What is COBIT Compliance?

COBIT stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies. It is an IT governance framework used by organizations for implementing information systems and strategies.

COBIT was created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), a professional association that guides IT governance. The group’s goal was to create a methodology that allows businesses to connect business goals to IT goals.

As an IT governance framework, COBIT guides how businesses can implement, manage, and monitor their IT processes. This entails measurements, guidelines, and an outline to help determine the effectiveness of IT controls, so organizations can comply with relevant regulatory requirements.

The COBIT framework also provides best practices for businesses to assure quality control and reliability in their information systems, which is one of the most important aspects of scaling a modern business.

How to Prepare for COBIT
2019 Compliance

Why Is COBIT Compliance Important?

The COBIT framework is important because it provides a common language professionals can use to communicate about their IT controls, business goals, and risk management objectives.

Without that common language, an organization undergoing an audit will have difficulty conveying the specifics behind its IT controls — thus prolonging the audit and increasing its complexity and cost.

Moreover, non-compliance could lead to ineffective controls that don’t do a good enough job of preventing unauthorized access to information systems and sensitive data.

For example, in one of the most widely known cybercrime cases, Gary McKinnon, a systems administrator based in Britain, was accused of stealing dozens of U.S. military and NASA computing devices in 2002. Numerous critical systems were compromised, U.S. Naval Air Station files were changed or deleted, and a network of 2,000 U.S. Army computing networks was brought down.

Incidents like that remind us that we become more dependent on IT to guide business decisions and strategy, so does risk.

Without proper governance and risk management practices, such as those outlined in COBIT, organizations face a significantly higher likelihood of damages due to stolen data, lost productivity, and harm to their reputation.

COBIT Requirements at a Glance

Traditionally, new versions of the COBIT framework received increasing version numbers: COBIT 4 and COBIT 5, for example.

That ended with the most recent version of COBIT, which was released in late 2018 was named COBIT 2019. Its scope narrowly focuses on cybersecurity, risk management, and corporate governance. There are six COBIT principles outlined in the most recent version, which lay the foundation for COBIT compliance. They are:

  • Provide stakeholder value
  • Holistic approach
  • Dynamic governance system
  • Governance distinct from management
  • Tailored to enterprise needs
  • End-to-end governance system

Beyond that, COBIT’s core components are:


Internal control






Maturity models


Process descriptions

COBIT Compliance Checklist

The following COBIT compliance checklist can help your organization to build your information security program and prepare for a COBIT audit.


Map out a strategic IT plan


Define your sensitive information architecture


Determine your IT goals and direction


Map out your IT infrastructure and relationships


Assess your risks and severity level for each potential outcome


Determine the best path forward for your IT investment and management systems


​Communicate your IT management goals and requirements to stakeholders and employees


Assure all controls appropriately map to your COBIT compliance requirements


Continuously monitor compliance objectives and control efficacy

Preparing for a COBIT Audit - Part One. Learn how to Align, Plan and Organize


Reciprocity Has Your COBIT Compliance Solution

COBIT can help connect your enterprise IT goals and business processes; and provide resources to build, monitor, and improve your compliance program. Still, an undertaking of this size cannot be managed with human resources and spreadsheets alone.

Reciprocity’s powerful ZenGRC solution presents the COBIT framework in a format you can grasp at first glance. Its dashboard shows where you already comply as well as where you don’t, with instructions on how to fill the gaps.

Then, when you’re ready, ZenGRC makes self-auditing a breeze so you can validate your own compliance measures. With so much of COBIT’s heavy lifting done for you, your panic mind becomes a Zen mind. Clarity achieved. Compliance complete.

ZenGRC COBIT Capabilities

  • User-friendly dashboard with real-time metrics on prioritized risks
  • Pre-built templates can help you with your compliance audits
  • A central repository for COBIT compliance documentation
  • Cross-control framework mapping for ISO/IEC, COSO, SOX, GDPR, NIST, and more
  • Insight into team member progress at fulfilling COBIT requirements
  • Tracking functionality for outstanding tasks and requirements
Ready to see ZenGRC in action?

Frequently Asked Questions

An IT governance framework is an outline for the methods a business should use to implement, manage, and monitor its IT governance. It defines the guidelines for measurements of IT processes and provides a roadmap to evaluate the effectiveness of IT governance strategies. Such frameworks are most commonly used to facilitate compliance with legal and regulatory requirements regarding IT.

COBIT was first released in 1996 to help the financial audit community in IT environments. COBIT 2 was released in 1998 and expanded COBIT relevance beyond the finance community. COBIT 3 emerged in 2000 and incorporated IT management and information governance techniques.

COBIT 4 was released in 2005. In 2007, COBIT 4.1 added more governance regarding information and communication technology. In 2012, COBIT 5, incorporated risk management and information governance. Finally, COBIT 2019 was announced (at the end of 2018, technically) which streamlined updates to the framework and implemented greater flexibility with changing technology.

COBIT is more concerned with the “what” of an organization and how it runs, whereas ITIL is more concerned with the “how.” Since COBIT focuses on things from a business goal perspective, it makes the rules and helps to govern what kinds of processes should be in place to achieve those goals.

In contrast, ITIL is mostly concerned about making IT work. It receives directives from management but then uses its own toolkit to implement the processes and services.

The components of COBIT 5 include:

  • A framework for the objectives of IT governance
  • A common language for planning, building, executing, and monitoring IT processes and their iteration
  • The objectives to create effective IT controls
  • A methodology for measuring performance and assigning compliance responsibilities

The practical applications of COBIT 5 include:

  • Risk management
  • Information security
  • Business continuity
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Quality assurance