Public sector IT managers' association Socitm has set out in a booklet the importance of ICT governance for public service organisations serious about public service reform.

"Planting the Flag: pocket guide 2 - governance" is the second of six guides on the strategic capabilities required for public service reform. All six were set out by Socitm in the Planting the Flag strategy document for local public services reform published last year.

The governance guide sets out an operational framework for the activities covered by the other five guides in the series, which include a guide on leadership, published last year, and four others to come, covering organisational change, strategic sourcing, shared services and agile working.

The governance guide is written for chief information officers (CIOs), heads of ICT and senior ICT managers, with the intention that they use it to persuade top management teams in their organisations to "establish rigorous information management and technology governance arrangements", said Socitm.

The guide explains that ICT governance manages behaviours and decision-making within the information and technology function. It assigns responsibilities, sets overall strategy and decides upon policies and standards. Its prime focus, said Socitm, must be on information, with technology recognised simply as a tool for storing, manipulating and transmitting this information.

The guide covers "collaborative governance" for a single organisation and "shared governance" for multiple organisations working together.

Six critical steps to establishing and operating effective governance arrangements are included:

Understanding how governance works

Defining the scope

Designing the governance arrangements

Implementing the arrangements

Agreeing the responsibilities

Ensuring successful governance