What is an IT Steering Committee? (3 Reasons You Need One)

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December 18, 2023

Setting up an IT Steering Committee is the best way to ensure your stakeholders get a high-level understanding of IT. Sometimes referred to as a Technology Planning Committee, an IT Steering Committee is a powerful way to unify your people and processes around technology, so everyone has a voice.

Avasant Research has a perfect definition of an IT Steering Committee, so I will quote them directly:

“An IT steering committee is a committee of senior executives to direct, review, and approve IT strategic plans, oversee major initiatives, and allocate resources. It is not involved in the day-to-day management of the IT organization. Rather, the steering committee establishes IT priorities for the business as a whole. The IT steering committee is a foundational practice for IT governance. However, just having a committee in name only does not satisfy the criteria for this IT management best practice. It should be established officially, with defined roles and responsibilities, and meet regularly.”

An IT Steering Committee meeting can be formal or informal with quarterly, bi-annual, or annual cadences. I recommend engaging more frequently than once per year but taking that first step forward is huge.

Slow and steady wins the prize. The article covers:

  • Three major benefits
  • Inspiration for your team to begin the journey
  • How your MSP, their vCIOs, and vCISOs can lead the charge to keep everyone on track

 

#1 – IT Steering Committees Enhance Strategic Alignment

Each functional area of your business shares infrastructure: workstations, servers, cloud services, telephony, switches, cloud backup solutions, firewalls, and more.

Does everything communicate? Are any services being duplicated?

Your vCIO can quickly provide answers and transparency with exhibits that include but are not limited to:

  • Strategic IT Roadmaps
  • Network Diagrams
  • Hardware, software, and subscription services (refresh planning, contracts, licensing, and warranty renewal details)
  • Recommendations for improvements prioritized by goals, risk, business impact, and budget

It’s critical to keep finance, HR, marketing, production, and sales involved in the conversation. Plus, you’ll need their input.

Giving influencers a seat at the table reduces single points of failure, highlights potential weak spots, and promotes the advancement of business-enabling technology that aligns with your mission.

If you’re a new Integris client, there’s no time like to present to set up your first strategic business review.

 

#2 – IT Steering Committees Strengthen Compliance

Cybersecurity, compliance, and regulation give everyone headaches. However, you can unleash momentous productivity gains if you master the planning and approval process, and learn how to assess risk.

vCIOs frequently collaborate with virtual Chief Information Security Officers (vCISOs) at SMBs and with CISOs at larger organizations. While most vCIOs are well-versed in cybersecurity, a vCISO has a deeper level of security expertise, including CISSP accreditation. Think of a vCIO as an infrastructure authority and a vCISO as a security risk assessment specialist. Since both are technical, they speak the same language and can decode any confusing tech jargon for your IT steering committee.

This partnership improves your compliance readiness as regulators push companies to adopt cybersecurity frameworks like NIST CSF, ISO 27001/27002, SOC2, HIPAA, CMMC, and GDPR.

This trend codifies standards and inspires innovative business-class solutions in the cloud.

Each exercise follows approved requirements encompassing infrastructure, applications, and wide area networks.

While most people have misgivings about government mandates, you garner spillover benefits by playing along when you follow regulatory guidelines.

NIST CSF and Microsoft 365 make it easy for SMBs to follow a compliance-friendly blueprint.

 

#3 – IT Steering Committees Promote Accountability

IT Steering Committee members build accountability by vetting needs, measuring outcomes, and agreeing on budgets with their peers.

Since each functional area of your business relies on specialized software applications, representatives from finance, HR, marketing, production, and sales need a forum to share their business requirements.

You also need everyone in the same room to assess what’s working and investigate potential efficiencies. Finance may use a custom app that can be supplanted by a better solution currently employed by the marketing department.

Even better, your MSP most likely has Professional Services Automation (PSA) technology that classifies ticket matters by category. These records can be very descriptive and presented in easy-to-read pie charts.

For example, support ticket volume increases when the finance department has persistent access issues with an aging server. Anyone who reviews the evidence will quickly conclude the old equipment is a liability.

Now committee members can make a case for upgrading to a software-as-a-service alternative. And get their fair share of the budgetary pie.

Does the sales department have training issues? Are they using an unapproved (and risky) application? Would they be better off sharing resources with another department?

All are good questions the committee needs to review with the leadership of a world-class vCIO.

 

Establishing an IT Steering Committee

Under the proper leadership of a vCIO, your IT Steering Committee gets global and granular visibility into critical technology.

If you engage a vCISO, you further secure all assets and critical technology with security policies, plans, and procedures.

This general oversight from a wide swath of decision-makers, helps you eliminate information silos and single points of failure.

Please schedule a discovery session if you need more inspiration to set up an IT Steering Committee.

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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