An IT steering committee is a governance body that reviews, monitors and prioritizes major IT projects from a cross-functional perspective. The two key concerns of a technology steering committee are:
- Alignment. The committee helps ensure that IT strategy is aligned with the strategic goals of the organization.
- Ownership. The business units represented on the steering committee have ultimate ownership over the larger IT strategic decisions since those decisions will impact their processes.
The top three activities of IT steering committees are IT project prioritization, approval of IT projects, and IT strategic planning. Organizations that operate effective IT steering committees realize better IT project priority setting as well as improved alignment with business objectives.
An IT steering committee brings a number of benefits to both the IT leader and the enterprise as a whole:
- Business focus. Too often, IT implements technology solutions, not business solutions. The IT steering committee’s strongest mandate is to find business solutions that may leverage technology.
- Priority. At budget time, IT will be able to set spending priorities according to broadly based business recommendations.
- Transparency. Other departments will be able to see their IT demands in the larger context of strategic plans, and at least understand (though maybe not agree with) the rationale behind decisions to proceed with one project over another.
- Accountability. IT cannot be accused of cronyism. If the committee approves a project that’s politically motivated or where clear metrics aren’t shown, that becomes the committee’s problem, not IT’s.
An effective IT steering committee offsets the most frustrating part of an IT leader’s job, managing business demand on IT, by having the business self-regulate the demands it makes and be accountable for those decisions.