What Is Control Objectives For IT (COBIT)?

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Modern businesses heavily leverage IT solutions to streamline operations and increase productivity. You also want to identify IT related challenges. Even your managers should monitor and implement changes. To this end, implement Control Objectives for IT (COBIT). This is a governance method used in many businesses which has its own framework of best practices to help you.  

In a business, poor IT solutions will negatively impact the performance of operations. The underlying IT used in each area of the business will govern many things. For instance, it affects a product’s profitability. It also changes your business’s branding and perception to clients. 

In this article, I’ll discuss COBIT and how businesses and IT professionals should embrace it. First, let’s take a look at what COBIT is!

What Is COBIT? 

COBIT is an IT governance strategy that highlights IT weaknesses. It also allows managers to monitor all aspects of IT. This helps improve and optimize IT for business needs. Managers are unsure how successful their IT is without COBIT. Managers also find it difficult to identify areas that need further support without any benchmarks. As a result, IT gets under-budgeted. 

COBIT divides up into 3 key processes during implementation and monitoring. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll also call this the COBIT framework. You also can beak apart this framework into multiple steps. I’ll discuss more about this framework next!

COBIT Framework: The 3 Key Processes

As previously mentioned, the COBIT framework can include multiple steps. As a result, some owners believe some firms are better than others. In reality though, the overall framework is the same. In fact, he subdivisions merely show differing levels of granular detail. To keep things simple, we’ll stick to the core steps you’ll need to follow to use COBIT. 

1. Process Model 

The first step is to define a business process model. This stage essentially maps all business related tasks and objectives. It’s very similar to creating a road map when growing a business. But this process defines how IT relates to the business process. It also specifies the necessary objectives and tasks. This is also very important, because the model can help you identify a different IT-related solution. In turn, you can better streamline the business later. 

This activity will include identifying change management processes and associated workflows. To this end, you can use an enterprise resource management (ERP) system or similar. These will help you define the process model as part of your system documentation.

2. Best Practices

The next step in the COBIT process is providing guidance on best practices. Otherwise, businesses can’t improve their IT. These best practices are recommendations only, not to any formalized standard. In this case, it’s useful to use COBIT to ensure you don’t miss anything when creating and growing your IT infrastructure. This can help save time and money over the long run. 

Administrators and managers should embrace these best practices. Generally, it helps reduce workloads. Teams using streamlined IT won’t submit as many internal tickets. They’ll also improve the company’s profitability. This also can fall into the IT weaknesses defined by the COBIT assessment. 

When it comes to best practices, you should consider the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’. COBIT helps you achieve this. 

3. Management Tools 

Once you’re done figuring out the first 2 steps, you need to monitor your IT. This is a ‘closed loop’ process. You’ll need to iterate it periodically when your business changes. As a result, your IT will remain streamlined. 

When going through these cycles, management should have visibility of the capability maturity level. You can do this through management utilities that record metrics, often in real-time. Then, and provide this data to a monitoring console. A good example is assessing support call metrics. That includes how many support calls get closed off, how long they take, and customer feedback rating. In some cases, you’ll find these types of metrics displayed on monitors. That way relevant teams can see how well they’re doing. That said, this data also can describe the health of the IT system being used.

For instance, if no calls were closed periodically, is it an IT related issue? How reliable is the IT infrastructure? Knowing these metrics will let management decide to allocate finance towards infrastructure improvement. Additionally, you may decide to meet with administrators for ideas to help the business. The third step is important to validate finance and any disruption to grow IT areas that are becoming bottlenecks. 

Note: 

You can use international standards organization (ISO) standards like ISO 27001 best practices to:

  • Conduct internal audits
  • Document IT systems
  • Gain certification through external audits to help identify COBIT challenges. 

The COBIT framework doesn’t limit you. In fact, you may also use System and Organization Controls (SOC) audits and processes to do something similar to ISO 27001.

Illustration of a team working around a laptop.
COBIT aligns IT and business processes and improves your bottom-line!

Now, let’s turn our attention to why COBIT is important.

Why Is COBIT Important?

When you think about a business and its growth, you often hear the term business maturity level. Generally, a business aims to be profitable. But that’s not the only goal. Companies also want to grow and take over the market. This stops competitors from impacting sales and creates a moat. If you don’t know, a business moat is something unique to the business that stops competitors gaining its market share. This can be anything from intellectual property rights that protect products or offerings to the size of the business and brand identity. For instance, Disney is so renowned that even if you’re given the cost of the company and its market cap to create a business, you couldn’t take its market share.  

In many businesses, IT makes the business more efficient than using pen and paper. It helps to create orders, create physical technical drawings of products, or contact a customer to sell an idea to them. The better the IT solution, the more streamlined the business will be. This will give you the necessary capabilities to conduct business efficiently. In modern businesses, IT is the foundation for everyday operations and COBIT helps to optimize it. The more you can undercut a competitor on price, the larger your business gains market share and establishes a moat. This is the main reason why you should use COBIT.  

