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September 20, 2023 |

 8 min read

  • Blog
  • ITIL
How does an organization ensure it has accurate and reliable information about the resources available to deliver effective products and services?

How does an organization ensure it has accurate and reliable information about the resources available to deliver effective products and services?

This is at the heart of ITIL 4’s Service Configuration Management Practice – one of the latest ITIL practices to be refreshed and included in the new Practice Manager certification scheme.

But what is the typical level of capability in service configuration management today? 

“It varies, with some organizations operating at a higher level while plenty of others won’t have any significant capability,” Antonina Klentsova – co-author of the revised 2023 practice guidance – said.

“Organizations that have made a start with service configuration management may maintain a spreadsheet with lists showing the connection between configuration items, but this often exists on a team level only and isn’t integrated. For example, a server team may not know all of the applications running on the system.”

Another reason why service configuration management performance may be inadequate is the cost of implementing a configuration management database (CMDB). “It is one of the most expensive practices to implement, which is why one of the practice success factors is focused on finance: ensuring the costs of providing configuration information are continually optimized,” Klentsova added.

While start-up businesses may not necessarily see the value of investing in service configuration management at their stage of development, scale-up organizations and large enterprises, with a greater complexity of products and services, certainly need the practice.

What is ITIL's Service Configuration Management Practice designed to do? 

The service configuration management guidance is there to support people implementing the practice and, as its purpose states: “to efficiently provide useful information to the organization”.  

This includes teaching people how to leverage a CMDB and have procedures and processes for verifying data. Importantly, the practice takes a holistic approach to management across ITIL 4’s four dimensions of service management.

“Without adopting the practice guidance, people will tend to learn by trial and error and work intuitively – and that could mean underestimating the importance of the connection between configuration items,” Antonina Klentsova said.

The Service Configuration Management Practice 2023 revision – what's new?

Knowing how practitioners and their organizations can make the practice more sustainable is one new element in the updated 2023 practice guide.

This involves looking at how configuration management can be more sustainable of itself, as each byte of data has a carbon footprint which will grow if unnecessary data is left unmanaged. And adding sustainability attributes to configuration items – such as their energy consumption and carbon emissions – will help organizations make better decisions about the carbon impact of entire services.

Another new element in the guidance is the focus on tools: creating a more holistic view of the types of tools that can be used in service configuration management, along with examining the scope of what’s needed for automation.

In addition, the guidance includes a step-by-step guide to conducting a capability self-assessment for the practice, reflecting how well it’s meeting its purpose and contributing to the organization’s service value system.

Recommendations for practice success

The final section of the practice – as with all the revised ITIL 4 practice guides – offers specific recommendations, along with explanations and links to the ITIL Guiding Principles.

For example, the recommendation to “demonstrate business value” is about focusing on value by measuring and reporting on the practice, something that’s often overlooked by teams. As Antonina Klentsova points out: “It’s necessary to measure and show how the practice has contributed to improvements, such as decreased incidents and better quality of service.”

Equally, the recommendation about providing service configuration information to stakeholders helps to avoid the risk of not updating data, which can have a a knock-on effect on other people who rely on this information.

And ensuring that the practice isn’t overcomplicated reduces the risk of over-investment and adding unjustified complexity.

Overall, by demonstrating business value through using the existing data, the latest ITIL 4 guidance offers the opportunity to assess and evaluate the value of service configuration management as a practice in your organization.