Corporate governance basics challenge IT, business

While corporate governance is not new, especially for CEOs who witnessed some of the biggest, high-profile failures in corporate history in recent years, the problems it brings challenge many IT shops tackling a broad range of corporate governance and compliance issues.

Meta Group managing director Mary Anne Maxwell, speaking last week at a BMC Software seminar, said IT managers realize that a company's own IT infrastructure is now on display for the world to see.

Maxwell said there are four major disciplines behind comprehensive corporate governance - regulatory compliance, performance management, risk management and ethics management.

"Not that this framework is likely to stop future corporate collapses; you can't legislate ethical behaviour," she said.

Mallesons Stephen Jaques partner Patrick Gunning said there are company directors still only now realizing the importance of IT to their business.

"Corporate governance is here to stay and Australian IT managers are going to have to deal with it. They should take it as an opportunity to gain tangible business benefits," Gunning said.

BMC Software vice president Chip Nemesi said the concept of corporate governance is easy.

"It's very simple, it just verifies that a CIO or CFO has to know what's going on in their company," Nemesi said.

"All of us [saw] the effects of the Enron debacle and if you followed the case at all you would know that the CIO had an interesting defence - 'I had no idea this was going on in my company'."

However, Nemesi said, the worst-case scenario has shifted from the threat to CEOs of simply losing their jobs, to becoming personally liable for problems.

"Most of these new rules and regulations are aimed at making key company executives and directors take more personal responsibility for the veracity of financial statements and the stability of their organizations," Nemesi said.

"I don't think anyone has their head in the sand on this. For the most part, they're thinking whether this makes sense or not, [compliance] is coming and I need to get my house into order."

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