IT Governance To Align Your IT & Business: Here’s How

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What is IT governance?

To understand that, we first have to make one thing clear:

Businesses always have different goals, even non-profit ones. And change is constant in the industry.

So, the goal of information technology (IT) is to improve business efficiency, productivity, security, and how tools and platforms work together internally.

IT supports your business goals by allowing you to work better and to grow as a business.

That’s where IT governance comes in.

IT governance is a formal framework that provides a structure for your organization to ensure IT investments, needs, and objectives support your business objectives.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a much better understanding of what those objectives are, exactly. And what are some proactive steps you can take so that your IT governance supports your business goals.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Importance of IT governance: How this framework can help align your IT and business goals with the right strategy.
  • 5 Main benefits for small businesses to function properly and get ready for scaling with IT governance.
  • How does IT governance affect your cybersecurity? Go over these areas to support business goals and enhance cybersecurity
  • Automation within IT governance to support risk and vulnerability assessment. How to structure your development based on your IORCAAs

Before we get started…

It’s worth noting there is no “one-size-fits-all” IT governance or security solution. Every business is different.

Need help setting up custom IT governance or strategy that makes sense for your unique business?

Get in touch for a free consultation about your IT roadmap and scale your business with strategic IT planning now! Not ready to chat? No worries, try checking out our IT Governance Checklist here:

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What Is IT Governance And Why Is It Important For Small Businesses?

Typically, the main goal of a business is to make money, right?

Unless it’s a non-profit, businesses usually have an end goal they want to get to, from point A to point B.

Both public and private sector organizations need a way to ensure their IT functions support business strategies and objectives.

Essentially, IT governance helps provide a structure for aligning IT strategy with the right business strategy.

Done right, a formal program should take the stakeholders’ interests into account, as well as the needs of the staff and the processes they follow in their day-to-day operations.

There are 3 main pillars that come together to form IT governance:

  • Security – This involves safeguarding your digital assets such as data, networks, systems, and applications from unauthorized access. Best practices here include implementing firewalls, encryption, and doing regular security audits.
  • IT risk management – Identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks associated with IT systems and operations. This pillar helps create a risk management framework that considers potential threats, vulnerabilities, and their potential impact on the organization.
  • And computer/system auditing – Auditing involves reviewing and assessing your IT systems, infrastructure, and practices to ensure compliance with established policies, standards, and regulatory requirements. For example, if you work in healthcare, this involves HIPAA compliance.

This is what we follow to make sure our partners are safe and they’re able to do their business properly.

By integrating these pillars into IT governance, we help partners create a strong foundation for a secure, reliable, and efficient IT environment.

Here’s how this can benefit you.

Why is IT governance important? 5 Main benefits to consider for small businesses

Almost every aspect of your business relies on IT in one way or another to function properly.

IT activities are impossible to ignore or leave unchecked.

Done right, here are 5 main benefits IT governance can help your business grow.

  • Aligning with business goals: IT governance ensures your IT strategy and investments are closely aligned with your overall business strategy. For example, this can directly support your expansion strategy by prioritizing website improvements and scalability enhancements.
  • Risk mitigation: Through IT governance, small businesses can identify, assess, and mitigate IT-related risks such as vulnerabilities in the network.
  • Enhanced decision-making: A structured IT governance framework defines roles, responsibilities, and makes it clear who is accountable for what IT decisions and investments. In other words, this is essential if you want to scale.
  • Improved operational efficiency: The right IT solutions helps streamline IT processes and day-to-day operations. This means reduced downtime, increased efficiency, and better utilization of IT resources.
  • Enhanced security and better compliance: The focus on security within IT governance helps protect sensitive data from cyber threats. Depending on your industry or business, this can also include adhering to relevant regulations and reducing risk of legal issues.

The last point is particularly important.

Fortifying your business with cybersecurity solutions is more and more important nowadays.

This includes things like cyber insurance, which on its own, requires many businesses to follow cybersecurity best practices such as:

  • Installing a strong firewall in place.
  • Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) as an extra layer of protection with a dedicated app like Authy.
  • Updating operating systems.
  • And educating employees on other best practices for their daily interactions with IT.

