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The need for governance


In the language of IT there are often words which, to an English speaker,
would make no sense in the context that they are used, writes Mark
Strathmore, sale/partner director at Software AG.

For example, to be "made redundant" would mean that you were laid off,
fired, or superfluous. However, if you were a CIO and presented to the board
that you had "redundant" systems, chances are you would receive a pat on the
back because your systems were insulated against failure.
One of the few words that means what it says in both "IT" and in English, is
"governance," (it means supremacy, control, power, and authority).
Governance has been intrinsic to business all along, with the odd exception
such as WorldCom, Enron, the Kebble saga, and such like. Good governance,
for example, would suggest that those composing a tender should not profit
from the adjudication, awarding, or implementation of it – there are obvious
lessons here for those awarding arms deals, for example.
As a more simplistic example, have you ever wondered why items in stores
often cost R9.95, R199.95, or R999.99? It is not because marketers suffer
under the misconception that you will not buy the item for R200.00 but will
do so for R199.95; rather it is because this ensures that the cashier must
open the till in order to tender change (and hence record the transaction).
Once the transaction is recorded, any form of corruption would require
collusion between the cashier and the person monitoring the transactions –
this makes the crime significantly more challenging.
In organisations, governance may mean that sales commissions may be approved
by the Sales Director, but only paid after being checked by finance or the
In the justice system, Judges earn a salary for life in return for not being
otherwise employed and hence can maintain impartiality.
The point of these examples is to illustrate that governance is not some
abstract IT concept, but rather a concept which should be woven into the
very fabric of business (and life) itself. As such, is it unrealistic to
expect that a company which aims to exhibit good governance can expect to do
so without incorporating governance into its business infrastructure
In the context of Software AG's SOA (service oriented architecture) software
and methodologies, corporate governance leads to IT governance, which in
turn leads to visibility and accountability.
It is critical that governance is not a "bolt-on" to a SOA rollout, but
rather is intrinsic to the entire SOA lifecycle: design time, run time, and
change time. This means that at design time, there are rules and policies
governing the creation of web services (i.e. web services must conform to
corporate and industry standards). At run time, governance dictates rules
and policies for the deployment and utilisation of these services.
Run time governance also involves service level agreement and monitoring.
Finally, at change time, governance is all important in managing services
through the change lifecycle. At some point, services will need to be
adapted to maintain step with changing business requirements, and arguably
this is the most important part of the process.
Traditional software development is only changed through recoding and
redeploying new code, however the rapidity of change enabled by SOA makes
appropriate controls even more important to ensure managed outcomes.
In conclusion, governance is as important to an organisation's business
infrastructure and SOA, as it is to that organisation's corporate policies,
management policies, and financial controls. Software AG is the leader in
this field, and has a thirty-year pedigree in robust and scalable enterprise