Aligning COBIT with Enterprise Architecture

COBIT is the best known and most widely used framework for IT governance. Using COBIT, organisations can design a governance system to make sure that the use of Information Technology delivers value to the organisation and thus contributes to the achievement of the strategic objectives. The UGentMIS team has been involved in the development of COBIT’s latest version, i.e., COBIT 2019.

Enterprise Architecture is concerned with creating and assuring the coherence of the difference components of an organisation, with a specific focus on the more formal process and technology oriented components, to ensure that the organisation behaves as a system that is directed towards achieving the organisational goals. Enterprise architects use frameworks like TOGAF and modelling languages like ArchiMate to analyse and integrate current and future projects aimed at enhancing or developing new capabilities, in line with the strategic direction set out for goal achievement. The UGentMIS team has extensive experience and expertise in Enterprise Architecture research, with an emphasis on Business Architecture, strategic fit, and model-based analysis.

During our participation in the COBIT 2019 development, we noted that the goals of COBIT are not that much different of the goals of Enterprise Architecture, though the way to achieve these goals is different. As both implementation of governance and Enterprise Architecture is expensive, this raises the question why two separate approaches are needed.

This thesis therefore explores the similarities and differences in IT Governance (via COBIT) and Enterprise Architecture (possibly via TOGAF/ArchiMate) to find out what the opportunities are to further align these approaches, e.g., how can these approaches strengthen each other? Are there opportunities for integration of both approaches? The purpose of this explorative research is to come with well argued suggestions for further research.

The type of study is primarily theory-oriented (= desk research), though a field testing of the findings (e.g., by means of an expert panel) could be a valuable element in the research methodology. Both themes (Enterprise Architecture, Governance) are at the core of the Business Engineering discipline, and thus a suitable thesis topic for MSc. Bus. Eng. students.

By Geert Poels

Geert Poels is head of UGentMIS, which he founded in 2005. He is Professor of Management Information Systems (since October 1, 2012) and member of the professorial staff of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University (since October 1, 2002). He is member of the University Research Council. He also teaches and directs master dissertation research at IC Institute (Beersel, Belgium). Within UGentMIS he coordinates the Enterprise Modelling research cluster. His personal research and research together with academic scholars, companies, post-doctoral researchers, PhD students and Master students relates to six lines of research: (1) Design of a Business Process Architecture Description Language – with colleagues from UCLM, Spain; (2) Automated modelling of User Stories and Behaviour-Driven Design scenarios – with colleagues from SLU, United States & UGent PhD students Abhimanyu Gupta and Anis Amna; (3) Ontological analysis and design of Value Models and their integration into Enterprise Architecture – with colleagues from The Open University of The Netherlands and UNIBZ, Italy; in collaboration with the Dutch company VDMbee; and with Master students from IC Institute; (4) Redesigning the conceptual model of COBIT for IT Governance – with colleagues from Antwerp Management School; in collaboration with PwC and ISACA & UGent PhD student Dirk Steuperaert; (5) Enterprise Modelling for tactical information systems design, the 'informal enterprise', and capability management – with professors Renata Petrevska and Mijalche Santa from the universities of Bitola/Prilep and Skopje, Macedonia, respectively, and with Master students from IC Institute; (6) Enterprise Modelling for digital innovation – with UGent/VUB post-doctoral researcher Michaël Verdonck, UGent Master students and colleagues from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Apart from these research lines, Geert Poels supervises UGent PhD research on digital marketplaces (Thomas Derave), technology disruption (Patrick Luyts), cybersecurity (Hossein Abroshan, Steve Ahouanmenou), enterprise systems (Adnan Kraljic, Tarik Kraljic), and GDPR (Georgios Georgiadis, Abdel-Jaouad Aberkane). In the period 2005-2020 he was promoter of 13 completed PhD research projects (11 at UGent and 2 at KU Leuven), while currently he is promoter of 11 ongoing PhD projects. Mid 2020 he has 126 publications listed in Web of Science with an h-index of 15. His Scopus h-index is 19. His Google Scholar h-index is 32 with over 3600 citations recorded.

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