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IT Governance: One Important Question Credit Union Boards And CEOs Should Ask About Technology

11/09/2013


A recent survey of senior executives shows that over 80 percent of large IT projects are not delivered on time, on budget or realize intended benefits. This is a staggering statistic. Little wonder then, that boards often struggle with how best to extend their oversight while CEOs consider how best to execute their management responsibilities when it comes to technology-related challenges. This is especially relevant in the financial services sector, where products are information-based and ongoing IT investments are sizeable in relation to the total capital budget.

There are a number of questions credit union boards and CEOs should ask about technology. A quick search of various publications available online will turn up anywhere from the top five to the top twenty questions boards and senior executive teams should be asking themselves about the latest technology project. Each is useful depending on the nature and scope of work being considered or already underway.

All too often, the questions themselves are highly technical in nature, requiring state-of-the-art subject matter expertise. The support offered by suppliers to oversee and service the installation is an important consideration, but technology is not a panacea and will not in and of itself deliver value. The more pressing question is whether or not the organization is equipped with the right capabilities to deliver value from information technology. Sometimes the right technology solution can disappoint in the absence of a clear strategy, appropriate skills and training, efficient processes and all of the elements that combine to produce a good result both on time and on budget.

A sound project plan that is rooted in the business with input from relevant stakeholders –including front-line employees, members and key partners – will help identify potential pitfalls, make for a smoother transition and deliver desired benefits. For some, this may mean contracting the assistance of a third party experienced in large-scale IT project methodologies to work alongside the executive team, mitigate inherent risks and guide the project through to successful completion.

As one credit union CEO remarked to me in a discussion of the topic, “There are no IT projects. There are only business projects with IT components. The business projects need to follow the strategic plan.” Wise words, indeed.