Strategic Alignment and the Role of Governance

11 Nov

A recent post by user 04ac listed Governance as one of the key factors involved in Alignment, which led me into finding an interesting article entitled “IT Alignment: Who is in Charge?” published by the IT Governance Institute.

It discusses issues that a few of us have already discussed previously in different posts such as co-ordination within an organisation. It states that “it is essential that employees in all elements that comprise the enterprise fully understand corporate objectives and work together in a properly controlled and coordinated way to ensure that those objectives are met”. This is something that user ctpk discussed in their post “The Strive for Strategic Alignment” when they mentioned that individuals who are given concise goals will contribute towards a well aligned organisation.

More specifically, however, this article focuses on Governance, and the role it plays in successful IT alignment. This is something that has come up in 04ac’s aforementioned post which lists governance as one of the main causes of misalignment, along with communication and planning. However, this article approaches Strategic Alignment in a different way than we have done previously. The author lists Strategic Alignment as a minor function of IT Governance. This definitely opens up our discussions to a different perspective on the matter.

It continues to discuss the main components of successful governance of strategic IT alignment. It mentions “leadership” and “commitment” as two necessary traits of a company looking to achieve peak alignment. One component it mentions in particular is the role of the Board in IT alignment. Naturally they would play one of the biggest roles in company-wide governance. It lists the following as the benchmarks against which they might achieve alignment:

• The first is to establish alignment with strategy, one of the core components that we’ve discussed numerous times;
• Making certain that IT functions in a way that allows this strategy to be realised and;
• Monitoring this IT strategy to ensure adequate financial benefits are derived from these systems.

It is important that the Board is kept constantly informed about potential new routes they could take in relation to alignment. The paper also highlights the importance of a strong IT representation in the Board itself, to ensure adequate communication between them and those who will carry out the implementation of alignment. Without a strong knowledge of IT and how IT and IS work, the Board will not fully understand the technicalities of implementation, leading to miscommunication, or worse, misalignment. It also suggests regular reporting to Boards on IT matters, so as to keep them regularly informed on the progress of alignment.

The role of the Board is just one factor of a greater list of tips for maximising alignment. One other key factor referred to is the resources available and adequate time frame, which are obvious requirements for actualising any plan or strategy. If you’re interested, you can follow the link to read the complete list.

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