With all the Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) options out there, of which COBIT and ITIL are two of them, it can be confusing when deciding which should be used for an organization. That is unless you just defaulted to ITIL, as most do.

Most companies could be missing out when they just use one ITSM practice. The design of almost all the ITSM practices have other existing ITSM practices in mind.

Organizations can often easily combine practices in a mix and match fashion. This combination will create a more custom fit for purpose ITSM competence.

COBIT and ITIL are two of the practices that will go well together. COBIT is a widespread practice for enterprise IT governance and management. ITIL is an industry practice widely used for IT service management.

Any organization that wants to deliver high quality IT services with tailored governance can benefit from either of these two practices. An IT organization’s business, partners, suppliers, employees, and especially customers can receive more value when these two practices are combined.

How these two practices can work together will be discussed in this post.

what is itil
Does ITIL make you scratch your head?

ITIL, What Is It?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL, a best practice framework, is designed to assist organizations with their IT service management. It details what ‘best practice’ is and how to do it for several IT management processes. ITIL guides an organization through availability management, incident management, change management, asset, and configuration management, and many more.

ITIL, a holistic framework, sees IT service management as a responsibility of the entire business, not just the IT service provider. That said, improving the IT service provider’s processes, service value, and keeping IT in line with the business is the number one purpose of ITIL. ITIL can combine with other practices due to ITIL being “aware” of these practices within its framework.

what is cobit
Does COBIT make you scratch your head?

COBIT, what is It?

Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT) is a globally recognized best practice for IT and technology governance and management. The rightsizing of enterprise governance for IT and technology can use COBIT. This “rightsizing” lends itself to make COBIT flexible to adapt to the size of the organization or other ITSM practices.

COBIT, much like ITIL, is holistic in its approach to IT and the business working together. Also like ITIL, COBIT has a primary goal of creating and improving stakeholder value.

So, How Can COBIT & ITIL Work With Each Other?

ITIL and COBIT complement one another and have since the beginning as far as I can tell. Their most recent updates, COBIT 2019 and ITIL 4, only prove the point more. Governance receives more attention in ITIL 4, more so than previous versions. This attention helps the organization see even more how COBIT fits like a glove with ITIL.

The latest versions of these two best practices also focus on the value perceived by stakeholders. COBIT and ITIL are both designed so that an organization can customize them as they see fit when they see fit.

Axelos introduced a “service value system” (SVS) and the service value chain with ITIL 4. It makes it more transparent how the organization’s activities produce value.

itil value stream
Focus on value is a central ITIL v4 principle.

Service Value System in ITIL 4

Governance, the direction, and control of the organization sit in the second ring of the SVS. This second ring is where COBIT, especially COBIT 2019, will fit in. When COBIT processes receive consideration, you will find overlap with ITIL v4. This overlap is where a business can take a little or a lot from each practice and mix them up. There are a couple of COBIT processes discussed later in this post.

COBIT 2019 will use “goal cascading.” This cascading is where stakeholder requirements cascade to the overall business desires. Like with ITIL, COBIT focuses on the alignment of IT and business objectives and narrows focus even more on the governance and management of this alignment.

Goals Cascade in COBIT 2019

COBIT 2019’s cascade approach helps ITIL and organizations using it to gain real value from IT capabilities. Along with this increase in value, it helps the organization avoid risk.

Cascading from Stakeholder Needs to Enterprise Goals to Alignment Goals.

Using COBIT and ITIL Alongside Each Other

COBIT can create organizational governance and management goals from stakeholder requirements. With COBIT, ITIL can then push those stakeholder requirements through the SVS, making those inputs turn into outputs that deliver value through outcomes to all the customers.

For those who are already familiar with ITIL, and most are, two of the following COBIT 2019 processes will seem like déjà vu:

  • DSS02: Managed Service Requests and Incidents – Used to help ensure IT service requests and incidents receive a resolution to the customer’s satisfaction efficiently and timely.
  • BAI06: Managed IT Changes – Enables the delivery of business changes in a reliable and fast manner.
itil loves cobit
The marriage of ITIL and COBIT makes for a sweet combination.

ITIL & COBIT in Love

COBIT can easily supplement what you have already adopted and adapted to ITIL if your organization has already chosen it as your framework. Hopefully, they have.

Although the two practices work together well and have the same aims, ITIL uses the processes and activities working together, and wrapped in governance to deliver value. COBIT is focused heavily on governance and not so much on other service management processes.

Conclusion of ITIL and COBIT

Now, all this said, if your IT service management is looking to improve its maturity. And you want to do this by improving governance compliance and focusing more on risk management. ITIL 4 and COBIT 2019 marriage will help your business better than using the two ITSM frameworks by themselves.


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