The Role of IT Governance (Types, Frameworks)


Today, having guiding principles across all business disciplines might sound like a no-brainer. After all, we have so many applications and tools developed solely to reinforce processes and drive productivity. 

But if you’re a CIO implementing a digital transformation project, how do you cut through the noise and the saturation of industry best practices to determine the right course of action? 

Since the 1970s, the US government has introduced the term corporate governance to reign in bad business practices — like fraud and corruption. It became clear that poor business governance could result in overall market instability, a prediction that came true when risky behavior from financial institutions caused the 2008 recession. 

Defining the proper IT guidelines for business services in the age of data, advanced technologies, and the digital workplace is a natural — and necessary — progression. 

Established organizations have come together over the years to develop and iterate IT governance frameworks that businesses can use immediately to transform how they work.

What Is IT Governance?

IT governance is a set of formalized standards and processes that businesses follow to ensure that all IT investments are necessary, feasible, and delivering bottom-line results. IT governance frameworks are designed so organizations can reduce the likeliness of risks and losses due to unethical or improper management of data, technology, and business operations. 

These guidelines emerged after many leading organizations came under fire for their business practices in the early 2000s. For example, the accounting scandals that rocked major enterprises like WorldCom and Tyco led to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

In today’s data-rich business environment, industries impose more regulations to prevent organizations from executing IT strategies that compromise consumer privacy, financial security, and market stability. 

With IT governance frameworks, companies can be strategic about adopting new digital tools so that all processes comply with industry rules and are more likely to lead to business growth. 

Why Do Enterprises Need an IT Governance Strategy?

Business leaders use corporate governance to guide key decision-making processes and maintain stakeholder satisfaction. 

“Governance comes down to transparency, data, and relationships,” says John Melas-Kyriazi, co-founder and CEO of Quaestor, in Base10’s newsletter.

When it comes to corporate governance, companies fail to detect and address risk early by having poor systems governing stakeholder engagement. The same rules apply to IT governance and IT service delivery

Building a strategy to balance IT investments, data management, and business expectations will lead to the following outcomes: 

  • Risk detection and mitigation: IT departments can define clear roles and protocols for monitoring networks, identifying threats or breaches, and resolving these issues promptly with internal or external experts. Enforcing these guidelines helps all team members learn precisely how to minimize damage, offer aid to affected parties, and follow necessary legal procedures when sensitive data is or is at risk of being compromised.
  • Resource management: Technology adoption projects are often costly, lengthy, and interwoven into multiple business departments and processes. Before approving and executing IT projects, companies can use IT governance procedures to review budgets, talent, software asset management, security compliance, and the necessary workflow improvements required for successful implementation.
  • Alignment with business strategy and goals: All IT projects have to serve a purpose, whether improving a product or offering, boosting employee productivity, unlocking more revenue streams, or streamlining operations. With a framework that ties your IT implementation to tangible business outcomes, teams can better map out project deliverables, timelines, quality standards, and deployment steps that keep within resource constraints.
  • Regulatory compliance: Enterprises across all industries must follow government regulations if they handle sensitive data. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) dictates how healthcare organizations run their digital strategy, while the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) helps financial organizations strengthen their payment processing infrastructure. IT governance guides enterprise UX design to meet these standards at the right time so projects aren’t held up or canceled unexpectedly midway through.
  • Strong stakeholder relationships: The existence of IT frameworks means there’s proper protocol and relevant documentation that stakeholders — whether that’s employees, executives, shareholders, or customers — can refer to for complete visibility into a project. This transparency prevents misunderstandings and facilitates better collaboration, creating an organized environment where everyone feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback.
  • Consistent performance and decision-making: From costly implementations to strict regulations and detrimental implications for poor risk management, it’s clear that consistency is necessary within IT departments. When all IT employees and stakeholders are adequately trained and familiar with IT governance standards, companies have a clear pathway to scale their digital transformation and adoption efforts and plan for success with every single project. 

Types of IT Governance

IT governance is not a generic, all-encompassing practice that applies to specific business criteria and organizational types. The benefit of these frameworks is their ability to adapt to the different needs and priorities of a company. 

