What Differences between a COBIT® and TIPA® Assessment?

Steve Tremblay, President of Excelsa Technologies, ITIL® Master, DPSM, PMP, TIPA Lead Trainer

Many consultants are using COBIT to assess their IT processes. What difference do you make between COBIT and TIPA for ITIL? To answer the question, we’ve asked the expert, Steve Tremblay. As a Senior ITIL/ITSM Consultant, Steve Tremblay is one of our TIPA Trainers. He has also worked on the development of COBIT assessment


Many consultants are using COBIT to assess their IT processes. What difference do you make between COBIT and TIPA for ITIL?

Steve Tremblay: There is a fundamental difference between TIPA (ITIL processes) and COBIT processes. TIPA processes or ITIL processes are composed of activities to execute the process. COBIT processes are composed of activities to control and manage processes.

Both COBIT and TIPA for ITIL have as a major driver to deliver value to customers through services and ensuring proper usage of resources and managing risk to an acceptable level.

From an assessment perspective, we break down each process into ‘practices’; base practices, specific to each process and the generic practices, not specific to any particular processes. Both COBIT and TIPA follow this model. COBIT base practices are specific to COBIT processes to ensure proper governance and management of Enterprise IT. And TIPA base practices are specific to ITIL to ensure the proper execution of the process in support of the service delivery in line with customer needs.

So when we assess processes based on either COBIT or TIPA the evaluation is exactly the same for capability level 2 through 5, which use the generic practices. Level 1, using base practices, is specific to either COBIT or TIPA for ITIL.

Are COBIT and TIPA for ITIL complementary or rather competitors?

Steve Tremblay: They are complementary. If we concentrate on the base practices, as explained in the main question above, COBIT has base practices defined to ensure proper governance and management of Enterprise IT, TIPA for ITIL has base practices to ensure proper execution of the each process.

Both TIPA and COBIT are using the ISO/IEC 15504 as assessment method. Do you see any difference in the way they have implemented it?

Steve Tremblay: ISO/IEC 15504 is guiding on how to conduct the assessment, from multiple aspects, how to plan the assessment, how to proceed with the interviews, rating of interviews and processes, determination of the capability levels and competences of the assessors to name just a few. Both COBIT and TIPA covers in details the how to assess the processes, rating the interviews and processes to come up with the capability level achieved; in line with the ISO/IEC 15504 guidance. COBIT is a little lighter on the details regarding the execution of the SWOT analysis, report preparation and closing of the assessment project. TIPA goes in a lot of details on how to execute the SWOT, build the report and close the assessment project, thus ensuring proper lessons learned be identified and allow for improvement of our assessment method.

COBIT has designed a process model based on the previously known “controls”. How successful were they with this operation? Are the ITIL processes included in that model robust? How different is it from the TIPA process model?

Steve Tremblay: Both COBIT  and TIPA built a Process Reference Model (PRM) based on specific process requirements. Since the goals of the COBIT processes differ from the ones of the ITIL processes then the requirements or base practices will also differ although closely related. The PRM for COBIT is very different to the one of TIPA because of the different goals involved. Both were very successful in covering all specific requirements of each of their in-scope processes. The base practices for a process present in both COBIT and ITIL are different, as they are not responding to the same goals; hence why COBIT and TIPA for ITIL are not in competing but are complementary.

Conclusion

The COBIT assessment model and the TIPA (based on ITIL) assessment model are both very good methods to conduct process capability assessments. They both rely on the same foundation, ISO/IEC 15504, which is a global reference for conducting process capability assessments.

Both COBIT and TIPA can be used by organizations based on what the organization is looking for, is the organization interested to know the capability of processes from a governance or operational perspective. Therefore, COBIT and TIPA for ITIL are very much complementary to each other.