The 5 Domains of IT Governance

October 22, 2013
What is IT Governance? In recent years several high profile incidents of corporate fraud and failure helped bring the topic of corporate governance to the forefront of many business agendas. With IT now widely regarded as both a fundamental business tool and a significant factor in future business planning, effective mechanisms to align corporate governance with the management and use of IT have also surfaced as high priority items on most corporate agenda’s (BSI, 2008). The ability to actually deploy effective IT governance was hampered by the absence of applicable frameworks, standards and best practices working in tandem. With the advent of ISO 38500 in 2008, however, an international standard for IT governance was finally made available and other frameworks and best practices quickly fell in line. In particular, resources such as COBIT 5, VAL IT, Risk IT, PMBOK, CMMI, COSO, ISO 27001, ISO 9000, ISO 20000, and ITIL v3 to name just a few have provided invaluable guidance to companies of all shapes and sizes on how best to realize their exclusive IT Governance needs and objectives. The 5 Domains of IT Governance But frameworks and standards aside, what is IT governance and how can it be effectively realized within the business? Ask a room of IT governance professionals and business executives this question and chances are each one would provide a different answer. Fortunately, the ISACA organization, a leading global provider of certifications, knowledge, advocacy and education of information systems, assurance and security has developed some useful guidance which separates IT Governance into 5 separate domains (ISACA, 2013) each of which are briefly described below: 1. Framework for the Governance of Enterprise IT Organizations need to implement an IT Governance framework which stays in continuous alignment with enterprise governance and the key drivers (both internal and external) directing the company’s strategic planning, goals and objectives.
  • This framework should wherever possible attempt to utilize industry standards and best practices (COBIT, ITIL, ISO, etc.) in accordance with the explicit needs and requirements of the business.
  • The IT Governance model should be driven at the top level of the organization with roles, responsibilities and accountabilities fully defined and enforced across the organization.
2. Strategic Management To be effective in enabling and supporting the achievement of business objectives, business strategy must drive IT strategy. As such, the strategy of business and IT are intrinsically linked and efficient and effective business operations and growth relies on the proper alignment of the two.
  •  Some of the most effective methods for achieving this alignment are the proper implementation of an enterprise architecture methodology, portfolio management, and balanced scorecards.
3. Benefits Realization IT Governance helps the business realize optimized business benefits through the effective management of IT enabled investments. Often there is considerable concern at a board or senior management level that IT initiatives are not translating into business benefits.
  •  IT Governance aims to ensure IT benefits through the implementation of value management practices, benefits realization planning and performance monitoring and response.
  • Key to benefits realization is the establishment of effective portfolio management to govern IT enabled investments as well as the design and utilization of appropriate performance metrics and reporting methods which are managed and responded to accordingly. The realization of a culture focused on continuous improvement can further help ensure benefits realization is achieved through a constant focus on improving business performance.
4. Risk Optimization In an increasingly interconnected digital world, the identification, assessment, mitigation, management, communication and monitoring of IT related business risk is an integral component of an enterprises governance activities.
  • While activities and capabilities for risk optimization of IT will differ widely based on the size and maturity of the organization and the industry vertical in which they operate, of most importance is the development of a risk framework which can demonstrate good governance to shareholders and customers in a repeatable and effective manner.
  • Some important components of this dimension include business continuity planning, alignment to relevant legal and regulatory requirements and the development of a risk appetite and tolerance methodology used to assist with risk based decisions.
5. Resource Optimization: To be effective, IT requires sufficient, competent and capable resources (people, information, infrastructure and applications) in order to meet business demands and execute on the activities required to meet current and future strategic objectives.
  • This requires focus on identifying the most appropriate methods for resource procurement and management, monitoring of external suppliers, service level management, knowledge management, and staff training and development programs.
What is perhaps most important here, however, is not that all 5 IT governance domains are fully inserted into the enterprise, but that the recommendations, standards and best practices contained in the domains are considered and applied in accordance with the needs, requirements and capabilities of the business. As such the ISACA model is arguably most useful when it is considered as a basic guideline for injecting IT governance best practices into the business when and where they are specifically needed. It is however advisable that no matter the size and maturity level of the business at least some elements from each domain should be present to ensure effective IT governance. Notably, while Long View has implemented many of these standards and best practices via its own IT governance program in alignment with these domains to meet its own internal IT needs and strategic objectives, it has also incorporated this approach to deliver a unique IT Governance implementation in accordance with the IT services delivered to its customers. The sophistication and maturity of Long View’s IT Governance program is considered not only an important enabler for allowing the company to meet strategic objectives and ensure optimal operational performance, but is also viewed as a key differentiators over competitors when providing these same practices and capabilities to its customers. While this entry has attempted to provide a glimpse into the basic framework of what constitutes IT governance, future posts will delve deeper into each of these 5 domains and provide further insight as to not only how these can be used to strengthen and mature IT governance capabilities within a business organization, but also how Long View has applied these standards and best practices both internally and within its customer facing service portfolio. Follow me @SeanDMcLeod   References: BSI (2008) BS ISO/IEC 38500:2008 Corporate governance of information technology. London: BSI Publications ISACA (2013) CGEIT Review Manual 2013. Illinois: ISACA Publishing
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ITSSM Maturity