In the vast realm of IT, a business can develop its entire strategy around a specific problem that evolves as the product or team matures — and this can look completely different depending on what stage the business is in. 

An emerging company may want to focus on how to use IT to drive growth fast while a more established corporation would have the resources to double down on IT as a way to prevent and predict major risks. Here are several types of IT governance that teams can focus on: 

1. Value delivery

For most organizations, technology is necessary for employees to meet key performance indicators and drive business results. IT governance outlines clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations that teams must adhere to so that technology investments deliver tangible value that stakeholders can see and measure.

IT leaders on LinkedIn recommended companies adopt the following best practices for ensuring value delivery: 

  • Define what value means for your organization: Is your business strategy currently driven by revenue growth, customer retention and satisfaction, or other factors? Having a clear understanding of what success means will help you correctly quantify value with appropriate metrics. 
  • Measure success with a balanced scorecard: Monitor IT performance across four areas: learning and growth, internal, customer, and financial. Successful organizations use this approach to help them identify short-term and long-term strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. 
  • Consistently iterate and improve your strategy: Collect data and share feedback with stakeholders regularly to always stay up-to-date with how your organization executes IT processes, if IT efforts are meeting KPIs, and what your metrics look like compared to industry standards. 

2. IT strategic alignment

If value delivery revolves around measuring actual results, then strategic alignment supports those efforts by creating an environment where IT initiatives are always in sync with business objectives.

This form of IT governance aims to strengthen cross-functional collaboration, allowing technology to integrate seamlessly across all business departments to enable better IT strategic planning.

IT-enabled business strategies occur when technology can effectively empower the right people and processes at the right time. Teams are equipped with the support they need to execute business-critical tasks faster by using technology to:

  • Build better feedback loops and accelerate decision-making between all stakeholders.
  • Optimize all forms of resource expenditure, whether that’s employee productivity and bandwidth, time, or money.
  • Shorten ramp-up times and learning curves for employees so they can contribute value faster.Collect and analyze business data to set consistent standards, encourage innovation, boost customer experiences, and future-proof processes.

3. Performance management

IT management is a term that encompasses a range of operational activities within the IT function, one of them being a specific set of guidelines aimed to hone in on IT performance.

IT performance refers to the quality and effectiveness of all technology processes within the organization. When measuring IT performance, organizations may look into factors like: 

  • IT efficiency: Are your IT processes helping your organization meet goals without expending additional or unnecessary resources to complete tasks? 
  • Service quality: Are your internal or external end-users satisfied with the technology solutions and services they receive from your organization? 
  • Digital adoption: Are your end users equipped with the tools and resources to build technological proficiency and close any digital skill gaps? 
  • Data security and privacy: Are your IT tools and processes enhanced with the necessary systems and protocols to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, cyberattacks, and data breaches? 

A study from AND Digital discovered that 81% of managing directors say a lack of digital skills will negatively impact business performance. “This leaves businesses at a competitive disadvantage as they struggle to close the gaps between their employees’ current capabilities and what is needed to succeed in the digital economy,” writes Ben Laker for Forbes. 

Employees’ IT proficiency and performance can make or break any digital transformation strategy. One example of performance management is the integration of digital adoption platforms (DAPs) into IT processes. 

A DAP empowers IT teams to create in-app guidance and self-help support for end-users across their workforce’s applications – helping to drive the adoption of new tools, create contextual onboarding experiences, facilitating digital transformation, and supporting employees in the flow of work.

Enable your employees, drive software adoption, and accelerate digital transformation with a digital adoption platform.

With a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, enable your employees with in-app guidance and contextual self-help IT support to accelerate the adoption of new software implementations, employee onboarding, change initiates, and more. Whatfix’s no-code editor enables IT teams with a no-code editor to create product tours, interactive walkthroughs,  task lists, smart tips, pop-ups, self-help wikis, and more. Analyze and measure user engagement and software usage to identify friction points, measure digital adoption, and improve employee digital experiences.

4. Resource management

Unlike performance management, IT resource management focuses on the backend operations that dictate the feasibility of any IT initiative — like the people, budgets, and systems that need to be allocated for digital transformation efforts. 

