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Seven Tips for the Successful Improvement of GEIT

By Alain Bonneaud, CGEIT, COBIT 5 Certified Assessor, DPSM, ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 20000, ITIL Expert

COBIT Focus | 8 December 2014

Alain BonneaudImproving governance of enterprise IT (GEIT) is key to the success of the enterprise. Creating value is the objective and is based on adapting the seven enablers described in COBIT 5.


In most cases, any change in the organisation will have to combat a strong resistance to change. Here are seven tips for change enablement based on lessons learned during previous, successful implementations of GEIT using COBIT 5:

  1. Establish the desire to change. Top management is needed to drive the initiative and everyone in the organisation is needed to support it. Focus on the pain points in the organisation to motivate all the internal stakeholders of the organisation and not only people directly involved in IT. Some pain points can be direct or indirect consequences of IT’s inability to satisfy the business needs, such as dissatisfaction of the business teams with IT services, high turnover of key IT personnel, turnover of the business teams or poor-quality information to support decision making.
  2. Obtain the commitment and engagement of top management. Executives must lead the initiative. They will be the ones who set the tone at the top. One method to obtain their commitment is to use a kick-off meeting to demonstrate top management publicly taking leadership of the initiative. Once this is achieved, it will be important that executives continue to be engaged. One good way to do that is to involve them actively in the communication about the strategy (i.e., interviews, articles).
  3. Do not try to implement all of COBIT 5 at once. The objective is to improve the organisation’s GEIT, to address specific issues or obtain specific benefits, based on COBIT 5 guidance and all of the other good practices already used in the enterprise. Try to integrate other good practices (ITIL®, TOGAF®, ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 20000) with COBIT 5. Do not try to copy/paste the content of COBIT 5; it does not work. One must adopt it, but more important, adapt it to the specific context of the organisation. Do not reinvent the wheel. The organisation has a lot of strengths or it would not continue to exist. Understand these strengths and build on them. This will help to gain buy-in from the employees.
  4. Create the dream team for success. Create an implementation team composed of people from business and IT who come from different levels of the organisation. It is important to involve people from the executive level, senior management and middle management—all of whom should participate in workshops to work on the seven enablers simultaneously.
  5. Make the team define for themselves their enabler goals. Do not focus on processes only. All the enablers are equally important for success. And perhaps the most important point is to make the people define for themselves what their needs and constraints are and build their own enablers during workshops. This will build strong buy-in from all parts of the organisation. These people will also act as the leaders amongst their own teams to make the implementation a success. One important tip is to never mention COBIT 5 or any other framework, but use a consultant able to coordinate the workshops to adopt COBIT 5 while adapting it without mentioning it. This will avoid the reluctance to adopt a framework coming from people who ‘don’t know how we work in our specific context’ and increase buy-in.
  6. Understand that communication is key to success. A communication strategy must be defined shortly after the beginning of the initiative and will have to continue until all the improvements are deployed. Organisations can rely on the communications department to build a good strategy. They are the professionals of the domain and will know how to do it (e.g., articles in the news journal of the company, newsletters, intranet, events such as happy hours where people will be able to share their views on the GEIT initiative, games with rewards to increase knowledge about what is expected from this initiative, interviews). Communicate about the success of the quick wins.
  7. Prepare the transition with the people who will have to apply the new rules. Embed the new approaches and prepare people to take over their new roles and responsibilities. Be sure they act properly in the new mode. Identify business champions to help within the teams and reward them accordingly to support the success.

Alain Bonneaud, CGEIT, COBIT 5 Certified Assessor, DPSM, ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 20000, ITIL Expert

Is an international expert in the domains of governance of enterprise IT (GEIT) and IT service management (ITSM). He regularly acts as IT governance and transformation senior manager within international firms all around the world, to assist them in the implementation of GEIT and ITSM. He is also an accredited trainer with many years of experience delivering training and certification in ITIL (Foundation, Intermediate and MALC), ISO/IEC 20000, ISO/IEC 2700x and COBIT 5 (Foundation, Implementation and Assessor), and is internationally known as a speaker in these disciplines.

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