New COBIT 5 Book Helps Enterprises Realize IT Benefits


When a majority of enterprises report that less than half of their IT initiatives actually deliver the expected business benefits, it is time to take a closer look at what businesses can do to attain those sought after benefits.

Enterprises make investments in technology as part of their daily operations, so the need for business benefits realization from those investments is ongoing. That need—and the general failure of businesses to meet it consistently—is the driving idea behind the creation of COBIT 5 for Business Benefits Realization, a new book from ISACA.

The book details how the COBIT 5 framework can help businesses achieve the benefits from their technology investments as envisioned when those investment decisions were made.

Barriers to IT Benefits
So why are a majority of businesses seeing less than stellar returns from their IT initiatives? The answer lies in three common barriers to benefits realization. First, it is difficult to determine exactly which IT benefits are realized due to the significant lag between the decision to invest in technology and the realization of benefits. Next, common misperceptions can compromise benefits realization. For example, enterprises often believe benefits realization management is a simple, easy process. It is not. Lastly, a paradoxical gap arises between the knowledge of good management practices and the actual application of those practices. Business benefits realization management is no exception.

Drivers to Business Benefits Realization
What actually drives benefits realization? A study by John Ward and Elizabeth Daniel identified the following issues:

  • Complex, sophisticated IT systems and applications require increasing levels of skill to deliver/use effectively.
  • IT industry expectations for proven benefits and time to realize them are unrealistic.
  • Enterprise-wide applications impact a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, and rely on active cooperation to achieve benefits.
  • IS/IT benefits are increasingly diverse and difficult to identify, describe and measure.
  • It is difficult to relate business performance improvements to specific IS/IT projects because they are usually a combination of improved technology and other changes.
  • An increasing focus on short-term financial returns prevents many longer-term benefits of a coherent, sustained IS/IT investment strategy.
  • Benefit reviews are not consistently performed when projects end, so lessons learned are not transferred to future projects.

COBIT 5:  A Framework for Achieving Objectives
As a comprehensive framework that helps organizations achieve their objectives for the governance and management of enterprise IT, COBIT 5 enables businesses to optimize value by balancing benefits realization, risk optimization, and resource use.

COBIT 5 for Business Benefits Realization builds on COBIT 5 by focusing on governance and management of business benefits realization to provide contextualized guidance for consultants, experts in governance and business management, IT professionals, and other interested parties.

The book outlines the key characteristics of effective business benefits realization management, as identified by Steve Jenner and APMG International. They include:

  • Actively searching for benefits versus passively tracking against forecast.
  • Evidence-based forecasting and practices.
  • Transparent forecasting and reporting with a clear line of sight from strategic objectives to business benefits.
  • Forward-thinking that emphasizes learning and continuous improvement.
  • Managing across the full business change lifecycle, rather than as an add-on at the end of a project.

COBIT 5 enables these key success characteristics through its specific governance and management processes, practices and activities that contribute to benefits realization, and risk and resource optimization.

Benefits of COBIT 5 for Business Benefits Realization
COBIT 5 for Business Benefits Realization provides the following benefits:

  • Better understanding of increasingly complex but significant areas of business benefits realization
  • Better understanding of key links between business benefits realization and enterprise and IT strategy, and enterprise architecture
  • Clarity on the application of COBIT 5 governance and management principles to business benefits realization
  • Details on how each COBIT 5 enabler supports business benefits realization
  • Contextual references to industry best practices from leading benefits realization authors and researchers

Members can download the book here.

Peter Tessin, Technical Research Manager, ISACA

[ISACA Now Blog]

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