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Difference between IT governance and IT Service management

December 1, 2018Published in: Blogs
A very basic concept of ITIL/ITSM program is the distinction between strategic IT governance and the tactical IT management. Before we start discussion over the topic, let us first differentiate between the two terms (management and Governance). Where former is concerned with the creation of operating decisions, the latter focuses on creation of a setting in which others can mange more effectively. Similarly IT service management is focused on operational excellence of IT functions and IT governance is concerned with facilitating strategic decisions. Let us now discuss in detail the roles of each and how IT service management in Dubai is affecting IT centric companies.

Evolution of IT function within organizations

Over the years IT has become the backbone of businesses to the point where it shall be nearly impossible for many to function without it. IT organizations normally follow a three-stage process that begins with IT infrastructure management (ITIM). A good infrastructure management means maximizing returns on computing assets and taking charge of infrastructure (devices and the data they generate). The next stage is IT service management (ITSM) that monitors whether IT organization is actively identifying the needs of its customers and focusing on planning to deliver those services to meet the availability, performance and security requirements. The very last stage IT governance is a by-product of the evolution of IT organizations to IT business value management. These organizations then serve as true business partners enabling new business opportunities. In this stage IT processes are fully integrated with the entire lifecycle of business processes resulting in improved service quality and business flexibility.


Currently Information Technology should undoubtedly be achieved in IT organizations focusing on management of IT that is service oriented (ITSM) and an IT governance established so as to show alignment of IT with the Enterprise Governance objectives. The definitions for IT governance have been constantly changing. In 2001, IT Governance institute defined it as the responsibility of board of directors and executive management. Also being an integral part of enterprise governance it consists of organizational structures, leadership aspects and processes that ensures extension and sustaining of organizations’ strategy and objectives. However the evolution of IT organizations from technology providers to service providers needs a shift of perspective on IT management. IT services management places services delivered by IT at the center of IT management and hence can be defined as a set of processes that collaborate ensuring the quality of live IT services meeting the levels of service agreed to by customer. It is applied to other management domains such as network management, systems development, systems management and also other process domains including: change management, problem management and asset management.

Differences between the two

Coming on the differences of each, the two concepts vary when it comes to their functionality. For example in very simple words, IT Governance focuses on evaluation, direction while IT management plans, builds , runs and monitors activities in order to support the governance objectives. As identified by Peterson (2003), the domain of IT management focuses on the efficient and effective supply of IT services and products along with management of IT operations, IT governance faces the dual demand of not only contributing to current business operations and performance but also positioning and transforming IT in order to meet future business challenges. The major goal of IT governance is to align with the objectives of the business as defined by Enterprise governance. These goals are used as an input to derive Objectives and performance metrics that are required to manage IT effectively. ITSM, the people related and processes control and manage IT services and infrastructure as per the objectives identified from IT governance.

The commonly used best practices for IT governance include:

  • Getting straight business priorities
  • Starting with implementation reviews Instead of IT investments
  • Avoid too many executives, committees and meetings
  • Never mistake good governance for project success
  • Match the approach with the structure and culture of the firm.

The commonly used best practices for IT service management include:

  • Identifying upfront the problems being solved using ITSM implementation
  • Looking at processes over tools and technology
  • Doing it smartly yet taking care of the budget
  • Choosing partners carefully

Concepts related to IT governance

It is important to discuss the framework of Control objectives for information and related technology (COBIT) when discussing about IT governance. COBIT is designed to be an IT governance aid to the management in their comprehension of risks and benefits management and understanding directly linked to information and technology. COBIT creates a connection between business objectives of an enterprise, the IT involved and IT management tasks via statements regarding control objectives. Many professionals who have management, advisory and assurance responsibilities related to IT governance are advised to acquire CGEIT certification. Many companies and governmental agencies consider CGEIT a prerequisite for employees involved with enterprise IT governance. The certification ensures that you have proven experience and knowledge in governance of enterprise IT.

Case study

A brilliant example exhibiting the merger of both practices (IT governance and ITSM) could be Queensland health, a large Australian government agency, which implemented a centralized IT service management model based on ITIL framework. The study revealed that the success of the project was dependent on the commitment of senior management and so is the recognition of the need to for an appropriate change management strategy for transforming organizations culture to a service-oriented focus. It also highlighted the importance of maintaining close relations with multiple vendors in order facilitate technology transfer in-house staff. An effective project governance and execution process further contributes to the implementation success.

This is just one example, there are many others that confirm the need for both the tools for achieving objectives and staying ahead of competition with a smart change management strategy.

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