IT management frameworks help companies define standard operating procedures (SOPs) and decision-making criteria for all resource planning, allocation, and monitoring. For example, organizations structure their IT projects around internal or industry-wide guidelines for procurement activities, asset maintenance, asset disposal, and vendor acquisition. 

Resource management is a type of IT governance that calls for strict and forward-looking planning. Failure to acquire or prioritize limited resources will completely dismantle IT projects. Poor IT resource management can lead to irreversible disaster for organizations working with tight roadmaps, limited funding, and high stakeholder expectations. 

5. Risk management

The number of cyberattacks globally increased by 38% in 2022. As more businesses and consumers move toward cloud-based apps and services, the risks of unauthorized access to personal and private data have never been more prevalent. 

IT governance also involves organizations carving out risk management protocols for every technology-driven initiative put in place. A foundation for IT risk management must involve: 

  • Risk identification: Defines how IT departments should monitor networks and report irregularities, vulnerabilities, and threats to the business.
  • Risk assessment: Helps IT departments and stakeholders agree on prioritizing risks for quick and immediate resource allocation when incidents occur. 
  • Risk mitigation: Helps organizations create and optimize workflows for preventing risks from emerging or recurring, such as strategies for compliance assessment, incident resolution, and security training
  • Crisis management and disaster recovery: Outlines clear steps for IT departments to minimize damage when a crisis happens, whether that’s through creating backup systems and data recovery protocol or communicating with experts, legal teams, and stakeholders

IT Governance Frameworks

Companies can work with IT governance frameworks that various IT organizations and groups have developed over the years. 

Instead of building out protocols from scratch, these frameworks give teams a clear starting point for integrating industry-standard IT best practices into their existing organizational culture and processes. 

Here are a few of the most popular IT frameworks that businesses use to protect and upgrade their IT functions: 


The COBIT framework is a well-known set of guidelines that helps businesses manage their IT processes to ensure complete control and compliance. COBIT is used to strengthen alignment between IT initiatives and business strategy by emphasizing areas like information and risk management. 


The ITIL framework defines IT management practices that companies commonly use to improve the quality of their IT delivery services. This framework covers ares such as service strategy design and operations, incident management, and change management. 


Organizations use the COSO framework to oversee their overall IT operations’ compliance, reliability, and safety. Risk management is a core focus area with this framework, giving businesses guidelines for understanding, prioritizing, and managing IT risks that can threaten business strategies. This framework is commonly used by accounting firms, financial organizations, and publicly traded companies. 


The CMMI IT governance model helps organizations improve their processes and performance to reach the highest level of organizational maturity. This framework defines best practices for IT areas like process standardization, performance measurement, and internal IT training so businesses can create a productive and process-driven environment necessary to attain organizational maturity. 


The FAIR framework was created to help businesses manage IT risk, often complementing IT security programs. Large corporations that manage high volumes of confidential information use this framework to help their IT departments predict and quantify risks such as data breaches and loss. 

Enable end-users with in-app guided IT learning and support, and improve digital workflows with Whatfix

Whatfix helps organizations reimagine digital training so it’s less disruptive to everyday workflows and can be seamlessly integrated with IT governance frameworks. 

Businesses use our digital adoption platform to equip their change management efforts with on-demand self-service support, personalized training modules, and interactive in-app content. Reduce dependencies on in-person or virtual training meetings, back-and-forth communication, and customer service requests. 


With Whatfix, boost employee confidence and digital proficiency by enabling just-in-time training that reduces the likeliness of delays, errors, and inefficiencies in your team’s day-to-day work. 

Software clicks better with Whatfix's digital adoption platform

Enable your employees with in-app guidance, self-help support, process changes alerts, pop-ups for department announcements, and field validations to improve data accuracy.

Like this article? Share it with your network.
Subscribe to the Whatfix newsletter now!
Table of Contents
Software Clicks With Whatfix
Whatfix's digital adoption platform empowers your employees, customers, and end-users with in-app guidance, reinforcement learning, and contextual self-help support to find maximum value from software.

Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for the Whatfix blog
Join 300,000+ monthly readers learning how to drive software adoption by signing up to receive the latest best practices and resources.