IT decisions have become too important to be left solely to the IT department. IT is one of the few functions within a business that touches virtually all other areas of the business. Because decisions that an IT organization makes can vastly enable or hinder other business functions, and because of budget constraints, there are often tradeoffs among competing business demands placed on the IT organization. Therefore, IT priorities should be set in partnership with business leaders, and the means to do that is the IT steering committee.
As shown in Figure 2 from our full report, IT Steering Committee Adoption and Best Practices, 72% of organizations currently have these committees, which is slightly down from last year. Nevertheless, steering committees remain one of the most highly adopted best practices that we study.
“The IT steering committee shouldn’t be thought of as just another ‘boss’ for the CIO,” said David Wagner, vice president of research for Computer Economics, based in Irvine, Calif. “A good steering committee will allow business leaders to communicate strategy and priorities while the IT department brings new technology options to the business as well. Combined, they should be able to set the road map for the future of the organization.”
An IT steering committee is a committee of senior executives to direct, review, and approve IT strategic plans, oversee major initiatives, and allocate resources. It is not involved in day-to-day management of the IT organization. Rather, the steering committee establishes IT priorities for the business as a whole. The IT steering committee is a foundational practice for IT governance. However, just having a committee in name only does not satisfy the criteria for this IT management best practice. It should be established officially, with defined roles and responsibilities, and meet regularly.
In the full study, we first look at adoption trends for IT steering committees by organization size and sector. We also discuss the elements that every IT steering committee policy should contain, and steps IT organizations should take before establishing such a board.
This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, IT Steering Committee Adoption and Best Practices. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).