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*Editor’s note: This article was first published in the Winter ebizQ Buyer’s Guide print edition, a supplement to the Business Integration Journal.

Sometimes even a buzzword has meaning. Take the notion of “governance.” As in corporate governance, IT governance and yes, now SOA governance.

To some extent, governance is the latest marketing buzzword. Think of it as the paperless office craze in the 1980s, updated for the 21st century with its implied focus on control and efficient management of IT (or application or SOA) environments.

Over the past few years, it’s been hard to escape the marketing slant of governance. While it’s a somewhat overused term, I don’t think it’s one that’s going away anytime soon. Over the past five years we’ve seen a dramatic change towards much greater scrutiny and cost/benefit analysis of IT investment and returns. The general focus we’ve seen on governance is a result of this general business pressure for higher profits and reduced technology investment. As a result, organizations, CIOs and IT managers are leveraging portfolio management practices to justify, expand and explain the value and benefits of their IT resources through the use of IT governance approaches.

Even though the term is overused, it still fills a need for organizations who need to find ways to quantify and qualify the IT or application investments they’re making and define a strategy for control and measurement for their investments. I believe that IT governance, SOA governance and application governance will continue to hold value for both business and IT leaders over the next few years.

In fact, recent shifts towards SOA have increased the need for a rational IT/applications/SOA governance strategy, regardless if you call it governance or management or something else. Service oriented architectures are much more complicated than traditional programming models and effective implementation requires efficient utilization and re-utilization of resources, something that’s difficult if not impossible without a defined (or implicit) IT governance strategy—at least on a project level.

Governance implies responsibility. Good governance means that you know what you’re doing and why. Weak governance implies that the IT (or business) leadership don’t have clear ideas of what they’re doing and why. Implications of weak governance include everything from redundant projects to ineffective applications to IT groups with no clue as to what the business really needs.


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