Sunday, September 21, 2008

CobiT

Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (CobiT) is an IT governance control framework that helps organisations meet business challenges in the areas of regulatory compliance, risk management and aligning IT strategy with organisational goals.

Structure of CobiT

CobiT recognises 34 IT processes that are grouped into four domains. The four domains are:

  1. Plan and Organise (PO)
  2. Acquire and Implement (AI)
  3. Deliver and Support (DS)
  4. Monitor and Evaluate (ME)

Each process has a level of maturity (numerical) from 0-5. (0 is non-existent and 5 is optimised.) This scale can be used for a number of key evaluations, such as the level of maturity a process is currently at within your organisation, what level of maturity the processes should be at, what level is considered best practice, & what level the best of your competitors/other organisations have achieved.

BUSINESS AND IT CONTROLS

The enterprise’s system of internal controls impacts IT at three levels:

• At the executive management level, business objectives are set, policies are established and decisions are made on how to deploy and manage the resources of the enterprise to execute the enterprise strategy. The overall approach to governance and control is established by the board and communicated throughout the enterprise. The IT control environment is directed by this top-level set of objectives and policies.
• At the business process level, controls are applied to specific business activities. Most business processes are automated and integrated with IT application systems, resulting in many of the controls at this level being automated as well. These controls are known as application controls. However, some controls within the business process remain as manual procedures, such as
authorisation for transactions, separation of duties and manual reconciliations. Therefore, controls at the business process level are a combination of manual controls operated by the business and automated business and application controls. Both are the responsibility of the business to define and manage, although the application controls require the IT function to support their design and development.
• To support the business processes, IT provides IT services, usually in a shared service to many business processes, as many of the development and operational IT processes are provided to the whole enterprise, and much of the IT infrastructure is provided as a common service (e.g., networks, databases, operating systems and storage). The controls applied to all IT service activities are known as IT general controls. The reliable operation of these general controls is necessary for reliance to be placed on application controls. For example, poor change management could jeopardise (accidentally or deliberately) the reliability of automated
integrity checks.

IT GENERAL CONTROLS AND APPLICATION CONTROLS

General controls are controls embedded in IT processes and services. Examples include:

• Systems development
• Change management
• Security
• Computer operations
Controls embedded in business process applications are commonly referred to as application controls. Examples include:
• Completeness
• Accuracy
• Validity
• Authorisation
• Segregation of duties

Ref: http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/cobit.aspx