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Management vs. Governance


This is the third blog in a 6-part series about Process Governance in an Agile Environment with Thorsten Manthey, Director at Tata Consulting Services. If you missed the introduction and part I, please find them here.

Table of Contents

Last week we discussed the importance of establishing a Process/Product Owner for each critical process. This week we talk about management vs. governance. 

Many organizations confuse Governance with Management and the COBIT 5 differentiation of Management and Governance is very helpful to understand the difference. (See the definition in the box below.)

Within the IT process context, the Process Manager is concerned that the management of the process and the Process Owner’s main focus should be to govern the process (i.e., set direction, prioritization, and decision making).

COBIT 5: A Business Framework for the Governance and Management of Enterprise IT

Management plans, builds, runs and monitors activities in alignment with the direction set by the governance body to achieve the enterprise objectives.

Governance ensures that stakeholder needs, conditions, and options are evaluated to determine balanced, agreed-on enterprise objectives to be achieved; setting direction through prioritization and decision making; and monitoring performance and compliance against agreed-on direction and Objectives.

Any type of organization, even outside of IT, requires clear and structured governance over its processes. Process governance ensures that stakeholder needs are met; value is delivered and that there is a long-term strategic plan and clear direction for the process. Governance also enables decisions are made at the right level and at the right time within the organization in a timely manner.

Within the Agile Manifesto in the value statement, “Responding to Change vs. Following a Plan,” nowhere is it suggested that there is a lack of governance or no long-term planning. Governance and planning are still required but with an understanding that changes are welcome. Flexibility and agility are imperative but must be governed in a structured way to enable “just-in-time” decision-making at the right level within the organization.

Lack of Governance

The lack of governance produces confusion, less clarity, unclear structures, lack of decisions, and poor guidance. It’s a situation that will take up more and more of an organization’s time, resources, funding, and efforts. It will drain the organization of progress and ensure no continuous improvement takes place. This is a situation an organization should never have to face.

Many organizations have a great intent using state-of-the-art tools, and well-defined processes/procedures, but the lack of governance is slowly engulfing the organization into a black hole of missed opportunities.

The lack of governance can take many forms and shape within an organization, but there is one specific area where organizations struggle; this is The Information gap between IT leadership and IT operations.

Often, the organization is unaware that it has a governance gap, but it feels that something is not right. They work hard, put in long hours, create plans, write documents, spending significant time and resources, but there are still issues, outages, confusion, lack of funding, and no clear decision making or understanding of the direction, so the governance gap is very much present!

Some examples of different governance challenges organizations encounter:

  • Lack of ownership and accountability of a process without an “owner” driving long-term strategic plan and priorities. E.g., the process is not fulfilling business needs of speed, quality, agility etc., or lack of alignment between the business and IT strategy across the organization.
  • Miss-aligned goals and value alignment that are not based on what the business perceives as value but on other priorities. E.g., the Service Desk focuses on reducing time to answer calls when the business’s primary concern is the duration of the new hire process or request fulfillment.
  • No clear understanding of what the scope of the process is. E.g., which business areas and line organizations are supported, which technologies and applications are supported, and is the scope global or regional?
  • No clear escalation path is defined for management and technical escalations. E.g., who should be contacted for a technical issue that requires escalation? Who to contact to inform management about a major issue/outage?
  • Lack of resources, funding, and tools to execute the process efficiently and effectively. E.g., not having appropriate telephony systems, knowledge articles or self-help tools in place for the Service Desk.
  • Lack of meaningful reporting and KPIs i.e., everything that can be measured is measured and reported. E.g., there are measures/metrics overload and many metrics/KPIs have no defined “actions” based on exceeding thresholds or metrics and reporting that is not aligned with the value of the business i.e., measuring and reporting the wrong KPIs.

Join me next Monday for the next installment. We will discuss Agility and Prioritized Backlog. Until then!

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