October 16, 2013
Throughout my 19 years in the IT Service and Support Management (ITSSM) industry, my experience has been that many teams are looking to improve their current operations. While supporting company growth, they are often looking for additional features and functionality, and unsure what the best approach should be. Just this week I met with a client that fit this model; they are using an older version of an ITSSM tool to support their incident management needs, and looking for automation to monitor service levels and assist with proactive efforts to improve SLA compliance. They also want to increase their employees’ ability to submit requests to IT through services such as web self-service and chat. We also meet many clients who are looking for improved analytics. Business leadership desiring greater insight into IT activities, and how IT is addressing company and employee needs, along with the quest for improved analytics in problem management and resolution are continuously increasing. ITSSM applications are critical in supporting IT operations and should be flexible enough to meet each company’s needs. These tools should not dictate process, instead having a general "Out of the Box" approach that can be configured for individual processes. Clients with older ITSSM applications have a few options. They can look at newer releases of their applications to see if they can meet their needs. They can also review other offerings in the market. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a growing movement for many ITSSM applications. Their primary benefits can include reducing capital expenses for companies by providing infrastructure that is maintained by the service provider to providing expert administrative resources. ITSSM SaaS offerings have matured well enough that they should always be considered. Many of these issues can be resolved by looking at IT operations maturity. The best approach for this is to work with ITSSM consulting companies to conduct a review of current operations. We advise many clients that the first step is gathering a complete picture of their current operations. Areas to consider are people, process, customer, and technology. This is important for identifying what they need to improve upon and prioritize those areas. At Long View we often conduct a workshop to capture their current ITSSM health (such as Vision-Mission statement, staffing levels, services offered, and tools/technologies currently being used), identify needs for improvement, and assign priorities to each area. Common areas of improvement include IT position descriptions (roles and responsibilities), appropriate staffing levels, incident escalation process, and measuring customer satisfaction. Check out Long View’s offerings on our website for further information.
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From Go-Getter to Garnering Results

October 15, 2013
We are lucky enough to have incredible employees here at Long View - from established veterans in their field to impressive up-and-comers. Often up-and-coming employees are those that are executing at a high level on a frequent basis. Vague, high level objectives are turned into fantastic outcomes, with clear and broad communication framing the solution. As these individuals are given more responsibility, gears shift from individual productivity to team based performance. Thus a manager is born. Satisfaction is derived from the team achieving a goal and success is attributed to the entire team. I had a great reminder this week of how powerful the enablement of employees can be and how the outcomes can far exceed your expectations – if the leader can set parameters and then get out of the way. Jeff Young took over our Tools Team in Shared Services and quickly embarked on project with the loose parameters to increase effectiveness of the tools and reduce costs. Simple, right? Well, the Tools Team came back with a set of recommendations that would cut our operating costs in half and free up the team to work on the enablement of our go-to market team instead of maintenance of our systems. The findings were presented in both technical and business terms and were tailored to the audience which included executives, directors and practice leaders. Awesome! I would encourage all of our service delivery leaders to consider what their team could be capable of if there were no barriers, and then do the work to remove them. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what great leaders do and it is what high performance teams need. Follow me @pedge07
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Best Places to Work Colorado

