IT Governance From the Get-Go

A lack of governance can mean chaos, as CIO Steven W. Agnoli knows well. When Agnoli arrived at the Pittsburgh-based law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP in 1998, there were no formal governance processes in sight. "The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing," he says. "Whoever had the biggest hammer got the most attention."

That situation could have been disastrous as the firm grew from 390 lawyers and six offices on the East Coast to a trans-Atlantic entity with 1,000 attorneys in a dozen offices and revenue of $472 million following a 2005 merger. But Agnoli got to work and established a process that sets priorities, garners sponsorship, and monitors progress for integration of new staff and offices. And having governance structures in place will be crucial now that Kirkpatrick has entered a new round of merger talks. Decision making requires an integration steering committee to approve each step with the help of an integration team, made up of members from various law practices and other divisions, including IT. "We're part of the process from day one," Agnoli says. "That way, we have more time to build a better plan."

Michael Ybarra is a contributing writer for SearchCIO-Midmarket.com. Write to him at editor@ciodecisions.com.

This was first published in January 2007

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