It all comes down to what’s best for your business and what is NOT going to impede your workers as much as possible.

Why Cybersecurity Within IT Governance Is Getting More And More Important

The most hacked password in the U.S. in 2023 so far has been “password”.

As you might have noticed, the focus on cybersecurity has gotten more and more important.

Most websites and apps require you to use a more complex password (at least 16 characters, one capital, one special letter, etc.).

You need the best security level, but also, you don’t want your employees to feel frustrated within their operations. Which would just slow things down even more.

Writing your password down on a sticky pad and putting it in front of your screen is probably the most convenient for employees.

But for obvious reasons, it’s also worst for cybersecurity.

Other options that have the right balance of security and convenience also include biometric security, FIDO security keys, 2FA, and more.

Look at it like managing risk.

2FA is probably one of the most essential (and also obvious) ways to prepare your business for cyber warfare.

At the same time, it can also be the most effective and save you a lot of trouble.

If a hacker tries breaking into your account and sees you’re using two-factor authentication, in most cases, they’re going to leave you alone and try a different business. 

When somebody tries opening the first door they see and it’s locked, they move onto a new house.

The same applies to your cybersecurity.

So that your IT governance also supports your business goals and enhances cybersecurity, you’ll also want to go over other areas in your business such as:

  • Assessment and planning: Identify areas that need improvement and align your IT strategy with your business objectives.
  • Stakeholder investment: Include stakeholders from various departments in the decision-making process. Their insights can ensure IT investments align with other business needs.
  • Security policies and training: Establish clear guidelines, best practices, and other training information for your employees. This is so that they recognize phishing attempts and follow best cybersecurity practices.
  • Backup and recovery: In case of an emergency, you’ll have the right processes to recover your important data and information.
  • Regular testing: IT governance and cybersecurity are not a “once-and-done” process. Over time, you should conduct penetration and vulnerability testing to identify weaknesses in your IT infrastructure, or areas you can further optimize.

How does automation help IT governance?

Another thing to consider which helps a lot here is automation.

Automated governance brings speed and quality assurance to information security, audit compliance, and change management.

One way to structure automated governance is to categorize each step of the development lifecycle. This can be based on your IORCAAs (Inputs, Outputs, Risks, Controls, Actors, Actions):

  • Inputs – What’s required for a process step to operate.
  • Outputs – Byproducts expected as an outcome of processing of the step.
  • Risks – Any potential risks that need to be mitigated.
  • Controls – Specific policy controls which should be addressed at this stage.
  • Actors – Relevant people required to process the step.
  • Actions – Type of processing that turns input into output and evaluates to some expectation.

There are automation tools to look at firewalls, PCs, servers, and other logs to pull them back to a point to have reports to generate for red flags.

You don’t need to know every log for every time the server was turned off to reboot because of an update.

However, automation makes it easy to scrape any logs over a period of time to manually sift through them in case of any important monitoring. Usually this is done monthly, unless urgent things are needed to fix.

Recap And Where To Go From Here

The industry is moving fast. But the information access and automation help with a lot of IT governance and security tasks.

A lot of risk assessments and audits can be automated to a degree now.

When looking at the IT security of your business, you should ask yourself:

How high do you want to build the wall?

Someone can always make a ladder that’s higher than your wall. 

But after a point, if someone has to jump through too many hoops to hack into your business, they simply won’t bother and will go after someone which will require less effort.

This may sound obvious, but it’s extremely important.

Especially for small businesses. That’s because small businesses account for 43% of cyber attacks annually and SMBs spend between $826 and $653,587 on cybersecurity incidents, according to a report. While 95% of breaches are attributed to human error.

In summary, IT governance is an important framework that ensures your organization’s IT investments and strategies align with your business objectives.

Typically, it covers areas such as your security, risk management, compliance assessment, and more.

So, all that said, it can be hard to decide where to start, especially as a small business when you’re managing other departments and goals.

So, if you need a comprehensive cyber evaluation that covers your:

  • Risk assessment.
  • Penetration testing.
  • Posture assessment.
  • Vulnerability assessment.
  • Compliance assessment.
  • And more, depending on your unique business requirements.

Get in touch for a free, cybersecurity assessment intro here!