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IT's Supply, Demand and Governance: EA within Governance

Recently, many CIOs have begun to orientate theirs organisation around a bisected model where the organisation is structured into a demand organisation and a supply organisation. This split generally considered to be evidence of the maturity of the IT organisation (see CHEN, Daniel Q. et al., 2010, p.262). For example, Systems Development (together with the technical infrastructure) is typically positioned as a part of the ‘Supply’ function within the organisation. This is contrasted by the business users, requirements analysis and strategy falling within the ‘Demand’ side.

CIOs are also finding that for this model to succeed, it is often necessary to define a governance function that is independent of either demand governance or supply governance. This arises from the understanding that governance is not only an enforcement activity, but represents a mediation between supply and demand and has a facilitation role. On the demand side, governance is tasked with ensuring the organisation is “doing the right things” whilst on the supply side, governance priorities lie with “doing things right” (GERRARD, Michael, 2010, p.2).

Governance takes many forms, and in the project and delivery lifecycle is already well catered for by established practices such as benefits, programme and portfolio management and in information technology operations management (for example, today organisations are using Benefits and Portfolio Management, PRINCE2:2009 and ITILv3 to good effect in these areas). Central to these discrete governance functions is the overriding mission of better aligning IT with the strategic objectives of the business (SEROTER, Richard, 2011) and improving communication between all stakeholders.

Enterprise Architecture falls within the Governance function, but it is strongly oriented as a facilitation activity. It is a long term undertaking squarely focused on business and IT alignment (SCHMIDT, C and Buxmann, P, 2011). For example, organisations demand measurable requirements with traceable benefits (ENGELSMAN, W et al., 2011). However, before we can affect such changes in systems we need to understand the affected existing processes, resources and functions. We can achieve this by documenting them using an easily understood, standardized, and ubiquitous language. Achieving that documentation and governinig its application is the responsibility of architecture.


CHEN, Daniel Q., David S. PRESTON, and Weidong XIA. 2010. Antecedents and Effects of CIO Supply-Side and Demand-Side Leadership: A Staged Maturity Mode. Journal of Management Information Systems. 27(1), pp.231-271.

ENGELSMAN, W, D QUARTEL, H JONKERS, and M VAN SINDEREN. 2011. Extending enterprise architecture modelling with business goals and requirements. Enterprise Information Systems. 5(1), pp.9-36.

GERRARD, Michael. 2010. IT Governance: Key Initiative Overview. [online]. [Accessed 2 June 2011]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.gartner.com/it/initiatives/pdf/KeyInitiativeOverview_ITGovernance.pdf>

SCHMIDT, C and P BUXMANN. 2011. Outcomes and success factors of enterprise IT architecture management: empirical insight from the international financial services industry. European Journal of Information Systems. 20(2), pp.168-185.

SEROTER, Richard. 2011. Out of Necessity, Enterprise Architecture Begins to Align Closer with Business. [online]. [Accessed 30 May 2011]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.infoq.com/news/2011/05/gartner-enterprise-architecture>

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