10 minutes with… ITGP author Geoff Harmer

This week, we talk to Geoff Harmer, author of Governance of Enterprise IT based on COBIT®5

ITGP:  Hello, Geoff.  Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Let’s get straight down to business with the first question: could you please tell us a bit about Governance of Enterprise IT based on COBIT®5. Why did you want to write it?

GH: I wanted to write my book on COBIT®5 to use my wide experience of IT best practice frameworks and international standards to assist people with understanding the complexity of ISACA® COBIT®5  documentation. My goal was to help readers recognise the best approach for implementing IT governance based on COBIT®5, which includes understanding COBIT®5 process assessment.

ITGP:  You view effective IT governance as a crucial tool, then?

GH: As I explain in my initial chapter, it is vital to recognise that IT governance is part of corporate governance. This is a fundamental principle of good corporate governance.

ITGP: There are a number of possible frameworks that you could have written about. Why did you choose COBIT®5?

GH: COBIT®5 is extremely comprehensive and is based on over 80 other best practice frameworks and international standards. I wanted to make readers very much aware of these to add value to working with the ISACA COBIT documentation. I also recognised that further explanation was needed about the COBIT®5 enablers than is given in the ISACA COBIT® books, and so I wrote a whole chapter to explain these in detail with real world examples.

ITGP: Governance of Enterprise IT based on COBIT®5 is written as an introduction to the topic, is that right?

GH: While I made sure that my book covered the COBIT®5  Foundation Certificate syllabus, I was more concerned about providing in-depth, careful explanations that are necessary for implementing COBIT®5  for IT governance.

ITGP: I seem to remember that you did not start out as an IT professional. How did you get interested in technology?

GH: It was 46 years ago that I started programming in FORTRAN while a research physicist. It was the only way to analyse the vast quantities of data that my neutron physics experiments needed. That interest in computing led me to work full-time in the IT sector from 1982, teaching and consulting technically across the world for around 15 years before switching to IT strategy consulting. That led to recognising the need for IT service management and IT governance, and I formally moved into that area in 2001.

ITGP: That’s a lot of experience!  And you are clearly still very passionate about what you do.

GH: I love teaching and presenting about technology, and  as well as being accredited to train on COBIT, ITIL and ISO 20000, I have been an Associate Lecturer in Mathematics, Computing and Technology with the UK’s Open University for 15 years, teaching undergraduate courses on IT fundamentals such as technology, specialist applications, programming, security and international developments in IT.

ITGP: Where did you begin your career in IT governance?

GH: I have been teaching and consulting about IT governance and IT service management for 13 years and I have a broad understanding of the large number of best practice frameworks and international standards that apply. I have been working with COBIT since 2004, and I was invited as a specialist in ITIL to join a working group defining the syllabus for the initial COBIT Foundation course in 2004. I have been teaching and consulting about COBIT and ISO/IEC 20000 (IT Service management) since 2006 and about ITIL since 2001.

ITGP:  Technology changes so quickly these days that it can be hard to see the wood for the trees when you are choosing a career path. Do you have any advice for those just starting out in the IT sector?

GH: There are two areas where a career in the IT sector can start: programming and operational support.  Having key skills and knowledge in these areas is the way to get employed.

If you are enthusiastic about programming and enjoy creating applications, then that is probably the way to start your career.  A hot topic in the next 5-10 years is quantum computing, so an academic qualification in the understanding of quantum computers and how to conduct the specialist programming will give you a major career opportunity.

Operational support requires knowledge of best practice frameworks and standards and I have seen a lot of evidence that getting a job in operational IT requires experience and a certificate in an IT service management framework such as ITIL, and/or project management methodologies like PRINCE2 or PMBOK.

ITGP: What about those who already have these skills?What advice would you give those with significant IT experience who wish to gain more senior roles?

GH: If you already have significant IT career experience, then you will be more likely to gain a senior role if you have the skills to run key IT growth areas. Today, these are fundamentally concerned with IT governance – put simply: ensuring that business objectives are met, which cannot be done without effective IT services.

Areas include being able to conduct governance risk and compliance, and having solid knowledge of enterprise architecture and information security. The other growth areas are Cloud computing, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and smartphone applications. There is a huge demand for consultancy skills to cover such areas, too.

So, gain knowledge and skills about COBIT®5, ISO 27001, TOGAF, SaaS and BYOD, and prepare yourself to move away from operational activities to strategy planning.

ITGP:  Excellent advice.  Sadly we have to wrap this up now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today.

GH: Thank you.

Download a free sample of Geoff’s book Governance of Enterprise IT based on COBIT 5 from the IT Governance Website