COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology) and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) have been used by information technology professionals in the IT service management (ITSM) space for many years. Used together, COBIT and ITIL provide guidance for the governance and management of IT-related services by enterprises, whether those services are provided in-house or obtained from third parties such as service providers or business partners.
ITIL could be seen as the way to manage the IT services across their lifecycle, while COBIT is about how to Govern the Enterpise IT in order to generate the maximum creation of value by the business, enabled by IT investments, while optimizing the risks and the resources. COBIT 5 describes the principles and enablers that support an enterprise in meeting stakeholder needs, specifically those related to the use of IT assets and resources across the whole enterprise. ITIL describes in more detail those parts of enterprise IT that are the service management enablers (process activities, organizational structures, etc.).
Generally speaking, COBIT is broader than ITIL in its scope of coverage.
COBIT is based on five principles:
1. Meeting Stakeholder Needs
2. Covering the Enterprise End-to-End
3. Applying a Single, Integrated Framework
4. Enabling a Holistic Approach
5. Separating Governance from Management
And seven enablers:
1. Principles, Policies and Frameworks
3. Organizational Structures
4. Culture, Ethics and Behavior
6. Services, Infrastructure and Applications
7. People, Skills and Competencies
ITIL focuses on ITSM and provides much more in-depth guidance in this area.
There are five stages in the ITIL Service Lifecycle:
1. Service Strategy
2. Service Design
3. Service Transition
4. Service Operation
5. Continual Service Improvement
The distinction between the two is sometimes described as “COBIT provides the ‘why’; ITIL provides the ‘how.’” While catchy, that view is simplistic and seems to force a false “one or the other” choice.
It is more accurate to state that enterprises and IT professionals who need to address business needs in the ITSM area would be well served to consider using both COBIT and ITIL guidance. Leveraging the strengths of both frameworks, and adapting them for their use as appropriate, will aid in solving business problems and supporting business goals achievement.
COBIT® is a trademark of ISACA® registered in the United States and other countries.
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