PSGS 014: Book Review: IT Governance


The premise of "IT Governance" is that top-performing organizations have a systematic decision-making framework that enables them to achieve greater bottom-line results to their business goals, value and growth over their competition. Organizations that have implemented an IT governance framework have better clarity around their strategy and the part that IT plays in the implementation of those strategies. They also have better processes for more efficient and effective change management procedures and organizational accountability for tracking project benefits.

The book "IT Governance" has been a valuable resource in my personal growth as an IT Governance practitioner and portfolio management consultant. Having led IT Governance boards for a number of years at a large international law firm, I’ve found the processes and procedures outlined in the book extremely valuable. 

What I learned:

  • The researchers interviewed over 250 business units from nonprofit and for-profit organizations from 23 countries (America, Europe and Asia). Their research demonstrated that organizations who practice IT governance think differently about IT value creation. These organizations are more aligned around business objectives, approach to governance, and practices of IT governance boards.
  • According to the research conducted, IT governance must address three key questions to be effective:
    • What decisions are required?
    • Who should make these decisions?
    • How will these decisions be made and monitored?
  • Important tools that are discussed early on in the manuscript is the governance arrangement matrix. This matrix in the left-hand column has the grouping of seven archetypes for decision-making processes and the column headings across the top have five types of decision processes that need to be made.
  • The five decisions that must be made by any IT governance organization are:
    • IT principles which clarify the guiding values of the organization.
    • IT architecture, which defines, the integration and standardization of IT solution requirements.
    • IT infrastructure which determines the shared and enabling services within the organization.
    • Business applications specifying the types of business applications required to run the organization.
    • IT investment selection and optimization which initiatives should be funded.
  • The IT architecture archetypes identify the types of people involved in making decisions. The IT Archetypes are:
    • Business monarchy – focused on top management C-level decision making
    • IT Monarchy – Groups of individual and business teams  making the decision
    • Feudal – Combination of corporate business unit leaders and process owners
    • Federal – Multiple governance bodies making decisions
    • IT Duopoly –  IT Executives and one other group of leaders making decisions  
    • Anarchy – Individuals decision making
  • Another key framework that is discussed is the governance design framework. The governance design framework is a framework that looks across six key areas of an interlocking structure. These areas are:
    • Enterprise strategy and organization; IT Organization and Desirable Behavior
    • IT governance arrangement; IT Governance mechanisms
    • Business performance goals; IT Metrics and Accountabilities
  •  The components of the Governance Design Framework are harmonized, horizontally or vertically, each one has a common set of metrics that are used to support the decision framework.


The book concludes with a discussion on the leadership principles for IT governance and a discussion on symptoms of an ineffective governance process. All in all, "IT Governance" is a foundational book that should belong on every IT governance practitioner’s library and referenced often. Use the material to establish a baseline and a framework for managing IT decisions and your organization board orchestration processes if your organization desires to be one of the top performing companies that has an ever improving the bottom line.

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