11 Most Popular IT Frameworks You Need to Know About

IT management has become increasingly complicated in recent years, especially as it applies to the delivery of IT services. This challenge is largely due to the wide availability of competing technologies, as sharing them can cause IT departments to become overwhelmed and disorganized.

However, data’s increasing value in today’s organizations leaves little room for IT errors – sensitive data can fall into the wrong hands or compound existing process inefficiencies until those processes fail.

Implementing an IT framework is a sound approach for regaining control of your IT environment, but it requires care in choosing the right model.

This post provides a general overview of IT frameworks and an examination of specific frameworks with a focus on selecting the best framework for your organization.

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What is an IT framework?

An IT framework is a set of guidelines, instructions, and principles that determine an organization’s IT infrastructure. This framework ensures that an organization’s technology aligns with its overall business objectives, industry best practices, and government regulations.

IT frameworks also maintain order within the IT department itself. While an IT framework governs IT processes and systems, it doesn’t directly control decisions made by other departments.

Each IT framework prioritizes its own set of factors for pursuing specific goals in IT governance. It is therefore critical to carefully select a framework that aligns with your organization’s unique requirements. The best IT frameworks include the following:

  1. ITIL
  2. COBIT
  3. MOF
  4. ISO
  5. TOGAF
  6. PRINCE2
  7. PMBOK
  8. CMMI
  9. COSO IT
  10. VAL IT
  11. FEAF


The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is recognized as a standard IT framework throughout the world. ITIL v4 is the current iteration as of 2024 and is designed for modern IT technologies including process automation, cloud computing, and DevOps. ITIL v4 addresses the following four dimensions of IT service:

  • Organizations and people
  • Value streams and processes
  • Information and technology
  • Partners and suppliers

It also includes 34 practices grouped into the following three categories:

  • General management practices 
  • Service management practices 
  • Technical management practices


The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) developed Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT) framework. It was initially released in 1996, and the latest iteration is COBIT 5, which was released in 2012. This version of COBIT is based on the following five principles:

  • Meeting stakeholder needs
  • Covering the enterprise end-to-end
  • Applying a single integrated framework
  • Enabling a holistic approach 
  • Separating governance from management

COBIT 5 also recognizes the following seven components of IT:

  • People, policies, and frameworks 
  • Processes
  • Organizational structures
  • Culture, ethics, and behavior 
  • Information 
  • Services, infrastructure, and applications
  • People, skills, and competencies


The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) takes a holistic view of IT environments consisting of people, processes, and technology. It uses the following four quadrants to organize components for the framework:

  • Changing quadrant 
  • Operating quadrant
  • Supporting quadrant 
  • Optimizing quadrant

The current version is MOF 4.0, which guides an IT infrastructure across its entire life cycle, including design, development, operation, maintenance, and retirement. MOF 4.0 integrates many IT processes, including compliance, governance, risk, audits, and best practices as defined by Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF).


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) jointly published ISO/IEC 27001 in 2005; it was most recently updated in 2022.

This publication defines standards for an information security management system (ISMS) for the purpose of managing IT risks and improving security. ISO/IEC 27001 specifies requirements for all phases of an ISMS, including creation, implementation, maintenance and continual improvement.

Organizations that pass an audit by an accredited certification body receive ISO/IEC 27001 certification.

This IT framework is based on the following three principles of information security:

  • Confidentiality 
  • Information integrity
  • Availability of data


The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is developed by The Open Group and is based on the United States Department of Defense’s TAFIM and Capgemini’s Integrated Architecture Framework (IAF).

It offers a high-level approach to design and is currently one of the most popular frameworks for enterprise architecture. TOGAF relies heavily on the modularization and standardization of proven technologies.

This framework takes a high-level approach to IT governance based on the following four levels:

  • Business 
  • Application
  • Data
  • Technology


PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) is a structured project management model the United Kingdom government developed specifically for information systems. It initially released PRINCE2 in 1996 and transferred ownership of PRINCE2 to AXELOS Ltd. in 2013, which is jointly controlled by the U.K. government and private interests.

PRINCE2 emphasizes the division of projects into manageable stages by using the following six tolerances:

  • Scope
  • Timescale 
  • Risk 
  • Quality 
  • Benefits 
  • Cost


The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a set of guidelines for general project management that apply to IT projects.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) oversees the work, but other organizations contribute to it. PMBOK has evolved significantly over time, with the 2021 7th edition release being the most recent.

PMBOK offers unique features in project management, including its work breakdown structure (WBS) and critical path method. It also contains principles that overlap with general management regarding organizational operations.

Additional overlaps between PMBOK and other management disciplines include budgeting, financial forecasting, organizational behavior, and management science.


Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a program for appraising and improving processes. The CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of ISACA, published the first version in 2010, with the 2023 3.0 version being the most recent.

CMMI can be used to guide process improvement in any functional area, although it’s most commonly associated with IT.

This model is based on the following five maturity levels:

  • Level 0 – Incomplete
  • Level 1 – Initial 
  • Level 2 – Managed 
  • Level 3 – Defined 
  • Level 4 – Quantitatively managed 
  • Level 5 – Optimizing

These levels are hierarchical, such that each level includes the same requirements as the one below it, along with additional requirements. The end goal of CMMI is to raise all processes under its control to level five, although organizations may never achieve this goal for all processes.


The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) develops its self-named Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework. This framework is comprehensive, as it addresses operational risks across many areas, including IT.

