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Configuration Management: 4 Steps to Get Your House in Order Before Your Project

04/05/2012 by: The SunView Team

 
Guest Blogger
[Editor Note: Carlos Casanova is the President, Executive Advisor and Solutions Architect for K2 Solutions Group, Inc. He is the co-author of "The CMDB Imperative" and a regular and sought after speaker at national and international Service Management conferences.]
 
Configuration Management is viewed by many as a very complex effort that only some companies need to address. The problem however is that if you focus exclusively on the complexity of the IT Infrastructure, you lose track of the discrete components. On the other hand, if you focus only the IT components you may lose track of the infrastructure. It's important to remember that without Configuration Management you are only addressing the needs of the individual components whereas when once you have Configuration Management in place you can focus on the services being delivered.

In order to put a Configuration Management model in place, you need to address certain areas of your infrastructure so as to ensure that the components within it are healthy and won't be detrimental to the whole unit. Some of the first things you need to evaluate and address are:

The Challenge:

Ask yourself, Why are you implementing Configuration Management? Are you trying to improve Incident Response time? Reduce Outages? Prevent repeat outages? Improve service performance? What is your driver? This needs to be documented and made crystal clear to everyone via a marketing and communications plan.

What Already Exists:

Now that you know why, you need to figure out if you have the pieces in place to address the challenge. Is the domain/component specific data available? Is it reliable? Do you need to improve its quality? Do you need to supplement it with new/additional data? Can you do generate what is missing with manual processes or do you need more technology?

De-duplication:

If you are a medium sized company or larger, you most likely have several repositories whose data overlaps with data in other repositories. Do you know which piece of data is most reliable? Can you eliminate a whole repository or are just some of the elements within it that is bad? Can you save money on licenses, resources and efficiency gains by consolidating some repositories?

Cajoling:

Yes, that's right you need to be a real people-person to get this done. From day one, you need to build alliances like you've never built before. The guaranteed way to fail is by trying to be a dictator. In the role of Configuration Management leader, you are going to need to get people to do a lot of things that they probably don't want to do because it might threaten their fiefdom. You need to convince them to work for the greater good rather than the individual gain by showing them how they will benefit from it. If you fail on this, none of the other items will matter because everyone around you will undermine your effort.

Configuration Management is not a straight forward effort like the other service management process, it is much more iterative. It consists of a lot of moving parts working together in careful balance towards a known end goal. Start by addressing the four areas described above then reassess the challenge before setting out on your formal Configuration Management initiative, your likelihood of success will be much greater this way.

[ Editors Note: It has been great working with Carlos. The wealth of experience he has, and his insight into what makes IT work, especially with regard to Configuration Management has been invaluable to our team here at The ITSM Lens. We suggest you take a look at Carlos' website and consulting group website for more information about what he is up to. Plus don't forget to check out his book on Amazon.com.
 
Of course, we also want to see you making strides in your own configuration project once you "get your house in order." A great place to start is with your own ITSM tool. If your current ITSM tool isn't providing you that kind of platform, we invite you to look into ChangeGear. ChangeGear can provide your organization with:
  • ITIL best practices out-of-the-box
  • Seamless integration of key ITIL processes
  • Business Policy Automations
  • Multi-level Approvals
  • Notifications and Alerts
  • Real Time Reporting
  • Service Level Management
  • Self-Service Portal or Service Catalog
  • Request Routing
  • Historical Audit Trails
  • Mobile Access
As part of an ITSM tool like ChangeGear, the features described above can dramatically improve efficiency, and in many cases drastically reduce budgets.
 

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