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COBIT 2019 Makes Framework Easier to Understand, Customize

Author: Mark Thomas, CGEIT, CRISC, President, Escoute LLC
Date Published: 8, November 2018

Practitioners charged with effective governance of information and technology have a tremendous new resource to draw upon with a significant refresh to the COBIT framework. Today, the first two books of COBIT 2019 have been released, with additional publications to follow later this year.

I could go on for hours about the elements of COBIT 2019 that I believe will be well-received by our passionate global community of COBIT users (and considering I am one of those passionate COBIT users, if I catch you in person at an ISACA event, I might just do so). For the purposes of this blog post, I will put forward a list of five aspects of COBIT 2019 that I consider especially appealing.

1. Sharper clarity. Past iterations of COBIT, most recently COBIT 5, helped practitioners across the world solve countless business challenges and help their enterprises better manage and govern enterprise IT. There was a lot to like, but that doesn’t mean they were perfect. In COBIT 2019, we have identified areas for improvement to ensure that COBIT users are able to extract even more value from the framework while making the content more accessible and straightforward.

For example, I often was asked to describe the COBIT 5 enablers, and it was difficult for me to succinctly explain, so I started calling them ingredients. We now have transitioned to referring to them as components of a governance system, a much clearer characterization. Throughout the COBIT 2019 publications, the terminology is less academic and more applicable, allowing users to streamline the adoption timeline.

2. New focus areas. I’m enthused about the new focus areas that are set up to organize certain hot governance topics, such as small/medium sized businesses, cybersecurity, digital transformation, cloud computing, privacy and DevOps.

While the COBIT framework has thrived for 20-plus years because it addresses core business principles that are every bit as true now as they were in the 1990s, it nonetheless was important to provide updated guidance pertinent to key drivers of the current technology landscape, and COBIT 2019 takes a big step forward in that regard.

3. New design factors. COBIT 2019 highlights new factors that can influence the design of an enterprise’s governance system and position organizations for success in the use of information and technology. These include:

  • Enterprise strategy
  • Enterprise goals
  • Risk profile
  • Enterprise size
  • Threat landscape
  • Compliance requirements
  • Role of IT
  • Sourcing model for IT
  • IT implementation methods
  • Technology adoption strategy

These design factors take into account enterprise strategy and allow users to better customize COBIT to a specific organizational structure.

4. Updated goals cascade. The new goals cascade supports the prioritization of governance and management objectives based on enterprise goals.  Starting with stakeholder drivers and needs, this model seeks to avoid the frequent misunderstanding that these goals indicate purely internal objectives of the IT department within an enterprise. The alignment goals have also been consolidated, reduced, updated and clarified where necessary. These goals are organized using the Balanced Scorecard view and include example metrics to measure the achievement of each goal.

5. Integration between the CMMI maturity model and our current capability model. Performance management is an essential part of a governance and management system. It expresses how well the system and all components of an enterprise work, and how they can be improved up to the required level. As such, it includes concepts and methods such as capability and maturity levels. COBIT 2019 performance management leverages both the current capability model and the CMMI maturity model using the following principles:

  • Simple to understand and use
  • Consistent with and supports the COBIT conceptual model
  • Provides reliable, repeatable and relevant results
  • Flexible
  • Supports different types of assessments

Editor’s note: For more information on COBIT 2019, its publications and guidance, and new training opportunities, visit

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