The value of a configuration management database (CMDB) is undisputed when carefully implemented with a clear plan in place about how the CMDB database will be used and maintained within the organization.
Below is a list of six steps that you should have in place to ensure the success of your CMDB implementation to get the maximum value from your configuration management activities:
1. Determine business objectives
What problems are you trying to solve by implementing a CMDB? Defining clear business objectives for change and configuration management will help you understand what kind of configuration you need, where to source it from, who will use it, and how much data quality matters to your organization.
Having a clear set of business objectives before starting implementation will enable you to deliver value more quickly and avoid the adoption challenge that IT organizations often face after deploying something new.
Business objectives answer the question, “why do I need this?” Many companies find that merely the act of defining what the business objectives are is enough to change stakeholder attitudes from resisting change to wanting the system delivered sooner.
2. CMDB discovery tools
If you are going to manage change within your IT environment effectively, you need a set of discovery tools to help you. It isn’t practical to manually update configuration data when systems or dependencies change. Robust IT discovery tools as the one Virima offers enable you, through the use of installed agents, to see everything in your IT environment, identify changes as soon as they occur, and capture configuration data that you’ll need for security and compliance activities.
3. ITSM system integration
A CMDB is simply a database, a place to store information. Your IT service management (ITSM) system provides the tools, workflows, and interfaces that enable users to interact with your configuration data and convert it into tangible business value.
Whether you are choosing to use the out-of-box CMDB that comes with your ITSM system or augmenting it with a product like Virima’s CMDB, it is critically important that you integrate your CMDB database and ITSM system properly.
If you don’t, you are at risk of losing capabilities for data analysis, real-time business insights, and workflow integration. There are a number of ITSM processes—incident, problem, change, release, and so on—that are supported and enhanced by the capabilities that your CMDB provides. Strong integration between your ITSM system and CMDB database can make these processes run more effectively and efficiently.
(Also read, A CMDB Without Discovery is Just a Database)
4. Data owners / data stewards
Configuration management data for your organization is continuously changing. Every time a system is added, removed, or changed, your configuration data must be updated to keep it accurate and current. Most failed CMDB implementations aren’t caused by system deficiencies, but rather the failure to assign ownership of your configuration data to the right people within the organization.
A best practice is to assign two groups or individuals to each piece of data:
1. A data owner, typically a business stakeholder, who owns the source system of the incoming data.
2. A data steward who is either a business analyst or an IT staff member who is responsible for keeping the configuration data up to date.
Data owners and data stewards have shared accountability for your data quality. They can help you measure quality, highlight gaps/issues in your data, and provide updates when needed.
CMDB automation is an important part of enabling your data owners and data stewards to do their jobs effectively. These staff members need to spend their time focusing on the quality of data and making decisions based on the data, not performing mechanical update processes in your CMDB implementation. Automated IT discovery and integrations with configuration item data sources are a big productivity enhancer.
5. Data management and retention plan
Populating data into your CMDB database is important, but archiving and purging obsolete data is equally critical to the success of your configuration management initiative. One of the most significant quality issues that ITSM organizations report is old configuration records for systems that are no longer present in the IT environment, or are no longer used by business processes.
CMDB data follows a data lifecycle, just like your IT systems follow either a hardware lifecycle or application lifecycle. When the IT systems are retired or no longer used, their associated configuration records in the CMDB also need to be archived and/or purged depending on your company’s policies. If you want your CMDB implementation to have a high level of data quality, you need to establish a data management and retention plan, which includes a set of tools, processes, and policies for how to get data out of your CMDB when it is no longer needed.
Also read, Your CMDB: Your ITSM-ITOM Connection
6. CMDB: data visualization
Even small IT environments are too complex to understand in rows and columns. Data visualization tools are essential for making sense of the CMDB data. Configuration data is a digital representation of your physical, Virtual and Cloud IT environments. It is the relationships between configuration items that describe how individual IT components fit together into systems and services that are used by your business functions.
Dependency data is complex, and the easiest, fastest, and most valuable way for your ITSM staff to use it is through business service maps that depict end-to-end dependency chains. Without visualization tools, you will find it difficult to harvest the full value potential from your CMDB implementation.
Your CMDB data and the configuration data contains some of the most valuable resources your IT team has access to. Configuration data is what makes all your other ITSM processes work effectively, it helps you manage risks, and it gives you the information you need to optimize your company’s operational processes.
The steps discussed above will help you maximize the value of your CMDB investment and set your configuration management processes up for ongoing success.
Also read, The CMDB as a Source of Truth
As you can see the CMDB is key to providing outstanding support to the business and the services that run your business.
Learn more about these steps by watching our webinar, 6 steps to CMDB Success.
Virima features can automatically discover and map your critical IT resources and the interconnections that link them to one another, your applications and services, and your users.
To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!