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Optimize IT Decision-Making

Fix inappropriate IT decision rights in your organization.

  • Decisions around IT should be made by those most directly impacted, some by IT management and some by the organization’s management.
  • IT leaders often find themselves in situations where organizational management abdicates their responsibilities in decision-making to IT, and IT pays the price in lost project opportunities and wasted spending. Conversely, when the business makes unilateral technology decisions without involving IT, IT has problems delivering on expense management, integration, and support responsibilities.
  • There are specific actions that IT leaders must take to realign IT decision rights when they are chronically misplaced.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • A key objective for IT management should be to establish effective decision rights for IT versus the business. Misplaced rights can create problems for IT that create unnecessary work for it, and can result in failure to deliver adequate IT services.
  • The business’s lack of involvement in areas like project prioritization and planning is no longer acceptable. IT leaders must learn new tactics to engage business decision-makers and determine decision-making accountability; otherwise, IT risks having to explain results that fail to meet key organizational objectives or having to answer for wasted expenses.
  • IT should be the primary decision-maker for technical standards, vendor selection, and IT budget preparation and expense management. When business units or senior management make such decisions without at least IT recommendation, IT is still accountable for providing service, despite not being part of the decision process. If IT is being bypassed, IT management must seek to understand where it is failing to develop organizational confidence in its capabilities or value.
  • Project prioritization, project planning, and IT process and policies are often championed from within IT but should actually be established by business decision-makers. When IT makes decisions that are later evaluated as unsatisfactory by the business, IT is held accountable for failing to achieve organizational objectives or failing to allocate resources to the right initiatives. IT must increase the level of business engagement so that decisions made are those of the business stakeholders and not IT.

Impact and Result

  • Reduce the incidence of technology decisions made by the business without IT (or in conflict with choices made by IT) that create support and integration challenges for IT. These include direct business unit purchases of IT consulting and cloud services as well as software and end-user devices.
  • Put business management in charge of those IT decisions that significantly impact the business, like priority-setting. Focus IT spending on those activities and projects that the business chooses, not what IT considers most important. Avoid wasting money and efforts on initiatives that don’t address key business needs.

Optimize IT Decision-Making Research & Tools

1. Understand which decisions should belong to IT management and which should belong to organizational management

Realign business and IT decision rights to those who are most impacted by the decisions.

2. Identify where decision rights in the organization are misaligned and ineffective

Prioritize corrective activities.

3. Create an IT Peer Advisory Committee (PAC)

Improve the exchange of information in a complex or large organization.

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Andy Woyzbun

Refael Keren


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