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3 COBIT processes that make quality job one!


Do you remember the Ford commercials from the 1980s that had “Quality Is Job One” as their slogan? Well, just as quality matters in cars, it matters in IT, too. If you’ve been following my series of posts on COBIT 5, you know that I think the new release of the COBIT standard will help IT organizations achieve greater financial transparency, customer satisfaction, operational excellence, and future orientation. But what about quality? COBIT 5 says the quality management process is about defining and communicating quality requirements including controls, ongoing monitoring, and the use of practices and standards in continuous improvement of efficiency efforts.  Please notice that quality is not just about testing. Pause and think about this. This is more of a Baldridge type definition.


In terms of goals, management should ensure consistent delivery of solutions and services to meet the quality requirements of the enterprise and satisfy stakeholder needs. Key takeaways are that the quality management process needs to focus on continual improvement and making sure that the quality delivered conforms to the needs of business stakeholders.


Process goals for quality

To improve quality, COBIT 5 suggests IT organizations measure themselves against three process improvement goals. Let’s explore these along with their recommended metrics. 


1.                  Stakeholders are satisfied with the quality of solutions and services. Quality is clearly the protector of the end customer. The goal is to judge whether solutions and services meet the end user business requirements.  Stakeholder satisfaction is a critical measurement. Three metrics are used to measure success: average stakeholder satisfaction rating with solutions and services, percent of stakeholders satisfied with IT quality, and number of services with a formal quality management plan. The first two are obviously gleaned from stakeholder surveys, but the latter says there is a quality management plan defined for each and every service. This means that quality does not end once services are delivered. Instead, services need to be on what ITIL calls a continual improvement plan.


2.                  Project and service delivery results are predictable. Ask any business leader about what a good manager is able to do and they will tell you good managers create predictability. Here we want projects to be delivered on time and on schedule and, just as important, we want services to meet their objectives. Three metrics are recommended here: percent of projects reviewed that meet target quality goals and objectives, percent of solutions and services delivered with formal certification, and number of defects uncovered prior to production. The first one implies that projects have target quality goals and performance objectives. Obviously, delivered projects need to have a high number in aggregate here. The next one says that where you have auditable business processes that you can certify or attest to their performance through certification such as SAS 70. And the last one is the proof of the pudding for quality. How many defects, in fact, leak into production? This number should always be small.


3.                  Quality requirements are implemented in all processes. This once again says that quality isn’t just about testing. Three metrics are recommended to measure success: Number of processes with defined quality requirements, number of processes with formal quality assessment reports, and number of SLAs that include quality acceptance criteria. Clearly, the first is looking for a measurement of processes that have quality requirements. The second is about assessing those requirements against the criteria. And the last is about inserting quality acceptance criteria into SLAs.


So where should I start?

Once again, my suggestion is you start where the most immediate value can be driven. But if it were up to me, I would start with stakeholder assessment and then drive predictable results. Where would you start?


Related links:

Blog post: 3 ways IT leaders can strengthen compliance and control

Blog post: Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy

Blog post: COBIT 5 guides IT leaders to better manage future orientation in their organizations

Blog post: 7 goals in COBIT 5 that will improve your operational excellence

Blog post: COBIT 5’s scorecard measures IT’s relationship with its customers

Blog post: COBIT 5 scorecard measures the quality of IT’s financial performance COBIT 5

Solution page:  IT Performance Management

Solution page:  Test Management

Solution page:  Quality Center software

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.

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