October 15, 2013
For anyone not familiar with Denver, our metro area is home to over 2.5 million people. And while we aren’t among the largest cities in the US, it is safe to say that there are a lot of companies conducting business in the capital of Colorado, and all throughout the state. Which is why it was so cool to have made it into the finals of ColoradoBiz magazine’s Best Companies to Work for in Colorado, placing 9th in the Medium Business category! The award rankings are determined through an anonymous survey conducted at each of the competing companies. Staff answer questions around workplace happiness, advancement opportunities, benefits, flexibility, and other key markers of what separates a great place to work from an average place to work. For Long View, the award is a great indication of how the culture, originating out of the head office in Calgary, has extended out to the branch locations. At the banquet for the awards, the announcer made a statement acknowledging that Long View is a company actively pursuing a positive reputation - it was nice to hear that what we’ve been working to achieve is now being recognized from an outside source. Word is getting out there. We are being acknowledged for our core values - Integrity, Competence, Value, and Fun. And these values are continuing to make Long View a great place to work.
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Customer Security

October 9, 2013
On October 3rd 2013, Adobe released information regarding a security breach. Following this, Long View has learned the following;
  • There does not appear to be a direct compromise to any of the Adobe software suite
  • There do not appear to be any zero day attack issues (exploit of previously unknown vulnerabilities)
  • Adobe has sent an email to their customers that have had credit card information stolen and has reset relevant customer passwords
  • Adobe has offered to pay for any credit monitoring services to those affected
  • Longer term concern is that source code stolen in the breach will be used to create malware so clients should remain vigilant going forward
If you have any further questions or concerns please direct them to your Long View account representative or Adobe customer support. Michel Oicle, Security Practice Director
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Long View Goes All In For Calgary Corporate Challenge

October 8, 2013
From September 6th to 21st, Long View participated in the Calgary Corporate Challenge (CCC), along with over 180 other Calgary companies! The CCC is a volunteer-driven event for Calgary’s business community. It is made up of athletic events as well some not - so - athletic events. In a manner similar to the Olympics, the CCC has opening and closing ceremonies and a philosophy that places more emphasis on sportsmanship and spirit than it does winning. So, pretty much an ideal thing for us at Long View to get involved in. This year marked the second year that we have participated and also my second time for organizing our team. 65-70 Long View employees signed up to compete in events ranging from a 10km run, to foosball, to donating blood. We registered in the mini division, where companies can choose to participate in up to 10 different events. And of course we went all in and registered for the full 10! Our games were kicked off with a fantastic start when we had the honor of having our own Jeff Matthews run the last leg of the torch relay during the opening gala, lighting the torch at Eau Claire Market in front of thousands of spectators! We went on to take silver medals in both foosball and volleyball as well as a bronze in the 10km run. One of the most challenging and competitive events is urban orienteering and we placed seventh in it; something I’m pretty proud of. Participating in the Calgary Corporate Challenge and organizing a team as large as ours at Long View can be lots of work. But, it is a hugely rewarding experience that brings people together from different parts of our business and spreads the Long View spirit among our peers in corporate Calgary. I can’t wait until next year.
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Service Delivery is a Team Game

October 7, 2013
I had the pleasure of attending Long View’s 2014 Fiscal Kick-off – and this is one of my favorite events for a reason. Not only is it amazingly well organized, but I also find it energizing to be around the revenue engine of our company. During Kick-off I was encouraged to try something new. Road biking. Although I have ridden mountain bikes extensively and am an avid cycle commuter, road biking was something new to me. I could not have asked for better stewards for my first rides:  Alex Stieda, Michael Kochorek and Gord Mawhinney. Each morning we would set out for an hour long ride prior to the busy day of sessions. I marveled at the efficiency and power great cyclist can ride with. What I did not realize is how important the subtleties of communication and team work is during a ride. As the leader of the group, you pull your mates along in a draft. When you tire, your team mate taps you aside and you fall back into line to recover as the next leader pulls the team forward. The lead cyclist has a responsibility to communicate about debris on the road or status of street lights. There is a passing of information along the line as you ride to ensure the whole team is aware of the surroundings. When one team mate isn’t in sync (in this case me, who could not keep up on the hills) disaster can strike. Just ask Michael. This got me to thinking about Service Delivery and the importance of engaging the full Long View team for Service Delivery success. It is an obvious statement to suggest that great service delivery relies on competent, well trained consultants. But it’s the subtleties that will determine the success of any service delivery engagement if we are to create lasting relationships with our customers. In fact, service delivery success starts from the first meeting between the customer and our sales people. It continues as our architecture or procurement groups get involved in delivery of a quotation. Engagement of management, could be service delivery, sales management or executives, at the appropriate time fosters additional engagement points for our customers. These are all critical steps to ensuring world class service delivery. I would challenge each of you, in your role today, to determine how you contribute to excellent service delivery and who else should you engage to round out the team.  I would be pleased to be part of any of your current or future service delivery engagements.
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VMware’s VMworld – Anything But Conventional

