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


In my post “Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy,” I wrote about why the latest release of the COBIT standard is big news when it comes to IT governance and IT-business alignment. This week I review what COBIT says about how well you manage your IT organization for the future. In scorecard parlance, I will be reviewing what is called the Learning and Growth quadrant. I’ve already looked at what COBIT 5 recommends for IT’s financial transparency, customer relationships, and operational excellence. As with those previous posts, we will review COBIT 5’s recommendations for the enterprise as a whole and then focus in on the IT Balanced Scorecard recommendations.


Learning and Growth goals for enterprise leadership

For IT’s business customers, COBIT 5’s operational Learning and Growth quadrant has two areas that a business should score itself by. They are:


1)      Skilled and motivated people

2)      Product and business innovation culture


Obviously IT needs to have skilled and motivated people to be successful. In fact last week, I discussed explicitly the relationship between employee satisfaction (a COBIT 5 metric for skilled and motivated people) and IT-delivered business outcomes in “Employee satisfaction is a leading indicator of IT performance – so why aren’t you measuring it regularly?” And the second area, innovation culture, is especially important in IT.  This last goal has an IT supporting role written all over it.


Learning and Growth goals for IT leadership

How should IT score its performance in preparing for the future? This is what Learning and Growth is all about. COBIT 5 provides you two goal areas. Let’s explore each goal area and their respective metrics: 


Competent and motivated business and IT personnel:  Three metrics are recommended for this goal area:


1. Percent of staff whose IT-related skills are sufficient for the competency required for their role;

2. Percent of staff satisfied with their IT-related roles, and

3. Number of learning/training hours per staff member.


These metrics answer critical questions including:  Do I have the right people in the right roles? Are people happy doing what they are doing today?  And, am I providing the training and development for people to be successful in their jobs? During the recent economic downturn, many IT departments cut back on training and development.  A recent online survey said that only 20% of employees overall feel training and development was frequent enough.


Knowledge, expertise and initiatives for business innovation: Three metrics are recommended for this goal area:


1.       Level of business executive awareness and understanding of IT innovation possibilities;

2.        Level of stakeholder satisfaction with the levels of IT innovation expertise and ideas; and

3.        Number of approved initiatives resulting from innovative IT ideas.


Put together these ask the following: Is IT connected to the business in a way that enables means the business knows the innovation potential for IT? How well does IT deliver on business initiatives related to innovation?  How much business innovation is driven by IT i in the form of approved initiatives?


Where to start?

Once again, my suggestion is that you start where the most immediate value can be driven. Clearly, one of the easier things to start with is a survey to evaluate the percent of staff with IT-related skills sufficient for them to be competent in their roles. Another is to survey IT stakeholders to how satisfied they are with IT innovation, expertise and ideas. These will tell you a lot. And once again, feel free to ask questions or comment below on this post.  


Related links:

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

Blog post: Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy


Solution page:  IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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About the Author


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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