Content and data governance

Governance is a formal approach to decision-making and consists of policies and procedures that enable positive change within an organization. Information and technology (IT) governance guides the implementation and management of IT systems to maximize their value, reduce risk in technology investments, and help the organization accomplish its goals. By applying IT governance to ArcGIS, you can deliver clear benefits and achieve long-term success with ArcGIS solutions.

Key characteristics of effective IT governance

Because change within every organization is inevitable, it’s important that IT systems have a way to change along with business needs. Effective IT governance enables IT systems to change by reducing the friction between technologists and business users. It maximizes the business benefits of technology investments by increasing stakeholder engagement and optimizing risk and resources.

By applying the key characteristics of IT governance, which are outlined below, you can better align your GIS technology investments to high-priority business and stakeholder needs. Leveraging these characteristics can help you lead and manage change so you can design, implement, and use GIS to maximize the impact on desired business outcomes.

Business benefits

Technology investments are maximized when outcomes are well aligned to the business needs of the organization—when the technology is used to deliver something of value, such as increased revenue, reduced costs, or improved safety. This means the intended outcomes and the value to the organization should be clearly understood before undertaking activities that require your organization’s resources or funds. The evaluation of business benefits is best accomplished by engaging with stakeholders who understand and can communicate the value of new capabilities.

Risk optimization

Recognizing that while big, transformational change is sometimes required, organizations that want to optimize risk focus on implementing small changes that deliver continuous value over time. They reduce risk by choosing capabilities that are sustainable and then iteratively improve them to stay current with updates in performance, security, reliability, and efficiency. They favor solutions that minimize technical debt, choosing configurable solutions over customization, preferring best of breed technology, and avoiding purchases where weaker solutions deliver overlapping capabilities. They leverage their existing capabilities to maximize their value.

Resource optimization

When an organization understands its business priorities, it can more effectively optimize its resources and assets to support its needs. Within this context, governance guides which solutions get developed and who does the development, based on skills and availability. An important aspect of governance is getting the right people to create the right capabilities.

Stakeholder engagement

A critical component of IT governance is the involvement of stakeholders. By engaging stakeholders more broadly, organizations are more likely to maintain focus on business priorities, reduce risk, and optimize resources. Stakeholders should include representatives from the executive team, line of business managers, enterprise IT, GIS, and other subject matter experts as needed.

Effective IT governance drives greater outcomes for the business through the adoption of technology that is tailored to its business and stakeholder needs. This helps the organization maximize the value of its technology investments.


When planning and making decisions about your organization’s use of ArcGIS, you should:

  1. Leverage the characteristics of IT governance to enable change that leads to positive outcomes.
  2. Use IT governance to guide technology choices so you maximize the value of GIS in your organization.
  3. Align technology to overcome business challenges and amplify the value of your GIS.