Governance as a service is a relatively new concept, with few vendors currently providing tools specifically targeted to it. At first glance, IT governance doesn’t seem like a particularly complex topic. Remarkably, though, governance tends to be one of the hardest tasks facing the typical enterprise today, for many reasons. Among them:
- Most organizations don’t view governance holistically. In other words, they address it in chunks as governance-related challenges arise. This leads to different processes and subcultures for areas like data governance and EA governance, for example.
- Far too often, organizations attempt governance with little or no automation. Microsoft Excel is a great tool, but it is not the best way to manage complex process workflows.
- Too often governance is not seen as central or vital to the overall mission of the IT group. There are many competing interests and priorities, and often, even after a governance initiative has been started, it gets shoved to sidelines only to be dropped altogether.
Organizations can tackle these challenges in a number of ways. The best way to start is to redefine governance and its value proposition. Governance as a targeted paradigm or set of competing processes was always a problematic concept. Another paradigm provides a rational alternative: “governance as a service.”
Governance as a Service Defined
Governance as a service represents the ability to provide a single set of consistent processes or workflows to support every type of enterprise IT focus area. This implies a centrally managed automation capability that supports both integration of multiple lifecycles and a repository of enterprise knowledge. Governance as a service is also flexible, in that it allows for tailoring of the shared set of common capabilities and processes based upon the unique needs of each IT focus area. The fact that it does this starting from a common framework assures that the focal areas don’t split off into their own stove-pipes.
A technology expectation is associated with the concept as well, in that there necessarily ought to be interfaces from the core repository and workflow services to related elements within the IT infrastructure, including such things as SOA repositories, business rules engines, and so forth. Also, it implies a Web-based interface as well as service hooks for some functions.
Although there are few tools out there specifically for governance as a service, many software tools can easily be modified to make this concept a reality in any given enterprise. Those types of tools range from product lifecycle management environments to enterprise architecture framework suites. The key thing is to remember is that to make governance work, the core assumptions ought to be properly aligned to the highest value proposition—and that value proposition is based on reuse and the ability to manage the whole enterprise, not just pieces of it separately.
Image: Boardroom [Bigstock]
Image: Government as a Service flowchart [Semantech]