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In our work designing IT operating models, we are regularly challenged by IT leaders to improve the IT governance model.  Frequently, we find governance models which are characterised by:

  • A lack of delegation, resulting in bottlenecks
  • Review cycles which frequently take weeks to arrive at a decision
  • Lots of unnecessary meetings
  • Regular meetings which frequently last 2 hours or more
  • A lack of clarity of who is accountable for approval sign-off
  • Too many stakeholders involved in decision making
  • A lack of reliable management information
  • A lack of effective workflow / automation

So how do we manage to get it so wrong?  Follow our 5 rules below and prevent yourself from getting caught out by the common pitfalls.


Only have meetings if they are necessary, preferably by exception 

We’re constantly surprised by the human race’s innate desire to want to attend a meeting, despite the fact that we dislike long, unproductive meetings so much!  A meeting should be seen as a last resort, where issues and exceptions are discussed, and a collaborative approach to finding a solution is required.  Commonly, we come across Change Advisory Boards (CAB) which exceed 2 hours, every week!!  Think how much lost time that represents over the course of a year!

Only involve the stakeholders you need

If your meeting room doesn’t have enough chairs in it, you probably have too many attendees!! Whatever you do, don’t get more chairs and cram yourselves in, unless it’s a real crisis session!  The problem comes from the fact that opinions are like parents.  We all have them, but not everyone wants to hear about them, and the information imparted isn’t always relevant or conducive to reaching a speedy decision.  

Delegate decision making where you can 

We all have that one manager who is seldom in the office and has to dial in to every meeting to provide their input. They always have tens of approvals awaiting their decision, and things slow down to a crawl without their input.  The key here is a tiered delegation model, which assigns delegated approval rights at various levels, depending upon factors such as risk, complexity, cost, impact, etc.


We are a generation blessed with more collaboration and automation tools than anyone ever thought possible. However, we often see the contents of these tools printed, and discussed in a meeting room for hours on end!  Make use of the tools we have available to us to automate review and approval tasks, making it easy for participants to manage workflow on the move and keep the process moving quickly.

KISS! Keep it simple, stupid

How many times have you heard this?! And yet, we often see over-engineered processes, RACI diagrams and decision matrices.  Often, this is borne out of more deep-seated issues within the organisation, particularly in regard to organisation structure, “knowledge is power”, lack of delegation amongst many other factors.

So, try and keep it simple if you can.  If you can’t, challenge why not, don’t create the process to take account of the issues.

Our list above isn’t complete, but it does represent the common issues we see.  If you’d like to add to it, please contact us on Twitter with your suggestions.

If you’d like to discuss your IT Operating model and the effectiveness of its governance, please do Contact us  to arrange an initial chat with one of our consultants.

To find out how we help organisations like yours with process maturity assessment, read our ultimate guide to assessment.