Drivers for Business

Information systems and technology have now been around for almost 50 years. During this time, we have all seen many improvements in hardware, communications, and software. Miniaturization, continuously improved price- performance, and automation of more complex work are three specific areas of change. That is the bright side. The dark side is the fact that the percentage of information technology (IT) projects and work that fail remains very high. Depending on which survey you read, you find that less than 40% of IT projects fail to deliver tangible benefits; less than 50% are completed on-time and within budget. A high percentage never are completed. Unfortunately, these numbers have not changed for the past 20 years. This is despite improvements in technology, new methods, and tech- niques that have been created. In this regard, many methods for management of IT and doing the work in IT have often promised much and delivered little. Methods come and go. People grasp a new concept hoping that this is the “magic bullet” for IT success. Yet, failure continues; success remains elusive. Governance is more general, but includes management of IT. Governance of IT includes the roles and responsibilities of management, the business, and external governing boards and steering committees. In the past, IT governance was not viewed as significantly different from IT management since IT was viewed as a support organization. If we go back in history over the past 40 years, we find that initially IT was often embedded in finance and accounting or some other department. Hardware power and software sophistication were pathetic. It took months to create and debug or correct problems in relatively small software programs. The only tech- nology infrastructure was in the systems organization. The IT organization served as an intermediary between departments and the computer systems since the system interface was so primitive. As such, IT or Information Systems as it was often called then, was reactive. There were no resources to go out and seek out the best opportunities. The limited capability of the software and hardware meant that only selected small parts of processes could be automated. The remainder of the process was left manual. The process was often either split into manual and automated parts, or overlapped and redundant where the manual process was completed and then the results were entered into the computer system. IT was and often is largely a reactive organization. IT managers and staff have been trained to begin with user requests. These are then prioritized based upon technology feasibility, availability of the appropriate IT staff, benefits, and costs. With its technical knowledge and experience, IT was often tasked to develop not only plans and costs, but also benefits.

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