IT governance – basic but critical


The first three months of my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals has flown by. I’m fortunate to be working with a very talented IT team and we recognize there is always room for improvement. We have already made some very positive changes and improvements. We are tightening up how we manage and monitor the production environment to reduce preventable incidents.

We do a root cause analysis on every major incident and review them as a team at our bi-weekly leadership meeting, tracking all subsequent action items. We are making progress on numerous major priority projects and there have been several system upgrades and go lives during this period. We are doing detailed planning for our new hospital integration efforts. We are launching our visual management board and leadership huddle next week as part of our lean efforts. And we have re-established an executive level IT steering committee addressing the critical need for IT governance.

Our third IT steering committee will be Monday evening. Our CEO and other senior executives are engaged – exactly what we needed. They are developing a deeper understanding of our current work and the many new requests we have received since this year’s budget was approved. We have reviewed with them how our work aligns with UH strategic goals and ranked the projects in relative priority order.

At the upcoming meeting we will discuss our strategy for new hospital integration. In particular, we will look at the impact of system-wide requests before all hospitals are on the core systems. And we will look closely at the new requests – why are they needed this year and how do they align with UH strategy.

There is an insatiable demand for IT at UH — just like at every other organization I’ve worked for.  But the “yes machine” can’t continue unless there are tradeoffs. IT leadership teams appreciate it when executives say “it’s OK to say no” and that “there can’t be back doors and end runs when something is not approved”. And that approving new projects at this stage in the year means making tradeoffs –  something has to come off the list or get pushed down to make time for a new project.

The scope of responsibilities for our executive IT steering committee is not unique or earth shaking – it is the basics you would expect to see:

–      Primary governing body for IT strategy and operations

–      Communication ambassador for IT

–      Planning for future initiatives and direction

–      Balance conflicting priorities

–      Guidance on specific projects as needed

–      Approve unplanned projects

–      Provide input and oversight on IT policies

Basic but needed. One of the 4 questions I asked in every executive meet and greet session was: how can I have the greatest impact as an interim?  IT governance was a common response. Just over three months on the job and we are having our third steering committee. I listened and they were ready. For a CIO, that’s a good place to be.

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