis on
    enterprise risk management and fraud deterrence.
  • CMMI: Also known as the Capability Maturity
    Model Integration framework, this process uses a scale of 1 to 5 to
    better understand how the organization is performing and maturing
    over time.
  • FAIR: Also known as the Factor Analysis of
    Information Risk, this framework has an emphasis on cyber security
    risk assessment
    , with an ultimate goal of making better
    informed decisions.

And that’s not the full list of frameworks out there; there
are many more IT governance frameworks that offer both a full and
partial view of IT governance processes that can be useful when it
comes to the application of a solid and effective IT governance

What are the Benefits of IT Governance?

IT managers and system administrators know technology like the
back of their hand. They work with it day in, and day out and keep
up with the latest trends at all times. So, to the administrator,
it might seem like adding in an IT governance process is an extra
step added to their busy days. However, there are many benefits to
IT governance, including:

  • Getting buy-in from stakeholders, partners and customers is
    never easy, but showing that you have taken the extra step to
    implement an IT governance plan gives them added assurance that you
    mean business.
  • Controlling your risks doesn’t come automatically. It has to
    be studied in a working environment where a standard, replicable
    process has been implemented. IT governance helps track risks in a
    controlled experiment environment.
  • Ensure your company is meeting rules and regulations around
    compliance, so you can reduce risk and eliminate liability.
  • Better align your IT department with the company’s overall
    business objectives, so they can prioritize their projects
  • Better measure performance for your IT department and optimize
    their processes
    , so they don’t have to waste time on clunky
    processes that had previously been in place.

Tips for IT Governance Implementation and Planning

When it comes to IT governance, it’s best to approach the
implementation and planning of a great process by understanding
that one size does not fit all. Here are some tips to get you

  1. Understand what role IT governance is going to play in your
    organization, whether it be led by the CIOs or at the
  2. Start with one of the templates we defined above. There are
    many that give you actual steps to take to implement successfully,
    like the COBIT, which gives inputs, objectives, methods to measure
    performance, and more. (37, to be exact!)
  3. IT staff — once it’s implemented, don’t shy away from
    participation. It might seem like adding extra steps to your day,
    but the more you can keep your department aligned with the overall
    business goals, the less you have to validate your value to the

How Helps with IT Governance

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needs to start with buy in not just from the top, but all the way
down. Getting everyone on the same page is what does

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IT Governance: Definitions, Frameworks and Planning
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