ITSM

5 Tips to Maximize Your CMDB in Service Delivery

March 12, 2020

5 Tips to Maximize Your CMDB in Service Delivery

IT is evolving from the daunting task of tracking inventory in spreadsheets to building a configuration management database (CMDB) into their service desk. The CMDB offers a host of benefits that set organizations up for long-term success, including promoting visibility into the organization’s IT asset dependencies, using automation to make work more efficient, and quantifying IT’s value to the business. How can you help ensure you’re getting the most out of the CMDB when delivering services? Here are five ways to make that happen.

1. Complete and Accurate Records of Configuration Items

Think about the number of hardware devices, software applications, and systems used in your business. Difficult to come up with an exact number? That’s because it’s likely too many to count. Whenever a new piece of inventory enters the business, service technicians should label each of those items as configuration items (CIs). This makes it easy to store these items in the CMDB and quickly locate them if something goes wrong or missing. CIs in the CMDB can also improve IT asset management (ITAM) through the ability to better utilize proactive, preventative, and predictive measures.

Overall Benefits: Unearth all CIs within the environment. Gain a more accurate understanding of what’s being managed and what measures need to be taken proactively and reactively.

2. Improving Incident and Problem Management

No matter the device, there’s bound to be a fix, update, or upgrade that’s eventually needed. Service technicians can take the CI status and CMDB data of the impacted device to generate incident reports. Once the incident is recorded, it’s routed to the appropriate person to resolve. Teams can then create knowledge content to deflect reported incidents in the future, helping promote self-service.

IT incident and problem management are closely related. In fact, problem management is usually the result of a series of the same incidents reported to IT. If several employees have filed tickets concerning a network outage or an application that isn’t accessible, it’s likely now a problem. The CMDB is useful here because it provides valuable information for problem management, speeding up root-cause investigation and problem resolution. It associates incidents to problems and connects the impacted CI to other CIs and their dependencies. Visibility into the previously recorded changes can show what may have influenced the problem.

Overall Benefits: CMDB can be linked to incident records, helping to decrease resolution times and enable future opportunities for self-service. It also cuts down on redundant questions and leads to faster root-cause investigation.

3. Implementing Change Management

The CMDB shows patterns and provides facts that will help streamline the change management process. It helps identify high-risk changes and recognizes other dependencies in the organization. It’s essential to make sure data collected in the CMDB is accurate before a change is performed. Changes that aren’t implemented from sound data and analysis can potentially result in more incidents and problems in the future. It’s in incident and problem management where the most visible impacts of CMDB inaccuracies take place.

Overall Benefits: Gain insight into potential and emerging impacts of incidents and problems, which can drive more accurate and streamlined plans when evaluating and implementing changes. As a result, this will lower the risk of system failure and propel improved classification of incidents and problems.

4. Creating Change Records

Once a request for change is submitted, a change record is created to allow an organization to detect changes to inventory. The CMDB also allows employees to connect notifications to CIs. For example, if there’s a request to change video conferencing software, a notification explaining the decision to change and instructions for installing the new tool can be sent to every user in the organization with a license to the current software.

Creating change records helps the organization track changes, past and future, that may impact the business. Back to the example of installing new video conferencing software, if something goes wrong with it in the future, data in the CMDB can show how many devices used the software, which devices were impacted, and if incidents with the software were previously reported.

Overall Benefits: Quicker identification of problems, which speeds up root cause analysis and incident resolution times in the future, and efficient change management planning with full view of impact and redundancies. As a result, this helps the organization provide proactive service rather than reactive service.

5. Relationships and Dependency Mapping

The connection of CIs is vital in understanding how they work together in an organization. These connections bring visibility to the upstream and downstream impacts of incidents, problems, and changes, helping IT pros make better decisions for the business. You could compare this to an ecosystem, in which each component depends on the others. If one part of the ecosystem is negatively or positively impacted, all parts connected to it will feel the impact in some way.

Overall Benefits: Visibility that will help to identify where changes need to take place, and communication to those affiliated with the CIs.

The CMDB is more than just an asset log. It contains in-depth data about maintenance and repair histories, problems, and changes. It gives IT pros visibility into the organization’s infrastructure and helps them gain a better understanding of relationships and dependencies. These five tips can help to maximize the CMDB when delivering services and support other ITIL processes in the organization.


Liz is a technical point of contact for SolarWinds Service Desk customers, providing expertise on ITSM best practices, APIs, integrations, and security. She's ITIL 4 certified and has never met a dog she didn't want to adopt.