Risk/impact information for changes - One of the biggest concerns for any organization is evaluating the risk and impact of changes. Too often, risk/impact decisions are based more on tribal knowledge rather than documented information. Additionally, when decisions are based on a single CMDB, relationships are not considered.
A CMS provides relationship information that can be used to assess the full risk and impact of a change so appropriately planning can be undertaken. The result is a more holistic view of a change, thereby reducing the risk of harmful damage when the change is implemented. Workarounds and fixes - The quickest way to resolve an issue is to have workarounds and fixes documented so support personnel can access them and apply them to resolve issues and requests.
As root causes of issues are identified and solutions developed, the information can be housed in the CMS in order to increase visibility and use by the support teams.
Documenting permanent fixes also has the benefit of reducing the recurrence of outages and provides for trending information on how well support teams are permanently resolving issues. Setting service expectations - Having service level agreements (SLAs) accessible in the CMS allows support personnel to understand the service targets. Customers can be provided with expected service levels when reporting issues or requesting service. As SLAs are used and documented in the CMS, the IT organization can also determine whether the targets are achievable by evaluating trends in their ability to meet the targets.
This capability allows for a targeted program to identify improvement opportunities, as well. The end result is that information is available to make the necessary decisions to improve service. Rollout planning - As new systems or features are planned for release, the CMS can be used to determine the scope of the rollout by identifying the users of the systems. To this end, IT planners can effectively determine rollout, training and communication schedules and document them in the CMS.
Flagging CMS entries that have been identified for new releases allows for a better understanding of the scope. It allows the IT organization the ability to provide effective and efficient support before, during and after the release. The result is less impact to the user community.
To achieve these five benefits, it is very important for you to understand the three components of configuration management and plan its implementation effectively. It is also critical to take the time to determine the desired outcomes prior to undertaking this initiative. This will help your CMS from becoming a “junk drawer.”
The long-term benefits will be well worth time if you spend to understand and plan for the expected value of a fully functional configuration management system.
As director of Forsythe's IT service management practice, Mike Tainter focuses on IT service management, ITIL, operations management, process design, IT operations support system development, and IT logistical requirements for a wide variety of organizations.