Next, let’s take a look at the benefits of COBIT. 

COBIT Benefits

You’ve gained an understanding of what COBIT is and why it’s important. But how exactly is it beneficial to your business? Here are some major benefits of COBIT:

  • Improves information quality to support business decisions
  • Improves IT to allow businesses to reach business goals
  • Promotes operational excellence to streamline business processes
  • Reduces IT-related risks in business processes
  • Enables companies to realize IT investments fully
  • Complies with laws, regulations, and de-facto industrial requirements

Next, I’ll discuss the 5 key principles used in COBIT! 

5 Principles of COBIT

Your IT is a tool for a business to actualize goals, activities, and tasks. To help this, COBIT has a set of principles you can use to align IT to:

  1. Meeting stakeholder needs; ensure users, clients, and managers can work effectively.
  2. Providing an end-to-end enterprise solution; ensure all wasteful processes are optimized throughout the business including support and business relations.
  3. Providing a unified experience; ensure users can easily interface with the company-wide solution.
  4. Creating a holistic approach; ensure the entire business IT is considered and catered for to stop bottlenecks.
  5. Separating governance from management; automate workflows to ensure management doesn’t need to influence routine operations.

Now you know how you need to approach COBIT, let’s take a look at a major update to COBIT.

COBIT 5 vs COBIT 2019

COBIT has been updated recently from COBIT 5 to COBIT 2019. If you’re new to COBIT, this can lead to some confusion. The changes aim to simplify the process. They include some terminology changes and streamlined processes. Thus, COBIT 5 has been superseded in favor of COBIT 2019. 

The COBIT principles now include both governance systems and governance frameworks as items that need consideration when following the framework. The new goal here is to establish a unified approach to both the governance system used along with the framework. In this scenario, governance systems means the management process used by management to monitor and assess IT systems. This has been added because businesses have become more complex through various types of system integration. These could be Internet of Things (IoT) and Operations Technology (OT). Likewise, a considered approach to the frameworks used to govern solutions. For instance, you may use the COSO framework to manage a company’s risk holistically. This will include risk to IT and business processes using a top-down approach.  

COBIT 2019 also emphasizes collective activities and processes working together. Thus, you’ll notice the term ‘enablers’ being changed to the concept of ‘components’. The idea is that components can work together to make the system work, while enablers were just to actualize the system.   

COBIT 2019 defined the design consideration of the processes used. This is to help system designers to appreciate the process better. Before this, no consideration existed for this which made it challenging to define a complex system.

In general, the COBIT 2019 has been made easier to follow and has become streamlined.

Final Thoughts

The COBIT framework can provide your company with an easy process to highlight IT deficiencies. This means both understanding the flaw, implementing best practices to mitigate the issue, and monitoring the solution to see how effective it is over time. If the process requires further investment and focus, this can be easier to allocate. It’ll also help workers or other stakeholders gain an optimized business process. As the business grows, COBIT needs to be continually assessed to maximize the businesses bottom line.

Want to know more?  Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below.

FAQ

What is COBIT?

Control Objectives for IT (COBIT) is an IT governance strategy that highlights IT weaknesses and allows managers to monitor all aspects of IT. This is to help improve and optimize it for business needs. Managers won’t tell how successful their IT is without COBIT. They’ll also find it difficult to identify and budget IT areas that need improvement without any benchmark. 

What is the COBIT process model?

COBIT requires businesses to map business processes in a process model. This model then has IT integrated into it to help define an IT benchmark and highlight weaknesses. In return, you’ll find IT practices that you need to optimize for the business. 

No, COBIT isn’t a legal requirement. It’s designed to help businesses streamline its business processes through optimizing the IT used. COBIT also enables managers to identify and fund IT growth projects and monitor their performance. It may be difficult to align IT with business goals, activities, and tasks effectively without using COBIT.

Why should I use COBIT in my business?

COBIT enables you to align IT with business objectives and monitor the performance of IT systems. This also helps you streamline the business and maximize profitability. That’s because most businesses require IT as part of workflows. If the IT solution is inadequate, it’ll then cause a bottleneck that will impact your bottom line.

How can I reduce my business operational risk through IT optimization?

Use the process defined by COBIT to help establish the performance of your IT in relation to supporting business operations. You can align this with ISO 27001 internal audits to help this process. Apply COBIT best practices to streamline the business that often uses IT to deliver objects. 

Resources

TechGenix: Guide to the COBIT 2019 Governance Framework

Learn how to use COBIT 2019’s governance framework.

TechGenix: Article on AWS Container Solutions

Discover how you can utilize AWS container solutions to streamline operational costs.

Get acquainted with the most popular IT frameworks and learn how you can benefit from them.

TechGenix: Article on Cybersecurity Frameworks

Read up on how cybersecurity frameworks can help reduce your business risk.

TechGenix: Article on the COSO Framework

Understand what the COSO framework is and how you can assess risks to your business.

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