What is COBIT?

Date: 11/06/2024| Category: Best Practices Glossary| Tags:

COBIT®, acronym of Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies developed by ISACA is the world’s most practised IT Governance framework. COBIT provides relevant guidelines on how to align company goals with IT, whilst offering safety, integrity and regulatory compliance. Its characteristics include an holistic approach to IT management, a modular structure that can be adapted to different organisations and sectors, and integration with principles of governance, risk management and conformity. COBIT allows for constant improvement, operative efficiency and transparency in its use of IT technologies.

COBIT Benefits 7

COBIT offers several key benefits to organisation that manage IT systems:

  • Creates a strong foundation for IT Governance Success
  • Maximises the value an organisation achieves from reaching its strategic goals
  • Helps businesses monitor the performance of other frameworks, especially in terms of security compliance, information security and risk management
  • Gives senior management more insights into how technology can align with organisational goals
  • Gives CIOs and other IT executives a way to demonstrate the ROI on an IT project and how it will help reach key business objectives

The COBIT framework provides a solid structure for IT Governance, which is essential in defining clear guidelines. It contributes in improving operative efficiency, by optimising resource usage and by reducing associated risks.

Furthermore, COBIT eases regulatory compliance by offering a coherent and integrated picture on how to adhere to sector specific regulations. COBIT’s modularity allows organisations to adapt its framework to their needs, which allows for more flexibility in a changing environment.

COBIT Primary Characteristics

COBIT was created in 1992 by the American association of IT auditors (Information Systems Audit and Control Association – ISACA), and by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI).

In the modern business environment, in which effective management of IT technologies is essential for success and security, COBIT emerges as the ultimate guide for governance and the management of IT technologies.

Below some of COBIT primary characteristics:

  • Process Orientation: COBIT focuses on business processes and provides a structure to define, implement, monitor and improve internal IT processes.
  • Alignment with Business Goals: COBIT aids the alignment of IT and business goals. This allows for a stronger integration of IT and business.
  • Control Structure: COBIT provides a control structure that helps organisations handle and control their IT processes. These controls are designed to guarantee information trustworthiness, regulatory compliance and risk management.
  • Governance Focus: COBIT is strongly oriented towards IT Governance. It provides guidelines and processes to assure that IT is handled effectively and that resources are used efficiently.
  • Integrated Framework: COBIT is designed to integrate itself with other standard frameworks, such as ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and ISO/IEC 27001 (Standard for information security management), by providing a holistic perspective of IT processes.
  • Focus on Performance Measurement: COBIT includes key performance indicators (KPI) and metrics that allow an organisation to evaluate and improve their IT performances.
  • Cyclic Approach: COBIT follows a cyclic approach of definition, implementation, monitoring and constant improvement of IT processes, also known as cycle of life.
  • Adaptability: COBIT is adaptable to different dimensions and industries, allowing for personalisation based on the business specific needs.
  • Safety Orientation: COBIT integrates principles of IT security, ensuring that security management is an integral part of IT processes.
  • Detailed Documentation: COBIT offers detailed documentation in the form of a guide and a framework, that both help organisations comprehend and implement their principles.

These are the characteristics that make COBIT a complete and flexible framework for IT management.

COBIT Key Elements

COBIT is based on three key elements:

  1. Guiding Principles: At COBIT’s core there are seven essential principles that compose the foundation of an effective IT governance. These principles include key concepts as stakeholder’s involvement, full business coverage, usage of one single integrated framework, a global approach and a clear distinction between governance and management. These principles have guided organisations in their IT governance initiatives.
  2. Governance and Management Goals: COBIT presents a complete picture of the governance and management goals that operate as a roadmap to help organisations reach their IT goals. These objectives bridge the gap between strategy and operative implementation by giving a structured approach to convert strategic visions into actionable IT operations that contribute to the overall success of the organisation.
  3. Components and Organisational Structures: COBIT has different components, including a Governance System and Components, a Performance Management System and Design Factors. These components provide an organisational structure that allows you to design and implement effective IT Governance practices with COBIT. They ease alignment of process, roles and responsibilities, guaranteeing a coherent approach to IT governance of the organisation.

COBIT Certification scheme

The COBIT framework, developed by ISACA, is built according to the COBIT Certification Scheme which is divided in 2 levels: Foundation, Design & Implementation.

  • COBIT Foundation: is designed for people who require a general level of COBIT understanding
  • COBIT Design & Implementation: is designed for people who want to apply COBIT framework to design and implement programs of IT business governance.

The different COBIT certifications validate competences and knowledge of the participants in these specific areas.


ITIL and COBIT are two different approaches, but convert towards the same objectives, integrating each other at specific moments.
COBIT focuses on governance, pointing out the “what” with regards to the value of IT service, whilst ITIL provides details on the “how”, “when” and “where” of internal IT management. COBIT deals with the governance of the IT enterprise, while ITIL focuses on how to provide value.
Synergic integration of the two frameworks maximises benefit for the organisation, because the implementation of one benefits from the integration of the other.

If you want to learn more about ITIL, also read our blog “What is ITIL?

How to achieve the COBIT Certification

To achieve the COBIT certification it is mandatory to take a course with an ATO, that is an Accredited Training Organisation by ISACA.

If you are interested in learning more about COBIT and what it can do for your career, discover our course COBIT Foundation! QRP International is an ATO (Accredited Training Organisation) for COBIT. Our COBIT courses are accredited by APMG on behalf of ISACA.

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