October 1, 2013
This August marked VMworld’s 10th Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA. The first VMworld conference in 2004 was attended by 1600 people, and this year the conference attracted over 23,000 attendees. Long View has been a participant at every VMworld since the beginning. With a mandate to provide training, hands on experience, product research and analysis, and networking opportunities, VMworld is a convention that takes virtualization to the next level.  For those of you unable to attend, below are links to keynotes, popular sessions, and blog coverage. VMworld 2013 Keynotes: Top Ten Most Popular Sessions: VMworld 2013 Blog Coverage:
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Supporting End Users

October 1, 2013
The staff at Long View who support our End Users never cease to amaze.  In the nearly 8 years that I have been a part of this team, we have seen substantial growth in our End User Computing offerings - service desk, desk side support, ITIL, ITSM Assessments - just to name a few.  A true ground up approach of building a service desk grew out of our Managed Services NOC (Network Operations Centre) and today 250 staff support over 50 service desk clients. When you embark on such a journey you can see the footprints of those that have worked so hard.  From the team that selected our tool to support our clients, to our staff that daily stand as the first point of contact for users, to the clients’ IT departments that we represent.  These dedicated professionals are the reason our service desk customers regularly provide Long View with recognition for going above and beyond just average service.  Words like “exceptional”, “approachable”, “service-minded” have been used by our customers when commenting on the service these teams provide.  It’s a privilege to be able to represent our customers to their customers by becoming the first face of IT they often see. This year we embark on yet another journey by creating a new service access channel.  We are calling this “Self –Selection”.  The user can now choose which service desk agent they would like to talk to through the use of interfaces such as Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber - launching video, desktop remote support has just gone to the next level.  We will also be creating a first line social networking ability that will allow staff and clients to reach out directly to each other first, if they so choose.   True Level 0 support, utilizing the many social medial tools available today.  This will meet the needs of the engaging digital players who are now entering our workforce at a steady rate. Watch us grow at Long View and the End User Computing team, and keep up with the latest news by following us on Twitter @LongViewSystems.
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So What Does the VP of Services Do?

September 30, 2013
How do you answer the question,“ So what does the VP of Services do anyway?” when your Mom asks? One of the great honours of being promoted into a position that no one has held before in Long View is that you have free license to create your jobs mandate. Through the creative process three vectors seemed to be the most critical: First, an internal perspective. The services business in Long View requires 850 people to deliver across a broad geographic expanse – that’s a big number. The VP of Services must advocate for the services business at the executive level as well as support the branches – the primary financial unit of the company – as an overlay for the successful execution of services.  Most importantly, however, this role must provide support, escalation, and representation for our largest staff population, the team of technical professionals who make Long View the services company it is today. Second, an external perspective. This role is a critical engagement point with our customers and the industry. There is a responsibility to successfully steer relationships with new and existing customers in good times and in bad. Long View must also be seen as the go-to service delivery organization by the industry both in traditional and new verticals. Third, an innovation perspective. Incumbent on the VP of Services is to ensure we are constantly innovating to remain relevant to our staff, customers, and partners.  Innovation does not always mean bringing a new product to market it can also mean finding new more efficient or better ways to provide an existing service we already do – Shared Services is just one example. So then my Mom just cocked her head to the side and looked at me and said, “Fine but what do you actually do”. So I replied, “I go to lots of meetings, talk to lots of people inside and outside our company and fly around on planes.” To which she closed, “Now I understand – I am so proud of you.” Which felt nice. Follow me on twitter - @pedge07
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