COBIT vs. ITIL vs. Other IT Frameworks: Which Is the Best?
For today’s CIO, frameworks such as COBIT and ITIL are invaluable resources for managing and governing IT services, resources, priorities, and more.
Tools such as these can ensure that IT stays aligned with other business processes and delivers maximum value to the organization.
COBIT and ITIL are two of the most popular IT governance and management frameworks. While each has its own emphasis, they also overlap to a certain extent, which may lead some to question whether one is better than the other.
Below, we’ll compare the two frameworks then see whether IT leaders should use one, the other, or both – then we’ll examine how these frameworks compare to other similar frameworks.
COBIT vs. ITIL: What’s the difference?
Let’s first break down the two frameworks:
COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) is an IT governance framework that takes a high-level view of the organization, business goals, IT, and information management.
Developed and maintained by ISACA, this framework is an amalgamation of other frameworks and ISO standards, with the express intent of improving IT governance across the enterprise.
To achieve those governance goals, the COBIT framework develops processes and systems for areas that include:
- Controlling IT processes and maturity
- Managing IT resources, including applications, information, infrastructure, and people
- Adhering to business and governance requirements
- Managing strategy, value delivery, risks, resources, and performance
There are several key principles upon which this framework is founded:
- Meeting the needs of stakeholders
- Covering the enterprise end-to-end
- Applying a single integrated framework
- Enabling a holistic approach
- Separating governance from management
Effective use of COBIT can help businesses manage risk, optimize IT services costs, improve insights into IT processes and information, and break down silos between IT and other business units.
Since COBIT bridges the gap between IT and other business functions, it can be an excellent tool for CIOs. After all, today’s CIO must ensure that IT aligns with and supports the rest of the business.
However, it is also necessary to have a bottom-up framework for managing IT services delivery, which is where ITIL can be useful.
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is an IT services management (ITSM) framework that focuses on IT services management, delivery, and maintenance.
Developed and maintained by Axelos, ITIL is an established ITSM framework that focuses on:
- Service strategy
- Service design
- Service transition
- Service operation
- Continual service improvement
These stages are further broken down into a number of subsequent processes and functions, each of which includes its own detailed set of guidelines. Service strategy, for instance, includes guidelines related to financial management, service portfolio management, demand management, and strategy operations
ITIL is an excellent tool for CIOs and IT leaders who are tasked with managing and delivering IT services. When properly applied, this framework can help reduce IT costs, improve productivity, enhance IT services, and more.
Since CIOs are usually responsible for IT services management, it pays to invest in and use a framework such as ITIL.
However, for CIOs who are also responsible for revenue generation and business outcomes, ITIL should be combined with other frameworks, such as COBIT.
4 other examples of IT management and governance frameworks
COBIT and ITIL are well-known among IT professionals, but they are only two of many other business frameworks dedicated to process improvement, IT service management, and enterprise architecture.
Here are a few other examples of frameworks that CIOs can use to optimize their processes and performance:
- The Application Services Library (ASL) aims to standardize and optimize processes within the discipline of Application Management. Like ITIL, it provides guidelines and best practices that can help IT leaders improve IT services management and delivery.
- The Business Information Services Library (BiSL) is a public domain standard that is similar to ITIL and ASL, but unlike these two frameworks, BiSL emphasizes the end-user organization rather than the organization supplying the IT services.
- Digital Information Design (DID) is the next evolution of BiSL. It is designed to provide a framework for digitally engaged business leaders and their partners, with the aim of improving business performance via information and technology. All three of these frameworks; ASL, BiSL, and DID were developed by the ASL BiSL Foundation, which was recently relaunched as the DID Foundation.
- Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), developed by a subsidiary of ISACA, the CMMI Institute, outlines five levels of process maturity: initial, managed, defined, quantitatively managed, and optimizing. The model was originally intended to optimize software development processes, and it is frequently required for US government agencies, but it can be applied to other business processes as well.
There are other frameworks and models that can be used to streamline and optimize IT services management and performance. However, those covered here – particularly COBIT and ITIL – are among the most popular.
Final thoughts: Beyond IT governance
As the CIO’s responsibilities expand to include other business activities, it is important to consider adopting process improvement frameworks that extend beyond IT services management.
COBIT is one good example. This IT governance model allows CIOs to place IT into the larger context of the organization as a whole and ensure that IT fits seamlessly with other business processes and objectives.
It may also be worth investigating enterprise architecture (EA) frameworks as well since they take an even more comprehensive approach to improving business processes, operations, and strategy.