Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Importance of IT Governance

Gartner defines IT Governance (ITG) as "the processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals." ITG ensures that the IT organization operates in an effective, efficient and compliant fashion. This includes processes for project prioritization & management, product selection, systems implementation, IT security, oversight & review and even funding.

From the perspective of the IT users within an organization, IT governance is often seen as an unnecessary set of procedures set by senior management that hinders the productivity of the organization. While IT governance does represent a set of management standards and policies to be followed, at its core IT governance is primarily concerned with the alignment of the goals and objectives of the business with the utilization of its IT resources to effectively achieve the desired results. The end result of good IT governance is that it aligns your business strategically to support the growth of the IT enterprise architecture so that it delivers consistent and improved business value. In contrast, poor IT governance can lead to wasted resource efforts, bureaucracy, lower morale, reduced financial performance, and expose an organization to IT security issues.

Characteristics of Good IT Governance
  • IT investments and decisions are assessed in a similar manner to business investments and decisions. This means there is top management participation in key IT decisions. There is oversight of IT investments, and a steering committee of executives are held accountable for realizing benefits.
  • IT is an essential part of corporate planning and strategic planning. IT understands the business dynamics and contributes to the development of the business strategy. IT and business work together to identify opportunities and improve efficiencies.
  • Top IT risks are considered within the entire enterprise risk management framework. Risks such as data protection, IT security and business continuity receive periodic steering committee review.
  • IT performance is regularly reviewed and compared with industry best practices.
  • How decisions are made and why is well understood. Expectations and outcomes are clearly communicated to the stakeholders. Formal exception processes are documented to promote transparency.

As business organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on IT, there is growing recognition that IT governance is an essential part of the overall corporate governance. Alignment between IT and business strategy, as well as between IT and business governance, must develop and remain strong.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post.
David Schuchman

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Makes a Website Effective?

If you soon plan to develop a new website, or if you have an existing one, it's necessary that you understand the attributes and characteristics that can make or break the effectiveness of your online presence and brand. An unattractive or poorly built website will do more to hurt your online presence than to help it.

Website & Web Page Purpose
A good web design always caters to the needs of the user. Each page of your website needs to have a specific purpose & message. It must fill the need for your website users in the most effective way possible. Minimize mixing messages or topics on any one page. Keep separate topics or messages on their own pages, or create separate visual sections on a webpage with their own topics.

Organized for Good Communication
People reading on the web tend to want information quickly. So it is important to communicate clearly, and to make your information easy to read and digest. Some effective features to include in your web design include:
  • Organizing information using headlines and sub headlines.
  • Using bullet points instead of long winded sentences.
  • Each page or page section keeps to one topic.
Short Load Time
Everyone hates a website that takes a long time to load.  Tips to make page load times more effective include:
  • Optimizing image sizes (size and scale).
  • Do not use very high resolution images. Their data density requires more load time.
  • Combining code into a central CSS or JavaScript file, which reduces HTTP requests.

Clear Fonts
In general, Sans Serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana are easier to read online. Sans Serif fonts are contemporary looking fonts without decorative finishes of Serif fonts such as Times New Roman. The good font size for reading easily online is 15 - 16 point.

Block/Grid Layout
By placing content randomly on each web page, you can end up with a haphazard appearance that is unattractive and not functional. Grid based layouts arrange content into sections, columns and boxes that line up and feel balanced. Doing so leads to a better looking website design.

Add Images
A picture is worth a thousand words. Choosing the right images for your website can help with branding and in connecting with your target audience. If you don’t have high quality professional photos on hand, consider purchasing stock photos to lift the look of your website. Also consider using videos and other graphics. All of these can be much more effective at communicating than even the most well written piece of text.

Mobile Compatible
It is now very common to access websites from multiple devices with multiple screen sizes. This includes tablets and smartphones. So, it is important to consider that your website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly:
  • You can either rebuild it in a responsive layout. This means your website will adjust to different screen widths and platforms.
  • You can build a dedicated mobile website. That would be a separate website optimized specifically for mobile users.
Search Engine Optimized (SEO)
There are hundreds of rules and guidelines for effective search engine optimization. However, this is not the place to cover them all. To start, follow these simple rules:
  • Include plenty of written content in HTML format. Limit using Flash, JavaScript or image-only objects for your navigational items.
  • Use your important keywords frequently and appropriately in your written content.
  • Leverage your links. Make them descriptive and use your keywords in the link text.
  • Add links to other websites.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post.
David Schuchman