Like any good consultant/analyst I always answer the question with a question (I know, it bugs my wife when I do that as well!) But to answer that questions, you really do need to know:
1. Who the users of the CMDB are going to be
2. What purpose do they need to use the data in the CMDB
Are Coffee Pots Configuration Items (CI)?
I once worked with a client who kept coffee machines as CIs in their CMDB. It sounded silly at first, but I soon learned that one of the services their Help Desk supported was the coffee service for the shop floor. They would take calls from users on broken carafes or machines that were broken, as well as get requests for filters and supplies. They created incidents and service request for these and routed them out to third party vendors or the Facilities group (Incident and Service Request Management) so, when someone called, it was helpful to know things like:
- Serial Number
- Number of burners
- Carafe size
- Current Status
They even did some trending analysis on incidents and request related to these CIs to identify machines that often broke down or areas where supplies were often depleted before the scheduled refresh (Problem and Demand Management), so as you can see, there was a business need for them to have information on these CIs readily available.
When a new coffee machine was needed, a change request was entered to gather the necessary approvals to install the coffee machine (Change Management.) This included a task to enter the coffee pot into their CMDB as a CI. Of course, to do this, they had a process in place for purchasing and receiving the asset then entering it into the database (Asset Management/)
Planning Your CMDB
So, when you are planning your CMDB, these are the basic questions you need to ask and answer:
- Who are the stakeholder groups who will use the CMDB?
- What data do the need to do the job they need to do?
- How, when and who will enter the information?
- What is the source of the data?
The Important Part—Relationships
The most important aspect of your CMDB is capturing the relationships between Configuration Items. Keep in mind that not all assets in the CMDB are service assets or CI’s. One could argue that coffee machines are not CIs, but they do contribute to the service and that is the ITIL® definition of a CI. ”Any component or other service asset that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service.”
Identifying the relationship between configuration items and tying them back to a service, and ultimately a business outcome, allows you to identify the impact of any change or disruption of service to that configuration item and to your service consumers. This can be a daunting and complex task but at Flycast Partners we are here to help you with tools and processes to accomplish this in the best possible way.
About the Author
Chuck Spencer, Flycast Partners ESM Practice Lead, is a certified ITIL Expert and trainer with over 30 years of experience in IT Service Management. He holds additional certifications in Organizational Change Management, ISO 20000, Cobit, and Scrum and is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.