Do Boards Required a Technology Audit Committee?

What does FedEx, Pfizer, Wachovia, 3Com, Mellon Financial, Shurgard Storage, Sempra Energy and Proctor & Gamble have in common? What board committee exists for just 10% of publicly TRADED BUSINESS but produces 6.5% greater returns for those companies? What is the single largest budget product after wages and producing equipment?

Technology decisions will outlast the period of the management team making those choices. While the existing fast pace of technological modification indicates that corporate technology choices are regular and far-reaching, the repercussions of the decisions-both good and bad-will stay with the firm for a long period of time. Typically innovation decisions are made unilaterally within the Information Technology (IT) group, over which senior management opted to have no input or oversight. For the Board of a company to perform its duty to exercise business judgment over key choices, the Board needs to have a system for examining and directing technology decisions.


A current example where this sort of oversight would have helped was the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) mania of the mid-1990’s. At the time, numerous companies were investing tens of countless dollars (and in some cases numerous millions) on ERP systems from SAP and Oracle. Frequently these purchases were justified by executives in Finance, HR, or Operations highly promoting their purchase as a way of keeping up with their competitors, who were likewise SETTING UP such systems. CIO’s and line executives often did not offer sufficient thought to the problem of the best ways to make a successful shift to these really complicated systems. Alignment of corporate resources and management of organizational modification brought by these brand-new systems was neglected, often leading to a crisis. Lots of billions of dollars were invested in systems that either ought to not have been bought at all or were purchased before the customer business were prepared.

No successful medium or big business can be run today without computer systems and the software that makes them useful. Innovation likewise represents among the single largest capital and running line product for business expenses, outside of labor and production devices. For both of these reasons, Board-level oversight of technology is proper at some level.

Most big technology choices are naturally dangerous (studies have shown less than half deliver on promises), while bad decisions take years to be repaired or changed. Over half of the technology financial investments are not returning anticipated gains in company performance; Boards are consequently ending up being involved in technology choices.

Tectonic shifts are under method in how innovation is being supplied, which the Board has to comprehend. IT industry consolidation seriously decreases strategic versatility by damaging management’s capability to think about competitive alternatives, and it develops potentially dangerous dependence on just a few essential providers.

The core asset of flourishing and lasting company is the ability to respond or perhaps expect the effect of outside forces. Technology has ended up being a barrier to organizational agility for a number of reasons:

  •  Core legacy systems have calcified
  •  IT facilities has failed to keep rate with changes in business
  • Inflexible IT architecture leads to a high percentage of IT expense on maintenance of existing systems and insufficient on brand-new abilities
  •  Short-term operational decisions infringe on business’s long term ability to remain competitive

Traditional Boards do not have the abilities to ask the ideal concerns to guarantee that technology is thought about in the context of regulative requirements, danger and agility. This is due to the fact that innovation is a reasonably new and fast-growing occupation. CEOs have actually been around since the beginning of time, and monetary therapists have been progressing over the previous century. Technology is so brand-new, and its expense to deploy changes significantly, that the innovation profession is still developing. Technologists have actually dealt with how the systems are created and used to solve problems facing business. Just recently, they acknowledged a have to understand and be associated with the business strategy. The business leader and the monetary leader neither have history nor experience making use of innovation and making key innovation decisions. The Board needs to be included with the executives making innovation decisions, just as the technology leader requires Board assistance and guidance in making those choices.

They in turn are asking for comparable guarantees from the technology leader. The IT Audit Committee of the Board can and ought to fill this space.

What role should the IT Audit Committee play in the company? The IT Audit function in the Board must contribute towards:

  1. Bringing innovation method into positioning with company strategy.
  2. Ensuring that technology decisions remain in the very best interests of shareholders.
  3. Cultivating organizational development and alignment between business systems.
  4. Increasing the Board’s overall understanding of technological issues and repercussions within the company. This type of understanding can not come from monetary analysis alone.
  5. Efficient interaction in between the technologist and the Committee members.

The IT Audit Committee does not need additional board members. Existing board members can be designated the duty, and use consultants to assist them comprehend the problems adequately to provide support to the technology leader.

A review of existing IT Audit Committee Charters shows the following typical qualities:

1. Evaluation, examine and make suggestions on technology-based problems of importance to business.

  • Appraise and seriously evaluate the financial, strategic and tactical advantages of proposed major innovation related jobs and innovation architecture options.
  • Oversee and seriously review the progress of major innovation related projects and technology architecture choices.

2. Recommend the senior innovation management group at the firm
3. Display the quality and efficiency of innovation systems and processes that associate with or impact the company’s internal control systems.

Essentially, the Board’s role in IT Governance is to ensure alignment between IT initiatives and business objectives, display actions taken by the innovation guiding committee, and confirm that innovation processes and practices are delivering value to business. Strategic alignment between IT and the business is basic to building a technology architectural foundation that creates active organizations. Boards should be aware of technological threat direct exposures, management’s evaluation of those threats, and mitigation methods considered and adopted.

There are no new principles here-only affirmation of existing governance charters. The execution of technology decisions falls upon the management of the company. The oversight of management is the responsibility of the Board. The Board has to take suitable ownership and become proactive in governance of the innovation.

Do Boards need a Technology Audit committee? Yes, a Technology Audit Committee within the Board is required since it will lead to technology/business alignment. It is more than simply the right thing to do; it is a best practice with real bottom-line benefits.

MICHAEL SIERSEMA is a Handling Partner/CEO of Phoenix2000 Group LLC concentrating on technology advisory services.

Typically innovation decisions are made unilaterally within the Details Innovation (IT) group, over which senior management chose to have no input or oversight. Over half of the innovation financial investments are not returning anticipated gains in company efficiency; Boards are consequently ending up being involved in innovation decisions. The business leader and the monetary leader neither have history nor experience using technology and making key innovation decisions. The Board needs to be included with the executives making innovation choices, just as the technology leader needs Board assistance and support in making those choices.

Basically, the Board’s function in IT Governance is to make sure alignment between IT efforts and business goals, screen actions taken by the innovation guiding committee, and confirm that technology processes and practices are providing value to the company.