How to Create a Successful IT Steering Committee
If you're a manufacturing company with even a modestly-sized IT organization, the following management tips should prove invaluable.
In my last blog, I mentioned that one of the keys to IT success is to have a properly functioning IT steering committee. In this blog, I'll document the qualities of a successful committee.
It must be composed of company officers so that all facets of the company are represented. A non-officer department head reporting to the CEO should also be included. This cannot be delegated lower in the organization since some decisions on projects can only be made by officers who are empowered to make decisions for the department and the company.
There needs to be an IT strategic committee that creates the final review document for this full IT steering committee to approve. This smaller committee composed of a mix of officers and/or department heads attempts to determine those projects that should be approved based on several factors including ROI, strategic importance or government requirement. People serving on this committee can be rotated on an annual basis.
The members of the IT steering committee must be aware of the projects being proposed for their area of responsibility. If questions come up during the meeting about the need for a particular system, it should be the affected officer who explains the system’s importance to the committee.
The IT steering committee should meet towards the end of the year in order to determine the automation agenda for the upcoming year. This meeting should be held prior to budget finalization. It is the business of the committee to review the recommendation of the IT strategic committee and determine if they agree with the slate of projects that are recommended. If they do not, then it is within their power to select other projects as replacements or to add additional projects to the slate. If projects are added, then IT must determine how best to complete the added workload and add the additional costs to the budget. This could be through staff increases, outside consultants or various forms of outsourcing.
The IT steering committee should meet throughout the year to review progress on the approved projects and make decisions on changes to the approved slate based on changing conditions in the company. They should also consider the level of security imposed on the company by IT and the overall budget for the IT department.
With these five steps, the company is assured that the projects being worked on by IT are the most important ones for the company. If that is not the result, then the company should hold the officers responsible not IT. There should never be an alignment problem between IT and the company objectives. This structure will also assure that the company is involved with the work of IT which spends a considerable amount of the company resources. This committee must become a very important responsibility of the corporate officers if they are desirous of maintaining their competitive advantage in their market.