The scope of an IO program can reach from the reservoir to the sales point and include organizational, data and technology elements. Multiple functional areas are impacted, and it is important that strategic direction, design and implementation decisions consider what is best for the overall company and IO objectives, not just one individual group. In order to accomplish this most effectively, a governance function must be part of pre-program planning.
What NOT to Do
When governance-related shortfalls are present in an IO program it can quickly become a struggle to engage end-users and deliver effective, global solutions on the right timeline. Over the years, we have observed a number of IO initiatives that encountered difficulties due to governance-related reasons which include:
- Ineffective governance due to lack of attention to the creation of the right structure and processes.
- Housing the IO initiative in a particular functional area of the business, which created factions and lack of ownership or buy in by other functional areas.
- Inadequate representation of all the impacted functions or interest groups in the governance structure.
- Establishment of an effective governance structure with clear processes and with the right types of representation is essential to the success of an IO program.
Effective Governance, the Structure
The structure of the governance function is three-fold:
- Governance Board – The interests of key stakeholder groups should be represented as members of the board. Key stakeholder groups may include business units, central engineering organizations and IT along with any other significant group (e.g., finance, procurement, HR).
- Single Authority – When differences of perspective emerge, open issues must be able to be raised to a person recognized as an authority figure. There must be a person at a high level of business management (perhaps as high as a person in the C-suite) who will resolve any issues that cannot be dealt with by the board.
- Advisory Board - An advisory board with expertise in key areas can be important to identifying an appropriate course of action where subject matter disputes arise. Members of this board can include trusted vendor partners with specific expertise that is critical to the program.
Effective Governance, the Process
A clear governance process must be mapped out as part of program pre-planning. This process should be at a level of detail that allows it to be parsed according to the audience. In other words, the process map will look different to a management-level audience than to front-line employees; the former will see information summarized at a management level while the latter will see detail that pertains to their day-to-day activities.
Once the governance process has been mapped out and established, it is critical to communicate the details to stakeholders – hence the need for the parsing noted above. This allows members of the impacted audiences to ask questions and get a clear idea of how they will need to interface with program governance. It will also demonstrate that the IO program is guided by a well-represented governance organization. Communicating the governance process at the right level of detail for each audience will go a long way to help instill the kind of “change mindset” needed to make the program successful.
The information I’ve offered here begins a conversation about effective IO program governance, and hopefully provides some food for thought for anyone seeking an IO approach for their organization. My next post will consider the second essential for successful IO program management – stakeholder engagement.
If you have any other views, please do write in.