What is an IT Steering Committee?

An IT Steering Committee is an administrative body that reviews, monitors and prioritizes major IT projects from a cross-functional perspective. The two key concerns of a technology steering committee are:

  • Alignment: The committee helps ensure that IT strategy is aligned with the strategic goals of the organization.
  • Ownership: The business units represented on the steering committee have ultimate ownership over the larger IT strategic decisions since those decisions will impact their processes.

The top three activities of IT steering committees are IT project prioritization, approval of IT projects, and IT strategic planning.

Organizations that operate effective IT steering committees realize better IT project priority setting as well as improved alignment with business objectives.

An IT steering committee brings a number of benefits to both the IT leader and the enterprise as a whole:

  • Business focus: The IT steering committee’s strongest mandate is to find & align business solutions that may leverage technology.
  • Priority:  At budget time, IT will be able to set spending priorities according to broadly based business recommendations.
  • Transparency: Other departments will be able to see their IT demands in the larger context of strategic plans, and at least understand (though maybe not agree with) the rationale behind decisions to proceed with one project over another.
  • Accountability: IT projects, especially cross functional projects will be decided upon based on committee approval and priority and not just within the IT business unit.


The IT Steering Committee (ITSC) oversees the information technology investment priorities for Trent University. Members of the ITSC are appointed by President/delegate and are accountable to the senior executive. The committee will:

  1. Provide strategic leadership for IT through the alignment of IT strategic objectives and activities with enterprise strategic objectives and processes.
  2. Prioritize IT investment initiatives and deliver final approvals and recommendations on proceeding with proposed IT projects.
  3. Ensure open communication between the IT department and the other functional units of Trent University so as to promote collaborative planning.

The ITSC is not responsible in any way for the IT department operating budget, IT department staff, or any other aspect of day-to-day IT operations.


The agenda of a typical ITSC meeting will typically include the following items:

  1. Review major projects in flight and discuss concerns (i.e. status and issues).
  2. Review and set disposition for new project proposals (i.e. approve, decline, or defer).
  3. Review any changes in IT/business capacity.
  4. Review the project priority list to consider adjustments.


Members of the ITSC include:

  • AVP IT –Chair
  • VP Research (designate)
  • Dean (s)
  • VP External Relations & Advancement (designate)
  • Registrar
  • AVP Finance
  • VP Student Affairs
  • Ad hoc members, as required, who are experts of particular business process or technologies

All permanent members of the ITSC should be very familiar with the IT department’s policies, procedures and practices. As well, all permanent members should have the authority to make decisions and take actions on behalf of the business unit they represent.

If any member is unable to attend the majority of ITSC meetings, then the committee chair will designate a replacement. If the ITSC chair is unable to attend the majority of ITSC meetings, then the committee itself will designate a replacement.


  • The ITSC will be chaired by the AVP, IT
  • The ITSC will support the development and implementation of the IT Strategic Plan
  • The ITSC shall meet on a monthly basis. These meetings will be scheduled by the ITSC chair or designated proxy.
  • All proposals must follow a specific format as mandated by the ITSC.
  • Budget Fund Requirements and Sources should be clearly specified, including all acquisition, implementation (including backfill staffing) , and on-going maintenance costs.
  • Projects will be collected cyclically and evaluated by a sub-committee of IT Steering for priority and resource allocation.
  • Electronic copies of all proposals must be submitted through the ITSC project form by the sponsoring business unit at least 10 business days in advance of the ITSC meeting.
  • Members of the committee will be directed to any submissions for review five business days in advance of an IT Steering Meeting.
  • The committee shall review all proposals for IT investment meeting any of the following criteria: 
    • With projected capital costs over $10,000.
    • With annual license/operating costs over $5,000.
    • With IT staff hour commitment requirement greater than 100 hours.
    • Where the purchase involves the acquisition of software that is considered Enterprise Software. Enterprise Software describes a collection of computer programs with common business applications that are centrally operated from servers for the benefit of two or more users. The software is intended to solve an enterprise-wide problem. Enterprise level software aims to improve the enterprise's productivity and efficiency by providing business logic support functionality. Services offered through Enterprise Software range from a system for Finance Management to a system for Learning Management and Curriculum Delivery.

This includes proposals from within the IT department as well as proposals from other departments that have a significant IT component.

  • All proposals must be formally presented in person to the ITSC by the business unit which will act as the sponsor for the proposed project throughout its lifecycle.
  • All proposals must be reviewed and approved for technological merit by the IT department.
  • Approval for all projects will be reached through a majority of members’ present (including chair) support. The vote will be administered by the ITSC chair. Each member of the committee shall be entitled to one vote, excepting Ad hoc members & subject matter expert’s brought in as consultant to process.
  • ITSC has the authority to reject any proposal which it deems not to have made a sufficient business case or which does not significantly contribute to the strategic goals of the University.
  • At each meeting, the committee will receive progress reports on all previously approved proposals. The ITSC can recommend the termination of any project which is not meeting its projected goals.