To manage IT, you’ve got to have investment reviews, but when is it too much or not effective?
There are a number of executives (CXO’s) with a stake in the success of IT projects and a responsibility to review and manage them:
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)— is interested in the investment’s alignment to the mission and its return on investment
- Chief Information Officer (CIO)—looks at IT projects in terms of technical alignment and compliance with the enterprise architecture, systems development life cycle, IT security, and other areas like privacy, accessibility, records management, and so on
- Chief Procurement Officer (CPO)—reviews projects for contractual issues to protect the organization and ensure that “it gets what it’s paying for”
- Line of Business (LOB) Program Officials—must review projects in terms of their project management and to control cost, schedule, and performance and ensure that the organization “controls” its investments
Usually, each of these executives has boards to carry out these review functions, and they are redundant, inefficient and drive the end-user crazy answering questions and checklists.
Part of the problem is that the executives and their review boards do not limit themselves to reviewing just their particular domains, but look across the management areas. So for example, EA often not only looks at technical alignment, but also will review business alignment and performance measures.
Moreover, not only are the review boards’ functionality often redundant between CXO’s, but even within the domain of a CXO, there will be duplicative review efforts such as between EA, SDLC, and IT security reviews.
Additionally, when an organizational component of an organization needs to conduct these reviews at their level and then again all the same reviews at a higher overall organization level, then the already inefficient review process is now doubly so.
In the end, with all the requisite reviews, innovation gets stifled, projects hamstrung, and the end-user frustrated and looking to circumvent the whole darn thing.
Obviously, you must review and establish checks and balances on IT investments, especially with the historical trends of people spending extravagantly and wastefully on IT solutions that were non-standard, not secure, not interoperable, did not meet user requirements, were over-budget, and behind schedule.
The key from a User-centric EA perspective is to balance the needs for governance, oversight, and compliance with helping and servicing the end-user, so they can meet mission needs, develop innovative solutions, and manage with limited resources. Asking users the same or similar checklist questions is not only annoying, but a waste of valuable resources, and a great way to spark an end-user revolt!
Remember it’s a fine line between EA and governance showing value to the organization and becoming a nuisance and a hindrance to progress.