The Importance of CMDB in the Design and Delivery of IT Services

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

The Importance of CMDB in the Design and Delivery of IT Services

Posted by Don Casson

Tue, Nov 29, 2016

As a leading, US-based consulting firm, Evergreen Systems works closely with hundreds of mid-market Fortune 1000 companies and private sector organizations to help them meet their customers’ service requests in a timely and efficient manner.

And we’d like to share with you some of the key points we’ve learned along this journey.

Change What You Do By Starting With The Customer

How do we proceed when we’re rethinking how we design and deliver IT Services? We need to start with the customer. There’s no way to overstate how transformative this can be. Here are a few examples:

  • Incident — Rather than thinking about how to handle incidents as they come, we will focus more on how to eliminate or automate them.
  • Change — Rather than always thinking about managing change, we can think about how to eliminate or streamline changes.
  • Knowledge — With the right approach, knowledge can become a powerful Search & Learn experience. This means you’re providing powerful self-enablement tools for your customers.

Short version? Start with the customer and it will change what you do.

Why CMDB Traditionally Falls Short

Why has CMDB failed? The reasons are important if we don’t want to make the same mistakes again in the future. The biggest reason by far is that it was a great solution without a corresponding problem. Most IT professionals are adept at being reactive — fixing problems when they appear and designing complex solutions to make sure the same issues don’t arise again.

These are large-scale solutions, but they don’t always answer large-scale problems.

There were not any CMDB best practices for how to succeed, so many IT professionals in their own direction. We got increasingly talented at capturing massive amounts of data, but without a strategic plan of how to utilize the data. Perhaps the biggest blow to traditional CMDB was manual maintenance. A big part of what we do here at Evergreen Systems is helping our customers look for opportunities to streamline and automate the work of IT.

What’s Different Now?

CMDB is relevant again today for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that IT is evolving from providing siloed technical outcomes into becoming an end to end service broker. IT organizations with a focus on innovation now understand that customer expectations and experiences need to be the focus. This means we can concentrate less on technical outcomes and more on true service.

In turn, this has given rise to the dedicated role of Service Manager. This is a person who “owns” the outcome the customer really wants, from beginning to end.

Why Is CMDB Essential?

The differences described above have made CMDB relevant and essential again. To understand why, let’s look at each of the five foundational CMDB benefits and what they’re bringing to the delivery of IT Services:

  • Modular, reusable services — We want to build modular services and manage them as configuration items (CIs). Think about Amazon: what would it be like if every Amazon department had its own checkout procedure? Such an approach would be difficult to set up and nearly impossible to maintain.
  • End-to-end service delivery and ownership — Every Service is comprised of several smaller Services. And even though one person oversees the larger Service, there are lots of little Services being combined from different parts of IT to make up the big service. How can that one person be successful? CMDB helps here because it provides details and tracking for each subservice.
  • Customer-valuable IT billing — The low maturity level of the average service provider prevents IT from driving customer choice. Whether you use cost reimbursement or showback costing, behavior may be affected. CMDB can help us to create and support standard, bundled, “happy meal” offerings based on the four or five major activities we do most of the time in any given area.
  • KPIs the customer cares about — Since CMDB enables modular, reusable subservices, it’s now possible to much more easily create a prospective service you might want to offer in the future, and to look at what the performance and delivery might look like end-to-end.
  • True top-to-bottom service visibility — One of our general principles is, “Everyone has customers, everyone has services.” It’s relatively easy as a service owner to add and track consumers of your service, as well as to add or track the subservices you consume to deliver your service. This makes it easy to “discover” your services map in the CMDB with no additional work - and it’s always accurate.

Key Tips for CMDB Success

First, when it comes to CMDB best practices, make sure you’re experimenting with some new ideas and concepts, but keep it contained for the time being as you navigate the learning curve. Begin at the top with three or four key services and pilot management of them from top to bottom, using data in your CMBD.  You will learn a lot about what you do and don’t want to do, and you can go forward from there, much more confident in your approach.

You’ll also want to assign dedicated Service Managers so you can get a feel for the pieces that make up a service and the expectations around delivering that service. Identify the subservice managers and include them in this hierarchy. 

Lastly, if you haven’t already and you have the resources to do so, try creating a Service Manager’s workspace, or dashboard. This will be a dedicated area where they can go to manage their service, and can provide a significant boost to productivity and responsiveness.

Next Steps

We hope you’ve found this discussion useful and interesting! If you’re wondering what the next logical steps might be for your own organization, we have a few suggestions.

Evergreen Systems offers an advanced Self-Service Catalog & Portal, and we’re proud to offer self-service demos to interested parties. We’ll give you a unique login for our website so you can try it for yourself.

We also offer a private, onsite, one-day Service Catalog Workshop for up to 15 attendees. This is perfect if you’re considering a broader service catalog initiative but aren’t sure where to start. It educates your team and creates a common language and direction.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Topics: CMDB


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