March 08, 2022
To Troubleshoot ServiceNow’s CMDB, Start with Data Governance
A solid foundation is essential to achieving the full potential of the Configuration Management Database.
The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a critical capability of the ServiceNow platform. As a data repository, the CMDB drives workflow automation, operational visibility and real-time decision-making, but organizations often overlook its potential or don’t position themselves to optimize its deployment. As a result, they get stuck using ServiceNow in a suboptimal manner and consequently get a poor return on their investment.
There is a common perception that all we need to do is to push data into the CMDB based on what people would like to see, without considering use cases or who will manage the data. This leads to data bloat and shortcomings in accuracy and completeness, which undermine the usefulness of the data. This in turn leads to point-in-time cleanup efforts that ultimately fail to keep the data relevant. Frustration sets in when the data isn’t reliable and results in finger-pointing and lack of progress. In practice, a healthy CMDB requires an organizational commitment to treat data as a strategic asset and careful data management that includes clear ownership and responsibilities.
Used optimally, ServiceNow helps organizations leverage data that improves automation, workflow efficiency and user experience. But when organizations don’t keep the CMDB up to date, they limit what they can do on the platform.
Define Use Cases That Align to Business Needs
Good CMDB practice starts with understanding what data will provide value to the organization. Focusing on value versus quantity forces strategic thinking and facilitates better buy-in across functional teams that participate in data use and ongoing management. The use case defines the business value, what data is needed, who will use it, how they will use it and, most important, who is responsible for maintaining its accuracy.
In my experience, organizations tend to overlook this activity entirely or employ informal methods that aren’t fully understood or supported. This can result in failed CMDB initiatives.
Establish Data Governance to Maintain Data Relevance
At the highest level, the inability to incorporate data into key decisions and strategies results in higher operating costs, decreased visibility and unmanaged risks. Missing or inaccurate data inhibits efficiency and degrades user experiences. The organization simply doesn’t have the insights it needs to deploy automation, minimize service disruptions and achieve other goals.
Establishing a configuration process that incorporates the full lifecycle of data management activities — from identification and operational changes to auditing and retirement — is a core competency and necessary first step in establishing and maintaining good CMDB health.
Alongside the lifecycle process, data governance should provide appropriate oversight to protect the integrity of the process and ensure ongoing buy-in and support of CMDB value positions. The combination of good process and data governance sets the stage for success.
Enlist Expert Help to Align CMDB with Organizational Objectives
When we help an organization with CMDB, we start with strategic alignment. What does the organization want to achieve, and which use cases does it want to support? We define data models that incorporate the targeted configuration items and associated relationships (upstream, downstream, adjacent). We also enable foundational capabilities, including the lifecycle management process, data governance, performance dashboards and core CMDB configurations.
Further, we support data remediation efforts to realign CMDB data and configuration issues. Throughout these efforts, we work with your organization to enable new capabilities and help address organizational and cultural components, such as training and stakeholder communication.
Reaping the benefits of agility, efficiency and strategic decision-making starts by maximizing the value of data. When that happens, ServiceNow’s CMDB is positioned as strategic asset with source-of-truth data that elevates the platform as a digital engine to support digital transformation initiatives.
Story by Dale Landowski, a champion of extending the IT value chain by leveraging digital product and service management practices that provide strong linkage to business strategies. He is a strategic thinker focused on holistic solutions with cost-competitive and customer-centric features.
Dale brings a diverse background and a big-picture mindset to IT challenges. His career journey includes leadership roles in enterprise architecture, data center operations, product management, ServiceNow program management and executive-level consulting. He is the ServiceNow solutions IT service management practice manager.