Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Chapter 17 -- Executive's Guide to Information Technology

Tuesday, December 30, 2003  

I decided to start skipping around to finish this review. I hate to say it, but Chapter 8 was dry. Dry like your mouth the day after a New Year's Eve bender. I'll get back to it later. For today, it's a much easier read -- Chapter 17, the IT Steering Committee.

My opinion: IT steering committees are a great idea and should be mandatory. They benefit the company as a whole, senior management, the lines of business and the IT department. Why? Because it gives the IT department a voice and a face and presents the IT department with a bigger picture. From an IT manager's perspective, the steering committee is a godsend. It spreads risk and reduces blame. How? Management has a stake in the IT process and a better view into the workings of the IT department. They prioritize the projects, understand the resource tradeoffs and it can be used as a forum for educating senior management. All points which the authors discuss. The goal is to reduce project failure and half-assed decisions by both IT and senior management. Interestingly enough, the Office of Thrift Supervision mandates that financial institutions within its purview have an IT steering committee.

This is an idea that seems obvious but doesn't get implemented. Why? I can think of two reasons:

1. Senior management doesn't care to "waste their time" dealing with technology.

2. IT is considered part of someone's empire and used as a cudgel against other managers.

My company does not have an IT steering committee, prefering to hide the IT function underneath a single senior manager. Part of that is the CEO's lack of vision for the company that encompasses technology. I refuse to speculate on any other motives. ;)

To sum up: anything that gives an IT manager a greater understanding of the business while reducing the risk of being a scapegoat for failed projects is A Good Thing.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 12/30/2003 09:53:00 PM

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