What is IT Governance?
As an important component of corporate management, IT governance creates the conditions and a regulatory framework for optimal support of corporate goals by IT. Components of IT governance are process structures, organizational specifications, and management structures for the entire IT infrastructure in the company.
The board of directors and top management are responsible for IT governance. In large companies and corporate groups, IT governance ensures that IT is not operated as an end in itself, but makes a significant contribution to the company’s success.
The goals of IT governance
The goal of IT governance is to create an understanding of the significance and importance of IT for the implementation of corporate goals and strategy. Those responsible for IT should be aware of management’s objectives. To this end, governance provides a structure that enables IT to meet the requirements of management and corporate strategy.
The core aspects of governance are increasing the company’s success and minimizing the risks arising from IT. The entire IT infrastructure should be aligned to focus on the company’s strategic goals. The costs and benefits of IT are constantly reviewed and weighed up. Resources are optimized on an ongoing basis.
To mitigate potential risks, risk management takes into account, among other things, the continuation of business processes in the event of a crisis and subsequent disaster recovery.
Distinction between IT governance and IT management
The terms IT governance and IT management are often used in similar contexts, but they differ significantly. While IT management deals with planning, organizing, controlling, and directing IT resources, governance has its focus on the responsibility of IT and its ability to contribute to the achievement of business goals.
In simpler terms, IT management deals with specific questions about how IT solutions should be deployed. Governance answers the questions of what IT can do for the company’s success and what framework conditions need to be created for this by management.
COBIT as a governance framework
A number of supporting guidelines and frameworks exist for the implementation of IT governance in the company. COBIT plays the most important role among these frameworks. COBIT stands for Control Objectives for Information and related Technology and is the world’s leading framework for IT governance.
COBIT provides a reference model of 37 typical IT processes found in today’s enterprises. The focus of COBIT is not on how the requirements are implemented, but on what is to be implemented in the company. COBIT was originally developed in 1996 by the international association of IT auditors (ISACA – Information Systems Audit and Control Association) and has become a recognized tool for controlling IT from a management perspective.
In the meantime, several editions of COBIT exist. The current version is COBIT 5.0, which was published in 2012. It contains five fundamental principles for the management and governance of IT in the enterprise. The five principles are:
- Meeting the requirements of individual stakeholders
- Coverage of the entire enterprise
- Application of a unified and integrated framework
- Implementation of a holistic approach
- Distinction between governance and management
COBIT is based on a top-down approach. First, business objectives are defined. They determine the IT goals and influence the complete architecture of IT. The measurement of the achievement of objectives is carried out bottom-up in reverse order. For this purpose, measurement and target variables are defined in the individual IT processes.