Frequently Asked Questions
What is IT Governance?
"IT Governance is about who makes decisions, who provides input, and who sets priorities for IT at Bentley University. Good governance processes should be well thought out and understood by participants. The goal of governance is that it promotes behavior that aligns IT spending and resources with the priorities and goals of the university. To be successful, IT Governance requires participation and input from all university departments as well as IT."
"We define IT Governance as a framework for decision rights and accountability to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT. This definition distinguishes governance from IT management. IT management is the daily decision making and implementation activities around the firm's use of IT. Governance identifies who will make key IT decisions and how they will be held accountable. Good governance is enabling and reduces bureaucracy and dysfunctional politics by formalizing organizational learning and thus avoiding the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again."*
*MIT Center for Information Systems Research
Why do we need IT Governance?
IT Governance is used by many organizations, large and small, to ensure that they are investing their scarce resources in the projects that matter most to the organization. A recent Educause survey of 438 institutions of higher education found that over half had governance processes that had been actively designed. Many schools in the Boston Consortium either have or are starting IT Governance programs. Some of the benefits of IT Governance cited by schools that have implemented active governance processes are:
- University leadership engaged in key strategic technology decisions
- IT spending and resources more aligned with institutional objectives
- IT improves its reputation through transparency and accountability
- Closer integration with budget cycle and processes
- IT gets better at "doing the right projects right."
Why do we need the additional "red tape" of steering committees and processes: Won't it delay decisions and important work?
The goal of IT Governance is to make the best decisions about how Bentley uses limited funds and resources to support the goals of the university. IT Governance processes typically require "up front" planning and anlysis to ensure that the university is making informed decisions and to minimize mistakes that may divert resources from high priority and strategically important projects. As a role of IT continues to grow on campus, decisions about information and IT will become still more complex. As a recent Educause study concluded, "Cloud computing, software as a service, research cyberinfrastructure, enterprise data management, mobility, privacy regulation, and security are all factors that will put greater stress on the often informal IT governance structures now in place."
There are provisions in the Governance process to "fast track" important or urgent projects and to ensure that internal IT projects to "keep the lights on" are not ignored or delayed.
Is there an overview of the Bentley IT Governance process?
How do I figure out which process to use for my IT spending?
The first point of contact for any IT spending is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Generally, the governance process is as follows:
- You have a project in mind for the next fiscal year that will require more than $25,000 and/or more than forty hours of an internal IT resource. You should follow the planning process that is aligned with the university budgeting (October - January) and submit your proposal to IT as early as possible in the cycle. IT will work with you to build a business case and take it before the IT Steering Committee for review and prioritization.
- You wish to spend money on software, hardware or IT services that will require less than forty hours of internal IT resources. Contact the CIO for review and approval of the spending.
- You have an unbudgeted, urgent project that must be delivered by a certain date. Contact the CIO for review of your proposal.
Will I get help developing a project proposal for funding?
Yes. Once you submit a project proposal, IT will contact you within a week to discuss and help develop a short business case (no more than two pages) that will be presented to the IT Steering Committee.
What kind of spending is subject to the IT Governance process?
The IT Governance process at Bentley covers all IT expenditures greater than $5.000, both capital and operational. The process varies depending on the amount of spending and the IT resources required.
Is any IT spending exempt from the governance process?
All IT expenditures greater than $5,000 are subject to the governance process; however, there are provisions to "fast track" spending on urgent projects that might be subject to regulatory or legal compliance or for expenditures that are already budgeted.
What is the purpose of an IT Steering Committee?
The IT Steering Committee is a group of senior managers representing both administrative and academic departments at Bentley. The committee meets on a regular basis to review and rank proposed projects and to ensure that IT spending and resources are clearly aligned with institutional and departmental objectives. Key functions of the committee are to:
- Review and prioritize proposed IT projects at Bentley University by examining their value to Bentley, return on investment, and risks.
- Chamion high priority projects proposed by their departments, while providing oversight on projects that are approved and funded.
- Communicate decisions made by the Committee to departmental and university stakeholders.
Can I know what projects are being proposed and approved?
We will publicize lists of all projects that are proposed and their prioritization and ranking by the IT Steering Committee.
How does the IT Steering Committee rank projects that are so diverse?
The Steering Committee will use a common set of criteria to evaluate the business case of proposed projects that includes items such as:
- Does the project support the university mission and strategic plan?
- Does the project enhance or support learning, teaching, or research objectives?
- Does the project provide competitive advantage to the university?
- Does the project improve efficiency or effectiveness?