Start simple, consider your end users, and be flexible in terms of resources and costs
In my last post, I discussed two keys to help you get moving in the right direction for simplifying service asset and configuration management (SACM) – Key 1: Know why it hasn’t worked, and Key 2: Know why you are doing this. Now let’s move beyond the “why” and into the “what” to provide useful tips for the planning and implementation stages.
If you get the process of planning your service asset and configuration management (SACM) program right from the very start, you increase your chances of achieving a successful implementation. There will be roadblocks ahead, but also plenty of good opportunities for lessons learned along your journey. You will have policy, process and technology to design and build, so you should really think things through. And the process may be twice as hard and take twice as long as you may initially think, to get it right.
Therefore, be sure to start with something important, but manageable – this is the third key to simplified asset and configuration management. Limit the data by beginning with a manageable universe of data points that you can understand and manipulate, with manual intervention when necessary. For asset management, this might be one to three top software licenses, or a class of high value servers. And a focus on one to two high value, tier-1 type services (only ones that really matter) is the best way to structure your configuration management planning efforts.
Next, it’s on to the fourth key: pilot, learn and then apply.
Here are six points to consider as you design your asset and configuration management program.
- Design and build the full-service lifecycle – from customer to provider to manager
- Think top down, THEN bottom up
- Think modular – with process and roles, end-to-end
- Use a limited data set
- Build your data curation process: discover, populate, refine and repeat
- Include cost buildup functionality every step along your journey
Here’s a deeper dive on some of these points:
- Consider the full lifecycle from start to finish for the customer, provider and manager. Every IT service delivered is made up of lots of little services. SACM helps by providing the detail of the assets in each subservice, enabling the Service Manager to “see” meaningful data on capacity, availability, time to provision, quality of service, service issue resolution and service outage restoration. This end-to-end visibility enables the Service Manager to resolve issues and continually improve their service for the customer.
- Think top down to limit what you need to the absolute minimum, and then go after that. Then, map your processes and roles. But keep in mind that everything is a service or a sub service, so you should think modular, and reusable, as you develop roles and design processes. Note that three to four reusable, modular processes in each area can usually meet 70-80% of the needs.
- Build top to bottom visibility. In configuration and asset management, hardware and software technology components, and their relationships to each other, are traditionally separated. For illustrative purposes, imagine a double horizontal line. Above the line are the Services, which typically consists of people, processes, descriptions, functionality, options and service commitments, as well as technology underpinnings. Most of what makes up a Service Configuration Item (CI) are not discoverable, which is not a big deal because a service is easier to track than moving technology like a virtualized server. In fact, it is relatively easy as a service owner to add and track consumers of your service, as well as the sub services you consume to deliver your service. This simplifies discovery of your services map in the configuration management database (CMDB).
- Align with cost accumulation. Most IT organizations struggle with IT costing, which limits their ability to drive customer choice or participate in business cost / benefit tradeoff discussions. The move to IT services enables IT organizations to see this ability as mandatory rather than a nice-to-have. Whether pinning down cost reimbursement or just doing showback costing, which still significantly affects consumer behavior, active participation in IT costing improves customer understanding and decision making. Just as importantly, it helps Service Managers to lead customers down a better path through the creation of standard, bundled, and easy-to-consume offerings centered around the top four or five activities. Since 4 or 5 good offers will generally meet 70-80% of the demand, we can standardize and automate them, because they have the volume to justify it. This reduces time to deliver, and improves accuracy, consistency and overall quality. Even better, a small set of quality, standard offers allow us to use two powerful consumer levers - lower cost and faster delivery time, to influence customer choice. As an example, if a custom server build costs $7,500 and takes 3 weeks to deliver, while a pretty good standard server build costs $3,000 and can be delivered in two days, many customers will decide that standard offering is good enough. In this way, customer decision-making and the work of IT is simplified.
A lot is riding on the success of your program. So, when the going gets tough amid your asset and configuration management planning, you need to be able to handle it and continue your journey.
Keys #3 and #4 above focus on overcoming the challenges inherent in designing and implementing an appropriate strategy for simplified SACM. Remember, start your process with something very important, but manageable. And consider your audiences – customer to provider to manager – costs and other factors along the way to go onto a successful pilot, and ultimately, implementation.
About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 50 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.
Feel free to contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org