The field of IT Governance emerged as a derivative subset of Corporate Governance in the early 90s, after high profile governance failures in the 1980s had prompted the development of established codes for corporate governance. It was recognized that specific attention should be paid to the role of information and the underpinning technology if good overall corporate governance were to be achieved.
The three goals of IT Governance are to ensure that IT creates business value, to direct and monitor management, and to mitigate IT-related risks.
In simple terms, IT Governance sets out to maximize the value for money achieved by IT spending - whether this is creating shareholder return in the private sector, or improving service levels in the public sector.
Since its inception, IT Governance practices have had a great influence on how IT is looked on, such that IT has since grown from being viewed as a an enabler of corporate governance, to being recognized as a resource and value creator in its own right.
Several frameworks have been developed which support IT Governance practices. COBIT, first drafted in 1996 by ISACA, is a generic and process-based framework geared for larger organizations, and is considered the world’s leading IT governance framework - with an emphasis on control over information, IT and related risks, and auditability.
COBIT essentially works to translate high-level business goals at the Governance level into a generic collection of 37 business and IT processes, ensuring strategic alignment throughout the enterprise.
The latest version is COBIT 5, which was released in April 2012. COBIT 5 incorporates and integrates the content of three pre-existing ISACA frameworks:
Risk IT (focused on the identification, management and reduction of risk)
Val IT (for the governance of IT investments)
COBIT 4.1 (the previous version of COBIT)
As well as compiling this comprehensive base of good practices, COBIT 5 was also designed to be compatible with other IT frameworks such as ITIL, ISO, PMBOK, PRINCE2 and TOGAF. In this way, COBIT can be seen as an ‘umbrella framework’.