As a result, it’s widely used for integrating risk management within an organization and isn’t specifically a framework for IT governance. However, COSO also offers a framework that is designed for IT, which is COSO Internal Control – Integrated Framework (COSO IC). This framework focuses on an organization’s internal controls within an organization, including those related to IT.


ISACA develops VAT IT, an IT governance framework. It complements and expands on COBIT by including a comprehensive IT governance control framework. The primary difference between COBIT and VAT focuses on investment decisions and their expected profits, while COBIT focuses on the framework’s implementation.

VAL requires support from senior management to be effective, not just lower-level leadership. IT provides a comprehensive framework that other processes must support, along with other guidelines that help executives understand and evaluate investments in IT.


The U.S. federal government uses the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF) to manage enterprises within the federal government. It delivers standardized practices for developing and implementing IT governance with the Collaborative Planning Methodology. This methodology consists of the following types of actions:

  • Identify and validate 
  • Research and leverage 
  • Define and plan 
  • Invest and execute 
  • Perform and measure

Importance of IT frameworks

Boards of directors don’t typically attach much importance to IT, especially when their organization doesn’t have IT governance. They usually lack the technical knowledge to ask pertinent questions within this area, leaving IT managers to manage IT assets. This dynamic often results in IT managers making unique decisions based on whims or limited knowledge.

This lack of IT oversight poses a serious threat because it exposes the organization to risks like failure to manage IT assets. Large enterprises have successfully managed this challenge by using IT frameworks to establish board-level committees to monitor and manage IT. These committees can then work with other committees at that level on functions like audit, compensation and governance.

Specific benefits of IT frameworks include the following:

  • Risk management
  • Improved decision-making
  • Enhanced compliance
  • Process standardization
  • Better communication and transparency

Risk management

An IT framework with built-in risk management can significantly minimize the cost of data breaches. UpGuard reports that the average cost of a data breach for one business was $3.86 million in 2020, which can have devastating consequences for smaller companies.

In addition to direct cost savings, risk management can help an organization quickly achieve its goals. It also increases its resistance to cyberattacks and stabilizes business operators. Additional benefits of risk management include a reduction in legal liability, resulting in insurance premiums.

Improved decision-making

An IT framework’s ability to establish objectives, principles, and structure for an organization helps improve its decision-making ability. Leaders use these functions to monitor projects and resource usage more effectively, resulting in IT decisions that align with business goals. These decisions help save money by yielding a better return on investment (ROI).

IT frameworks also help define stakeholder responsibilities and create mechanisms for accountability, enabling clear decisions. It also implements the mechanisms required to monitor IT operations, ensuring they meet an organization’s needs.

Furthermore, IT frameworks usually focus on the governance aspects of decision-making, such as who makes decisions, how they make decisions, and how those decisions should govern operations. This capability allows IT managers to focus on operational decisions.

Enhanced compliance

IT governance, risk management, and regulatory compliance focus on different requirements, but they directly overlap. For example, the risk management function uses governance to mitigate risk by implementing controls. It then alerts administrators when users act outside the organization’s risk boundaries.

Compliance is becoming an increasingly important benefit of IT frameworks due to the current trend towards greater regulation in most environments. IT frameworks usually include road maps for regulatory compliance, especially those for data storage.

This feature facilitates auditing by ensuring applicable information is accessible, thus reducing financial and legal risks.

The compliance function of IT governance causes organizational activities to proceed in a way that complies with industry standards and government regulations, resulting in the proper use of infrastructure and effective data protection.

Process standardization

IT frameworks standardize processes, ensuring consistency across services. This feature prevents processes from skipping required steps, thus reducing the number of errors and improving reliability.

When executed well, standardization provides employees with a well-tested process to use that reduces ambiguity, improves quality, increases productivity, and boosts employee morale.

Process standardization improves the clarity of operations by eliminating the need for guessing to find the best procedure. It also increases quality by ensuring work is done in an optimized manner.

Standardization can significantly improve productivity when employees no longer rely on documentation or co-workers for answers. Employee morale is also improved when employees take pride in their mastery of a process.

Better communication and transparency

Stakeholders gain a better understanding of IT resource usage when they can see how the IT department functions. Greater transparency thus leads to better decisions and overall performance. Employees are also more inclined to share information when they observe open communication from upper management to the rest of the organization.

IT frameworks help an organization’s members share innovative ideas like workflow improvements or more detailed feedback in performance reviews. Companies thrive when their workforce feels safe bringing new ideas forward, leading to happier, more engaged employees.

A transparent workplace also recognizes success, building trust between workers and management and improving the company’s bottom line. Sharing knowledge across an organization shows that management respects employees, setting the precedent that transparency is a valued expectation.

The transparent communications enabled by IT frameworks also improve customer relations because staff members now care about a company’s performance. Employees root for their organization to thrive when they feel respected and trusted.

How can Pipefy help you implement IT frameworks?

Best practices for implementing an IT governance framework include a clear definition of goals and methods of measuring success. These key performance indicators (KPIs) require regular monitoring and reporting to ensure they remain aligned with business goals.

Pipefy’s no-code platform allows citizen developers to employ cost-effective, efficient business process management. They can also automate routine processes, driving organizational improvements in business units like HR, finance, marketing, and sales. In addition, our platform offers robust analytics that help users discover previously hidden insights into your organization’s operations.

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