Building a Better IT Management Model

Many of the risks associated with IT project failures are related to the fact that projects are being managed like discreet and unique entities with no relationship to the rest of the organization. We lose site of several things: why we are doing the project; how it is contributing to the goals of the organization; what impact it has on other initiatives; what impact other initiatives have on it; how changes in the environment (internal and external) could impact on the project and even the continued need for it; and how changes in the project can impact on the rest of the organization.

An integrated management model for IM/IT can help you avoid risks and pitfalls responsible for project failures and help maximise your IM/IT investments. What is an integrated management model? Simply put, it is a model that ensures that IM/IT planning and project planning are integrated with your other corporate planning functions (i.e. business planning, financial planning, human resource planning, asset and material management etc.).

An integrated management model is really a corporate management model. Just as no project is an island, no IT organization is an island. We at the Treasury Board of Canada have defined a management model to help IM/IT integrate into the business.

This model includes five major elements:

    A business strategy that is supported by strategies for enablers (IT Strategy, Human Resources, Financial Strategy etc.)A process that ensures clear alignment of all initiatives with business objectives and prioritiesClearly defined accountabilities and responsibilitiesContinuous performance managementContinuous risk management

The Enhanced Management Framework (EMF), developed by the Treasury Board of Canada, integrates all of these concepts and provides access, through its web site, to best practices, methods, guidelines and templates for implementing effective management of IM/IT in an organization. The EMF web site is one of Treasury Board’s most frequently visited web sites by both industry and governments.

What are people looking for when they come to the EMF web site? They are looking for answers on how to effectively manage their IM/IT investments, successfully deliver IM/IT projects and reduce risk.

Some Telling Questions

How do you know if your organization has an integrated management approach and model? Ask yourself if your organization does the following:

Re Strategic Plan: Does you organization prepare a strategic plan that is continuously monitored and that includes the following characteristics:

    Answers the questions: Where are we going? What do we need to get there?Talks to how can IM/IT will enable the organization to get there (IM/IT Strategy).Engages all stakeholders, including the CIO or head of IT, in the strategic planning process.Has an IT strategy that is fully integrated with the business strategy of the organization.

Re Alignment: Does you organization have a process in place for aligning investments with business objectives and priorities?

    Are the process and criteria for selecting and prioritising investments clearly articulated and understood?Do overall corporate priorities include IT priorities, and are all priorities clearly communicated?When making trade-off decisions, is it clear why? Does everyone understand what is being traded for what, and how the trade-off will impact on the business objectives and strategic directions?

Re Governance: Does you organization have a governance model (clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities) that is defined, communicated and understood?

    Who is responsible for what decisions, and what are the rules of the game?How are decisions taken?How are initiatives approved?How are decisions communicated?

IT governance must be clearly defined within the context of the organization’s overall governance model. It must be communicated and understood.

Re Performance Management: Does you organization have a performance management system in place to check the health of individual projects and of the organization as a whole.

    How do we know we are getting there?How are corrective actions taken?How are actions communicated? Does everyone who needs to know get informed?How do we know if we are still on the right course?Is measurement simple and meaningful?Does measurement take place at the product, project, process and organizational levels and are results fed back into the planning process?

The business wants to know what IT is doing to improve client satisfaction, improve operational efficiency, make the company more competitive, increase innovation and learning, and improve the work environment (employee satisfaction).

Re Risk management: Does you organization have a continuous risk management regime in place? Again, at the corporate level, we must ask these questions:

What can prevent us from getting there?

What can we do to manage those risks?

How can technology help us manage our risks?

What opportunities does technology present us with?

What risks are inherent in what we do and how does that impact on the business?

Risk management, like performance management, should be a continuous activity. Risks present both dangers and opportunities. Don’t forget to exploit the opportunities. And don’t be afraid to take risks and make some mistakes.

Tried And True

There is nothing new about anything that has been presented. These are just good management practices. What is new, however, is the increasing interdependence of business and technology. Technology is becoming the way we do business and in some cases it is becoming the business. What used to be innovations that gave companies competitive advantages are now prerequisites to survival. A bank cannot survive if it does not have automated tellers or access through the Internet. I don’t wire flowers to my mother through a local florist in Ottawa any more. She lives in Sault Ste. Marie. I go to the Internet and order directly from the florist in Sault Ste. Marie. Technology is changing the rules of the game.

By stabilising the management processes by means of the Integrated Management Model, an organization can better manage the changes in its environment. If your management processes are ad hoc, you cannot effectively manage change nor can you successfully manage your investments.

Where do you start to stabilise your management processes? Our approach, in Treasury Board Secretariat, is to not reinvent the wheel, but rather to look for best practices and adapt them to our environment. Visit our website and re-use! If you have something you would like to share with us please let us know.

Julia Ginley is Director, Enhanced Management Framework for IM/IT, for the CIO Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat, of the Government of Canada. She can be reached at

Visit the EMF web site at

Visitez le site web du CAG au