ISACA’s COBIT 5, now repositioned as a business framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT, has cemented the business necessity for hundreds of thousands of companies globally, and thousands in South Africa, to engage in enterprise architecture (EA) by clearly defining such a requirement.
COBIT 5 explicitly fires off a requirement to establish EA management as a key business capability, and draws a direct link with the recommendations of TOGAF 9, The Open Group’s industry-standard architecture framework which is the most widely used in South Africa. At the heart of TOGAF is the Architecture Development Method, or ADM, which maps back to COBIT 5.
ISACA was established 46 years ago by a group of technologists who understood then already that business processes and IT were inseparable. Since then it has matured to the extent that globally adopted COBIT (formerly known as Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology) is used by more than 100 000 professionals in 180 countries.
“COBIT 5 focuses on the full enterprise architecture domains, namely business, information, data, applications and technology, this is major shift from CobiT 4 which was technology centric,” says Stuart Macgregor, CEO of Real IRM, South Africa’s leading EA practitioner. He spent a fortnight in London and Washington DC last year working with ISACA to ensure a correct correlation between COBIT and EA, and his contribution forms a key component of Chapter 5 of ISACA’s Enabling Processes handbook.
“Thousands will use COBIT 5 to ensure they are in line with the best approaches in terms of governance and management of enterprise IT,” says Macgregor. “They will have as a clear instruction the requirement to develop an enterprise architecture vision, with accountability for its overall delivery residing with the CEO. In essence, this makes the CEO the chief architect, who must own EA and ensure its successful and sustained delivery.
“This is important given the need to drive the fusion between business and IT, using EA as a support process for business transformation and realising greater value from IT”.
COBIT 5 states: “The architecture vision provides a first-cut, high-level description of the baseline and target architectures, covering the business, information, data, application and technology domains. The architecture vision provides the sponsor with a key tool to sell the benefits of the proposed capability to stakeholders within the enterprise. The architecture vision describes how the new capability will meet enterprise goals and strategic objectives and address stakeholder concerns when implemented.”
The handbook then goes on to provide practical steps, mapping to the TOGAF Architecture Development Method, defining activities, management practice, and inputs and outputs. TOGAF has since 2009 gained currency in corporate and public South African organisations and is now the de facto standard.
The King III report has reinforced the urgency of adopting EA by also making it a direct board governance requirement.
King III states: “The board should provide the required leadership and direction to ensure that the company’s IT achieves, sustains and enhances the company’s strategic objectives”.
“The board is now given a clear mandate that they must embrace EA management, and they must sign off that they have made such a commitment,” adds Macgregor. “The use of COBIT 5 will accelerate the adoption of business-appropriate, sustainable EA as the core discipline that confers flexibility, cost reduction, business-IT alignment and long-term competitive advantage.”
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