The past and the present: why it’s always important to Start Where You Are

The past and the present: why it’s always important to Start Where You Are

Configuration management is an area often underestimated by businesses.

Creating a configuration management database (CMDB) isn’t necessarily that difficult but actually using it correctly within an organization is. This is because configuration management also involves organizational change management.

Why you should Start Where You Are

Arjan van der PoelWhen embedding a configuration management approach, the ITIL® Practitioner guiding principle of Start Where You Are is absolutely critical as configuration management underpins all other processes. While a CMDB can exist on its own it’s not really of any use and is dependent on the maturity of all other processes.

When beginning a configuration management journey, as the animation recommends, professionals should start by assessing where all their other processes are. Importantly, this should be done with process managers to understand what’s working and what isn’t.

In my role as a consultant, I came across an organization exploring configuration management and its project lead asked all technical experts what would be good in the CMDB. The project they wanted would’ve cost millions of Euros and be impossible to implement. Instead, if the project lead had focused on speaking with just the process managers and asking where they are now - rather than where they want to be - they would’ve ended up with a very different and much more achievable result.

Small steps

As well as starting where you are now, it’s also important to take small steps in configuration management. By breaking down an activity or project into smaller parts, it’s more manageable and maintains the integrity of the CMDB; it also ensures you can show senior stakeholders the benefits of your changes more immediately.

Don’t forget the past

For consultants, or someone tasked internally with configuration management, it might seem easier to start from scratch with useable elements already in existence that can be carried forward.

By completing a thorough assessment of where a business is at the start of the process, you’ll get a sense of its maturity, what is working and what’s not, plus what’s been done before and failed.

Walking into a business and immediately dismissing existing systems, approaches and processes is disrespectful and undermining to people within the company. Ultimately, this team has done the best they could in the circumstances, so rather than rejecting their efforts you can learn from them. If configuration management was an easy task within their business, they would’ve already done it. Therefore, you can use their input to understand why it didn’t succeed and take their learnings to inform the future approach.

Breaking configuration management into small steps, assessing where the business is now and learning lessons from the past, organizations can create a more sustainable solution. They’ll also see greater collaboration and willingness to participate from the whole business and ensure configuration management happens longer term.

See our ITIL Practitioner section for more information.

See more blogs and animations about the ITIL Practitioner Guiding Principles

Observe Directly: how to avoid the "watermelon effect"

Why transformational projects go wrong unless you Work Holistically

Them vs us: the importance of Collaboration

ITIL® Practitioner: why it’s always best to Keep It Simple

ITIL® Practitioner - Be Transparent

ITIL® Practitioner - Focus on Value

ITIL® Practitioner - Design for Experience

Current rating: 4 (3 ratings)


12 Sep 2016 Chris Evans
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A 'well informed' executive believes that the way to create a CMS is to dump it on the Change Manager? ... perhaps not as well informed as they think.

'This is a job for ITIL Practitioner' - no, this is a job for someone who understands Configuration Management. ITIL itself is not necessary for this, neither is the Practitioner qualification although I am aware what website I am on :)

This is another statement of the obvious I feel and part of the reason that SACM is still considered a dark art or on the 'too difficult pile'. On a regular, cyclical basis someone comes up with the 'new' theory that CMDB's should be federated, start small and build up, collect what is necessary etc etc etc but nothing ever goes beyond that 'day one plan'.

The key truth as far as I am concerned is that yes, organisational change is key but even more so cultural change is required. SACM requires key inputs from all processes and anyone who touches the estate in one way or another and without this all strategy flies out the window.
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