COBIT: A Framework for Alignment & Governance

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If you’re from the IT industry, you’ve likely to know and have worked with COBIT. But, what exactly is its purpose?

Technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobility, and social media generate high volumes of data. This data can put a company ahead of its competition. But, it also presents the company with many problems like data governance and management. COBIT is the ultimate answer to these problems.

Let’s begin with the basics!

What is COBIT?

COBIT is an IT management framework developed by the ISACA to help businesses develop, organize and put in place strategies around information management and governance.

First things first, COBIT stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies. Released in 1996, the aim was to help the financial audit community navigate the growth of IT environments. In 1998, the ISACA released version 2, which expanded the framework to apply outside the auditing community. Later, in the 2000s, the ISACA developed version 3, which brought in the IT management and information governance techniques found in the framework today.

Today, it is used globally by all IT business process managers to equip them with a model to deliver value to the organization and practice better risk management practices associated with the IT processes. The main aim is to ensure quality, control, and reliability of information systems in an organization, which is also the most important aspect of every modern business.

What is the COBIT Framework?

The COBIT business orientation includes linking business goals with its IT infrastructure by providing various maturity models and metrics that measure the achievement while identifying associated business responsibilities of IT processes. The main focus of COBIT 4.1 was illustrated with a process-based model subdivided into four specific domains, including:

· Planning & Organization

· Delivering and Support

· Acquiring & Implementation

· Monitoring & Evaluating

All this is further understood under 34 processes as per specific line of responsibilities. COBIT has a high position in business frameworks and has been recognized under various international standards including ITIL, CMMI, COSO, PRINCE2, TOGAF, PMBOK, TOGAF, and ISO 27000. It acts as a guideline integrator—merging all solutions under one umbrella.

The Evolution of COBIT

COBIT 4 was released in 2005, followed by COBIT 4.1 in 2007. These updates included more information about governance surrounding information and communication technology. In 2012, COBIT 5 was released and in 2013, the ISACA released an add-on to COBIT 5, which included more information for businesses about risk management and information governance.

Through all these versions, here are the final components of COBIT, which are included in the latest version.

Framework:

Lays down guidelines, objectives, and good practices related to IT governance covering every IT domain and process. These are then linked to needs and requirements of the business. The aim of the main framework is to align business goals with IT. This allows IT personnel to get a full appreciation of the company’s goals, while also helping the C-suite and executives understand their IT aims.

Process Descriptions

This component helps an organization to have a reference process model, and , a common language to be used by everybody in the organization. These descriptions cover everything – from planning, creating, executing, and even monitoring all processes involved in IT. Process descriptions help everyone in the company understand the processes, their descriptions, and their terminology.

Improve data management with COBIT

Control Objectives

This would be where you would find a complete list of requirements that management has earlier pinpointed as necessary for effective control of IT processes. This particular section can help improve all IT processes.

Maturity Models

These assess the organization’s maturity and how each of the IT processes will be able to cope up with any growth. If gaps are found, the maturity models can help businesses plug gaps.

Management Guidelines

These guidelines detail who would be responsible for what tasks, as well as how to measure the performance of the company in implementing COBIT 5. These guidelines can also help stakeholders to agree on similar objectives, as well as suggestions on how the framework works with other IT frameworks.

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COBIT 5: The Best Version Yet

All previous versions faced a variety of criticism; they were thought too limited opportunities—and sometimes even adverse results. A major IT firm found that the previous framework practices can actually lead to a “Hot Potato” situation wherein all stakeholders had passed on the tasks down the line. Critics maintained that COBIT 5.0 encouraged paperwork and rote rules rather than promoting IT governance engagements and improving accountability.

COBIT 5.0 addressed all the criticisms in a sustainable manner. It now encourages all organizations to govern and manage information in the most holistic and integrated manner. The guiding principles of COBIT 5.0 are:

  1. Meeting the needs of stakeholders
  2. Covering the whole enterprise from end to end
  3. Application of a single integrated framework
  4. Ensuring a holistic approach to business decision making
  5. Separating the governance from the management

In several cases, COBIT 5.0 has been appreciated for its ability to reduce the risk of IT implementations. IT initiatives must quick, agile adaptations that need regular buy-ins from stakeholders and other users. The COBIT 5.0 framework has been able to bring about a collaborative culture within the organization and this better met the needs, risks, and benefits of all IT initiatives.

COBIT Certification You Should Take

You can get certified in COBIT 5 through the ISACA, which offers training and exams with two different paths: the Assessor Path or the Implementation Path. Both paths you to complete a foundational course and exam before you choose which path you want to take.

Here are the two paths in the ISACA

Implementation Path

The Implementation Path teaches you how to apply the COBIT 5 framework to specific business problems, potential risks, and other process issues within the organization. For this, you need to complete the foundation course, exam and implementation course.

The Assessor Path

The Assessor Path teaches you to look at your organization’s established processes and identify should change, what works and how to communicate your findings to the C-suite. To become a COBIT Certified Assessor, you will need to complete the foundational course and exam, followed by the assessor course and exam. You’ll also need at least five years of relevant work experience.

Who Should Take the COBIT Course?

The professionals best suited for COBIT methodologies are those who are already in a position to understand the nuances of IT governance in business management practices. The course will be especially beneficial for:

· CIOs / IT Managers / IT Directors

 · Risk Committee

 · Process Owners

· Audit Committee Members

· COBIT 4.1 and earlier users

 · IT Professionals in audit, risk, security, governance and assurance sectors

While the modern world is gearing towards an environment of several emerging technologies, including Consumerisation, Cloud Computing, Social Media, Big Data and Mobility, information and IT is the new currency.

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Technology ensures massive volumes of information chunks that need support and management. This raises the success rate of businesses. But, at the same time raises other challenging and complex management and governance concerns for the security professionals, enterprise leaders, and governance specialists. New businesses demand that risk scenarios are better met with the power of information. COBIT 5.0 is the exact solution the modern businesses are asking for.

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