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10 Tips for a Successful CMDB Project

Mar 13, 2008

Michele Hudnall


5. Clearly define an end-state

Just like a purpose is required to set the vision for the project, a CMDB also needs to have a clearly defined end-state. An end-state can serve as a trigger point to move a project into the next phase of implementation, for example once you’ve successfully modeled your SAP application in the CMDB, you move on to other critical applications such as CRM or order processing. Both the CMDB designer and user need to be included in building consensus around this point and it boils down to answering one simple question: how will you measure success?


6. Allocate enough resources
It’s an understatement to say that projects need executive sponsorship and successful CMDBs need a CIO-level sponsor. A committed executive level sponsor can ensure the project is properly staffed with the right resources. This does not mean you need your CMDB vendor to bus in an army of consultants, but on the other hand, the chances of success diminish if the project is assigned to an IT operations staff that also has a day-job, like keeping the lights on.


7. Just enough CMDB

Forrester Research advocates a methodology called “just enough CMDB.” This can be accomplished by focusing on a critical service, a given domain or even a line of business. Take a top down approach and avoid trying to model every service or application in your enterprise. Choose carefully because early success will help garner the support and acceptance required to roll the CMDB project to other areas.


8. Build in flexibility and modularity
The modularity of service orientated architecture (SOA) provides a degree of flexibility previously impossible. This is one of the reasons the concept is so popular. A CMDB should also build in flexibility and allow you to integrate multi-vendor sources of federated data. For example, agnostic technology enables IT to integrate performance data with asset management in the first phase, and then later tie in discovery information. A modular approach through integration allows IT to leverage existing IT management tools and deliver a faster return on the CMDB investment.


9. Don’t let “perfect” get in the way of “good”
ITIL tells us that change management process is important for continuous improvement. For example, if you find a process is producing suspect data, identify that area as problem and come up with a plan for correcting it. However, keep an eye on the big picture: a service approach to IT management that delivers higher quality to the business. Don’t spend 80%of your time fixing 20% of the problems.


10. Don’t wait to get started
That technology will continue to change and evolve is a maxim, but not a good reason to delay a CMDB project. Most large organizations have enough raw materials—some combination of a service desk, enterprise monitoring, asset management, or discovery—to begin building a CMDB today. With these tools installed, there are enough data elements to begin relating the data into the constructs of service. By virtue of having these tools in place, IT also has some degree of process. Through the course of integrating these pieces, IT organizations will continue to enhance the discipline and rigor to their change and configuration process.


Interest in CMDB projects grew substantially in 2007 and it is likely such project implementations will continue to accelerate over the course of 2008 and beyond. The ability to understand interdependencies among IT components and relate those components in the context of business impact will enable IT to be the strategic business partner it strives to be.


While the urgency to start a CMDB projects is understandable IT should be on alert for lessons learned from other concurrent or previous CMDB implementations. The CMDB could conceivably prove to be the most important acquisition of the IT enterprise for the foreseeable future.

Michele Hudnall is a former-META Group analyst and is currently the director of service management for BSM vendor Managed Objects, which is one of five vendors in the industry that meet Gartner’s functional requirements to be classified as a CMDB. She also sits on the board for the US-chapter of the IT Service Management Forum – itSMF.