Technology Governance in a Simple Model

by | July 28, 2009

I talked about a technology governance model that has evolved over the past 5 years in our organization in many previous posts. I realize now that I have not actually explained the model, so here we go!

When we received approval to proceed with a strategic initiative to leverage technology to support teaching, learning, research and the business of BCIT, our VP Chris Golding came up with a simple governance model to guide technology adoption.

The model has 3 axes – Funding, Support and Impact.  The scale for the axes range from centralized to decentralized.  Let me give you some definitions before we look at the model. I am sure there are many other scales we could describe for this model but there is an elegance in these 3 simple descriptors.

Funding – describes where the funding is coming from on a continum of centralized (we are a centralized IT organization) to decentralized.

Support– describes where the support comes from on a continuum of centralized to decentralized (where in the Institute do the people who support the technology work).

Control – describes where impact or risk is managed from on a continuum of centralized to decentralized (where in the Institute does the responsibility and accountability reside).

Now that we have the axes described, it’s time to think about how they combine to form governance categories. In our original model, we described four categories for technology governance:

Enterprise – centrally funded, centrally supported and centrally controlled

Departmental – departmentally funded, departmentally supported and departmentally controlled

Innovative – project funded, departmentally supported and departmentally controlled

Opportunistic – externally funded, departmentally supported and departmentally controlled

Here is the model:

Strategic Governance Model - Jan 2009

Over the past 2 years as the Manager, Business Application Services group, most of my time has been spent in the ‘pure” Enterprise space with projects in our ERP, portal, learning management and email systems.  My team also participated in projects in the intersection of the Enterprise and Departmental space.  We work with other areas of  BCIT in shared service model.  This is where integrating ITSM (particularly ITIL for us) with our EA practice.  Developing  Service Catalogues, Service Standards and Service Level Agreements are key to successfully deliver shared services. With emphasis on collaboration across the Institute, we need to define the  intersection space with a name …

Shared – departmentally or enterprise funded, shared support and shared control

The updated model now looks like this:

Technology Governance Model - Jan 2009

I hope you find some value with our model.  Please let me know your thoughts and any suggestions for improvement.

2 thoughts on “Technology Governance in a Simple Model

  1. Bill Cooke

    Hi Leo,
    If IT Services offer little support for innovative and opportunistic activities does that mean ITS keeps the business services running but has no imagination?

    The rise of the CIO suggests that institutions want help from ITS in their management which includes innovative and opportunistic activities.

    Alternatively, institutions want a CIO to be responsible for a large part of the institution budget and manage to meet their needs without contributing or questioning innovation.



    1. Leo de Sousa Post author

      Thanks for taking time to read my post and to provide your feedback. You make a good point about support for innovation and opportunistic activities. I think I can provide some insight into how we thought about it in the context of this model.

      For example, IT researched application virtualization technologies to address disaster recovery issues, to provide expensive software to students, to manage costs especially the manual effort to reimage labs when new software was introduced and to shrink the network traffic during lab imaging times (the computer lab images are much smaller if the apps are virtualized). We piloted Citrix XenApp internally before presenting them to our community as a solution. All this work was done in the Innovation space.

      Once we proved the technology worked, application virtualization moved from the innovative space with IT as a business unit/department to the enterprise space (including being added to our Core Service Catalogue) where IT is the enterprise service provider. This migration of “services” is something fairly common and the governance model accommodates for this. Many departments innovate with technology but at some point it becomes too complex for them to manage. That is when we have a discussion about the costs and service levels required to move this service into the shared or enterprise space. We acknowledge when a service becomes enterprise by adding it to our Core Service Catalogue.

      IT can be both the enterprise service provider and a business unit/department in its own right. In this case, IT as a business unit/department can dedicate portions of its resources to innovation and opportunistic activities.

      Also the model can be applied to any business unit in an organization. If we take the view that the model maps Facilities services, then Facilities would manage the Enterprise space, participate in the Shared space with external utility providers and governments, support IT in the departmental space by providing power and cooling, pilot energy efficient equipment and lighting in the innovative space, and leverage SmartGrid technology in the Opportunistic space. I have not tried to apply it to an academic unit but believe the model is generic enough to work there too – just more focused on education and curriculum development.

      This is one thing I really like about this model. It is not IT centric and has broad applicability. What do you think?

      I completely agree that the CIO needs to foster innovation and bring ideas and service that the University Executive see as valuable. This model allows for all five governance categories. The hard part is deciding what portion of budget, support and control go to each category. This has to be done organization by organization.

      Thank you again for reading my blog. Wishing you all the best, Leo


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